NBA D-League Power Rankings: January 14, 2009
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images
by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com
It's one week after the NBA D-League Showcase and the Bakersfield Jam take the number one spot by the narrowest of margins. The Jam are still one game behind Idaho in the West Division, but they defeated the Stampede on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in the season series. Idaho holds the league's best record at 14-5.
The battle between the Austin Toros and the Colorado 14ers continues in the Southwest Division, with the defending division winners from Austin currently holding a 1.5 game lead. Both teams have not been playing their best ball as of late, with both going 2-3 over their last five games. The Albuquerque Thunderbirds have won five straight but remain five games out of first place.
The Central Division remains a dogfight with four teams within two games of first. The Iowa Energy remain in front with a 10-4 mark, while the Sioux Falls Skyforce are a game out of first at 12-8. The expansion Erie BayHawks are 11-8 and one and a half games out of first place, while the Dakota Wizards two games behind Iowa with an 11-9 record on the season.
|TEAM (LAST WK)||REC.||BREAKDOWN|
|1||Bakersfield (4)||13-6||The Jam have won three of their last four games, including victories over division leaders in Austin and Idaho. Next up on the slate is a three-game homestand, including another showdown with Idaho on Sunday afternoon. Guard Trey Johnson is averaging 25.8 points over five games in January.|
|2||Idaho (5)||14-5||The Stampede's loss to Bakersfield on Sunday snapped a six-game winning streak. Idaho had already been skating on thin ice over the past few games, edging an Anaheim team on a five-game losing streak and having to come back from 25 points down against Fort Wayne. Idaho will try to start a new winning streak when a hot Reno team visits on Thursday and then look to extend their lead in the division when they visit Bakersfield on Sunday. The Stampede remain undefeated at home, compiling a 7-0 record at Qwest Arena.|
|3||Iowa (2)||10-4||The Energy have lost three of five after starting the season with an 8-1 record, but will welcome a return home to Des Moines, where they are 5-0 this year. Courtney Sims' number have taken a dip, as he is averaging 20.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in Janauary after posting 24.3 points and 13.0 rebounds in seven December games.|
|4||Austin (1)||13-6||The Toros have gone 2-3 after snapping a nine-game winning streak. They will look to get back on track by becoming the first team to win in Iowa this season when they face the Energy on Saturday. The Toros currently have the league's best road record with a 4-1 mark away from Austin.|
|5||Utah (9)||10-7||The Flash have won four straight games, including an impressive win in Sioux Falls on Monday. Kyrylo Fesenko has returned to the Flash on assignment and is averaging 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds over his first four games with the team. Next up, the Flash will head to Dakota and Reno this week and try to keep the momentum going.|
|6||Sioux Falls (6)||12-8||The Skyforce have been up and down over the first half of January, compiling a 3-4 record to start 2009. Their next eight games are all against divisional opponents, starting with two home games against the Mad Ants this week. Sioux Falls is 8-4 against the Mad Ants since Fort Wayne entered the NBA D-League last season.|
|7||Colorado (3)||10-6||The 14ers, 2-3 in January, are only in action once this week when they visit Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday night. Colorado has only lost once to the Vipers in 10 games all-time. Sean Williams, on assignment from New Jersey, is currently averaging 4.9 blocks, which will lead the league if he appears in enough games to qualify. He has already blocked six shots in two of his six games with the 14ers.|
|8||Erie (7)||11-8||The BayHawks have won two straight against Central Division foes and are growing into one of the league's toughest home teams, compiling a 7-2 record in Erie. Four of their next six games are at home, so now is an opportune time for the BayHawks to make a move to the top of the Central Division. Erie also visits Dakota this weekend for two games, where they are 1-1 this season.|
|9||Dakota (8)||11-9||The Wizards have been playing .500 ball since the new year but remain in the middle of a tight Central Division race. Forward Rod Benson, last season's leading rebounder in the NBA D-League, has returned to the team but is only playing 14.5 minutes per game so far. Dakota is at home for eight of their next 11 games and will host Erie for two games this weekend.|
|10||Reno (16)||7-12||The Bighorns are the hottest team in the league right now, winning six straight games after snapping an 11-game skid. They still have a ways to go before they reach .500, but the assignment of Donte Greene from Sacramento can only help. Greene, averaging 19.3 points after four games, and the Bighorns will visit Idaho on Thursday and try to become the first team to win in Boise this season.|
|11||Albuquerque (15)||7-10||The Thunderbirds are turning things around, winning their last five games after starting the season with a 2-10 record. Reigning NBA D-League Performer of the Week Will Conroy continues to lead the league in scoring with 25.0 points. Albuquerque now plays four straight on the road against teams that are a combined 21-12 on their home courts (Idaho, Bakersfield, Colorado, Los Angeles).|
|12||Fort Wayne (12)||6-11||The Mad Ants ended a four-game losing streak when they defeated Anaheim on Sunday, but will now play their next ten games on the road. Fort Wayne is 0-5 in road games this season, but at least they will get plenty of chances to improve that record over the next two weeks.|
|13||Rio Grande Valley (10)||7-13||The Vipers have lost five straight, with four of the defeats coming by double-digits. They have also lost two key players with Smush Parker heading overseas and Joey Dorsey being recalled by the Houston Rockets. Next on the schedule is a visit from a Colorado team has beaten Rio Grande Valley twice this season.|
|14||Tulsa (14)||5-13||The 66ers are being outscored by a league-worst 5.4 points per game and are 15th in shooting percentage (.445) and scoring (94.3 points). On the bright side, they have knocked off two teams with winning records (Erie and Colorado) over their last four games. The 66ers host Rio Grande Valley on Friday after over a week off since their last game.|
|15||Anaheim (11)||5-13||Despite 29.1 points per game from James White in January, the Arsenal have lost five straight games. Things are not getting easier with the team in the midst of six straight road games, including trips to Erie, Iowa, and Austin. The Arsenal are 2-6 away from Orange County this season.|
|16||Los Angeles (13)||4-15||The D-Fenders have lost five straight and seven of their last eight games. They will host Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon as they try to end the skid. Brandon Heath has been re-inserted into the starting lineup and is averaging 31.5 points over his last two games.|