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Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Warriors streak to the top

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Nov 28, 2016 12:21 PM ET

1:22

It didn't take all that long for the Golden State Warriors to establish themselves as the best team in the league.

Yes, there was the opening-night humbling by the Spurs, another hiccup in L.A., and some defensive issues to deal with. But we've yet to hit December and the Warriors are already back at the top of the conference with an 11-game winning streak and the league's best offense by a ridiculously wide margin over that stretch. The defense isn't perfect, but it also ranks seventh over the last three weeks.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, are rolling along in the Eastern Conference, setting records and brushing off any blood that they might shed. The San Antonio Spurs are just 10-0 on the road with a nine-game winning streak of their own.

With apologies to the LA Clippers, we have a clear big three. And the Clippers will have their chance to reestablish themselves as title contender No. 4, with games against Cleveland and Golden State in the next 10 days.

  • Hero team of the week: Golden State (4-0) -- This team might be pretty good. The Dubs won their four games last week by an average of more than 29 points.
  • Zero team of the week: Orlando (0-4) -- All four games were decided by eight points or less, but they lost to three teams (one twice) that were in last week's bottom 10.
  • East vs. West: The West is 50-40 (.556) against the East in interconference games after going 16-9 (3-0 against Atlanta) last week.
  • Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Dallas, 2. L.A. Lakers, 3. Washington
  • Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Cleveland, 2. Orlando, 3. Chicago
  • Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
  • High jumps of the week: Denver (+3), Indiana (+3), Milwaukee (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Orlando (-8), Atlanta (-5), Portland (-5)
  • Team to watch this week: Houston -- The Rockets have won five of their last six games and take their No. 4 offense to Utah for a game against the No. 2 defense on Tuesday. Then they visit the Warriors, to whom they've lost eight straight regular season games, before ending their trip in Denver.

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Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league is averaging 99.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.8 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

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NBA.com's Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man's opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.

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1
Last week:
3

Record: 15-2
Pace: 102.9 (3) OffRtg: 115.4 (1) DefRtg: 101.9 (7) NetRtg: +13.5 (1)

The Warriors have won 11 straight games and are playing their best defense of the season. Draymond Green's absence in Saturday's win over Minnesota may have affected their ball movement more than the defense. Their 10-game streak of 30-plus assists came to an end, while Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were assisted on only nine of their 23 buckets. Of course, that didn't affect their efficiency, as the pair (who currently rank first and third in true shooting percentage among players who have taken at least 100 shots) needed only 36 shots to get their 62 points. The defense faces one of its biggest tests of the season when the Rockets come to Oakland on Thursday.

This week: vs. ATL, vs. HOU, vs. PHX

2
Last week:
2

Record: 13-2
Pace: 100.0 (11) OffRtg: 111.5 (2) DefRtg: 103.3 (15) NetRtg: +8.3 (3)

Kevin Love set an NBA record by scoring 34 points in the first quarter against Portland on Wednesday. And if Love was to score 34 points in a quarter, it would have to be the first, when he takes a league-leading 25.5 shots per 36 minutes, compared to just 14.0 per 36 over the other three periods. Love kept it going, hitting 11 of his 17 threes over the weekend, despite a cut over his eye in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Cavs ran their with-LeBron winning streak to seven games with that win despite a sluggish start, but will have their toughest back-to-back of the season thus far (facing the Clippers and Bulls) on Thursday and Friday.

This week: @ MIL, vs. LAC, @ CHI

3
Last week:
4

Record: 14-3
Pace: 95.5 (27) OffRtg: 109.9 (5) DefRtg: 102.7 (13) NetRtg: +7.2 (4)

The Road Spurs are now 10-0, overcoming Kemba Walker's late-game heroics in Charlotte and a 14-point deficit in Boston before wrapping up the three-game trip in Washington on Saturday. They've scored a remarkable 115.4 points per 100 possessions on the road, shooting almost 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from 3-point range. Davis Bertans is the latest guy the Spurs have turned into a productive piece off the bench. He totaled 26 points in less than 34 minutes, hitting six of his eight threes, in the Charlotte and Boston wins.

