Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Week 16 Power Rankings: Season-ending injuries shake up Western Conference

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Jan 29, 2018 12:29 PM ET

Anthony Davis and New Orleans must regroup after losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season.

The best laid plans ...

The New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder were playing their best basketball of the season last week ... and then catastrophic injuries struck. DeMarcus Cousins was going after his own missed free throw, while Andre Roberson was executing one of his patented cuts along the baseline.

One is an All-Star and a 25-points-per-game scorer on the league's sixth-ranked offense. The other is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate on the league's sixth-ranked defense. And both are done for the season.

Neither team has an immediate answer for how they proceed, but optimism can be found in how improved the Thunder offense has been over the last six weeks and in how well the Pelicans have played with Anthony Davis at center.

And fortunately for both teams (as well as those looking to sell off a piece or two), the injuries occurred before the trade deadline, which is now just 10 days away. The Cleveland Cavaliers should be the team that drives the market, but there are now a couple of additional teams with a need for reliable rotation guys.

The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, just keep rolling.

 
Dig into some of the key numbers from this week's Power Rankings.
  • Shinsuke team of the week: Oklahoma City (4-0) -- The Thunder took a huge blow with a season-ending injury to their best defender, but kept their eight-game winning streak alive with continued improvement on offense.
  • Jobber team of the week: Phoenix (0-4) -- The Suns jobbed out to a few good teams last week, but also lost by 22 points at home to the Knicks.
  • Toughest schedules so far: 1. Dallas, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Chicago
  • Easiest schedules so far: 1. Washington, 2. Houston, 3. San Antonio
  • 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: Charlotte (+4), Philadelphia (+4), Oklahoma City (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Washington (-5), Detroit (-4), Chicago (-3)
  • Team to watch in Week 16: Houston -- The Rockets are solidly in second place in the West, but have a couple of interesting road games this week, visiting the Spurs on Thursday and the Cavs on Saturday.

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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 99.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.7 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: 40-10
Pace: 102.4 (2) OffRtg: 113.8 (1) DefRtg: 103.3 (5) NetRtg: +10.4 (1)

In the 62-year history of the award, only two guys - Bill Walton (24) and Allen Iverson (11) - have missed more than eight games in the year they were voted MVP. But Stephen Curry is building himself an interesting case for his third MVP in the last four years, despite having missed 15 games already. He's a couple of buckets away from a 50-40-90 season and has the league's best on-court NetRtg (plus-15.1) by a wide margin. The Warriors are the league's best team and the best offense we've ever seen has been 14.1 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than its been with him off the floor. Curry has shot 51 percent (71-for-140) from beyond the arc over the last month and dropped 49 on the league's No. 1 defense on Saturday in what was one of the best games of the season so far.

Week 16: @ UTA, @ SAC, @ DEN

2
Last week:
2

Record: 35-13
Pace: 101.1 (8) OffRtg: 112.3 (2) DefRtg: 104.8 (11) NetRtg: +7.4 (2)

The Rockets finally lost a game (Friday in New Orleans) in which Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela all played, but have climbed back to within a hair of being a top-10 team on both ends of the floor again. Since Luc Mbah a Moute returned from a month-long absence in "The Secret Hallway Game," they've allowed just 95 points per 100 possessions in 191 minutes with him on the floor (compared to 117 in 145 minutes with him off the floor). And Mbah a Moute may be back in the starting lineup this week, with Trevor Ariza having suffered a hamstring injury (thanks to a hard foul from Marquese Chriss) in the first minute of the Rockets' win over Phoenix on Sunday.

Week 16: vs. ORL, @ SAS, @ CLE

3
Last week:
3

Record: 32-20
Pace: 97.8 (24) OffRtg: 110.9 (3) DefRtg: 107.6 (24) NetRtg: +3.2 (7)

The Wolves' offense didn't skip a beat, scoring 116 points per 100 possessions, when Jimmy Butler missed four games with a sore right knee. Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague combined for 70 points against the Clippers on Monday, Jamal Crawford had a couple of efficient games last week, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 31 against the Warriors on Thursday, and Nemanja Bjelica was a solid fill-in starter. But the defense has generally been bad without Butler, who returned on Saturday and helped the Wolves win a game (against Brooklyn) in which they made just four threes. The biggest difference between Butler's minutes on and off the floor has been in how well the Wolves' opponents have shot from outside the paint.

