Full NBA Power Rankings, Post-Christmas season edition
The NBA Christmas season is now behind us, as we are in the final week of 2017. In just one week, the power rankings have fluctuated and new teams have moved up and down the standings.
Of course, the Golden State Warriors have claimed the first spot on the power rankings for their close Christmas victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have also went 8-1 without their star point guard, Stephen Curry. With the first spot taken, let’s see how other teams stack up in the ladder, and which teams that have taken a turn for the worse.
30. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have been abysmal as of late, but they split their games last week to finish 2-2, especially after a brilliant performance 33-point performance by Dennis Schroder in one those matches. However, the Hawks have played terrible basketball lately, relying solely on Schroder’s scoring and playmaking to win games. They look primed to be a lottery team moving forward, so at this point of the season, it’s best to just start thinking about next year. Seriously.
The Hawks are the worst team in the NBA, and they just aren’t getting better anymore. Hence, the Hawks have sealed the 30th spot on this week’s power rankings, and with upcoming games against the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, and Portland Trail Blazers, the Hawks are primed to stay at the bottom for quite some time.
29. Dallas Mavericks
No matter what, the Mavericks seem to be holding on to this season’s hopes behind the play of future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. The German seven-footer still isn’t enough to keep the Mavs afloat in the Western Conference standings. The Mavs have won only one game out of three last week, and hope is starting to get dim.
To make matters worse, the Mavs have already beaten the Toronto Raptors, but next up are the Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Oklahoma City Thunder in upcoming games this week and following. Assuming that the Mavs lose each game, it will place them further into the NBA’s lottery pool as the team hopes to rebuild for the future — this time without Dirk Nowitzki.
28. Memphis Grizzlies
Where did everything go wrong? The Grizzlies were supposed to be a mainstay atop the Western Conference standings. It seems that every year, even after the Grizzlies lose key players, they still go on to the playoffs to compete. This year has been very different. The Grizzlies have fired their head coach, David Fizdale, after him and Marc Gasol seemingly didn’t get along. Mike Conley is still out with an injury, and the Grizzlies have been terrible without him.
Somehow, the Grizzlies are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, and all signs point toward their rebuild in the future. They are 1-3 in last week’s games, but they did beat the Clippers in a surprising effort on Saturday. That still isn’t enough to place the Grizzlies higher in the rankings. Oh, and where did Marc Gasol go? The Grizzlies are showing none of their famous “grit and grind” style on the floor.
27. Orlando Magic
Remember when the Orlando Magic started the season 8-4 and looked ready to make the playoffs. Well, things have now taken a drastic turn. The Magic have lost Aaron Gordon to an injury. They have lost eight in a low since their 8-4 record, and have went 3-19 since. They can’t score, and they can’t defend.
The Magic are probably the worst team in the NBA with regards to talent. Since Gordon went down, the Magic literally have no one to shoulder the load offensively. The Magic have also been unlucky this past week. Nikola Vucevic has broken his left index finger and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. This team is going to lose that will be the narrative for the rest of the year, at least until Gordon returns. Hopefully the Magic can bounce back soon. They are scheduled to play the Miami Heat twice and the Brooklyn Nets next week.
26. Sacramento Kings
Credit the Sacramento Kings for their impressive victory over the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday. The Kings will be at home for six straight games, starting with a challenging duel with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Kings have been so-so in the past week, but have shown some flashes of their true potential.
This team doesn’t look ready to become a lottery team just yet. In fact, the best may be yet to come for the Sacramento Kings as they have to defend their home court this week against the likes of the Cavs, Suns, and Grizzlies.
25. Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker has finally for the Suns, who have gone 8-7 without him in the lineup. Booker is starting to emerge into a star and the player that the Suns need. Before his groin injury, Booker scored a combined 84 points in two games.
While the Suns still have some things to address defensively if they are ever going to win and climb the power rankings, Booker’s return should boost their chances drastically and at least enable them to compete with mid-tier NBA teams. The Suns should be fine, for now at least.
24. Los Angeles Lakers
As impressive as the Los Angeles Lakers have looked against the Golden State Warriors last week, they still own a 1-4 record, losing their last three games. The Lakers took a blow after Lonzo Ball suffered a shoulder injury. Now, the Lakers will be forced to grind out wins against tougher competition.
Since this team is so young and inexperienced, don’t expect them to become a force just yet. The Lakers have upcoming games against the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves, which will surely test the team’s mettle. Kyle Kuzma is having a brilliant rookie year and is starting to become the Lakers’ first option. This can become a good thing for the Lakers as they try to climb the standings at the beginning of the new year.
23. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls have performed well lately going on an impressive seven-game winning streak. Of course, reality settled in and the Bulls were wiped out by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. In fact, the Celtics beat the Bulls by 25, which is the fifth time that the team has been blown out by 25 points or more. This feat is tied by none other than the New York Knicks.
