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Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Rockets rolling after hot December; Clippers continue to tumble

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

Archive

Jan 2, 2017 12:37 PM ET

1:04

As we begin a new calendar year, we take stock of where the league stands. And the thing that stands out is that offense keeps getting better.

After scoring 103.9 points per 100 possessions through November, the league scored 106.6 in December and is now at a mark 3.0 points per 100 possessions better than it was at at this point last year. With a combination of better talent and better spacing, we are likely in the middle of the best offensive season of the last 40 years.

With so many elite offenses, playoff position may be determined by defense. In the West, there are now four teams fighting for the eighth spot and three of them - Denver, Portland and Sacramento - rank in the bottom 10 defensively. If one of those teams can start defending well, they could have the edge. And if the New Orleans Pelicans can continue to defend at a rate better than the league average as they play with a smaller lineup, that last playoff spot may be theirs.

The Cleveland Cavaliers still haven't turned up their defense, but they're holding on to the No. 1 spot this week, with their first trip through the Western Conference coming up.

  • Hero team of the week: Houston (4-0) -- The Rockets finished their 15-2 month in grand fashion and are just a game and a half behind the Spurs for second place in the West.
  • Zero team of the week: New York (0-3) -- The Knicks are undefeated at home against teams that are currently over .500, but their six-game road losing streak includes losses in Phoenix, Denver and Friday's in New Orleans, where they shot 38 percent.
  • East vs. West: The West is 102-85 (.545) against the East in interconference games after going 9-6 last week.
  • Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Dallas, 2. Portland, 3. L.A. Lakers
  • Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Chicago, 2. Oklahoma City, 3. Denver
  • 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: Portland (+4), Washington (+4), Six teams (+1)
  • Free falls of the week: LA Clippers (-4), Orlando (-4), New York (-3)
  • Team to watch this week: Toronto -- The Raptors are 0-3 against the Cavs and don't play them again until the last night of the season. But they can prove themselves against some of the best teams in the West this week. They finish their road trip in San Antonio on Tuesday, and then host the Jazz and Rockets on Thursday and Sunday, with a visit to Chicago in between.

***

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 has averaged 98.6 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.2 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

***

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:
1

Record: 25-7
Pace: 98.8 (15) OffRtg: 111.3 (4) DefRtg: 105.1 (16) NetRtg: +6.3 (5)

Kyrie Irving is one double-digit assist game (he's got six, with five in his last seven) from tying his career high (seven), but the Cavs still haven't figured out how to win without LeBron James, who missed Monday's loss in Detroit. They have won the last 12 games James has played (and eight of the 12 wins have been over teams currently at or above .500), getting 33 points from Jordan McRae and Kay Felder when Irving missed Saturday's win in Charlotte with a hamstring injury. And now they're finally going to play a game outside the Eastern and Central time zones.

This week: vs. NOP, vs. CHI, @ BKN, @ PHX

2
Last week:
2

Record: 29-5
Pace: 102.7 (3) OffRtg: 113.1 (2) DefRtg: 101.0 (2) NetRtg: +12.1 (1)

Stephen Curry wants to run more pick-and-rolls. According to SportVU, he's used just 17.7 ball screens per game, a rate that ranks 35th in the league and is down from 19.5 last season. That's one reason he ranks seventh in pull-up 3-pointers after making 89 more than any other player last season. The other is that he hasn't shot them nearly as well. He's at 29.0 percent on pull-up threes, down from 42.8 percent last season and the worst mark (even worse than LeBron James) among the 13 guys who have taken at least 75. Imagine how good the Warriors' offense would be if the two-time MVP wasn't the league's worst high-volume pull-up 3-point shooter.

This week: vs. DEN, vs. POR, vs. MEM, @ SAC

3
Last week:
3

Record: 27-7
Pace: 96.0 (26) OffRtg: 109.9 (5) DefRtg: 101.6 (4) NetRtg: +8.3 (3)

While the rest of the league has been getting offensive, the Spurs have held eight of their last 13 opponents under a point per possession, even doing it twice with Kawhi Leonard out last week. He returned on Sunday and hit the game-winner in Atlanta, except that it it spun out and the Spurs lost in overtime. Danny Green's effective field goal percentage dropped from 59.6 percent in 2014-15 to 49.2 percent last season, and now (after he's shot 27-for-51 from 3-point range over the last 10 games) it's at a career-high 64.7 percent, the league's fourth best mark among players who have taken at least 150 shots.

