KUWAIT TIMES 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 week saw yet another team claim the top spot after extending its winning streak to seven games behind their balanced offense.
1- Golden State Warriors (11 - 2) Last week:
4 - The Warriors are finally starting to figure things out with their new lineup. They are on a seven-game winning streak as of Sunday, and look poised to keep winning before facing the league’s toughest defense (Atlanta) near the end of the month.
2- Los Angeles Clippers (12 - 2) Last week:
1 - A tough loss against the Grizzlies, in which center Marc Gasol hit a three pointer to seal victory for his team, prevented the Clippers from having a perfect record for the second consecutive week.
3- Cleveland Cavaliers (10 - 2) Last week
2 - The Cavs opted to rest LeBron James on Thursday after their controversial win against the Raptors two nights earlier, and were unable to secure a victory against the struggling Pacers.
4- San Antonio Spurs (10 - 3) Last week: 5 -
An unbeaten record and an announcement that legend Tim Duncan’s number will be retired on December 18 caps a perfect week for the Spurs.
5- Atlanta Hawks (9 - 3) Last week: 6 -
The Hawks had won six straight games and were heading for their seventh against the Hornets on Friday before Dwight Howard was ejected, and their defense couldn’t contain Charlotte’s late run without him.
6- Toronto Raptors (8 - 4) Last week:
Weekly DeMar DeRozan watch: the NBA’s leading scorer has 10 30-point games in his team’s first 12 games of the season, the most since Michael Jordan did it in 198687. Meanwhile, the Raptors continue to struggle with ball movement, ranking last in the league in assist percentage.
7- Charlotte Hornets (8 - 4) Last week:
- Charlotte suffered defeat on Saturday against the resurging Pelicans on the second night of a back-to-back following their win against the Hawks. Meanwhile, Kimba Walker is averaging a career best 25.4 points per game.
8- Oklahoma City Thunder (8 - 5) Last week:
8 - OKC rebounded with victories against the Rockets and Nets following tough defeats against the Pistons and Magic last week. Russell Westbrook tallied his league-leading fourth triple-double in his team’s win against Brooklyn on Saturday.
9- Chicago Bulls (8 - 5) Last week:
Chicago’s four-game winning streak was snapped on the road against the Clippers on Saturday, but the Bulls have to be pleased with Jimmy Butler’s progress and Dwyane Wade’s improvement in threepoint shooting.
10- Memphis Grizzlies (8 - 5) Last week:
19 - The Grizzlies are allowing an average of only 84.5 points during their fourgame win streak, and their defense will be key to determine how far they can go this season.
11- Houston Rockets (8 - 5) Last week:
13 - James Harden lost his battle against Russell Westbrook last week, but he currently leads the league with six games of at least 30 points and 10 assists. Meanwhile, center Clint Capela is averaging 16 points in the last three games, scoring a career-high 20 points on Saturday.
12- Boston Celtics (7 - 6) Last week:
Al Horford and Jae Crowder returned in time to help the Celtics find their winning ways, and quite literally in the case of Horford whose putback with 1.3 seconds remaining propelled Boston to victory against the Pistons on Saturday.
13- Los Angeles Lakers (7 - 6) Last week:
15 - The Spurs, who rank among the best in offensive and defensive ratings, struggled to defeat the Lakers on Friday without their top scorer D’Angelo Russell, which says a lot about Los Angeles’ will to compete
14- Utah Jazz: (7 - 7) Last week:
9- The Jazz lost some momentum it had gained with four wins last week after losing their last three games, which also came against teams with similar records and who are making strong pushes to ascend the rankings.
15- Portland Trail Blazers (7 - 7) Last week:
10 - Jrue Holiday’s 21 points off the bench in his season debut were too much for the Blazers to avoid a loss against the Pelicans on Friday. While Damian Lillard continues to put up solid numbers (the first Blazer ever to score 375 points through 13 games), the team continues to struggle with little-to-no contribution from his supporting cast.
