The Jimmy Butler drama is over. The Minnesota Timberwolves finally traded their disgruntled star on Saturday (with the deal set to become official on Monday), sending him to Philadelphia in exchange for Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
Now, Tom Thibodeau can get back to coaching basketball, Karl-Anthony Towns can get back to restoring his reputation as one of the best young players in the league, and the rest of us can get back to ... more discord, apparently.
Taking the place of Butler and the Wolves in the headlines are Carmelo Anthony and the Rockets, who are reportedly in the process of parting ways, with the Rockets sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference and Anthony having registered a team-worst minus-63 in his first season as a reserve.
The Rockets and Wolves (and Sixers) have time to figure things out, but we are getting closer to that 20-game mark in which the standings start to mean something. How many wins a team picks up in its first 20 games can tell you a lot about its chances of making the postseason. Over the last 15 (82-game) seasons, only one of the 47 Western Conference teams that won fewer than eight of their first 20 games went on to make the playoffs.
In the East, the 12-1 Toronto Raptors could probably start selling playoff tickets right now, and they're back at No. 1 in the rankings, with a five-game winning streak and with some other top teams suffering losses last week.
- Last week Tough tests await No. 1-ranked Warriors
- This time last year: Celtics aren't the only team streaking -- The Celtics were 12 games into their 16-game winning streak, but just a game ahead of the Pistons in the loss column, with the Magic and Knicks also in the top four in the Eastern Conference. The Suns traded Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee, the struggling Thunder held a team meeting, and Rudy Gobert and D'Angelo Russell suffered knee injuries that would keep him out for three weeks and two months, respectively. Lonzo Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double and Nikola Jokic executed a perfect touch-pass out to the corner.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Steven Adams (OKC) was a plus-62 in four games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Isaiah Canaan (PHX) was a minus-46 in three games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Portland (3-0) -- The Blazers picked up three quality wins, beating the Bucks, Clippers and Celtics at the Moda Center
- Something Just Ain't Right: Phoenix (0-3) -- Almost doesn't count in hoops, and the Suns' late-game collapse against the Celtics only made it a more painful week.
East vs. West
- The West is 37-23 (.617) against the East in interconference games after going 13-8 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 4
- Toughest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Minnesota, 3. Washington
- Easiest: 1. Toronto, 2. Golden State, 3. Memphis
- Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: Dallas (+6), Brooklyn (+5), Portland (+5)
- Free falls of the week: Indiana (-5), New York (-4), Sacramento (-4)
Week 5 Team to Watch
- Houston -- As the Rockets deal with the Anthony situation, they head into an important week. Games against Denver (on the road on Tuesday), Golden State (at home on Thursday) and Sacramento (at home on Saturday) are the end of a stretch of seven straight games against teams that currently have winning records. They're 2-2 on that stretch so far and may have found their offense in their win over Indiana on Sunday.
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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 has averaged 101.6 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.2 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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