What a season this is turning out to be. I fell asleep last night and the Clippers were up 18 on the Warriors and I woke up and found out that Steph Curry dropped 40 and out-rebounded EVERYBODY. Including Deandre Jordan. I love the NBA, even when I can’t stay awake for the 10:30 games.
Now that we’re through week three, I’ve expanded my consideration to the entire league, and thus, we have some fresh faces in this week’s power rankings. The Wizards still didn’t make it (*sheds a single red, white, and blue tear*), but they are close! What’s interesting about this week’s rankings is that though we do a top ten, every team that made the cut has an average rankings below eleven. If you’ve noticed in the previous rankings, that hasn’t been the case. Some teams are just sneaky efficient.
- Golden State Warriors (2.5)
- 40 points on 22 shots and 11 rebounds for the best player in the NBA. I’m ready to admit it, to anoint him the new King. LeBron is obviously the more physically gifted player, he affects the game in ways the box score can’t show, but teams game plan for Curry every night and he still does what he does. What’s crazy? the Warriors don’t even need him to be this great. Klay had 25 last night, Harrison Barnes had 21, Draymond had 19. You won’t find that kind of domination elsewhere.
- San Antonio Spurs (2.5)
- Quietly good as always. Maybe it’s because Golden State is doing what they’re doing, but if you notice, they finished with the same rating as the Warriors this week, but tie goes to the incumbent leader. They’ve only lost two games this year and Kawhi Leonard is having a really good year. Combine that with some vintage Manu Ginobli play – Golden State better pay attention.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (5.5)
- Maybe it’s Detroit’s rise, or the Porzingis insanity (Insanzingy? Never mind.), but Cleveland doesn’t appear to be getting the same type of hype and attention in the East. They are still the clear-cut favorite, but LeBron’s game has not fallen off as expected. 27 points per game, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds. He’s doing LeBron things despite “running the offense through Love.” 9-3 without Kyrie… Maybe they should reconsider his role?
- Miami Heat (6.25)
- Miami is winning games, though they haven’t played anyone spectacular yet, but it’s their defense that seems to be anchoring them. They recently dealt Mario Chalmers to Memphis for financial reasons, and haven’t missed a beat. Hassan Whiteside is making the case for best center in the league (he already has 46 blocks this season!) and Dwyane Wade is having his best year from beyond the arc, and Chris Bosh is having a more efficient year than last.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (8.00)
- No Kevin Durant? More Russell Westbrook. He’s had two straight 40 point games, is averaging over 10 assists (the one argument people had against him), and 8 rebounds. As much as I’d like to think about Durant coming to DC, there’s no way he leaves a guy like this. If the Thunder can stay afloat without him, then the league better be on notice for when he returns.
- Boston Celtics (9.00)
- This team is really starting to take shape, and the best part? They have the Nets first round pick this year. It’s unprotected. The Nets are absolutely awful. So not only do they seem playoff bound, and even capable of pulling off a first round upset, but they might even get Ben Simmons in the draft. The other Simmons of HBO, Bill, must be losing his mind. This team is sporting the fourth best point differential per game in the league, which is a result of that THIRD ranked defense (based on defensive efficiency).
- Atlanta Hawks (9.25)
- Their defensive has fallen out of the top ten, and that may be what has them below Boston, but this team still knows how to make the best of their possessions. Remember that Budenholzer is of the Poppovich coaching tree, and he knows how to run an offense. If you aren’t watching the Hawks because they are “boring,” you’re absolutely mistaken, my friend. Bazemore is shooting 43% from three… so there’s that. Here’s to hoping Horford’s face is okay.
- Dallas Mavericks (10.25)
- That third ranked defense I mentioned earlier? The Dallas overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat that defense just the other night. Olynyk tried to use Dirk’s iconic step-back against him, and missed. It was actually kind of cool and it’s a shame it didn’t go in. Dallas has revitalized Raymond Felton (this makes the trade machine a little awkward) and Deron Williams. And is somehow successfully utilizing a four-point-guard rotation. Give Houston’s playoff spot to Dallas, please.
- Toronto Raptors (10.50)
- DeMar DeRozan’s dunk on Rudy Gobert is already the dunk of the year. Not only did he rise up on one of the best shot blockers in the league (second to Hassan Whiteside), but he even reached back mid-air to put a little umph in it. Incredible. The Raptors have lost three in a row, and they’re defense is giving them fits, but I still like what this team is doing. Unfortunately they have games with the Clippers, Cavs and Wizards coming up. Oh, and one against the next team too.
- Phoenix Suns (10.50)
- I’m really disappointed that Lamarcus Aldridge didn’t sign with Phoenix in the offseason. He, plus Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe and occasional 37-point-scorer Brandon Jennings, would have been a lot of fun to watch. In the mean time, though, Phoenix is actually playing pretty well. The rest of the month consists of two games against the Pelicans, one against the Nuggets… but one against San Antonio, one against Golden State, and one against Toronto. Starting 9-8 isn’t the worst thing, especially when starting December with a trip across the east coast.
Note: The Eastern conference, sometimes dubbed the “Leastern” Conference, and deservedly so, is still a very competitive conference. This week’s power rankings are split 5-5 between the conferences, and it should be noted that the disparity isn’t quite what it used to be this season. Be careful with your “Leastern” assumptions.
NBA TRADE MACHINE GONE MAD
Every week I’m going to play around with ESPN’s Trade Machine to see what kind of nonsense I can get away with. It’s actually quite a frustrating thing to do, because sometimes you find yourself being unfair to another team, but then you remember that it’s all pretend and you stop caring about hypothetical hurt feelings.
More Boogie… and because he’s been demoted, I’ve added some Joakim Noah to the mix.
I was listening the Zach Lowe’s podcast earlier this week and he and David Thorpe briefly discussed what it would be like for Joakim Noah to play for Dallas… and so I got a little curious. Noah would give Dallas that upper level big man to play along side Dirk, but they’d have to shed one of their point guards to make it work. That would be quite the free agent splash, and if they could incorporate the Boogie trade.. the only thing that’d be missing is Carmelo.
Oh Godzingis.. I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I did this. This is obviously a terrible terrible idea considering I despise the Chicago Bulls, and here I am, giving them 20 additional wins. What is wrong with me? Rose to the Knicks isn’t that crazy of a thought, but Carmelo Anthony AND Demarcus Cousins to Chicago? One, I don’t know if the Bulls would be willing to pay that kind of money, but shedding both Rose and Noah, they’d have the room for it. The Kings, like before, would have to play ball, and they have to decide if tanking one more year is actually worth it.. and if the 76ers have any advice, the Kings would do best not to follow it.
Come back on Monday for House of Zards. We’ll be taking a break next Friday for Thanksgiving, but the Power Rankings will return two weeks from now. I promise to come up with a trade that will make the wait worth it.