NBA Power Rankings: Houston Rockets cleared for takeoff, while Atlanta Hawks fly south for the winter

Previous Power Rankings:  PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5, Week 6

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 18-6

Previous Ranking: 1 (Same)

The Lakers were able to defeat the Denver Nuggets Thursday night in a rematch of the Western Conference Finals. They did it pretty handily thanks to a strong offensive performance from LeBron James and a solid defensive performance as a team. LeBron was one of many stars across the league to voice their frustration with the league forcing an All Star game. It’ll be interesting to see if LeBron’s frustration will change the NBA’s decision to have the game.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 17-7

Previous Ranking: 2 (Same)

The Clippers had two close games against top tier Eastern Conference teams with the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, they were unable to close out either of these games, losing both games by four points each. On the brightside, Nicolas Batum has looked amazing since being inserted into the starting lineup. He will certainly help this Clippers team in the playoffs by supplying some much needed depth scoring with the regression of Lou Williams.

  1. Utah Jazz

Record: 18-5

Previous Ranking: 3 (Same)

Utah lost what seemed like their first game in forever, losing to the Nuggets 128-117. This broke an 11 game win streak for the Jazz, but they responded with a three game win streak right after to remain the one seed in the West. Jordan Clarkson continues to look like the frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year award, pouring in 23 points off the bench in a win over the Atlanta Hawks.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 17-7

Previous Ranking: 4 (Same)

Joel Embiid has continued his dominance this week, making the argument for best center in the league even harder. Embiid would have a 34 point 11 rebound double-double in a win against the Charlotte Hornets this week to help Philly stay atop the Eastern Conference standings. If the 76ers can finish at the one seed come the seasons end, Embiid will have a really good shot at bringing home the MVP trophy.

  1. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 14-11

Previous Ranking: 5 (Same)

The Brooklyn Nets trio has shown once again just how lethal they could be. Against the Clippers, the trio would go off in the fourth quarter, going on a 13-0 run in which Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant scored all the points. This team is easily the toughest team to guard in the fourth quarter, as they have three guys who are almost automatic in isolation situations, and if you try to double one of them, one of the other two will just get open. 

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 15-8

Previous Ranking: 6 (Same)

Milwaukee has quietly gone a nice little three game win streak to help turn things around. The team has scored over 120 points during this three game stretch, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has started to look more and more like the Giannis that won back-to-back MVP awards. Giannis had a triple double in a win over the Pacers, and dropped 33 points against the Cavs as well.

  1. Boston Celtics

Record: 12-9

Previous Ranking: 7 (Same)

With Marcus Smart out for a couple weeks, Boston looked to be in trouble, especially with Kemba Walker struggling to score the ball. After splitting a back to back, the Celtics came into LA looking to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Sacramento. Tatum showed out against the Clippers with a 34 point 7 rebound performance, and it was needed with Jaylen Brown being out. Tatum will have to continue these performances to keep the Celtics afloat until they get fully healthy.

  1. Denver Nuggets

Record: 12-10

Previous Ranking: 8 (Same)

The Nuggets did the impossible and beat the Utah Jazz last Sunday. Unfortunately that is probably the only bright spot that happened this week, as Denver dropped back to back games against the Lakers and Kings respectively. Nikola Jokic had a career night against the Kings go to waste, as he finished with 50 points 12 assists and 8 rebounds in a losing effort.

  1. Phoenix Suns

Record: 12-9

Previous Ranking: 10 (Up 1)

Chris Paul continues to show how important he is to this young Phoenix squad. In back to back games against Dallas he had a 29 point 12 assist performance, and then a 24 point 9 assist 9 rebound performance to lead the team to two wins. His leadership has been huge for Phoenix and will pay dividends down the line. Devin Booker also returned from injury which should help the team win some more games.

  1. Golden State Warriors

Record: 12-11

Previous Ranking: 12 (Up 2)

After one of the worst starts from the three point line in NBA history this season, Kelly Oubre Jr. had his biggest game of his young Golden State Warriors career. Oubre erupted against the Mavericks for a career high 40 points in a blowout win. He shot an amazing 7-10 from three and 14-21 from the field overall and hauled in 8 rebounds to go along with his scoring outbreak. In a rematch with the Mavs, Steph Curry dropped 57 points, but was unable to pick up another win. If Curry can consistently get some help from the Warriors secondary players, this team will continue to move up these rankings.

