Things have certainly gotten chaotic around the NBA over the last few weeks. Some of the best teams in the league have struggled. A couple of playoff teams from last year – Atlanta and Portland – have begun to show signs of life. The top of the Eastern Conference now has three teams with 17 losses and another three with 19. Much air time was spent on a pretty benign late-game substitution in L.A.
In regard to more meaningful topics out West, much has changed from a few weeks ago, with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz falling back to the pack, while the Dallas Mavericks and their … [checks notes] … fourth-ranked defense have taken control of the 5 seed. The Memphis Grizzlies have suffered a smidgen of slippage, losing three of five.
But the Phoenix Suns remain the constant. And with the other teams in what looked like a three-team top tier having fallen, the defending Western Conference champs suddenly have a four-game lead in the loss column atop the standings.
They also have the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings, set to defend it with two games against the fourth-place Jazz this week.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Terry Rozier (CHA) was a plus-55 in four games last week.
- Wrong Way: Luguentz Dort (OKC) was a minus-67 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Atlanta (4-0) — A little defense can go a long way.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Sacramento (0-2) — A new record for the longest playoff drought in NBA history is in their sights.
East vs. West
- The West is 131-127 (.508) against the East in interconference games after going 15-14 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 14
- Toughest: 1. Indiana, 2. Portland, 3. Detroit
- Easiest: 1. New York, 2. Milwaukee, 3. Utah
- 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: Dallas (+4), Minnesota (+3)
- Free falls of the week: LA Clippers (-4), Toronto (-3)
Week 15 Team to Watch
- Utah — The Jazz are struggling, and they’re set to face the best team in the league for the first time this season. The Suns will have a rest advantage when the two teams meet in Phoenix on Monday (9 ET, NBA TV), but they’ll both be rested in Utah two nights later. After the home-and-home, the Jazz play another big game in Memphis on Friday, closing out their week in Minnesota on Sunday night.
Previous Power Rankings
- This time last year: Jazz, Sixers enter Top 5 as first quarter of the season comes to a close — The Clippers and Lakers were tied for the league’s best record (13-4), while the Bucks had the league’s No. 1 offense. Cole Anthony beat Minnesota at the buzzer, but the Magic got beat in the final seconds by both Malcolm Brogdon and Gordon Hayward. Jamal Murray sent a game in Phoenix to overtime with a ridiculous, buzzer-beating 3, and Kawhi Leonard straight ripped the ball out of De’Aaron Fox’s hands.
- 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 109.5 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.