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NBA Weekly Power Rankings Week 8

As the NBA moves full steam into December with the Christmas games on the horizon, several teams have found form while others have stayed pretty much the same.

As the NBA moves full steam into December with the Christmas games on the horizon, several teams have found form while others have stayed pretty much the same. There have been some big movers and a few of the early shining lights have dimmed a little. The battle between the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference is also showing itself in the Power Rankings. There are similarly a few Eastern Conference teams that have shown themselves to be teams to watch. The excitement and drama continue at a lightning pace despite Covid-19 decimating some lineups.

1 – Golden State Warriors (Moved up 1 spot)

Record: 22-5

The Golden State Warriors have been peppering a few losses into their impressive record this season. Scratches to the Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs have kept them honest, however, the juggernaut hasn’t yet been derailed. All eyes are on Stephen Curry and the soon to be broken NBA all-time three-point record. The Warriors are 1st in Defensive Rating, lead the league in Net Rating, and are 4th in Offensive Rating. With Curry lighting teams up and his band of brothers providing ample support, things are looking bright for the Dubs.

2 – Phoenix Suns (Moved down 1 spot)

Record: 21-5

An understrength Phoenix Suns suffered a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in their most recent outing and that has tarnished their record somewhat. However, the Chris Paul-led Suns are still playing some of the best basketball in the NBA despite missing Devin Booker and most recently DeAndre Ayton. The Suns are 3rd in Defensive Rating, 3rd in Net Rating, and 8th in Offensive Rating. They’ve missed the scoring of their star players in Booker and Ayton, but they can give most teams grief in any contest.

3 – Utah Jazz (moved up 1 spot)

Record: 19-7

People should be paying more attention to the Utah Jazz as they have steadily moved up the rankings. The Jazz leads the NBA in Offensive Rating and plays some of the best team basketball in the league. Their miserly defense, which is 6th in Defensive Rating is still marshaled well by 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. With Donovan Mitchell finding his scoring form in recent weeks this Utah franchise is back on track to beat the best in the NBA.

4 – Brooklyn Nets (Moved down 1 spot)

Record: 19-8

The Nets have moved down a notch on the rankings. Not because they’ve been bad, but because a couple of teams have been a little better. Kevin Durant has been torching teams up and down the league and everything good that the Nets have done is often due to Durant’s brilliance. That can be seen when you notice that Brooklyn is 11th in Offensive Rating, this shows the team struggles a little on the attacking end but their defense has helped them to 5th in Defensive Rating.

5 – Milwaukee Bucks (moved up 4 spots)

Record: 18-11

When you watch this Milwaukee Bucks team playing at their best, they look unstoppable. However, through injury and covid protocols, they haven’t always been at full strength this term. That’s changed in recent weeks as key players such as Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have made it back on the court. With Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way this Bucks team can beat anyone, his numbers have been climbing with every game, and could see him mount an assault on the MVP award. Milwaukee is in the top 10 for Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, and Net Rating and will be keen to better their record against the stronger teams they face.

6 – Chicago Bulls (Moved down 1 spot)

Record: 17-10

Covid-19 has not been kind to the Chicago Bulls who looked sensational to start the season. With over 10 players out due to protocols, the NBA has had to step in and postpone several Bulls games as they’ve been very shorthanded. Before the health issues had arisen, this Bulls side had marveled at viewers. They remain in the top 10 in Offensive, Defensive and Net ratings and DeMar DeRozan has been playing at an extremely high level and MVP discussions have included his name in them. Hopefully, Chicago can bounce back and continue to rise the rankings when things settle down.

7 – Cleveland Cavaliers (Moved up 5 spots)

Record: 17-12

The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of two very impressive teams in the last month or so of this NBA season. Their meteoric rise up these Power Rankings shows just how good they’ve been. The twin towers of Jarrett Allen and rookie Evan Mobley have been remarkable, contributing to the Cavs having the 2nd best Defensive Rating in the NBA. No one would have seen that coming. Darius Garland has also gotten better this term and this Cavaliers team is playing like a side that has been doing this for years. It remains to be seen if they can maintain this form, but in this NBA season, anything is possible.