This week: vs. TOR, @ DEN, vs. CHA

4
Last week:
4

Record: 26-9
Pace: 101.0 (4) OffRtg: 112.7 (3) DefRtg: 105.2 (17) NetRtg: +7.5 (4)

James Harden capped the Rockets' 15-2 December and a week in which they averaged 131 points per game with a never-before-seen 53 points, 16 rebounds and 17 assists against the Knicks on Saturday, accounting for 95 Houston points via his points and assists. Harden is on pace to crush the record for most assists on 3-pointers and now Eric Gordon is on pace to become the second player in history with 300 threes in a season. Despite injuries to Clint Capela and Patrick Beverley, the Houston offense is rolling, but the Rockets play eight January games (most in the league) against top-10 defenses, starting with a visit from the Thunder on Thursday.

This week: vs. WAS, vs. OKC, @ ORL, @ TOR

5
Last week:
5

Record: 23-10
Pace: 97.8 (19) OffRtg: 113.8 (1) DefRtg: 104.8 (15) NetRtg: +8.9 (2)

The Raptors broke their "We only lose to the really good teams and the Kings" rule for the first time this season, falling in Phoenix after losing Patrick Patterson to a knee injury on Thursday. But they just needed a couple of days off to figure out their new "Lowry + bench" unit and with Jakob Poeltl replacing Patterson, that group made the difference (plus-14 in less than seven minutes at the start of the fourth quarter) in Sunday's win over the Lakers. Kyle Lowry scored 41 points, shooting 6-for-7 from 3-point range and completing his transformation into the new Steph Curry.

This week: @ SAS, vs. UTA, @ CHI, vs. HOU

6
Last week:
7

Record: 21-13
Pace: 100.2 (7) OffRtg: 104.6 (15) DefRtg: 103.5 (8) NetRtg: +1.1 (12)

Two nights after he got ejected (with zero assists and six turnovers) in the third quarter in Memphis, Russell Westbrook made sure he had a triple-double by halftime against the Clippers. Throw away the loss to the Grizzlies and the Thunder have played their best offensive basketball of the season, scoring 117 points per 100 possessions in their other seven games since mid-December. And most of that was without Victor Oladipo, who returned on Saturday. We'll see if that continues as they play the league's toughest January schedule, both in regard to opponent strength (nine of the 15 opponents are at or above .500) and home-road ratio (3/12).

This week: @ MIL, @ CHA, @ HOU, vs. DEN

7
Last week:
8

Record: 20-14
Pace: 98.5 (18) OffRtg: 107.6 (7) DefRtg: 105.4 (18) NetRtg: +2.2 (10)

As Isaiah Thomas dropped 52 points on the Heat on Friday (the second time in 11 days he set a career high), it was hard not to remember that two teams - Sacramento and Phoenix - that haven't made the playoffs since 2006 and 2010, respectively, game up in him and got little in return. Thomas has scored 20-plus points in 18 straight games and has made 35 straight free throws. The Celtics still aren't defending like they did last year, but they've certainly found a rhythm offensively, having scored 111 points per 100 possessions as they've won seven of their last nine games. Even Gerald Green (19 points in Tuesday's win over Memphis) got into the act last week.

This week: vs. UTA, vs. PHI, vs. NOP

8
Last week:
9

Record: 22-14
Pace: 95.1 (28) OffRtg: 101.6 (24) DefRtg: 100.5 (1) NetRtg: +1.1 (11)

Over their last seven games, the Grizzlies have scored 114.2 points per 100 possessions, their best seven-game stretch of offense in almost seven years (since Jan. 2010). And they've done it with Mike Conley missing two of those seven games and Marc Gasol shooting 0-for-6 before leaving Saturday's win in Sacramento early with a left ankle injury. They've turned the ball over less than 11 times per 100 possessions in that stretch and Troy Daniels has scored more than 25 points per 36 minutes off the bench, shooting 49 percent from 3-point range. The team's 17 threes on Saturday were a franchise record.