Week 16: @ ATL, @ TOR, vs. MIL, vs. NOP

4
Last week:
4

Record: 33-15
Pace: 100.8 (9) OffRtg: 109.5 (5) DefRtg: 102.7 (3) NetRtg: +6.8 (3)

Kyle Lowry has shot 10-for-36 since being named an All-Star reserve on Tuesday and the Raptors' perimeter shooting was again a problem in a roller-coaster loss to Utah on Friday. But it was good enough against the Lakers on Sunday (with eight different Raptors making threes) to send the coaching staff to the All-Star Game too. With the Raptors still unable to get past the Celtics in the standings (though getting the No. 1 seed is a stated goal), Dwane Casey benefits from the rule that says a team can't send its coach to the All-Star Game two years in a row. But Casey will take the East's best record over the last five seasons with him to L.A., where he'll coach against Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and have his Team LeBron defense load up against his stars to get them ready for the playoffs.

Week 16: vs. MIN, @ WAS, vs. POR, vs. MEM

5
Last week:
8

Record: 30-20
Pace: 98.1 (21) OffRtg: 107.3 (9) DefRtg: 103.3 (6) NetRtg: +3.9 (5)

Andre Roberson is done for the season and in regard to his value, the numbers are pretty clear. The Thunder defense has been 12.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than with him off the floor. Their regular starters allowed 96 points per 100 possessions in 539 minutes together, but OKC has allowed 115 in 424 minutes with somebody else as the fifth guy alongside the other four. Still, this is the first Monday this season in which the Thunder have ranked as a top-10 team on both ends of the floor, they lead the league in offensive efficiency over the last six weeks, and in their first game after Roberson's injury, they had one of their best offensive performances of the season against the Sixers' top-five defense, with Russell Westbrook registering a season-high 14 fast break points. They've won eight straight games and are only a game in the loss column out of third place in the Western Conference.

Week 16: @ WAS, @ DEN, vs. NOP, vs. LAL

6
Last week:
5

Record: 35-15
Pace: 98.1 (20) OffRtg: 104.4 (18) DefRtg: 100.0 (1) NetRtg: +4.4 (4)

The Celtics had some bad bench minutes in their loss to the Lakers on Tuesday and then had their best bench player (Marcus Smart) injure his hand in his hotel room, taking him out of action for two weeks. They staggered the minutes of Al Horford and Kyrie Irving more on Saturday than they did earlier in the week, but were still outscored by 12 points in less than 23 minutes with one or both on the bench against the champs. For the season, they've scored 109 points per 100 possessions with both All-Stars on the floor, 106 with one of the two on the floor, and 92 with neither on the floor. Their three games in California was their best offensive stretch of the month, but they were outscored 71-46 at the free throw line.

Week 16: @ DEN, vs. NYK, vs. ATL, vs. POR

7
Last week:
11

Record: 24-22
Pace: 102.3 (3) OffRtg: 105.2 (14) DefRtg: 102.9 (4) NetRtg: +2.4 (8)

Turnovers killed them in Memphis on Monday, but the Sixers keep getting better offensively and are once again able to say that the last five games have been their best stretch on that end of the floor (115 points scored per 100 possessions) in five seasons under Brett Brown. They've been without both J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless, but Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is no scrub, shooting 17-for-32 from 3-point range over the five games, and Justin Anderson has also given them some good minutes at the wing. They're in the middle of a tough schedule in regard to opponent strength (eight of nine games against teams with winning records), but Monday's game in Milwaukee is set to be the first time Joel Embiid has played in both games of a back-to-back, and they'll have a rest advantage in four of their final eight games before the All-Star break.

