David Aldridge reveals which teams, to him, are the Top 15 squads in the NBA at this moment.
(last week’s record in parenthesis; previous ranking in brackets)
1) San Antonio Spurs (3-0) : They are 17-2 overall over the last five weeks. Of course, they don’t think they’re playing all that well right now. That’s what it’s like to have real standards as an organization.
2) Golden State Warriors (3-0) : Via the Dubs’ second-to-none PR department: Warriors are 76-1 (.987) in the regular season when holding the opposition to fewer than 100 points since the start of the 2014-15 season.
3) Houston Rockets (4-0) : Pat Beverley’s return huge at both ends of the floor for the white-hot Rockets.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) : Surprised the Cavs didn’t reach out to a vet who’s not going to do anything but be a good teammate like Nazr Mohammad with Chris Andersen down and out for the season.
5) LA Clippers (3-1) : Clips say there’s nothing wrong with defensive mainstay Luc Mbah a Moute, but he doesn’t look like the same guy who throttled everyone he guarded the first month of the season.
6) Toronto Raptors (3-1) : Norman Powell the latest rotation guy to step in in a pinch and produce with the starters.
7) Utah Jazz (3-0) : After beating the Grizzlies in Memphis Sunday, the Jazz has nine road wins this season; Utah had 16 all of last season.
8) Memphis Grizzlies (1-3) : Mike Conley, Jr., back earlier than anyone expected — maybe just in time.
9) Boston (2-1) : Difference with and without Isaiah Thomas is … about what you’d expect a team playing without its All-Star guard to be.
10) Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) : Concerning: 3-point shooting had cratered so far in December: 26.1 percent behind the arc in first six games of the month before Thunder made 7 of 16 threes in Saturday’s win over Phoenix.
11) Milwaukee Bucks (2-1) [NR]: It’s a measure of how mediocre the Eastern Conference is so far this season that the Bucks can vault into the top 15 by throttling the Bulls in back-to-back wins.
12) Charlotte Hornets (1-3) : Bugs’ defense has taken a turn south.
13) Indiana Pacers (2-2) [NR]: After Monta Ellis’ injury, Glenn Robinson III gets the call at the two as Indy searches for some consistency.
14) Atlanta Hawks (1-2) : My man Baze (Kent Bazemore) is struggling: 37 percent shooting and 29 percent (!) on 3-pointers. He’s made half or more of his threes just seven times in 25 games so far this year.
15) New York Knicks (0-3) : They shouldn’t give up on Joakim Noah yet, but it’s hard not to see how much more productive some of their other bigs have been by way of comparison.
Dropped out: Detroit , Chicago .
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Houston (4-0): There’s not much you can do when a team is bound and determined to shoot as many threes as the Rockets hoist — and can make more than enough of them to demoralize their opponents. Just on fire right now.
TEAM OF THE WEAK
Chicago (0-3): Something’s not right with the Bulls. Don’t know what it is, but there’s no way a team should get pounded by the same opponent two nights in a row. No one’s that bad a matchup this early in the season.
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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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