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 (3-1) : Dewayne Dedman, Definitely Discouraging to Drivers.
2) Cleveland (4-0) : That was an interesting lineup the Cavs played down the stretch against the Dubs, with 36-year-old Richard Jefferson dipping into the Way, Way, Way back Machine for a couple of emphatic jams and great defense.
3) Golden State (3-1) : Here’s why I’m really, really encouraged if I’m the Warriors, even though they blew a 14-point lead to the Cavs Sunday: about a dozen things had to happen, in sequence, for Cleveland to pull that game out. And GSW had to make mistakes I don’t see them making again in The Finals. Maybe I’m wrong.
4) Toronto (2-0) : Generally, as a society, we don’t give Kyle Lowry enough props.
5) L.A. Clippers (2-2) : Clips can get through a short-term tweak to CP3’s hammy with Ray Felton and Austin Rivers.
6) Houston (1-2) : One suspects this is the last time the Rockets won’t play on Christmas Day for the foreseeable future.
7) Memphis (2-1) : Mike Conley, Jr.’s best game since his return — 24 points on 9 of 17 shooting, with 5 assists — in Friday’s big Grizzlies win over the Rockets.
8) Boston (3-1) : Al Horford, sneaky good clutch minutes defender.
9) Oklahoma City (3-1) : Easy winner for feel-good story of the season so far, yes?
10) Utah (0-3) : Conundrum: Trey Lyles’s minutes and some of his production (points, rebounds) has gone up this season — but some has come down (shooting percentage, win shares). How do you separate the statistical chaff from the wheat?
11) Charlotte (2-0) : Marco Belinelli played in his 600th NBA game Friday before leaving with an ankle injury.
12) Atlanta (2-1) : Dennis Schroder, in Brand geraten so far this month (11 games): 21.2 points, 7.4 assists, shooting 52 percent from the floor and 43 percent on 3s.
13) N.Y. Knicks (2-1) : Give Carmelo Anthony this: he almost always takes the high road in public when someone else has his name in their mouth about something.
14) Milwaukee (1-2) : The Greek Freak, quickly becoming must-see TV and must buy tickets when he’s in town.
15) Indiana (1-2) : Monta Ellis, out the last couple of weeks with a groin injury, currently has his lowest scoring average (9.7 points) since his rookie season in 2005.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Sacramento (3-0): Yes, Vivek, there is a Santa Claus. The Kaaaangz have climbed into the eighth playoff spot in the West this morning by virtue of their undefeated week, which included a legit road win at Utah Wednesday. And they’ve done it without second-leading scorer Rudy Gay (hip).
TEAM OF THE WEAK
Detroit (0-3): Stan Van chided his players calling a team meeting after a loss a week ago to Indy, and he seemed to have a point: the Pistons barely played better or with more connectivity in losses to Chicago, Memphis and Golden State last week. The Pistons looked great out of the gate, but now they’re floundering.
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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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