There are only a handful of great teams in the NBA
There are a few really, really good teams in the NBA and a few really, really bad ones. Then there is this big blob of teams in the middle who can’t seem to figure out what they are.
Call it parity, but the middle class of the NBA is jam-packed with teams. We are still trying to suss out which teams are contenders and pretenders. Let’s take a look at this week’s NBA Power Rankings.
30. Detroit Pistons (4-20, 0)
Can’t drop any further if you are already last. That’s the nicest thing I can say about the Pistons right now. Actually, I lied — Cade Cunningham is already really good.
29. Orlando Magic (5-21, 0)
The Eastern Conference is much improved this year, but the Pistons and Orlando Magic look like the two worst teams in the NBA.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-16, 0)
The Oklahoma City Thunder went 2-1 last week, but won’t move up in these power rankings. That’s what happens when your one loss breaks a record for the most lopsided defeat in NBA history. Ouch.
27. New Orleans Pelicans (7-20, -1)
The Pelicans are becoming the new NBA team that enters every year with high expectations and fails to deliver. Timberwolves fans can breathe a sigh of relief. This is no longer your cross to bear.
26. San Antonio Spurs (8-15, -1)
The San Antonio Spurs made the otherwise hapless Knicks look good earlier this week. That warrants a one-spot drop.
25. Portland Trail Blazers (11-15, -6)
What the hell is going on with the Portland Trail Blazers? There are reports of issues between the players and Chauncey Billups bubbling up. The Blazers are an organization with no direction from top to bottom.
24. New York Knicks (12-13, -9)
It’s time for the New York Knicks to experience what it’s like in the mid-20s. They have lost four of their last five games, two of which were embarrassing losses in which the Knicks showed 0 signs of life.
23. Houston Rockets (8-16, +4)
We aren’t ready to crown the Houston Rockets, but they are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. This ragtag group of youth and veterans is on a seven-game winning streak. Weird stuff.
22. Indiana Pacers (11-16, 0)
Reports are indicating that the end might be near for this version of the Indiana Pacers. The team is reportedly willing to listen to offers for Myles Turner, Caris LeVert, and Domantas Sabonis.
21. Toronto Raptors (11-14, +2)
The Raptors are what they are — a rebuilding team looking to capitalize on a season with no expectations. They will be a lottery team, but they aren’t going to be a pushover for teams, either.
20. Sacramento Kings (11-14, +4)
Nobody move! The Sacramento Kings are currently the 10 seed in the Western Conference. If the season ended today, they would be in the play-in tournament.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-14, -5)
I might have jumped the gun on the Minnesota Timberwolves by pushing them all the way up to 14 last week. They have come back down to Earth after losing three straight.
18. Denver Nuggets (12-12, +4)
It’s still difficult to suss out exactly where this Denver Nuggets squad stands. Nikola Jokic is good enough to make a bad team average. Is Denver a bad team being lifted by a star or a team on the verge of getting hot?
17. Dallas Mavericks (12-12, -8)
The Dallas Mavericks blew a 17-point lead to the Nets on Tuesday night. They are in freefall after losing eight of their last 11 games.
16. Washington Wizards (15-11, -8)
The Washington Wizards went 1-3 since last week’s Power Rankings and they are starting to crack after sitting atop the Eastern Conference earlier this season. The Wizards will fight for the play-in tournament for sure, but they are a middle-of-the-pack East team.
15. Boston Celtics (13-13, -3)
Western Conference road trips can be brutal. That’s especially true when your five-game road trip includes both Los Angeles teams, the Jazz, Suns, and Blazers. Boston is 1-3 on their current trip with Phoenix on the schedule this weekend.
14. Charlotte Hornets (14-13, -4)
COVID issues are ripping through the Charlotte Hornets. LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee, and Ish Smith have all missed time due to the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers (14-12, 0)
These pesky Cleveland Cavaliers just won’t go away. Hopefully, everyone got their jokes about jumbo-sized lineups out of the way in the offseason. The Cavaliers are here to stay.
12. Philadelphia 76ers (14-11, +6)
The Philadelphia 76ers are on a three-game winning streak and it’s mostly because Joel Embiid is putting everyone on his back. Embiid’s usage numbers are through the roof this year per Crossing Broad, which makes total sense
11. Los Angeles Lakers (13-12, +5)
All it took was Enes Freedom talking trash to LeBron James to fire up the Los Angeles Lakers. Well, that’s not exactly true. The purple and gold are starting to look more like the offseason vision.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (14-12, +7)
In fact, both Los Angeles teams are starting to find their footing. The Los Angeles Clippers get the slight nod over the Lakers and it’s only because Ty Lue put on a coaching clinic against the Blazers earlier this week.
NEW Breakdown: Ty Lue shows again why he is one of the best X's & O's coaches in the NBA – NASTY ATO counter! pic.twitter.com/U4MAFvOKCd
— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) December 7, 2021
9. Memphis Grizzlies (14-11, +11)
The Memphis Grizzlies erased that concerning point differential I noted in last week’s power rankings. Oh, and did I mention that they are doing it without Ja Morant. The Grizzlies are 5-1 without the budding superstar, including a 73-point win over the Thunder.
8. Atlanta Hawks (13-12, +3)
The Atlanta Hawks are rising in the power rankings, but mostly because the rest of the NBA sucks right now. The Hawks are one of 10 NBA teams with a winning record over their last 10 games.
7. Miami Heat (15-11, 0)
The Miami Heat are probably going to hover between five and 10 in these power rankings for the rest of the season. Even with injuries to Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, the Heat are managing to stay relevant.
6. Brooklyn Nets (17-8, -1)
It wasn’t a great week for the Brooklyn Nets, but they have been up and down all season long. James Harden couldn’t beat his old team, the Houston Rockets, with Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge resting.
5. Chicago Bulls (17-9, +1)
Despite a blowout loss to Cleveland on Wednesday night, the Chicago Bulls have still established themselves as a top-five team in the NBA this year.
4. Utah Jazz (17-7, -1)
The Utah Jazz were a perfect 3-0 this week, but somehow managed to drop a spot. Don’t bury me, Jazz fans. They are still firmly in the top five and among the elite teams in the NBA. It’s just tough to deny this next team.
3. Milwaukee Bucks (16-10, +1)
These are the Milwaukee Bucks we expected to see this season. After a brief championship hangover, the Bucks are rounding into form. They only have one loss this year when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton play together.
2. Phoenix Suns (20-4, -1)
The Phoenix Suns are getting better with age. While most people will focus on Chris Paul’s age, it’s the young franchise cornerstones we are talking about here — Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges.
1. Golden State Warriors (21-4, +1)
The Golden State Warriors seem destined to flip-flop the top spot with the Suns all season long. Stephen Curry would be the NBA MVP if the season ended today.
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