16- Indiana Pacers (6 - 7) Last week:
The Pacers held former coach Frank Vogel’s Orlando Magic to 69 points in a
victory on Monday, and followed by beating the LeBron-less Cavs two nights later, but lost all of that momentum with their loss to the Suns on Saturday.
17- Detroit Pistons (6 - 7) Last week:
After beating the Thunder on Tuesday, the Pistons dropped three straight games against the Knicks, Cavs and Celtics. The team, which still ranks among the top ten in defensive rating and bottom ten in offensive rating, has a tough test ahead with games against the Rockets, Clippers and Thunder.
18- Milwaukee Bucks (5 - 7) Last week:
16 - The Bucks’ 121 points against the Warriors on Saturday were still not enough to beat Golden State, who scored 124 and had Draymond Green shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo late in the game.
19- Orlando Magic (6 - 7) Last week:
Orlando’s week included a big victory over the Thunder, loss to the Pacers, followed by wins against the Pelicans and Mavericks. They need to improve on offense, which currently ranks 28th in the league, if they ever hope to win on a more consistent basis.
20- New York Knicks (5 - 7) Last week:
24 - the Knicks’ ascension of the rankings this week has more to do with other teams struggling than it is for their own performance. Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis is stealing the spotlight in the Big Apple from All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
21- Minnesota Timberwolves (4 - 8) Last week:
25 - Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony combined to score 60 points in the Wolves’ win against the 76ers on Thursday. While the team’s young core is producing numbers on offense, defensive struggles remain the main hindrance to the team’s success so far.
22- Denver Nuggets (4 - 8) Last week:
21 - Kenneth Faried’s insertion into the starting lineup was made in hopes of making things work in Denver. Although they beat the Suns on Wednesday and came within an inch of beating the Raptors two nights later, the Nuggets continue to show mediocre results on both defense and offense.
23- Brooklyn Nets (4 - 8) Last week:
The Nets had a tough week, dropping three games against the Clippers, Lakers and Thunder on the road. They play four of the next five games at home, starting with last night’s match against the Blazers.
24- Miami Heat (4 - 8) Last week:
Hassan Whiteside’s monster play helped the Heat snap a six-game losing streak by beating the Bucks on Friday and then the Wizards one night later. But his biggest test comes next week with matchups against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Memphis’ Marc Gasol (twice).
25- Sacramento Kings (4 - 9) Last week:
18 - The Kings hope that playing ‘smallball’ by sliding center DeMarcus Cousins back to his natural position and playing Rudy Gay at power forward helps end their season-high four-game losing streak.
26- Phoenix Suns (4 - 10) Last week:
The Suns’ only win last week came against a Pacers squad playing without their All-Star Paul George, while they also lost against the 76ers and Nuggets. The experiment of benching Brandon Knight in favor of Devin Booker needs more testing before it can properly be assessed.
27- New Orleans Pelicans (4 - 10) Last week:
29 - Jrue Holiday’s return provided the spark the Pelicans desperately needed, and the team responded with huge victories against the Blazers and Hornets. In Saturday’s victory over Charlotte, New Orleans scored 121 points against the league’s fourth best defense.
28- Washington Wizards (3 - 9) Last week:
28 - John Wall led the Wizards to a win over the Knicks on Friday, but his 34 points came up short to propel his team to victory over the Heat the following night. Even center Marcin Gortat admitted that Washington has ‘one of the worst benches in the NBA’.
29- Dallas Mavericks (2-10) Last week:
22 - Owners of the league’s worst record, the Mavs have a tough week ahead with games against the Spurs, Clippers and Cavaliers; which could also make them lose their position among the top ten in defensive rating.
30- Philadelphia 76ers (3 - 10) Last week:
30 - Joel Embiid is putting up historic numbers despite still being on a minutes restriction. The 76ers improved slightly in defensive rating, but remain horrible in offensive and net ratings, where they rank 29th and 30th respectively.