The best laid plans …
Omicron is here and it has hit the NBA hard. As of Monday morning and with Christmas just five days away, there are more than 70 players in Health and Safety Protocols. And the list includes a few stars — like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Trae Young — who could miss the holiday showcase.
All the absences have created some abnormal circumstances where teams are basically playing with half a roster. Reinforcements are on the way, but it’s tough to evaluate teams that are playing multiple guys who arrived just before game time. But it seems that we will just have to get through this rough patch, hope for the best, and be as careful as possible.
Some teams are still mostly intact. And those include the Suns and Warriors, who remain at the top of the Power Rankings, with their third meeting of the season coming on Christmas. Cross your fingers.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: De’Anthony Melton (MEM) was a plus-68 in four games last week.
- Wrong Way: Terry Rozier (CHA) was a minus-68 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Cleveland (3-0) — Last week’s victims of the Cavalanche: Miami, Houston and Milwaukee.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Philadelphia (0-3) — Hopefully, keeping Stephen Curry from the 3-point record won’t be the highlight of the Sixers’ season.
East vs. West
- The West is 87-77 (.530) against the East in interconference games after going 14-7 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 9
- Toughest: 1. Portland, 2. Cleveland, 3. Boston
- Easiest: 1. Utah, 2. L.A. Lakers, 3. Golden State
- 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: Minnesota (+7), Boston (+5), Denver (+4)
- Free falls of the week: Atlanta (-7), Charlotte (-4), Washington (-4)
Week 10 Team to Watch
- Boston — The Celtics got Jaylen Brown last week, picked up a couple of wins, and played a close game with the Warriors. They currently sit in seventh place in the East at 15-15, just two games in the loss column behind the fourth-place Bucks and just a half game ahead of the 11th-place Hawks. And they have a big week ahead, hosting the eighth-place Sixers on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV) and the third-place Cavs on Wednesday. Then they’re in Milwaukee for Christmas.
Previous Power Rankings
- Last week: Suns overtake Warriors for No. 1 spot
- Thursday’s notebook: 5 most improved defenses this season
- This time last year: Lakers, Bucks and Nuggets start season on top — The 2020-21 season was about to tip off, with Giannis Antetokounmpo having signed his contract extension with the Bucks. The Jazz had a new owner, who immediately committed $400 million to Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. None of the league’s GMs picked the Bucks to win the title, and only one had the Suns in the top four in the West. James Harden showed up late to Rockets training camp and the Nuggets were dishing, but LaMelo Ball had the best dime of the preseason.
- The archive: NBA.com Power Rankings
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 98.6 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.7 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.