This week: @ LAL, @ LAC, @ GSW, vs. UTA

9
Last week:
10

Record: 21-13
Pace: 93.1 (30) OffRtg: 106.9 (9) DefRtg: 101.1 (3) NetRtg: +5.9 (6)

The Jazz got back on track with three wins over bad teams last week, though they needed a late three from the league's leading 3-point shooter (Joe Ingles) to beat the Lakers on Tuesday and Saturday's win over Phoenix went down to the wire as well. They allowed a total of just 24 points in their last two fourth quarters and George Hill had a big game against Philadelphia (21 points, eight rebounds and six assists) upon his return from a 13-game absence. But Hill was out again two nights later, taking an elbow to the face from Alex Len in the first quarter on Saturday. The Jazz have been terrific (plus-17.9 points per 100 possessions) with him on the floor, but he's already missed 21 games.

This week: @ BKN, @ BOS, @ TOR, @ MIN

10
Last week:
6

Record: 22-14
Pace: 98.6 (17) OffRtg: 108.8 (6) DefRtg: 104.0 (10) NetRtg: +4.9 (7)

Breaking news: The Clippers are a bad team when they don't have Blake Griffin or Chris Paul (or when Griffin is out and Paul comes back too early from a hamstring injury). Their six-game losing streak - in which they've been bad on both ends of the floor - has taken them from fourth to seventh in the West. The good news is that they're not going to fall any further and they have the conference's easiest January schedule, with plenty of days off before the next time they have to leave the state of California (for a Jan. 21 game in Denver).

This week: vs. PHX, vs. MEM, @ SAC, vs. MIA

11
Last week:
11

Record: 19-15
Pace: 98.6 (16) OffRtg: 105.3 (14) DefRtg: 103.1 (6) NetRtg: +2.3 (9)

The Hornets don't have to play the Cavs again until late March, which is good, because they've allowed 118 points per 100 possessions in their three losses to Cleveland and are 1-22 against LeBron James since he left Cleveland for Miami in 2010. The Hornets are still just a game behind Boston for third place in the East, but have a tougher January schedule than the Celtics, with a five-game trip that begins Thursday and four games (including two this week) against the top five teams in the West. Frank Kaminsky has made just two of his last 16 3-point attempts and has been the league's second worst 3-point shooter among 115 players who have attempted at least 100 shots from beyond the arc.

This week: @ CHI, vs. OKC, @ DET, @ SAS

12
Last week:
13

Record: 18-16
Pace: 100.1 (8) OffRtg: 101.8 (22) DefRtg: 103.0 (5) NetRtg: -1.1 (16)

The Hawks' season so far, in three parts...
Part 1: 9-2
Part 2: 1-10
Part 3: 8-4
They actually have a negative point differential (minus-9) in Part 3, but it includes wins over the Bucks, Raptors, Thunder and Spurs. Tim Hardaway Jr. shot 0-for-7 against his former team earlier in the week, but the Hawks still beat the Knicks and Hardaway made up for it with 29 points, including the game-tying three in regulation and two more in overtime, against San Antonio on Sunday. That was clearly the best game of the year.

This week: @ ORL, @ NOP, @ DAL

13
Last week:
12

Record: 16-16
Pace: 97.8 (20) OffRtg: 107.2 (8) DefRtg: 103.9 (9) NetRtg: +3.3 (8)

The Bucks have the third best point differential in the Eastern Conference, but stand in seventh place because they've lost four straight games that were within five points in the last five minutes, with Matthew Dellavedova shooting 0-for-11 on clutch shots in that stretch. With Dellavedova joining Kyrie Irving, Jeremy Lin and Chris Paul on the list of starting point guards with hamstring issues, Malcolm Brogdon got his first two starts and joined the triple-double parade in Saturday's win in Chicago.

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

14
Last week:
18

Record: 16-16
Pace: 99.0 (14) OffRtg: 105.9 (12) DefRtg: 106.0 (20) NetRtg: -0.1 (13)

The Wizards began the week needing to play their starting lineup more than 30 minutes in Monday's win over Milwaukee. They ended the week with Trey Burke scoring 27 points off the bench (with Bradley Beal out with an ankle injury) in Friday's win over Brooklyn. The Wizards are 9-3 since Dec. 8, climbing from 12th to sixth in the East over that time, and have won eight straight at home, scoring 113.6 points per 100 possessions in the eight games. John Wall assisted on nine of Otto Porter's 13 buckets in Monday's 32-point performance and, with his 39 assists last week, Wall is averaging an even 10.0 per game.