The Bulls have been strangely solid lately, despite having virtually no talent to compete with any NBA team. Hopefully, the Bulls can redeem themselves and begin winning again in a new fashion. That might not happen right now, since the Bulls have upcoming games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, and Portland Trail Blazers.
22. Brooklyn Nets
Don’t hold your breath. The Nets beat the Wizards by 35 points on Friday. They have played well in a recent span, showing a new level of grit and determination, even with injuries to Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell. Hopefully, the Nets can capitalize on their impressive win moving forward into the new year.
The Nets turned some heads Friday as they dominated the Wizards on both ends of the floor, coming out of nowhere to shut the Wizards down. They played stellar defense, not allowing the Wizards to get anything they wanted on the offensive end. They outscored the Wizards easily, even though they have a lack in talent and reputed scorers. A blowout like this hasn’t been done by the Nets since, well since they blew out the Wizards by 37 points in 2015. Obviously, the Nets and Wizards might have more history than we think. The Nets will have to play some tough competition moving forward when they face the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in the upcoming week.
21. Charlotte Hornets
One of the most quiet narratives in the NBA is how Dwight Howard is having an solid year for the Hornets. On Saturday, Howard posted 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a win against the Bucks, which has only been done by the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Unfortunately, this has been the only bright spot for the Hornets as they have failed to fight for a playoff spot once again.
The Hornets are on pace to miss the playoffs, and it’s because they haven’t been consistent. The Hornets have been 2-2 in their games last week, which won’t cut it if they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive. To make matters worse, the Hornets have to play the Boston Celtics next, and the Celtics are fresh off a loss on Christmas Day against the Wizards and are looking to redeem themselves. After that game, the Hornets will face the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
20. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz have lost three of their four games last week in disappointing fashion. Rudy Gobert’s injury has continued to hurt this team in so many ways. Donovan Mitchell has been exceptional, scoring 25 points or more nine times this season. That has only been done by Lakers’ rookie Kyle Kuzma. Speaking of which, Mitchell is the second leading scorer among rookies just below Kuzma.
After losing to the Thunder on Saturday night, the Jazz will face a beatable opponent in the Denver Nuggets. Win or lose, the Jazz will have a tough stretch once they battle the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Regardless of the outcomes of those games, Donovan Mitchell will be a problem for both teams.
19. L.A. Clippers
Austin Rivers has been on a roll lately, scoring 36 points against the Memphis Grizzlies and 38 points against the Houston Rockets. He has helped the Clippers improve to a respectable 14-19 record with his brilliant play. Especially against the Rockets, Austin Rivers was fantastic. He shot extremely well and helped bury the Rockets down the stretch with timely 3-point shooting.
The Clippers have upcoming games against Bucks and Lakers. These shouldn’t be too hard for the Clippers as they try to get back in contention for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. If Rivers continues to have stellar games, then who knows how far the Clippers can go in the season and in these power rankings.
18. Philadelphia 76ers
Against the New York Knicks on Christmas, Joel Embiid was amazing. He scored 25 points and grabbed 16 boards as the Sixers defeated the Knicks. Furthermore, Embiid outplayed Kristaps Porzingis in their second meeting. The Sixers have only won one game in their last four tries, but they have redeemed themselves with an all-around effort in their Christmas day win.
The Sixers have a relatively easy schedule heading into next week. Their upcoming games are against the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns. With the Sixers back on track, the rest of the league should definitely be on notice, as this team tries to climb the Eastern Conference standings and the power rankings.
17. New York Knicks
In a losing effort, Enes Kanter had an amazing night, becoming one of the few players to score more than 30 points and collect over 20 rebounds on Christmas. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Bob Lanier are the only players to accomplish such feat, putting Kanter in good company.
The Knicks have been surprisingly good after trading away Carmelo Anthony to build around Kristaps Porzingis. This is the team that the Knicks were supposed to be. They are relying on Porzingis as their star, while having a solid unit that commits on both ends of the floor. The Knicks will have to do battle with the San Antonio Spurs in their upcoming schedule, but the rest of their games look unexpectedly easy.
16. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat’s place in the power rankings is surprising, considering that the Heat played without without Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, and Justise Winslow on Friday against the Mavericks. Dion Waiters even left the game early with an ankle injury and the Heat managed to still come away with the win, thanks to a big game from Wayne Ellington. Ellington scored a career-high 28 points and made eight 3-pointers en route to a victory.
As a result, the Heat are 18-16, and are actually in contention to fight for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Heat are still riddled with injuries, but they are going to play the Orlando Magic twice in three games and the Brooklyn Nets. These games should be close, but the Heat have a chance to win big.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard wasn’t present in the Blazers’ last few games because of an injury, and the team hasn’t done so well without him. Still, the Blazers are 17-16 and still in the Western Conference playoff picture. The Blazers will have Lillard back in the lineup just in time for a showdown against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Blazer also get to have a breather once they face the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks, two of the worst teams in the NBA. This stretch will truly define the Blazers as a playoff contender if they can climb the Western Conference standings a bit higher.
14. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been solid last week, winning two of their three games. They will have to play back-to-back games against the Mavericks this week, which shouldn’t be too difficult for the Pelicans to overcome. The Pelicans are also set to play the Nets and the Knicks, as they look to climb the standings in time for the All-Star break.
DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis have been playing extremely well together, but the team hasn’t truly exploded yet. Maybe they will do so down the final stretch of the season, New Orleans fans just have to hope that it won’t be too late by then.
13. Detroit Pistons
After losing seven games in the row, the Pistons have stormed back and have won four out of their last five games. They owe these wins to their incredible shooting as of late. Currently, the Pistons are shooting 38 percent from deep. Furthermore, their scrappy and loose play are starting to come back to form.
The Pistons have a tough game this week once they face the San Antonio Spurs, but they’ll have some easy sailing after that. Expect the Pistons to continue climbing the power rankings and the Eastern Conference standings in the near future.
12. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have done well last week. They broke the winning streaks of the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors, which is something that is not easy to do. Steadily over the season, the Nuggets have improved.
They have an 18-15 record, and they are currently sixth in the tough Western Conference. Remember that the Nuggets traded away Jusuf Nurkic last season, and they shipped Danilo Galinari in the summer. If the Nuggets keep it up, they will be a tough team to beat in the playoffs. Maybe they might win a series for a change as well.
11. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks have been getting by in the Eastern Conference thanks to the brilliant play of their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the addition of Eric Bledsoe to the team, the Bucks have performed even better. Bledsoe has assisted on 32 of Antetokounmpo’s field goals since he has been a member of the Bucks, giving the Giannis another reliable offensive option.
The Bucks have excessively lost games throughout the season, but they are still 17-14. They will be tested once they face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Toronto Raptors in their upcoming schedule. It will be up to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the squad to bring on the upset and start filling up the win column for their team.
10. Indiana Pacers
In Saturday’s win over the Nets, Victor Oladipo has registered his seventh 30-point game of the season. The Pacers have played like an elite team when Oladipo plays well. He is on pace to become a first time All-Star. In fact, the Pacers have performed much better with Oladipo than they did with Paul George last year.
Indiana will make the playoffs this year, and they may just climb to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. With tough games ahead against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons, expect Oladipo to cash in and will his team to greater success this season.
9. Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards took care of business against the Boston Celtics on Christmas day, getting their revenge for their defeat in the playoffs. John Wall outdueled Kyrie Irving as the Wizards beat the Celtics down the final stretch.
Hopefully, this is a wake up call for the Wizards as they try to do better than last year with a deep playoff run. They’ve been on a roll since Wall returned.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves took care of business against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas, and they look to be on the rise in the Western Conference.
With the fourth seed in the West, the Timberwolves just may be eyeing the Spurs at taking third slot in the conference very soon. Karl-Anthony Towns and the gang are playing well together, and, at this rate, they will finally make the playoffs after 13 years.
7. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have won three of their last four games, which is not surprising for the NBA’s most consistent team. The Spurs still hold the third seed in the West, even after a significant injury to Kawhi Leonard. But The Klaw has returned and San Antonio is poised to become scarier. In fact, they haven’t skipped a beat even even during his absence.
6. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have cooled down from their hot start to the season. Nonetheless, they have won two of their last three games. After losing to the Wizards at home on Christmas, the Celtics have a shot at redemption when they face the Charlotte Hornets this week.
Kyrie Irving and Al Horford will continue to pave the way for the Beantown team as they try to fortify their position atop the Eastern Conference.
5. Houston Rockets
Yes. The Rockets are fifth in the power rankings. Two of their three losses came at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers, which showed flaws in the Rockets’ offense.
If they can’t make 3-pointers, they are totally beatable. The Rockets also lost on Christmas day to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a horrible defensive breakdown. The Rockets should be fine moving forward, but these losses should teach them to not get comfortable.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers may have lost against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas, but they are still one of the best teams in the NBA. To the credit of the Cavs, the outcome of that particular game is now put into question with the league pointing out to a couple of erroneous calls in crunch time. Don’t fret. The Cavs will be back in their next game.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been very impressive lately. They have gone 4-0 in their last four games, and they turned in a gratifying victory against the Houston Rockets on Christmas, in which Russell Westbrook turned in a masterful performance.
So far, the days of turbulence seem part of history in Oklahoma City and the team’s formidable trio has finally found a way to play with each other.
2. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have been amazing lately, winning 12 out of their last 14 games. Interestingly, the Raptors have led the league in defensive efficiency, and DeMar DeRozan has been excellent during this stretch. Toronto has embraced the long ball as well, making for a deadly two-way game up north.
1. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas after Kevin Durant outdueled LeBron James with an incredible performance. The Warriors now have the top seed in the West, and they are the best team in the league. They deserve props for going 8-1 without Stephen Curry. However, Curry should be returning soon, so the rest of the league better be on notice. The Warriors just might keep the top spot.