Week 16: @ MIL, @ BKN, vs. MIA, @ IND

8
Last week:
6

Record: 33-19
Pace: 96.4 (29) OffRtg: 104.7 (16) DefRtg: 100.9 (2) NetRtg: +3.8 (6)

For some teams, it is a make-or-miss league. When the Spurs have shot decently, they've won. They're 26-2 when they've had an effective field goal percentage better than 50 percent, and they missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer in one of those two losses. Last week, they won their three games against below-average defenses, scoring 117 points per 100 possessions, and came up empty against the Sixers' top-five defense, shooting 3-for-24 from 3-point range in what was just their fourth home loss of the season. Absences for LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol have kept the new starting lineup's minutes limited to just 33 over the five games since Tony Parker went to the bench.

Week 16: vs. DEN, vs. HOU, vs. UTA

9
Last week:
7

Record: 28-21
Pace: 96.9 (28) OffRtg: 103.2 (25) DefRtg: 104.4 (7) NetRtg: -1.2 (19)

One one hand, what the Heat have done without an All-Star and with minimal lineup continuity is pretty amazing. They're the only team that doesn't have a lineup that has played at least 135 minutes, and their only lineup that has played more than 80 minutes includes Dion Waiters, who is done for the season. On the other hand, their margin for error remains thin. They're (a probably unsustainable) 21-11 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes (after Wayne Ellington beat the Hornets with a clutch three on Saturday) and have the East's 10th best point differential, that of a team that's 23-26. Goran Dragic might have been their best All-Star candidate, but they've been much better with him off the floor over the last couple of weeks and closed with a Josh Richardson at point guard on Saturday.

Week 16: @ DAL, @ CLE, @ PHI, @ DET

10
Last week:
10

Record: 29-19
Pace: 99.6 (14) OffRtg: 110.0 (4) DefRtg: 109.7 (29) NetRtg: +0.3 (15)

The Cavs are 2-0 with their new starting lineup (Tristan Thompson at center and Jae Crowder to the bench), and their new starting lineup shot 58 percent in its 41 minutes over the two games. Derrick Rose gave them good minutes (14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, plus-12) off the bench against Indiana on Friday, but there might not be much of a need for a second point guard going forward if Ty Lue continues to stagger the minutes of Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James like he did against Detroit on Sunday. If J.R. Smith is making shots again (he was 11-for-20 from 3-point range in the two games), the James-and-Thomas minutes won't be nearly as bad as they were in their previous six games together, when the Cavs were outscored by almost 30 points per 100 possessions with both on the floor.

Week 16: @ DET, vs. MIA, vs. HOU

11
Last week:
13

Record: 27-22
Pace: 98.7 (16) OffRtg: 105.1 (15) DefRtg: 104.4 (9) NetRtg: +0.7 (12)

Maurice Harkless got a spot start with Evan Turner out in Dallas on Friday, but was getting DNP'd prior to that, with Terry Stotts continuing to tinker with his rotation. The Blazers' bench has had some good minutes without Harkless, with Ed Davis beasting on the glass (13.7 rebounds per 36 minutes over the last 10 games) and recording double-doubles in wins over the Wolves and Mavs. They haven't been as good with both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the floor his season (plus-2.1 points per 100 possessions) as they were last season (plus-3.7), but they've been better with one of the two on the bench (minus-0.8 vs. minus-3.6). As they've won five of their last six games, Lillard has averaged 29 points on an effective field goal percentage of 65 percent and they've been at their best with reserves on the floor. Their run of playing bad defensive teams comes to an end this week, with their visit to Toronto on Friday beginning a stretch where they'll play six of eight games against the league's top-10 defenses.

Week 16: @ LAC, vs. CHI, @ TOR, @ BOS

12
Last week:
12

Record: 27-22
Pace: 101.6 (6) OffRtg: 108.1 (6) DefRtg: 106.9 (23) NetRtg: +1.2 (11)

The Pelicans were about to cap off a 7-1 stretch (in which they ranked sixth defensively) by handing the Rockets their first loss with the Paul-Harden-Capela trio when DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles. They got off to a good start in their first game sans Boogie, but blew a 21-point lead to the Clippers (and missed 21 of their final 23 3-point attempts) in what could end up being a pretty important result in the West playoff picture. Their lineup issues go beyond the loss of Cousins (they're actually a plus-7.1 points per 100 possessions in 330 minutes with Dante Cunningham and Anthony Davis at the four and five), because Jrue Holiday is looking more and more like their only viable point guard. Over their last five games, they've been outscored by 35 points in 153 minutes with either Rajon Rondo or Jameer Nelson on the floor, but have been a plus-44 in 99 minutes with Holiday at the point.