This week: @ HOU, @ DAL, vs. MIN, @ MIL

15
Last week:
15

Record: 17-18
Pace: 100.0 (10) OffRtg: 103.2 (20) DefRtg: 104.6 (14) NetRtg: -1.4 (17)

Paul George and Nate McMillan complained about free throws (and got fined for it) after the Pacers got just 10 in Monday's loss in Chicago. But rebounds have been a bigger problem than free throws. The Pacers rank 28th in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and allowed the Bulls and Magic to total 40 second chance points over the weekend. But they got two wins and climbed into playoff position by breaking out of their offensive funk, with Jeff Teague recording 26 total assists in the two games.

This week: @ DET, vs. BKN, vs. NYK

16
Last week:
16

Record: 16-18
Pace: 96.8 (24) OffRtg: 103.6 (18) DefRtg: 104.2 (13) NetRtg: -0.6 (14)

Michael Carter-Williams arrived in what seemed like a throwaway trade in the middle of the preseason, missed 27 games with a knee injury, and doesn't offer the Bulls better shooting than Rajon Rondo. But MCW is now the starting point guard, while Rondo is out of the rotation, maybe for good. The new starting lineup had a good first quarter and a bad third quarter in Saturday's loss to the Bucks, which couldn't be saved by Dwyane Wade (who had the game-sealing steal against Indiana on Monday) or Jimmy Butler (who hit the game-winner against Brooklyn on Wednesday). Only the Clippers saw a bigger NetRtg drop-off than the Bulls did from October-November (plus-4.4) to December (minus-5.7).

 

This week: vs. CHA, @ CLE, vs. TOR

17
Last week:
14

Record: 16-17
Pace: 100.0 (9) OffRtg: 104.1 (16) DefRtg: 107.6 (25) NetRtg: -3.5 (23)

Derrick Rose had a throwback dunk in New Orleans on Friday and has scored 20 or more points in four straight games for the first time since Feb. 2012. But Rose's assist rate (18.2 per 100 possessions) is the lowest it's been in any season he's played more than 10 games, he hasn't been a very efficient scorer (his true shooting percentage of 50.7 is well below the league average of 54.7), and the Knicks have lost four straight to fall back below .500 and out of playoff position. With Carmelo Anthony, Courtney Lee and Kristaps Porzingis all banged up, they have a critical week ahead, with three games against the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings.

This week: vs. ORL, vs. MIL, @ MIL, @ IND

18
Last week:
17

Record: 14-19
Pace: 96.7 (25) OffRtg: 103.7 (17) DefRtg: 107.5 (24) NetRtg: -3.9 (24)

The Kings were streaking toward taking control of the 8 seed in the West, but allowed the Blazers and Grizzlies to shoot 48 percent from 3-point range in losses that dropped them back to five games under .500. Rudy Gay has missed eight of the last nine games with a hip injury and the Kings' latest starting lineup (with Ben McLemore and Matt Barnes on the wings) has been a disaster defensively, allowing 133 points per 100 possessions in its five games together. Now, the Kings have the toughest January schedule of the four teams in the mix for the 8 seed in the West, as their seven-game homestand (which starts Wednesday) includes games against the Clippers, Warriors, Cavs and Thunder, and is followed by an eight-game trip.

This week: @ DEN, vs. MIA, vs. LAC, vs. GSW

19
Last week:
22

Record: 14-21
Pace: 99.9 (11) OffRtg: 101.4 (26) DefRtg: 104.0 (11) NetRtg: -2.6 (19)

The Pelicans have been playing Anthony Davis exclusively at center the last three games, and haven't even used Alexis Ajinca (three straight DNPs) or Omer Asik (four straight DNPs) as his back-up. The reported addition of Donatas Motiejunas could give them a post presence and a little more size without having to sacrifice offensive skills. So far, the defense hasn't suffered with Davis as a full-time center and the Pels have won four straight to join the fight for eighth place in the West. But if they're going to stay in it, they'll have to do by beating teams in the East, as Friday's win over the Knicks began a stretch of 11 straight games against the opposite conference. The opponents get weaker after this week and the Pels are the only team that doesn't have a back-to-back in January.

