KUWAIT TIMES NBA POWER RANK­INGS

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS - 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 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:

3 -

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:

7

- 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:

11 -

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:

12 -

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:

20 -

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:

14 -

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:

27 -

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:

17 -

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:

26 -

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:

23 -

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.

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