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 in­tro­duces 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, for games played as of yes­ter­day) 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’s rat­ings saw changes in the top ten as two Western Con­fer­ence teams are mak­ing un­likely strong pushes in De­cem­ber.

1- Golden State War­riors (20 - 4) Last week:

1 - The War­riors nearly lost their top spot in this week’s rank­ing fol­low­ing their loss to the Griz­zlies Saturday night af­ter they strug­gled with shoot­ing and pass­ing, but it is hard to over­look their com­mand­ing per­for­mance in the pre­vi­ous few days. In Mon­day’s rout of In­di­ana, Klay Thompson scored 60 points in 29 min­utes, and was on pace to score a 100 ac­cord­ing to Elias Sports Bureau’s re­search.

2- Toronto Rap­tors (17 - 7) Last week: 3 -

The Rap­tors won nine of their last 10 games, and led the NBA in of­fen­sive rat­ing, net rat­ing and three-point per­cent­age dur­ing that span (they lead the league in of­fense over­all). Af­ter beat­ing the Celtics on Fri­day, they set their sights on pos­si­bly tak­ing the lead in the Eastern Con­fer­ence’s stand­ings with a rel­a­tively easy sched­ule ahead.

3- Cleve­land Cavaliers (17 - 5) Last week: 4

Fol­low­ing his team’s win against the Hor­nets Saturday night, LeBron James be­came the only player in NBA his­tory with 27,000 points, 7,000 as­sists and 7,000 re­bounds, and the only for­ward ever to reach the 7,000 as­sists’ mark. We’re not done talk­ing about LeBron’s ac­co­lades yet: he also climbed to ninth on the NBA’s all-time scor­ing list last week.

4- San An­to­nio Spurs (19 - 5) Last week: 2 -

All good things come to an end, in­clud­ing the Spurs’ un­de­feated record on the road. Af­ter call­ing his team out fol­low­ing its loss to the Bulls in Chicago on Thurs­day, Coach Gregg Popovich’s squad re­sponded by scor­ing 130 points to de­feat the Nets two nights later.

5- Hous­ton Rock­ets (17 - 7) Last week: 6 -

Not only did the Rock­ets over­come Rus­sell West­brook’s sev­enth straight triple-dou­ble to beat the Thun­der on Fri­day, but they also cruised past the Mavs one night later for their sixth straight win. Hot shoot­ing from the three-point line re­mains the key fac­tor be­hind Hous­ton’s wins this sea­son.

6- Mem­phis Griz­zlies (17 - 8) Last week: 8 -

Not even the streak­ing War­riors could stop the Griz­zlies, who dom­i­nated on both ends of the floor to beat Golden State on Saturday. But their six-game (and count­ing) win­ning streak seems in jeop­ardy with two back-to-back games against the Cavs to­mor­row and Wed­nes­day.

7- Los Angeles Clip­pers (17 - 7) Last week: 5

- The Clip­pers needed that big win Saturday against the Pel­i­cans - who were play­ing with­out star An­thony Davis - to off­set their pre­vi­ous two ugly losses to the War­riors and Pac­ers. Good news is that they don’t have to face a team with a win­ning record un­til De­cem­ber 22 against the Spurs.

8- Ok­la­homa City Thun­der (14 - 9) Last

week: 7 - Rus­sell West­brook’s sev­enth straight triple-dou­ble recorded on Fri­day is the long­est since Michael Jor­dan’s sim­i­lar streak in 1989, but it was still not enough for the Thun­der to beat the Rock­ets and ex­tend their win­ning streak to seven.

9- Chicago Bulls (13 - 10) Last week: 9 -

The Bulls ended a three-game los­ing straight with a con­fi­dence-boost­ing win against the Spurs on Thurs­day, and fur­ther boosted their con­fi­dence by beat­ing the Heat on Saturday al­though it came in the form of a tough vic­tory over Dwayne Wade’s for­mer team.

