A new year is upon us. And with players making their way back from Health and Safety Season, it’s an opportunity for teams to hit the refresh button.
Though the top four teams in the Western Conference have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack, nobody else is running away with anything in either conference. With the Play-In Tournament, there are races to be run all over the standings. And with the trade deadline still 5 1/2 weeks away, there’s an opportunity here for teams to see what they’ve got over the next 10-12 games. Maybe it’s more of the same. Maybe not.
The new year also promises to bring the season debuts of two All-Stars and NBA champions. Kyrie Irving could be playing for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, while Klay Thompson could be on the floor for the Golden State Warriors (for the first time in more than 30 months) this weekend. Rejoice.
The Warriors and Nets have already been two of the best teams in the league. And now they both need to hit the refresh button and see what they’ve got. The start of the new year is almost like the start of a new season.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Rudy Gobert (UTA) was a plus-59 in four games last week.
- Wrong Way: Damian Lillard (POR) was a minus-67 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Chicago (4-0) — Let’s hope the Magic can hang around until the final seconds in Chicago on Monday.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Portland (0-3) — The (pin)wheels are coming off.
East vs. West
- The West is 97-91 (.516) against the East in interconference games, though the East was 8-7 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 11
- Toughest: 1. Portland, 2. Orlando, 3. Boston
- Easiest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Utah, 3. Brooklyn
- 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: Sacramento (+5), Chicago (+2), Denver (+2)
- Free falls of the week: Boston (-3), Cleveland (-3), Minnesota (-3), Portland (-3)
Week 12 Team to Watch
- Dallas — The Mavs got Luka Doncic back from a 10-game absence on Sunday, and (with Kristaps Porzingis getting the day off) they took care of business in Oklahoma City to climb back to .500. But that was just the first game in a back-to-back, and the second (against the fifth-place Nuggets on Monday, with the tiebreaker on the line) is the much more important one. After they face Denver, the Mavs will face the Warriors (on Wednesday) for the first time this season. They play in Houston on Friday night and then return home to face the streaking Bulls on Sunday.
Previous Power Rankings
- Last week: Warriors grab No. 1 spot from Suns
- This time last year: Sixers, Suns and Jazz climb into the Top 5 — The Magic (4-0) were the last unbeaten team in the league, but lost Game 5 by 24 points and Game 6 to the Thunder. Stephen Curry dropped 62 (the most for any player last season) on the Blazers and the Bucks set the NBA record for 3s in a game, going 29-for-51 from beyond the arc in Miami. John Wall totaled 50 points and 15 assists in his first two games with the Rockets, Jayson Tatum knocked down his second game-winner, and Jaylen Brown was 22-for-28 (79%) from mid-range to start the season. It took a while for the Knicks to realize that Austin Rivers was on their team, and the Raptors suspended Pascal Siakam for disciplinary reasons.
- 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 98.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.0 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.