  1. Indiana Pacers

Record: 12-11

Previous Ranking: 9 (Down 2)

Indiana has continued to cool off from their hot start and lost two out of the three games they played this week. They are in the middle of a rough part of their schedule and will have to go through both the Nets and Jazz until it finally gets a little easier. Fortunately for the Pacers, their position in the standings hasn’t really been affected in this slide as every team below them currently has a record below .500.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 12-10

Previous Ranking: 11 (Down 1)

The injury riddled Blazers have been able to stay afloat these past few weeks due to mainly Damian Lillard. However, Gary Trent Jr. and Enes Kanter have done a fine job in filling in the roles left behind by CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic who are both currently injured. Trent had a 26 point night as the starting shooting guard in a win over the Wizards, while Kanter dominated on the glass grabbing 15 rebounds for Portland.

  1. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 13-10

Previous Ranking: 14 (Up 1)

DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs had a major fourth quarter rally against the Timberwolves to help secure a win. The team came back from a 16 point deficit and were boosted by DeRozan and his 30 points. DeMar also dished out 6 assists and grabbed 8 rebounds to help the effort. He is putting together a great season so far, but is not getting the recognition he deserves to be getting right now.

  1. Houston Rockets

Record: 11-11

Previous Ranking: 20 (Up 6)

Houston has gone 7-3 in their last ten games and have quickly turned things around after trading James Harden. Christian Wood would go down with an ankle injury in their win against Memphis and limped off the court with help from his teammates until making it to the locker room in a wheelchair. An MRI revealed it to be an ankle sprain, which will sideline Wood for an extended period of time.

  1. Toronto Raptors

Record: 10-13

Previous Ranking: 21 (Up 6)

In back to back games, Toronto got great performances from all three members of their big three. Against Orlando, Fred VanVleet scored a career high 54 points and drilled a career high 11 threes to give the Raptors a win. This would be the most points scored in a single game by an undrafted player ever. Then against Brooklyn Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry both dropped 30 plus points and helped carry the team to a win. This might be just what the Raptors needed to turn this season around.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 9-9

Previous Ranking: 16 (Same)

Memphis’ seven game winning streak was snapped by the Pacers in a 134-116 loss. Ja Morant took heavy blame for the loss, as he scored a lousy 10 points in the loss. The team was unable to bounce back from the tough loss, dropping another game to the Rockets. Morant again was somewhat disappointing, scoring only 15 points which just isn’t enough for this team to consistently win.

  1. New York Knicks

Record: 11-13

Previous Ranking: 19 (Up 2)

Despite currently having a losing record, the Knicks are in the top half of the Eastern Conference. Coach Tom Thibodeau has had his team play with some grit and has the team in playoff contention. Rookie Immanuel Quickley has continued to shine, and is making a case for taking the starting point guard spot from Elfrid Payton.

  1. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 11-12

Previous Ranking: 13 (Down 5)

The Hawks have been one of the most inconsistent teams to start the season. For a couple weeks, they string together some quality wins and look like they might be the next young team to make that jump. Then the next few weeks are just them doing the exact opposite and losing a bunch of games to put them below .500. These inconsistencies will hurt the Hawks from really achieving much this season as they are just too unpredictable.

  1. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 10-14

Previous Ranking: 15 (Down 4)

Outside of the Heat, the Mavericks have to be one of the biggest disappointments this season. For a team that pushed the Clippers to six games without Porzingis last season, this lack of success has been shocking. The team has lost seven of their last ten and has just looked out of synch compared to last year. If things continue to trend downwards, the front office will have to look to make some moves at the deadline to try and improve the core surrounding Luka Doncic.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 10-14

Previous Ranking: 17 (Down 3)

Newly acquired center Jarrett Allen has come in and has started to make his case to be a starter over Andre Drummond. Although he isn’t nearly as good of a rebounder as Drummond, Allen is a much better defender and will be a nice young piece to develop their already young core around. The Cavs should look to trade Drummond for any assets they can get and move forward with Allen as their starting big.