This week: vs. ORL, @ DAL, vs. WAS

4
Last week:
1

Record: 14-4
Pace: 98.6 (17) OffRtg: 109.3 (6) DefRtg: 98.9 (3) NetRtg: +10.4 (2)

Chris Paul may need a refund on that LASIK surgery he had this summer. Paul shot 5-for-20 and had an uncharacteristic nine turnovers as the Clippers scored less than 95 points per 100 possessions and suffered their first double-digit losses of the season (in Detroit and Indiana, with the Pacers missing Paul George) over the weekend. And just like that, after a franchise-best 14-2 start and though they're still the only team in the top six on both ends of the floor, the Clips are in third place in the Western Conference.

This week: @ BKN, @ CLE, @ NOP, vs. IND

5
Last week:
5

Record: 10-6
Pace: 97.7 (22) OffRtg: 107.0 (7) DefRtg: 102.1 (8) NetRtg: +4.9 (6)

The Bulls went 4-2 on the final circus trip, though they might want a redo on Tuesday's final offensive possession in Denver, in which they drew up a play for an Isaiah Canaan airball. Of course, it's not like Jimmy Butler (4-for-17) and Dwyane Wade (3-for-13) have shot well in clutch situations. Canaan's shot hasn't been the only issue with their bench of late, as they've been outscored by 31 points in 34 minutes with Jimmy Butler off the floor in their last three games. Their bench has been better at home than on the road and they now play nine of their next 12 games at the United Center.

This week: vs. LAL, vs. CLE, @ DAL

6
Last week:
7

Record: 10-6
Pace: 97.7 (21) OffRtg: 110.7 (3) DefRtg: 106.2 (23) NetRtg: +4.5 (7)

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry saved the Raptors in another close game (Friday in Milwaukee) and rank fifth and eighth, respectively, in points scored in the clutch. But it's another season where Toronto's starting lineup has been underwhelming (and rather bad defensively), getting outscored by 0.9 points per 100 possessions in 160 minutes together. And once again, they've been at their best with Kyle Lowry on the floor with reserves. After a 3-2 trip, they begin their longest homestand of the season (six games) on Monday.

This week: vs. PHI, vs. MEM, vs. LAL, vs. ATL

7
Last week:
9

Record: 11-6
Pace: 99.5 (14) OffRtg: 110.1 (4) DefRtg: 106.2 (25) NetRtg: +3.9 (8)

The Rockets' new starting lineup (with Patrick Beverley) has been even more potent offensively (scoring 131 points per 100 possessions) than their previous starting lineup. The Rockets haven't shown any defensive improvement, but they're 5-1 (with two important wins over Portland) with Beverley. Nine of James Harden's 10 assists on Sunday were for layups or dunks, but he's still on pace for 415 assists on 3-pointers, which would crush the record of 284, set by Steve Nash when he played for Mike D'Antoni.

This week: @ UTA, @ GSW, @ DEN

8
Last week:
10

Record: 11-6
Pace: 95.0 (28) OffRtg: 99.9 (26) DefRtg: 100.0 (4) NetRtg: -0.2 (13)

The only game the Grizzlies have lost in their last eight was the one (Friday vs. the Heat) in which Mike Conley came off the bench with a minutes restriction. But maybe the limited minutes on Friday helped late on Saturday, when Conley outscored Miami 9-3 in a critical stretch to lead the Grizz to their sixth straight road win. He leads the league with six clutch 3-pointers (on 11 attempts) and the Memphis offense has been almost 13 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than with him off.