Week 16: vs. SAC, @ OKC, @ MIN

13
Last week:
14

Record: 27-23
Pace: 98.6 (19) OffRtg: 108.0 (7) DefRtg: 106.3 (16) NetRtg: +1.6 (9)

The Pacers' minutes when Victor Oladipo goes to the bench remain touch and go, as you might imagine given that Lance Stephenson is Oladipo's primary back-up. Over their last nine games, the Pacers have been 40 points per 100 possessions better with their All-Star on the floor (plus-15.5) than they've been with him on the bench (minus-25.5). But Oladipo has been good enough for them to go 6-3 in that stretch, Stephenson had a big game as they came back from 21 points down against Orlando on Saturday, and Myles Turner's return from a nine-game absence (he came off the bench on Saturday) should stabilize things somewhat. They're the only team that has won three games that it trailed by 20 or more points, but their quarter-to-quarter volatility isn't really about 3-point volume. They rank 27th in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range and made just five threes on Saturday.

Week 16: vs. CHA, vs. MEM, @ CHA, vs. PHI

14
Last week:
9

Record: 27-22
Pace: 99.6 (15) OffRtg: 106.9 (11) DefRtg: 105.3 (14) NetRtg: +1.5 (10)

It's unclear if John Wall, dealing with a left knee issue, will be 100 percent at any point this season. But the Wizards are 6-6 without Wall after posting their best offensive game of the season (with 40 assists on 49 buckets) in Atlanta on Saturday, and should clearly proceed with caution, even with games against two other All-Star point guards this week. It helps that Bradley Beal, with an effective field goal percentage of 59.1 percent in January, is having the second best shooting month of his career. Among the 23 players who have attempted at least 200 shots this month, only Karl-Anthony Towns (60.0 percent) has shot more effectively.

Week 16: vs. OKC, vs. TOR, @ ORL

15
Last week:
15

Record: 26-22
Pace: 97.8 (23) OffRtg: 107.5 (8) DefRtg: 106.9 (22) NetRtg: +0.7 (13)

The Bucks fired Jason Kidd at the right time ... for interim coach Joe Prunty, because their next 11 games were going to be one of their easiest stretches of the season. Seven of those 11 games were going to be against bottom-10 offenses and their defensive numbers looked good (97 points allowed per 100 possessions) as they played three of those seven games last week. Giannis Antetokounmpo came back pretty strong from a two-game absence, totaling 68 points (on 25-for-39 shooting), 22 rebounds and 15 assists in weekend wins over Brooklyn and Chicago. He remains the league leader in points in the paint per game by a wide margin, but his seven buckets from outside the paint against the Nets were a career high.

Week 16: vs. PHI, @ MIN, vs. NYK, @ BKN

16
Last week:
16

Record: 25-24
Pace: 100.6 (11) OffRtg: 107.0 (10) DefRtg: 106.4 (17) NetRtg: +0.6 (14)

We'll see if DeAndre Jordan is with the Clippers beyond the Feb. 8 trade deadline, but he was with the Clippers over the weekend, when they held two straight opponents under a point per possession for the first time since mid-December. If Jordan stays in L.A. and if we're going to have a four-team race for the final three playoff spots in the West (only two games separate the sixth-place Pelicans from the ninth-place Clippers), the Clips got a huge win by coming back from 21 points down in New Orleans on Sunday. Blake Griffin began his week with a triple-double (and a double-dribble) in Minnesota and ended it by tying a career high with four 3-pointers against the Pels (who the Clips play two more times this season).