  1. Miami Heat 

Record: 8-14

Previous Ranking: 18 (Down 3)

Although it is still early, the Heat’s run to the finals is starting to look somewhat like a fluke. The team is simply not taking care of the ball, as they are turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Miami leads the league with the most turnovers per game with a little over 17 per game. That will just not cut it for a team trying to compete for a championship and they will need to cut those down if they want to turn things around.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 10-12

Previous Ranking: 23 (Up 1)

JJ Redick has found his way back into the rotation and has finally started to knock down some threes. The effects of this have already been seen as it has opened up the floor to make it easier for Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to score. Although there are still rumors of him being traded, right now he will help the team score and will provide some much needed spacing.

  1. Sacramento Kings

Record: 11-11

Previous Ranking: 26 (Up 3)

The Kings just rattled off three wins in a row, and probably had their best week of the season. They beat two playoff teams from last year in the Nuggets and Celtics and have been a fun team to watch. Rookie Tyrese Haliburton continues to impress and make his case for rookie of the year, as he hit the dagger to ice their win over Denver.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 10-13

Previous Ranking: 22 (Down 2)

Another week has gone by and LaMelo Ball has had another great performance. After finally getting put into the starting lineup, Ball scored a career high 34 points and dished out 8 assists. Although it came in a loss, Ball has continued to shine and give Hornets fans something to look forward to every night.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record: 10-12

Previous Ranking: 25 (Same)

After missing two games, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned to the Thunder’s lineup and had a great performance. Shai put up 31 points 9 rebounds and 7 assists and helped the Thunder hold on to a lead against the Timberwolves. Although he hasn’t made the massive jump many expected him to make, SGA has improved, especially in his playmaking ability, doubling his assists from 3 per game to 6 per game.

  1. Chicago Bulls

Record: 9-13

Previous Ranking: 27 (Up 1)

The Bulls spent the week playing two games each against the Knicks and Magic, and ended up splitting both these mini series. Zach LaVine continues to do much of the heavy lifting for the offense, as he had another impressive performance in Saturday night’s win over the Magic, dropping 39 points. Lauri Markkanen and Coby White form a formidable offensive trio with LaVine, which should keep them in most games, but their defensive struggles will continue to plague this team.

  1. Orlando Magic

Record: 9-15

Previous Ranking: 24 (Down 3)

Nikola Vucevic had maybe his best game of his career against the Bulls. Vucevic scored a career high 43 points to go along with 19 rebounds to give the Magic a much needed win. Without a great performance from Vucevic, the Magic have been unable to win a game this week, as they entered on a four game losing streak and would get blown out by the Bulls in the very next game.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 6-17

Previous Ranking: 29 (Up 1)

The Timberwolves went 2-3, playing five games in a span of six days. Despite that, all of their games were decided by five points or less, so they are staying competitive in these games, despite still being without Karl-Anthony Towns. Malik Beasley has stepped up to help D’Angelo Russell with the scoring duties, as he dropped 20 plus points in three of the contests. Russell also had a nice game winning shot against the Thunder on Friday, as he continues to try to lead this team as they await Towns return.

  1. Washington Wizards

Record: 5-14

Previous Ranking: 30 (Up 1)

The Wizards continued their odd season with one of their most interesting weeks of the season. They started off the week by shocking the Nets off a Russell Westbrook game-winning three, as he and Bradley Beal scored 41 and 37 points respectively. The week would end with a 27 point loss to the Heat, in which Beal and Westbrook combined for just 20 points. Beal has been able to keep Washington competitive for most of the season, but when he doesn’t show up, things can get ugly for the Wizards.

  1. Detroit Pistons

Record: 5-18

Previous Ranking: 28 (Down 2)

The Pistons lost each of their four games this past week, and somehow, their most competitive game came Saturday night against the Lakers. They brought the game to double overtime before eventually succumbing to LeBron James, and the Pistons continue to pile up the losses. Prior to that, their previous three losses were by 10 points or more, as they just can’t seem to stay in games. Jerami Grant continues to be the lone bright spot of the team, as he dropped 32 against the Lakers, and he seemed intent on providing the Lakers with an upset for most of the night.

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15 thoughts on “NBA Power Rankings: Houston Rockets cleared for takeoff, while Atlanta Hawks fly south for the winter

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