This week: vs. CHA, @ TOR, vs. ORL, vs. LAL

9
Last week:
11

Record: 9-7
Pace: 98.7 (16) OffRtg: 105.9 (9) DefRtg: 104.1 (18) NetRtg: +1.8 (11)

The free throw disparity in Friday's loss to the Spurs got Tommy Heinsohn heated, but neither Heinsohn complaining about the officiating nor the Celtics' getting outscored at the line was anything new. In fact, it was the eighth time in 16 games that their opponents have attempted at least 10 more free throws than they have. Though Isaiah Thomas ranks seventh with 9.1 attempts per game, his team is one of four that ranks in the bottom 10 in both free throw rate and opponent free throw rate. They're 5-2 with Al Horford, who has the team's best plus-minus by a wide margin.

This week: @ MIA, vs. DET, vs. SAC, @ PHI

10
Last week:
8

Record: 9-7
Pace: 99.6 (13) OffRtg: 105.2 (11) DefRtg: 102.1 (9) NetRtg: +3.0 (10)

The differences between the Hornets that started 6-1 and the Hornets that have since gone 3-6 have been in the schedule (their only loss to a team currently under .500 was to the Pelicans after they got Jrue Holiday back) and on the defensive end of the floor, where they allowed 95.4 points per 100 possessions through their first seven games and have allowed 107.4 over the last nine. With Marvin Williams (knee injury) out and Frank Kaminsky seeing more time, the Hornets may need to rely more on their offense, though six of their next seven games are against teams that rank 24th or worse in offensive efficiency.

This week: @ MEM, vs. DET, vs. DAL, vs. MIN

11
Last week:
6

Record: 10-7
Pace: 101.3 (7) OffRtg: 100.8 (21) DefRtg: 97.3 (1) NetRtg: +3.5 (9)

After a 9-2 start, the Hawks have lost five of their last six games, scoring a paltry 92 points per 100 possessions over that stretch. The starting lineup continues to struggle, the plus-minus magic of reserve Thabo Sefolosha (minus-52 over the six games) has worn off, and any guard not named "Kyle Korver" can't shoot (one reason why Dwight Howard is averaging 4.6 offensive rebounds a game). Not that the Hawks were expecting Tiago Splitter (remember him?) to save them, but he suffered another setback last week.

This week: @ GSW, @ PHX, vs. DET, @ TOR

12
Last week:
15

Record: 9-9
Pace: 100.3 (10) OffRtg: 100.7 (23) DefRtg: 102.5 (12) NetRtg: -1.9 (17)

Somehow, the Pacers have won three of their last four games they've played without Paul George (who's out with ankle soreness at least one more game), knocking off the Thunder and Clippers the last two Sundays. With the defense doing most of the work, they got enough offense (37 points on 13-for-19 shooting) from Glenn Robinson III in weekend wins over Brooklyn and L.A. Jeff Teague's shooting is still erratic, but he's had seven or more assists in six of his last seven games and the offense has suffered (86 points scored per 100 possessions) with him off the floor in that stretch.

This week: @ POR, @ LAC

13
Last week:
13

Record: 9-9
Pace: 102.3 (4) OffRtg: 105.8 (10) DefRtg: 108.5 (28) NetRtg: -2.6 (20)

The Lakers are without Julius Randle (hip pointer) and D'Angelo Russell (PRP treatment on his left knee), but got two wins last week because Nick Young stole the ball from his own teammate and hit the game-winner against Oklahoma City on Tuesday and then led them (with 12 points) to a huge second quarter against Atlanta on Sunday. After getting thumped by the Warriors on Wednesday, the Lakers are 3-5 on the road, where they will play 12 of their next 15 games, with a pair of tough back-to-backs this week.

This week:@ NOP, @ CHI, @ TOR, @ MEM

14
Last week:
16

Record: 9-8
Pace: 93.5 (30) OffRtg: 104.0 (14) DefRtg: 98.7 (2) NetRtg: +5.3 (5)

The Jazz were still without Derrick Favors last week, but George Hill returned and scored 45 total points (with an effective field goal percentage of 74.1 percent) in two easy wins over Denver and Atlanta. The Jazz have outscored their opponents by 23 points per 100 possessions with both Hill and Gordon Hayward on the floor together, but injuries have kept those minutes limited. They're one of three teams (Brooklyn and Denver are the others) that doesn't have a five-man unit that has played at least 50 minutes together.