This week: @ CLE, vs. ATL, @ BOS

20
Last week:
19

Record: 16-20
Pace: 96.0 (27) OffRtg: 102.4 (21) DefRtg: 103.3 (7) NetRtg: -0.9 (15)

The Pistons beat the Cavs without LeBron James on Monday and beat the Heat without the six best players on their roster on Sunday (after trailing by as many as 14 points), but they'll take what they can get at this point. Of course, they won just one quarter in the two more important games in between, shooting 15-for-55 (27 percent) from 3-point range against the Bucks and Hawks. Jon Leuer has been inconsistent in five games as a starter and the Pistons are sitting in 11th place, with a 3-5 record against teams 6-10 and a visit from the eighth-place Pacers on Tuesday.

This week: vs. IND, vs. CHA, @ POR

21
Last week:
21

Record: 14-19
Pace: 100.4 (5) OffRtg: 105.7 (13) DefRtg: 108.9 (27) NetRtg: -3.2 (22)

The Nuggets have had four straight games go down to the wire, coming inches from beating the Hawks on a Wilson Chandler runner and inches from a miraculous, four-points-in-three-seconds sequence that would have sent Friday's game against Philly on a six-foot bank shot from Gary Harris. Either one of those shots could have them in playoff position, but Chandler's incredible, game-saving block on Andrew Wiggins on Wednesday still has them in a tie for eighth with Sacramento, with the Kings coming to Denver for the first of four meetings on Tuesday.

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

22
Last week:
26

Record: 15-21
Pace: 99.8 (12) OffRtg: 106.9 (10) DefRtg: 109.7 (29) NetRtg: -2.8 (20)

The Blazers managed to win two of their four games without Damian Lillard last week. Allen Crabbe (starting in place of Lillard) had a big first half (13 points on four shots) against the Kings on Wednesday and C.J. McCollum scored a career-high 43 points in Minnesota on Sunday, but what stands out is that it was the Blazers' best four-game stretch in regard to defensive efficiency (98 points allowed per 100 possessions) by a wide margin. For the season, they've allowed 113.0 points per 100 possessions with Lillard on the floor and only 103.4 with him off the floor.

This week: @ GSW, vs. LAL, vs. DET

23
Last week:
23

Record: 11-23
Pace: 97.0 (22) OffRtg: 106.3 (11) DefRtg: 108.0 (26) NetRtg: -1.7 (18)

Ricky Rubio has been a difference-maker for the Wolves in previous years, when they've generally been much better with him on the floor than with him on the bench. But with the offense being run more through Andrew Wiggins (using 14.4 ball screens per game, up from 8.8 last season) and Karl-Anthony Towns (4.7 post-up possessions per game, up from 3.1), there's a greater need for a point guard who can shoot. Kris Dunn gave the Wolves a spark and did some fancy dribbling against Portland on Sunday, but has shot a little worse (31 percent) than Rubio (33 percent) from outside the paint thus far. The two combined to shoot 3-for-14 outside the paint in Wednesday's loss in Denver as the Nuggets liberally double-teamed Towns in the post and dared the point guards to beat them.

This week: @ PHI, @ WAS, vs. UTA

24
Last week:
20

Record: 15-20
Pace: 97.5 (21) OffRtg: 100.7 (29) DefRtg: 105.6 (19) NetRtg: -5.0 (25)

A big game (30 points on 11-for-14 shooting) from Aaron Gordon against Memphis on Monday had the Magic just a game out of eighth place in the East. But they lost their two more important games last week, as their defense got eviscerated by the Hornets on Wednesday and by the Pacers on Sunday. Though they're 8-14 in the conference, they have the worst NetRtg (minus-8.2) in games played between East teams. And that loss in Indiana was the start of what is the East's toughest January schedule.

This week: @ NYK, vs. ATL, vs. HOU, @ LAL

25
Last week:
24

Record: 10-24
Pace: 93.2 (29) OffRtg: 101.6 (25) DefRtg: 107.1 (22) NetRtg: -5.4 (26)

The Mavs won the pace battle against the Lakers on Thursday, but didn't have as much success in slowing their opponents down in their other three games last week. Over the four games, they were outscored 72-15 in fast break points. Monday's loss in New Orleans, in which the Pelicans had to take only seven shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, was most damaging to any hopes the Mavs have of climbing into the scrum for eighth place in the West. The offense is there, but the defense won't be until Andrew Bogut can start playing regular minutes. After logging 32 in his first two games back from a 11-game absence, he sat out Friday's visit to Golden State, the second game of a back-to-back.