Week 16: vs. POR, vs. CHI

17
Last week:
18

Record: 26-23
Pace: 98.6 (18) OffRtg: 106.7 (12) DefRtg: 106.6 (19) NetRtg: +0.0 (16)

The Nuggets' offense hasn't been consistent, but it has done enough in a three game winning streak to get them back into playoff position. They had one of their best offensive games of the season against the Knicks on Thursday and finally came through in the clutch to beat the Blazers and Mavs last week. Nikola Jokic hasn't been shooting well, but hit what turned out to be the game-winner against Dallas and has dished out 21 assists (including another ridiculous tip-pass) in the last two games. The Jokic-Mason Plumlee duo was a plus-40 in 64 minutes last week and Mike Malone had it on the floor down the stretch of both close games. Plumlee rewarded him with a couple of big buckets against Portland and a defensive stop in the final seconds against Dallas.

Week 16: vs. BOS, @ SAS, vs. OKC, vs. GSW

18
Last week:
20

Record: 19-30
Pace: 103.2 (1) OffRtg: 101.9 (28) DefRtg: 105.0 (12) NetRtg: -3.0 (23)

The Lakers' two four-game winning streaks this month have been more about defense (96 points allowed per 100 possessions in the eight wins) than offense. They rank last in both 3-point percentage and free throw percentage, scraping by offensively with the most points per game in the restricted area. But the highlight of the latest streak was a win over the Celtics on Tuesday in which they scored 63 second-half points against the league's No. 1 defense and in which Kyle Kuzma outscored Jayson Tatum, 28-4. They might be able to figure some more things out offensively over the next month, with eight of their next 11 games against teams that rank in the bottom 10 defensively.

Week 16: @ ORL, @ BKN, @ OKC

19
Last week:
23

Record: 20-28
Pace: 100.7 (10) OffRtg: 104.3 (19) DefRtg: 104.4 (8) NetRtg: -0.1 (17)

The Hornets came up short down the stretch once again (and missed their final seven 3-point attempts) in Miami on Saturday and were swept by the Heat in their season series, with the total point differential over the four games being just 16 points (explaining the seasons of both teams thus far). The Hornets have seen the league's biggest drop from last season in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range, but the 3-point line has defined this team over the last couple of weeks. As they've gone 4-4 over their last eight games, they've shot 43 percent from beyond the arc in the wins and 27 percent in the losses. Their bench has had some decent games, but they wouldn't have been in position to lose another close one if they weren't a minus-21 in less than 24 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor on Saturday, and they remain last in aggregate bench NetRtg (minus-7.4).

Week 16: @ IND, @ ATL, vs. IND, @ PHX

20
Last week:
17

Record: 18-32
Pace: 100.0 (12) OffRtg: 101.6 (29) DefRtg: 107.8 (25) NetRtg: -6.1 (28)

After five or six weeks of fun, the Bulls appear to have returned to being a bad team playing for Lottery combinations. Their four-game losing streak has featured a brutal collapse (from up 17 with less than five minutes left) in New Orleans on Monday and some rough shooting from both Zach LaVine (5-for-28 over the weekend) and Justin Holiday (28 percent over his last six). With Kris Dunn missing the last five games, LaVine ranks ninth in the league in usage rate over the 2 1/2 weeks since his Bulls debut. They play their next four games against the West, with a 2-17 record against the opposite conference thus far.

Week 16: @ POR, @ LAC

21
Last week:
21

Record: 22-28
Pace: 98.6 (17) OffRtg: 105.3 (13) DefRtg: 106.6 (18) NetRtg: -1.3 (21)

Until they arrived in Phoenix on Friday, there wasn't much defense played on the Knicks' 12-day road trip; They and their opponents combined to score more than 112 points per 100 posssessions over the seven games. Kristaps Porzingis missed their loss at Golden State on Tuesday, but the other six games of the trip were his best six-game shooting stretch (effective field goal percentage of 55 percent) since mid-November, and he shot better from outside the paint (28-for-54) than he did in the paint (14-for-33). With Trey Burke (signed just two weeks ago) totaling 36 points and 14 assists over the last two games of the trip, Frank Ntilikina may now be third on the depth chart at point guard. Burke gives New York a little more off the dribble than they have with any of their other guards. They rank 29th with just 30.6 drives per game, and Burke's 12.5 (in just 23 minutes) per game in the Thursday-Friday back-to-back would lead the team by a wide margin.

