Kuwait Times in­fo­graphic: NBA Power Rank­ings

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ah­mad Jabr

KUWAIT: In ad­di­tion to its usual cov­er­age of NBA news, Kuwait Times is in­tro­duc­ing a new fea­ture this year: The NBA Power Rank­ings. It is a weekly list rank­ing each team based on its per­for­mance dur­ing the week. The ac­tual record for each team (put be­tween brack­ets) does play a role in the as­sess­ment process but is not the main fac­tor for de­cid­ing each team’s rank­ing, thus mak­ing it dif­fer­ent from league stand­ings. This past week saw some top teams suf­fer un­ex­pected losses, oth­ers make state­ment wins, some records bro­ken and new ones set.

1- Cleve­land Cava­liers (6 - 0)

Last week: 1 - The Cavs re­main the only un­beaten team in the League. Mean­while LeBron James passed Hall of Famer Ha­keem Ola­ju­won for 10th on the all-time scor­ing list with his 25 points in his team’s win over the 76ers on Satur­day night. All is good in the Land.

2- Los An­ge­les Clip­pers (5 - 1)

Last week: 4 - The Clip­pers re­bounded from their two-point loss against the Thun­der - their only loss this sea­son so far - by beat­ing the mighty Spurs in dom­i­nant fashion be­hind Blake Grif­fin’s 28 points.

3- Ok­la­homa City Thun­der (5 - 1)

Last week: 9 - Rus­sell West­brook may have lost his first bat­tle against his for­mer team­mate Kevin Du­rant, but he made his­tory when he be­came the first player since Magic John­son in 1982 to av­er­age a triple-dou­ble through a sea­son’s first three games, lead­ing his team to a dom­i­nant week.

4- Toronto Rap­tors (4 - 1)

Last week: 6 - DeMar DeRozan, the league’s cur­rent top scorer, is the first player to score 30+ points in his team’s first five games since Michael Jor­dan did so 30 years ago. He also chan­neled his in­ner Kobe when he be­came the first player to score 30 points in three con­sec­u­tive games with­out a three-pointer since Bryant did it in 2005.

5- San An­to­nio Spurs (5 - 2)

Last week: 2 - The Spurs have opened the sea­son with 7 games in 12 nights, but fa­tigue can hardly be used as an ex­cuse to al­low the Clip­pers to drop 73 points in the first half, or slip up against the Jazz both games played at home court.

6- Golden State War­riors (4 - 2)

Last week: 3 - Steve Kerr los­ing the teacher-vs-stu­dent bat­tle with Luke Wal­ton and his Lak­ers, dur­ing a game in which Stephen Curry’s record 157 con­sec­u­tive games with a made 3-pointer was snapped, seem to over­shadow Kevin Du­rant’s dom­i­nant per­for­mance in the War­riors’ win against the Thun­der.

7- Char­lotte Hornets (4 - 1)

Last week: 11 - The real test to the Hornets’ defense, which has been stel­lar to start the sea­son, comes this week with games against the Jazz, Rap­tors and Cavs.

8- At­lanta Hawks (4 - 2)

Last week: 5 - Dwight Howard had a tri­umphant re­turn to Hous­ton on Satur­day, but his new team needs to main­tain a rhythm and avoid such losses as those sur­ren­dered to the Lak­ers and Wiz­ards this past week.

9- Detroit Pis­tons (4 - 2)

Last week:13 - The Pis­tons have picked up vic­to­ries against the Bucks, Knicks and Nuggets last week be­hind their strong defense, but the of­fen­sive in­con­sis­tency re­mains an is­sue for Stan Van Gundy’s squad.

10- Bos­ton Celtics (3 - 2)

Last week: 10 - Al Hor­ford was not avail­able against the Cavs on Fri­day due to a concussion, de­priv­ing us from wit­ness­ing an early East­ern Con­fer­ence show­down be­tween two play­off fa­vorites.

11- Mil­wau­kee Bucks (4 - 2)

Last week: 23 - A rel­a­tively easy sched­ule al­lowed the bucks to re­bound last week from a slow sea­son start, but the main story has been their strong of­fense as they av­er­aged nearly 120 points per game in their last three matches - all vic­to­ries.

12- Port­land Trail Blazers: (3 - 3

Last week: 8 - Damian Lil­lard was dom­i­nant through­out the week (again), but fell short to lead­ing his team to vic­tory against Phoenix and Golden State when evenly matched with elite guards - some­thing Head Coach Terry Stotts needs to con­sider.

13- Chicago Bulls: (3 - 3)

Last week: 7 - The Bulls came down to earth fol­low­ing their solid start of the sea­son, drop­ping three straight games af­ter be­gin­ning the year with a 3 - 0 record. The most alarm­ing statis­tic though could be the no­table drop in made three-point­ers in the course of those games.

14- Utah Jazz (3 - 3)

Last week: 18 - Prob­a­bly the only thing that can top de­feat­ing the Spurs on their home court is news that in­jured star Gor­don Hayward was ex­pected to make his sea­son de­but against the Knicks last night.