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

26
Last week:
25

Record: 10-25
Pace: 96.9 (23) OffRtg: 100.9 (28) DefRtg: 104.0 (12) NetRtg: -3.2 (21)

Josh McRoberts is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot. Goran Dragic has missed three of the last four games with back spasms. Hassan Whiteside (eye) and Justise Winslow (shoulder) joined them on the sideline for Sunday's loss to Detroit. Dion Waiters (remember him?) has missed the last 19 games. It's a good time to be playing the Heat, who have scored less than a point per possession as they've lost five straight games and are down to nine healthy players (and not the better ones).

This week: @ PHX, @ SAC, @ LAL, @ LAC

27
Last week:
28

Record: 10-24
Pace: 103.1 (2) OffRtg: 101.8 (23) DefRtg: 107.4 (23) NetRtg: -5.6 (27)

In November, Jared Dudley - who signed a (reasonable) three-year contract in the summer and is one of the only players on the Suns who willingly passes the ball - was taken out of the starting lineup in favor of one lottery pick (Marquese Chriss). Last week, Dudley was taken out of the rotation in favor of another (Dragan Bender). Another rookie - Tyler Ulis - has also been getting some rotation burn at the expense of Brandon Knight's minutes. The Suns are obviously in "Let the kids play" mode and should be ripe for a trade, but did get a quality win (over Toronto) on Thursday.

This week: @ LAC, vs. MIA, @ DAL, vs. CLE

28
Last week:
27

Record: 12-25
Pace: 100.4 (6) OffRtg: 103.5 (19) DefRtg: 110.2 (30) NetRtg: -6.7 (28)

The Lakers were, by far, the league's worst second-half team in December (minus-20.0 points per 100 possessions), finishing the month off with some ugly last-minute possessions in a two-point loss to the Jazz on Tuesday and by getting outscored 51-32 by the Mavs after halftime on Thursday. The new year didn't start much better, as, against Toronto on Sunday, they lost the second half for the 15th time in their last 17 games and lost their 10th straight game that was within five points in the last five minutes.

This week: vs. MEM, @ POR, vs. MIA, vs. ORL

29
Last week:
29

Record: 8-24
Pace: 99.1 (13) OffRtg: 98.6 (30) DefRtg: 106.2 (21) NetRtg: -7.7 (29)

The Sixers were competitive on their four-game trip out west, with three of the four games (the ones Joel Embiid played) going down to the wire. Dario Saric has been coming off the bench for the last month and a half, but has played more consistently lately, has been part of the Sixers' closing lineup, and has been their best shooter in the clutch. Even with some recent injuries, guys are still playing out of position, as that closing lineup has had Saric at the three and Robert Covington at the two. It finished the trip with a win in Denver on Friday where the Sixers shot 14-for-15 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

This week: vs. MIN, @ BOS, @ BKN

30
Last week:
30

Record: 8-24
Pace: 104.1 (1) OffRtg: 101.3 (27) DefRtg: 109.0 (28) NetRtg: -7.7 (30)

Randy Foye's game-winner kept the Nets from blowing two late leads last week, but Jeremy Lin played less than seven games before injuring his hamstring again and leaving the Nets with a brutal point guard situation for another undetermined amount of time. They're in the middle of the pack in effective field goal percentage and are a top-10 team in free throw rate, but rank 29th in turnover rate, having turned the ball over a league-high 17.1 times per 100 possessions in December. Isaiah Whitehead and Foye have the two highest turnover rates among 128 guards who have played at least 15 minutes per game in at least 15 games (with Whitehead leading the group by a healthy margin). The Nets' pace has hurt them more than it has helped them, which wouldn't be a bad thing if they controlled their own draft pick. But they don't and, as it stands, they're swapping a 60 percent chance at a top-three pick for No. 21, with the Celtics (the team they're swapping with) looking looking like they could push that pick as low as No. 25.

This week: vs. UTA, @ IND, vs. CLE, vs. PHI


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