10- Utah Jazz (15 - 10) Last week: 11 -

The Jazz en­ter Wed­nes­day’s game against the Thun­der win­ning eight of their last ten games, and rank­ing in the top ten in of­fen­sive, de­fen­sive and net rat­ings in the league dur­ing that span. With his 26 points in Utah’s win over the Kings on Saturday, Gor­don Hay­ward be­came the first Jazz player with 10 straight 20-point games since Karl Malone in 2001-02 (per Elias Sports and In­for­ma­tion).

11- Boston Celtics (3 - 10) Last week: 10 -

The Celtics sur­vived a bomb threat - which turned out to be a hoax - in their flight to Ok­la­homa City on Saturday, but could not sur­vive the Rap­tors’ of­fense one night ear­lier in a game in which they sorely missed their in­jured guard Isa­iah Thomas; who was al­ready ruled out of last night’s game against the Thun­der.

12- Char­lotte Hor­nets (14 - 10) Last week:

12 - Marvin Wil­liams’ return to the lineup in­vig­o­rated the Hor­nets, but it was Ni­co­las Ba­tum’s im­pres­sive play that keyed his team’s vic­to­ries against the Mavs, Pis­tons and Magic last week. LeBron James was too much though on Saturday, car­ry­ing his team to vic­tory with 44 points.

13- New York Knicks (13 - 10) Last week: 18

- Carmelo An­thony is not let­ting his is­sues with Pres­i­dent Phil Jack­son dis­tract him; on the con­trary, it seems to be re­ju­ve­nat­ing him as he scored 33 points to lead the Knicks to a vic­tory in Sacra­mento on Fri­day. They’ve won five of their last six games en­ter­ing last night’s game against the Lak­ers.

14- Mil­wau­kee Bucks (11 - 11) Last week: 13

- Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo is the only player in the NBA who is lead­ing his team in scor­ing, as­sists, re­bounds, blocks, and steals. The last player to do that for an en­tire sea­son was LeBron James for the 2008-09 Cleve­land Cavaliers (per Elias Sports and In­for­ma­tion).

15- Detroit Pis­tons (13 - 12) Last week: 14 -

In Fri­day’s win in Min­nesota, cen­ter An­dre Drum­mond scored 22 points and grabbed 22 re­bounds; his third 20-20 game this sea­son. In com­par­i­son, the rest of the league has four

such games com­bined, and no other player has more than one (per ESPN Stats and In­for­ma­tion).

16- In­di­ana Pac­ers (12 - 12) Last week: 16 -

Paul Ge­orge poured in 37 points and led his team to vic­tory over the Trail Blaz­ers on Saturday, outscor­ing fel­low All-Star Damian Lil­lard in the process. The Pac­ers need his shoot­ing touch when they host the Hor­nets tonight.

17- At­lanta Hawks (12 - 12) Last week: 19 -

Den­nis Schroder scored a ca­reer-high 33 and led At­lanta to over­came a 20-point half­time deficit to beat the Bucks 114-110 on Fri­day, and that two nights af­ter Dwight Howard and Paul Mill­sap helped the Hawks snap their sea­son-high seven-game los­ing streak.

18- Port­land Trail Blaz­ers (12 - 13) Last

week: 15 - The Blaz­ers en­ter Mon­day ranked sixth in the league in of­fen­sive rat­ing and 26th in de­fen­sive rat­ing. Cur­rently on a three-game los­ing streak, it is hard to imag­ine that their of­fense will be enough to achieve wins in a tough stretch ahead that fea­tures matches against the Clip­pers, Thun­der and War­riors.

19- Wash­ing­ton Wizards (9 - 13) Last week:

26 - John Wall crit­i­cized his team af­ter his 52 points were not enough to beat the Magic on Tues­day, and the Wizards re­sponded by beat­ing the Nuggets and Bucks the fol­low­ing two games. More im­por­tantly, their de­fense has im­proved to fourth best in the league dur­ing that two-game span.