Week 16: vs. BKN, @ BOS, @ MIL, vs. ATL

22
Last week:
24

Record: 21-28
Pace: 97.1 (25) OffRtg: 103.9 (20) DefRtg: 104.8 (10) NetRtg: -0.9 (18)

The Jazz are 4-23 when they haven't made at least 37 percent of their 3-point attempts, and the four threes they made in Atlanta on Monday (probably their worst loss of the season) were a season low. But one of those four wins came on Wednesday, when they made three threes in overtime in Detroit. And one of their best wins of the season came two nights later when Ricky Rubio hit the game-winning three in Toronto. Those two games were the first time they've held two straight opponents under a point per possession since early November. Their defense could be gaining some traction with Rudy Gobert back, but they're still five games in the loss column out of a playoff spot and probably a seller with the trade deadline just 10 days away.

Week 16: vs. GSW, @ PHX, @ SAS

23
Last week:
19

Record: 22-26
Pace: 98.0 (22) OffRtg: 103.9 (21) DefRtg: 105.1 (13) NetRtg: -1.2 (20)

Stan Van Gundy has tried about everything with his starting lineup, even Langston Galloway at point guard for a couple of games last week. But the Pistons have won just one first quarter and just one third quarter as they've lost eight straight games to fall four games in the loss column out of a playoff spot. They rank 24th both offensively and defensively over the course of the streak, with their opponents having shot better from 3-point range (42 percent) than Tobias Harris or Avery Bradley (the two Pistons who have taken the most shots over the streak) have shot from the field. They're probably not getting back Reggie Jackson (who hasn't played since Dec. 26) until after the All-Star break and are reportedly shopping Avery Bradley. If they have any thoughts about getting back into playoff position, the time to turn things around is right now, because they're about to begin their longest homestand of the season (six games) and Thursday's game against the Grizzlies is the first of four straight in which they'll have a rest advantage.

Week 16: vs. CLE, vs. MEM, vs. MIA

24
Last week:
22

Record: 18-32
Pace: 101.6 (5) OffRtg: 102.7 (26) DefRtg: 106.6 (20) NetRtg: -3.9 (25)

The Nets' starting lineup of the last two months has been generally solid, outscoring opponents by 6.5 points per 100 possessions and allowing just 101. But it may be time for a change, and not only because D'Angelo Russell is now four games into his comeback from knee surgery. The lineup has allowed 113 points per 100 possessions in its last six games together and put the Nets in a 16-2 hole in Milwaukee on Friday (before Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffered a groin injury and missed the next game and a half). Jahlil Okafor scored a season-high 21 points in Minnesota on Saturday, but the defense has been even worse (116 allowed per 100) with him on the floor. The Nets will play eight of their nine remaining pre-break games in New York, hoping to avoid a season sweep when they visit the Knicks on Tuesday.

Week 16: @ NYK, vs. PHI, vs. LAL, vs. MIL

25
Last week:
26

Record: 17-31
Pace: 96.0 (30) OffRtg: 103.2 (24) DefRtg: 106.3 (15) NetRtg: -3.1 (24)

With the news that Mike Conley is going to have surgery and is done for the season, the Grizzlies are officially in develop-the-kids mode and the league's third longest active playoff streak (seven seasons) is one step closer to its demise. (The Hawks' 10-year streak is ending too.) Rookie Ivan Rabb is another new addition to the rotation and shot 11-for-16 last week, but with Tyreke Evans out on Wednesday and Friday, the Grizzlies' recent stretch of improved offense came to an abrupt end. Evans had a big fourth quarter as they came back from 15 down against Philadelphia on Monday, and somehow still has a positive plus-minus (plus-13) for a team that ranks 23rd in per-game point differential.