This week: @ MIN, vs. HOU, vs. MIA, vs. DEN

15
Last week:
12

Record: 10-8
Pace: 101.8 (6) OffRtg: 102.6 (16) DefRtg: 102.3 (11) NetRtg: +0.3 (12)

The Thunder were on their way to a second four-game losing streak before coming back from 11 points down with less than four minutes to go in Denver on Friday. Anthony Morrow hit a couple of big shots in that one and then scored 21 points (his highest total in more than 19 months) in Saturday's win over Detroit. Morrow's shooting obviously complements Russell Westbrook well (and the Thunder need shooting), but he has been a rotation afterthought for much of Billy Donovan's tenure in OKC. Westbrook needs 11 rebounds (a number he's hit in seven of his last 10 games) in New York on Monday to be averaging a triple-double for the season.

This week: @ NYK, vs. WAS, vs. NOP

16
Last week:
18

Record: 8-8
Pace: 98.8 (15) OffRtg: 103.6 (15) DefRtg: 107.2 (26) NetRtg: -3.6 (23)

Over their last 10 games, the Knicks are 6-0 at home (allowing just 98.6 points per 100 possessions) and 0-4 on the road (allowing 114.2). They've made Madison Square Garden a tough place to play again, with wins there over the Hawks, Blazers and Hornets (on Carmelo Anthony's game-winner) over the last eight days. With another week and a half before their first big trip of the season, they have a chance to get back over .500. After returning from an illness, Joakim Noah wasn't much more than a token starter in the home-and-home against Charlotte.

This week: vs. OKC, @ MIN, vs. MIN, vs. SAC

17
Last week:
17

Record: 8-10
Pace: 96.3 (25) OffRtg: 100.5 (24) DefRtg: 101.4 (6) NetRtg: -0.9 (16)

The Pistons handed the Clippers' their first double-digit loss with balanced scoring (part of their beset offensive stretch of the season) and a career-high 10 assists from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But it's time for Detroit to figure out their road woes. After Saturday's loss in Oklahoma City, they're 1-8 (having allowed 109.8 points per 100 possessions) away from the Palace (in its final season), and are on the road for eight of their next 12 games, a stretch that includes some important matchups within the Eastern Conference.

This week: @ CHA, @ BOS, @ ATL, vs. ORL

18
Last week:
19

Record: 7-10
Pace: 96.9 (23) OffRtg: 104.9 (13) DefRtg: 108.4 (27) NetRtg: -3.5 (22)

The Kings would probably prefer to skip the first six minutes of every game. They've trailed after the first six minutes in 12 of their 17 games and they're the league's worst team in those six minutes, getting outscored by 24 points per 100 possessions (and allowing 123). Dave Joerger has used four different starting lineups in their last five games, but maybe DeMarcus Cousins is just slow to get going (at least defensively). He's a minus-56 in first quarters and a plus-72 otherwise. Monday's opponent (Washington) has been the league's best team in the first six minutes of the first.

This week: @ WAS, @ PHI, @ BOS, @ NYK

19
Last week:
14

Record: 9-10
Pace: 101.3 (8) OffRtg: 106.5 (8) DefRtg: 110.5 (30) NetRtg: -3.9 (25)

The Blazers have lost six of their last eight games, even though they have the league's seventh best offense in that stretch and their latest starting lineup is a plus-9 in its six games together. Their bench stinks and their defense is worse. They got thumped in the paint at times earlier in the season, but have allowed their last three opponents to shoot 51-for-95 (54 percent) from 3-point range. Of course, that included games against two teams - Cleveland and Houston - that rank high in both 3-point volume (3PA per game) and percentage. None of their next six games are against teams that rank in the top 14 in either.