20- Los Angeles Lak­ers (10 - 15) Last week:

17 - Re­serve guard Lou Wil­liams’ 137 points of the bench in the Lak­ers’ last four games is the most ever scored by a bench player in a fourgame span. Still the Lak­ers are strug­gling to fig­ure out a way to end their five-game los­ing streak en­ter­ing last night’s game against the Knicks.

21- Den­ver Nuggets (9 - 15) Last week: 24 -

As rookie Ja­mal Mur­ray con­tin­ues to de­velop, it’s worth not­ing an­other bench player’s per­for­mance. Wilson Chan­dler leads the Nuggets in scor­ing at 18.0 points per game de­spite start­ing only two games this sea­son. He has av­er­aged 16.8 points off the bench, third in the NBA be­hind Lou Wil­liams and Eric Gor­don (per ESPN Stats and In­for­ma­tion).

22- Sacra­mento Kings (8 - 15) Last week: 21

- The Kings have lost six of its last ten games, a span dur­ing which their de­fense has im­proved but their of­fense re­mains bad. They could not even cap­i­tal­ize on Utah’s 22 turnovers and beat the Jazz on Saturday.

23- Or­lando Magic (10 - 15) Last week: 20 -

In their win over the Wizards on Tues­day, the Magic’s en­tire start­ing lineup was outscored by Wash­ing­ton’s John Wall, who scored 52 com­pared to 51 by Or­lando’s start­ing five. Their cur­rent three-game los­ing streak came af­ter three straight wins, which seems to be a trend, one that is sym­bolic of their roller-coaster sea­son so far.

24- Mi­ami Heat (7 - 17) Last week: 22 -

Mi­ami en­ters tonight’s game against the Wizards on a five-game los­ing streak, and have lost seven of its last ten. Their de­fense dropped to 25th in the league dur­ing that span, which is prob­lem­atic con­sid­er­ing that they’re fac­ing high-scor­ing teams (Pac­ers and Clip­pers) af­ter tonight’s match.

25- Phoenix Suns (7 - 16) Last week: 27 -

The Suns, who rank in the bot­tom ten in of­fen­sive, de­fen­sive and net rat­ings, got some­thing to cel­e­brate af­ter end­ing their three-game los­ing streak in Fri­day’s win over the Lak­ers be­hind 30 points from Eric Bled­soe, who cel­e­brated his birth­day on that day.

26- New Or­leans Pel­i­cans (7 - 17) Last week:

23 - The Pel­i­cans opted to rest An­thony Davis against the Clip­pers on Saturday, and every­body sat and watched LA’s guard Chris Paul make his­tory by be­com­ing the first player to have 20 points, 20 as­sists and no turnovers since turnovers were first recorded for in­di­vid­u­als in 1977-78 (per Elias Sports Bureau).

27- Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves (6 - 17) Last

week: 25 - The Wolves lost to the Pis­tons on Fri­day fol­low­ing ear­lier losses to the Rap­tors and Spurs, prompt­ing guard Ricky Ru­bio to pro­claim that his team, which lost eight of its last ten games, plays with ‘no heart’ and ‘no de­sire’.

28- Brook­lyn Nets (6 - 16) Last week: 28 -

The Nets suf­fered an on­slaught from the Spurs on Saturday in the first game since the Rock­ets matched their four-year $37 mil­lion of­fer sheet to for­ward Donatas Motieju­nas.

29- Dal­las Mavericks (5 - 18) Last week: 29 -

Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban (who still thinks Rus­sell West­brook is not a su­per­star) said Saturday that his team would only con­sider trad­ing its top-five pro­jected first round pick in this sum­mer’s draft in ex­change for a top­five player in the en­tire league. It is un­likely that the Mavs will trade out of what is promis­ing to be one of the deep­est drafts in re­cent mem­ory, how­ever.

30- Philadel­phia 76ers (5 - 18) Last week:

30 - Fri­day’s win against the Pel­i­cans ended the 76ers’ eight-game los­ing streak and its fran­chise record-ty­ing 23-game road los­ing streak. Their de­fense has only slightly im­proved, as they en­tered Mon­day rank­ing 21st in the league in de­fen­sive rat­ing.

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