15- Los An­ge­les Lak­ers (3 - 3)

Last week: 20 - The Lak­ers’ de­feat of the Hawks and War­riors in their last two games should not come as much of a sur­prise given the fact that they are loaded with tal­ent, led by coach Luke Wal­ton. It’s just that no one prob­a­bly ex­pected to see that po­ten­tial start bear­ing fruit this soon.

16- Hous­ton Rock­ets (3 - 3)

Last week: 15 - Hous­ton’s heavy loss to the Hawks on Satur­day sent a grim re­minder to their fans of the lack of ur­gency that plagued their team through­out last year.

17- In­di­ana Pacers: (3 - 3)

Last week: 14 - The Pacers can­not af­ford los­ing Paul Ge­orge to sus­pen­sion - af­ter he kicked the ball to the crowd dur­ing his team’s win against the Bulls on Satur­day - as they pre­pare to take on the Hornets and their strong defense tonight.

18- Mi­ami Heat: (2 - 3)

Last week: 17 - The Heat’s only win last week came in over­time against the strug­gling Kings. With a tough sched­ule ahead, things do not look good in South Beach.

19- Den­ver Nuggets (2 - 3)

Last week: 16 - Ja­mal Mur­ray hit his first field goals as a pro in the Nuggets’ Satur­day loss to the Pis­tons, af­ter he made only two points on free throws through his first three games. Den­ver hopes to see more from their 7th over­all draft se­lec­tion.

20- Mem­phis Griz­zlies (3 - 3)

Last week: 21 - The Griz­zlies’ only wins came against the strug­gling Pel­i­cans, Wiz­ards and Tim­ber­wolves; who also beat them at the sea­son’s start. Good news - in ad­di­tion to Marc Ga­sol’s four made three-point­ers in Mem­phis’ OT win last Mon­day - is that new ac­qui­si­tion Chan­dler Par­sons was sched­uled to make his de­but last night.

21- Sacra­mento Kings (2 - 5)

Last week: 12 - It’s deja vu in Sac-Town. Af­ter a promis­ing start of the sea­son, the Kings drop four straight games in a mer­ci­less road trip that ends tonight in Toronto.

22- Or­lando Magic (3 - 3)

Last week: 28 - Or­lando fans breathed a col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief af­ter their team re­bounded from a slow start of the sea­son to win three straight - al­beit against three strug­gling teams. The real test comes this week with three games against play­off con­tenders.

23- Brook­lyn Nets (2 - 4)

Last week: 19 - The most re­mark­able note from Brook­lyn’s up­set win over Detroit last Thurs­day wasn’t Brook Lopez’s 34 points, but the fact that the cen­ter hit 4-of-8 from be­hind the arc while also at­tack­ing the Pis­tons’ cen­ter An­dre Drum­mond in the paint.

24- New York Knicks (2 - 3)

Last week: 25 - Satur­day’s win against the Bulls must have felt good for Der­rick Rose and Joakim Noah, but the Knicks hope that the duo who were ac­quired over the sum­mer can main­tain the same level of fo­cus shown dur­ing that game on a con­sis­tent ba­sis.

25- Phoenix Suns (2 - 4)

Last week: 27 - The Suns al­lowed op­po­nents to score an av­er­age 112.3 so far this sea­son, rank­ing dead last in the league in this cat­e­gory, ad­ding even more pres­sure on their guard-dom­i­nant of­fense.

26- Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves (1 - 4)

Last week: 22 - Coach Tom Thi­bodeau made it clear af­ter the T’Wolves had only 12 as­sists in a loss to OKC that the team needs to move the ball more of­ten. Karl-An­thony Towns, who scored 33 points in 31 min­utes dur­ing the same game, be­lieves though that “it’s all go­ing to come to­gether soon,” and promised ‘scary things’ when that hap­pens - if ever.

27- Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards (1 - 4)

Last week: 26 - Poor defense was blamed for Wash­ing­ton’s loss to Toronto last Thurs­day, in which DeMar DeRozan scored a sea­son-high 40 points. Mean­while, rookie To­mas Sa­toran­sky filled in nicely for star point guard John Wall who sat out the team’s last two games as a pre­cau­tion.

28- Dal­las Mav­er­icks (0 - 5)

Last week: 24 - Just when you thought things can­not get worse for bas­ket­ball fans in north­east­ern Texas, news came that Dirk Now­itzki will be out at least a week with sore right Achilles.

29- Philadel­phia 76ers (0 - 5)

Last week: 29 - Joel Em­biid scored 22 points, mak­ing all four of his three-point at­tempts as his team pushed the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons to the limit in the 76ers’ one-point loss to the Cavs Satur­day night. His break­out per­for­mance so far puts him as a fron­trun­ner for Rookie of the Year.

30- New Or­leans Pel­i­cans (0 - 6)

Last week: 30 - An­thony Davis is the only player to score 148 points in a team that starts the sea­son with a 0 - 4 record. He came pub­lic with his frus­tra­tion fol­low­ing the team’s next loss, which is truly what man­age­ment and fans should worry about.


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