This week: vs. IND, vs. MIA

20
Last week:
23

Record: 7-8
Pace: 98.4 (19) OffRtg: 102.5 (19) DefRtg: 103.3 (16) NetRtg: -0.8 (15)

The Bucks' trade for Michael Beasley in September seemed like a desperate move in the wake of Khris Middleton's hamstring injury. But Beasley has had his moments this season and provided a spark (10 points in his first seven minutes on the floor) after the Bucks fell into a 16-2 hole against the Magic on Monday. After that win and another in Orlando on Sunday, Milwaukee is 5-1 when Beasley has scored in double-figures and is a plus-28 in Beasley's 89 minutes on the floor with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

This week: vs. CLE, @ BKN, vs. BKN

21
Last week:
24

Record: 7-10
Pace: 101.9 (5) OffRtg: 102.5 (18) DefRtg: 105.6 (22) NetRtg: -3.1 (21)

The Nuggets currently have five injured guards or wings and are starting two point guards. The defense has been bad with Emmanuel Mudiay and Jameer Nelson on the floor together, but rookie Jamal Murray is suddenly providing a lot of offense off the bench. The No. 7 pick averaged 21.3 points on 50 percent shooting over a four-game stretch prior to Sunday's win in Phoenix. Wednesday's loss in Utah was the only game this season in which the Nuggets have been outrebounded. Kenneth Faried ranks second in offensive rebounding percentage, and the Nuggets are a top-three team in both second chance points scored and allowed per game.

This week: vs. MIA, vs. HOU, @ UTA

22
Last week:
21

Record: 5-11
Pace: 98.2 (20) OffRtg: 105.1 (12) DefRtg: 105.3 (21) NetRtg: -0.3 (15)

What's the weirdest thing about the Timberwolves?
A. Tom Thibodeau is coaching a bottom-10 defense
B. Ricky Rubio has the team's worst plus-minus.
C. They rank first in offensive efficiency in the first half and 30th in the second half.
With Rubio's minutes continuing to be a struggle, Tyus Jones (previously out of the rotation) gave the Wolves a lift in the second half of Friday's win in Phoenix, where Zach LaVine's posterization of Alex Len was only his second best dunk of the week (because of what he did in practice on Tuesday).

This week: vs. UTA, vs. NYK, @ NYK, @ CHA

23
Last week:
25

Record: 6-12
Pace: 100.7 (9) OffRtg: 100.8 (22) DefRtg: 102.8 (14) NetRtg: -2.0 (18)

After a four-game winning streak that coincided with the return of Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have a two-game losing streak that coincides with the loss of Dante Cunningham, who suffered a fractured fibula on Wednesday. Anthony Davis totaled 67 points and 26 rebounds and Holiday made five of his eight threes over the weekend, but after allowing just 96 points per 100 possessions over the winning streak, the Pels allowed 109 in the two losses in Portland and Dallas. Nine of their next 11 games are against teams that are currently at or above .500.

This week: vs. LAL, vs. LAC, @ OKC

24
Last week:
22

Record: 5-11
Pace: 96.3 (26) OffRtg: 98.4 (27) DefRtg: 100.7 (5) NetRtg: -2.2 (19)

Injuries to Justise Winslow (who has missed the last seven games) and Goran Dragic (who has missed five of the last nine) have the Heat starting undrafted rookie Rodney McGruder (who has shot a remarkable 16-for-19 in the restricted area). But they're good enough defensively (they have the league's No. 1 second-half defense) to pick up a win here and there, like when they scored less than 20 points in two of four quarters in Memphis on Friday. Amazingly, they still only have three losses by double-figures.

This week: vs. BOS, @ DEN, @ UTA, @ POR

25
Last week:
27

Record: 5-10
Pace: 98.5 (18) OffRtg: 102.6 (17) DefRtg: 106.2 (24) NetRtg: -3.6 (24)

There's still hope for this Wall-and-Beal thing. Bradley Beal scored a career-high 42 points in Monday's game against Phoenix and John Wall had the big buckets down the stretch, turning a two-point deficit into a five-point win. He did almost the exact same thing in Orlando on Friday and shot 5-for-7 from the field and 7-for-7 from the line in the clutch last week. The Wizards are a plus-21 in 316 minutes with both Wall and Beal on the floor and a minus-62 in 265 minutes with one or both on the bench. They lost to the Spurs on Saturday, but the first step is beating the teams you're supposed to beat and there are several more on the schedule in the next two weeks.

