Kuwait Times infographic: NBA Power Rankings
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.