Week 16: vs. PHX, @ IND, @ DET, @ TOR

26
Last week:
25

Record: 16-34
Pace: 97.0 (27) OffRtg: 104.5 (17) DefRtg: 106.8 (21) NetRtg: -2.2 (22)

Dennis Smith Jr.'s shooting numbers are still those of a rookie point guard. Among 177 players who have taken at least 300 shots, he ranks 168th in effective field goal percentage. But his assist/turnover ratio has improved as the season has gone on, he has seen his free throw rate climb in the last few weeks, and he's always good for a highlight. A tough stretch of schedule has the Mavs losing six of their last seven games, with the league's 25th-ranked offense over that stretch. With Devin Harris missing the last four games and J.J. Barea going cold (and missing a couple of games himself), the normal lift from the bench hasn't been there.

Week 16: vs. MIA, @ PHX, @ SAC

27
Last week:
27

Record: 17-33
Pace: 102.2 (4) OffRtg: 102.3 (27) DefRtg: 109.6 (28) NetRtg: -7.3 (29)

After he shot 7-for-30 in his previous two games, Devin Booker was made the Suns' starting point guard for weekend games against New York and Houston. He registered 31 points and 10 assists against the Rockets, but the Suns scored less than a point per possession and assisted on less than half of their buckets (regressing to the Suns of last season) in both games. They've also allowed 119 points per 100 in 225 total minutes with Booker and Troy Daniels (the new starting shooting guard) on the floor together. Josh Jackson was showing some promise with 38 total points on 14-for-28 shooting over his previous two games before going 0-for-13 in Houston on Sunday.

Week 16: @ MEM, vs. DAL, vs. UTA, vs. CHA

28
Last week:
28

Record: 14-35
Pace: 99.7 (13) OffRtg: 103.6 (23) DefRtg: 108.2 (26) NetRtg: -4.6 (26)

The Hawks played some decent defense for a stretch earlier this month, but allowed the Hornets and Wizards (playing without John Wall) to score 126 points per 100 possessions over the weekend and remain the team that has seen the biggest increase (by a wide margin) in points allowed per 100 possessions (5.1) from last season. Not only have they seen the biggest increase in effective field goal percentage (with the biggest jump coming with how well their opponents have shot in the restricted area), but also the second biggest increase in opponent free throw rate (dropping from fourth to 13th) and the fifth biggest decrease in defensive rebounding percentage (from 19th to 30th). The defense has been 9.1 points per 100 possessions better with Dennis Schroder off the floor (102.6 allowed per 100) than with him on the floor (111.7).

Week 16: vs. MIN, vs. CHA, @ BOS, @ NYK

29
Last week:
30

Record: 15-34
Pace: 97.1 (26) OffRtg: 100.3 (30) DefRtg: 109.8 (30) NetRtg: -9.6 (30)

The Kings went undefeated in Florida this season, picking up comeback wins in Orlando and Miami with a huge game (career-high 34 points) from Garrett Temple and a game-winning tip-dunk from De'Aaron Fox, who followed that up with a career-high 26 points (and a 6-for-6 performance from 3-point range) in San Antonio on Sunday. They briefly climbed out of the No. 30 spot in defensive efficiency before the Cavs realized they should start playing Tristan Thompson a little more, and might have a chance to climb to 29th on offense with five of their next seven games against bottom-10 defenses. But the gap between them and the 29th-ranked Bulls is larger and progress on that end of the floor has been minimal, despite a little consistency from Fox.

Week 16: @ NOP, vs. GSW, vs. DAL

30
Last week:
29

Record: 14-34
Pace: 101.2 (7) OffRtg: 103.8 (22) DefRtg: 108.7 (27) NetRtg: -4.9 (27)

The Magic just had a three-game stretch in which they were one possession shy of sweeping the Wolves, Cavs and Celtics. And of course, they followed that up by losing to the Kings at home in the battle for No. 30 in the Power Rankings and blowing a 21-point lead in Indiana. They're the only team that has allowed 110 points in a regulation game with the opponent making fewer than six threes and fewer than 20 free throws, and the Indy loss was the fourth time it's happened. The 49.9 points in the paint per game that they've allowed are the most allowed by any team since the 1996-97 Celtics allowed 52.7.

Week 16: @ HOU, vs. LAL, vs. WAS


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