INSIDER: NOVEMBER POWER RANKINGS

Here is the first regular-season installment of my monthly power rankings, which are posted on the first Friday of every month. This entry was delayed by two days after Brooklyn Nets did not make their season debut until Saturday night. I tried to combine the big picture with an immediate reaction to how teams have looked through the first week of the season. I would love to read your comments on Twitter (@ericpatten). You can also leave comments at the bottom of these rankings.

Note: Rankings based on all games through Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.


Rank

Team

Previous

Rec.

Reason

1

1

-

2-1 

I’ll chalk the Knicks loss up to a lack of want to be there after Hurricane Sandy. They looked unstoppable, though, versus Boston on ring night.

2

4

3-0 

The Spurs look good and Tony Parker looks better, making two gutsy shots to help beat OKC. Add the ageless Tim Duncan and their unprecedented continuity and depth and SAS is going to be a big factor in the West.

3

2 

1-2 

OKC dropped a spot for two reasons: 1. Kevin Martin is NOT James Harden, 28 points versus Atlanta notwithstanding. 2. The chemistry may be an issue regardless of how outstanding Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are. Note: If Durant is going to rebound the ball like this (double figures in first three games) he will win MVP.

4

5

2-1 

Impressive showing in their first two before losing in a sluggish, foul-plagued game against the Warriors. It seemed like a classic letdown game, and Chris Paul said afterwards that he hopes the team can learn a lesson from it. 

5

3

1-3 

I don’t want to read too much into the record or start, tending to believe what everyone from Blake Griffin to Kobe Bryant has said, “They’ll be fine.” However, Steve Nash’s fractured fibula and Bryant’s foot are still reminders that this team is one that can least withstand injuries to its starters.  

6

 

7

1-2 

I like Boston’s depth and love Rajon Rondo and much like the Lakers I’m not reading too much into the record after losing on the road to the defending champions. 

7

 

10

1-1 

After seeing them opening night in a nine-point loss, I actually liked them more than I did throughout training camp. Zach Randolph was inefficient shooting the ball, but gobbled up 16 rebounds. They’re going to cause some problems in the West. 

8

8

-

2-1 

There is no more confusing team in the Top 8, really. They are 2-1 without Danny Granger, but then again that’s against Toronto, Sacramento and Charlotte. With the loss coming against the Bobcats. We’ll find out more about them Monday when they meet the undefeated Spurs. 

9

15

2-0 

It seems unfathomable, but I feel better about the Knicks with Amar’e Stoudemire (knee debridement) out. They seem perfect for small-ball (evidenced by their 40 threes in two games) with Tyson Chandler anchoring the middle and Carmelo Anthony’s quickness at 4 spot.  

10

6

 0-3

I was somewhat underwhelmed by Denver in the preseason, but their winless start has been even more so. An opening not loss in the City of Brotherly Love is somewhat excusable, losing two nights later in Orlando is not. 

11

9

1-2 

Feels like I may have overrated them before seeing them twice in the preseason. Still, believe in their talented frontcourt and think Marvin Williams and his improvement from 3-point range will be an X-Factor.   

12

13

 2-1

The Bulls are getting double-digit scoring from all five starters and recently agreed to an extension with reserve forward Taj Gibson. They just need to stay at or above .500 before Derrick Rose returns… so far, so good.  

13

11

 1-0

An emotional home-opening win was a good start to the Brooklyn era. However, it took just about everything they had to beat Toronto. 

14

12

1-1 

The Andrew Bynum situation has to be a concern. They are running out a lineup that basically has one undersized big, three wings and a point guard. That works for the Heat because they have LeBron James. To remain a longshot contender in the East, they need Bynum back and fast. 

15

16

2-1 

They are off to a nice start without Dirk Nowitzki (knee), including a dismantling of the Lakers on opening night. O.J. Mayo scored 30 points in his third game with Dallas, his first game topping 29 since he had a 40-point night Nov. 1, 1409. 

16

14

1-1 

Minnesota is without Ricky Rubio (knee) and Kevin Love (hand) and lost J.J. Barea to a concussion Sunday. On the flip side, Brandon Roy has been on the court for 52 minutes so far, which is a great to see. 

17

18

 2-1

It’s tough to move them up too far considering the loss of Eric Gordon (knee) for the next month or more. However, Anthony Davis is absolutely legit and they’ve been competitive throughout the preseason and their opening three games. 

18

19

 2-1

The Warriors have it a little tough with Andrew Bogut sitting out the second games of back-to-backs. But at least the Australian center is playing at all. The Warriors rallied around the absence of Bogut and injured forward Brandon Rush Saturday for a nice win over the Clippers. 

19

17

 1-1

Give the Hawks some credit, they got by without Josh Smith and defeated OKC. Still, even with Smith they do not seem viable as a contender this season, no matter what ESPN the Magazine seems to think (picked No. 2 in the East).

20

20

 -

 2-0

Brandon Jennings has 26 assists in two games and the typically low-scoring Bucks hit the 105-point mark in a win over Cleveland. A nice start for a team flying way under the radar. 

21

25

 2-1

Harden has been awesome, and boy does he take pressure off Jeremy Lin. Still not crazy about the Rockets in the immediate, but their future is much brighter with someone that looks like a legitimate All-Star.

22

26

 2-1

I underestimated how hard they would play for Terry Stotts, but that likely bodes well for a young roster. There are still too many unknowns about the core rotation at the moment, but I wouldn’t want to face them in Rip City. 

23

21

 1-2

Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving are off to excellent early-season starts. Irving looks completely healed from offseason hand injury. The problem: it does not look like the Cavaliers have much help around their young star. 

24

23

 1-2

Terrence Ross scored his first NBA basket in Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves and Kyle Lowry is predictably a force at PG. It will be interesting to see how they develop as the season goes on. 

25

22

 0-2

In its first two games Washington seems devoid of offense (84 and 86 points). It is likely a symptom of John Wall’s absence, which will be felt for another month or so. 

26

30

 2-0

They are undefeated through two games and it does not really matter who they played (DEN and PHX). It seemed unthinkable that they would win twice in a row all season.

27

24

 1-2

If I’m going to dock Denver for losing to Orlando, I have to do the same to the Suns, and Phoenix does not have the same upside—at least this season. 

28

29

 1-1

Snapping their 23-game losing streak on opening night was enough to deserve a one spot jump in the rankings. Plus, Kemba Walker looks to be improved (despite shooting performance in game two).

29

28

 0-3

The Pistons are a poor perimeter shooting team and are still trying to gel as a young team. They looked sloppy and undersized Sunday against the Lakers. 

30

27

 0-3

Believe it or not, I like some of their pieces: Thomas Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins in particular. It’s just that they are not going to win a lot of games. The arena/relocation situation is going to loom over them all season.