This week: vs. SAC, @ OKC, @ SAS

26
Last week:
28

Record: 4-13
Pace: 99.7 (12) OffRtg: 95.7 (29) DefRtg: 105.1 (19) NetRtg: -9.4 (30)

After winning four straight at home, the Sixers have dropped three in a row at the Wells Fargo Center, with Joel Embiid reaching his minutes limit before the second overtime against Memphis, Embiid sitting out Friday's loss to Chicago, and the Cavs coming back to life in time on Sunday. Jahlil Okafor had one of his better games (14 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes) against Cleveland, though the defense has still been terrible with him on the floor. With Embiid on the floor, the Sixers have allowed less than a point per possession.

This week: @ TOR, vs. SAC, vs. ORL, vs. BOS

27
Last week:
29

Record: 5-13
Pace: 104.3 (1) OffRtg: 100.5 (25) DefRtg: 105.2 (20) NetRtg: -4.7 (26)

After a six-game trip, the Suns failed to show that they were happy to be home for the holidays. They scored 83 points per 100 possessions against a below-average defense (Minnesota) on Friday and allowed 114 to a below-average offense (Denver) on Sunday. They got 65 combined points from Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker against the Nuggets, but only six of the pair's 21 buckets were assisted. Saturday's game in Oakland will match the teams with the highest and lowest assist percentages (AST/FGM) of the last 13 seasons.

This week: vs. ATL, @ GSW

28
Last week:
20

Record: 6-11
Pace: 96.7 (24) OffRtg: 95.4 (30) DefRtg: 102.2 (10) NetRtg: -6.9 (27)

It was almost exactly a year ago (Nov. 25, 2015) when Scott Skiles moved Victor Oladipo to the bench and sparked a five-game winning streak for the Magic. Moving Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic to the bench and playing just eight guys didn't work out so well for Frank Vogel on Sunday. His new starting lineup was a plus-1 in 11 minutes, but the Magic were otherwise outscored by nine points in their fourth straight loss. When you go 0-3 on a homestand against the Suns, Wizards and Bucks, it might actually be a good time to hit the road for a five-game trip.

This week: @ SAS, @ MEM, @ PHI, @ DET

29
Last week:
26

Record: 4-12
Pace: 104.0 (2) OffRtg: 101.1 (20) DefRtg: 109.3 (29) NetRtg: -8.2 (29)

"They are who we thought they were." - Dennis Green
After a somewhat surprising 4-5 start, the Nets have lost seven straight games by an average of 19.3 points, allowing a brutal 118 points per 100 possessions. Sunday's loss to the Kings was the eighth time the Nets have lost the third quarter by double-digits and the only game in which they've won the third was the one they played against the similarly awful-in-the-third Timberwolves. The pace they're playing at has been much better for their opponents, who have averaged 16.7 fast break points over the losing streak.

This week: vs. LAC, vs. MIL, @ MIL

30
Last week:
30

Record: 3-13
Pace: 94.4 (29) OffRtg: 96.6 (28) DefRtg: 104.0 (17) NetRtg: -7.4 (28)

After games against the Spurs, Clippers and Cavs took the Mavs' losing streak to eight games, and with more tough opponents coming this week, the Mavs got the game they desperately needed on Sunday. Appropriately, it was the fourth quarter, with Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews outscoring the Pelicans by themselves, that got them the win. They've scored 92.2 points per 100 possessions (fewest in the league) over quarters 1-3 and 110.1 (eighth) in the fourth. Dirk Nowitzki isn't fully recovered from his Achilles strain and missed Sunday's game after playing the last two.

This week: vs. SAS, @ CHA, vs. CHI


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