8 – Memphis Grizzlies (Moved up 5 spots)

Record: 17-11

We mentioned that the Cavaliers were one of two highly impressive franchises, well, the Memphis Grizzlies are the other team that has put the NBA on notice. Wins over the Warriors, Jazz, Nuggets, Heat, 76ers, Lakers, and Clippers have marked them out as a scary prospect for anyone to face. As expected, Ja Morant has been the focal point for all of the winning. However, he’s been out injured for some time but the team keeps on rolling. Players like Jaren Jackson Jr, Desmond Bane, and Dillon Brooks have stepped up and kept the ship on the right course. The Grizzlies play hard and make you work for every point against them.

9 – Miami Heat (Moved down 3 spots)

Record: 16-12

Since Bam Adebayo got injured, the Heat have not been as hot as you’d expect. The team has struggled to keep its star players on the court due to various factors but injury has been the central one. Miami has seen Tyler Herro become one of the best 6th men in the league and his scoring punch off the bench has been a huge reason for the team’s success. They have missed the all-consuming presence of Jimmy Butler too as he has struggled to remain healthy. That could be the theme for the Heat this season as health might be the biggest deterrent to their lofty ambitions. They are 7th in Offensive Rating and 9th in Defensive Rating.

10 – Los Angeles Clippers (Moved up 4 spots)

Record: 16-12

The Clippers have been having a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type season. A string of disheartening losses has been followed by a run of impressive victories. Paul George has been central to their good form in a lot of the wins, but he has also been missing due to an ailment. The onus has thus fallen on the team to play together and get the wins as a unit until he comes back. It must be remembered that they are still without the hugely influential Kawhi Leonard, who has no return date for his injury, though he’s expected to miss most if not all of this term. Coach Tyronn Lue is having to work all of his magic to get this team firing, and so far, it’s worked. They are 4th in Defensive Rating and 10th in Net Rating.

11 – Washinhton Wizards (Moved down 4 spot)

Record: 15-13

After a blistering start to the season, the Wizards have cooled off. Some might say they’ve lost a little of their… magic? Okay, all of the cheese aside, they’d started the season with a record of 10 wins and three losses, which has now turned into five wins and 10 losses. Alarm bells are ringing and they need to find winning form again.

12 – Charlotte Hornets (Moved down 3 spots)

Record: 15-14

The Hornets still have the 3rd best Offensive Rating in the NBA but their Defensive Rating is the worst around. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why they keep tumbling down the rankings. A little more defensive effort would go a long way.

13 – Los Angeles Lekers (Moved up 6 spots)

Record: 15-13

The Lakers have often been their own worst enemy. They’ve lost games to teams they should have been beating, and even their wins have not been as dominant as you’d expect. They are a lowly 23rd in Offensive Rating, but they are 11th in Defense Rating and that has been enough to see them rise to the power rankings with a few hard-fought wins.

14 – Dallas Mavericks (Moved down 4 spots)

Record: 14-13

The Mavericks are still above .500, just barely, and that’s been largely due to some Luka Doncic magic. But their struggles are because they haven’t excelled at anything this term. They are middle of the road in Offensive, Defensive and Net ratings. They haven’t been able to go on a run of victories and that lack of form is hurting them.

15 – Denver Nuggets (Moved up 5 spots)

Record: 14-13

Nikola Jokic has carried the Denver Nuggets in the past. But the Herculean effort that the reigning MVP is putting in now is exceptional. The Nuggets are above .500 because of his talents. They’ve moved up five spots on the ranking.

16 – Boston Celtics (Moved up 2 spots)

Record: 14-14

The Celtics are slap bang on .500 after Jayson Tatum scored 42 points to will his team to victory over the Bucks. The Cs are in the Play-in Game places in the Eastern Conference and that is largely due to an NBA 10th best Defensive Rating.

17 – Atlanta Hawks (Unmoved)

Record: 13-14

The Hawks didn’t want to be in this position when the season started. A side that had made it to the Eastern Conference Finals the season before has high hopes. It is peculiar to see the team with the 2nd best Offensive Rating struggle to win games. Their 25th ranked defense is likely the cause.

18 – New York Knicks (Moved down 7 spots)

Record: 12-15

The Knicks looked like they had turned a corner last season, but they have regressed and are now slowly sinking the rankings. What’s to blame? Well, they are 18th in Offensive Rating and 24th in Defensive Rating. If you struggle to score and you can’t defend that is a recipe for disaster. Tom Thibodeau needs to get his players fired up again.

19 – Toronto Raptors (Moved up 4 spots)

Record: 13-14

The Raptors are on a two-game winning bounce and they’ll be hoping it continues.

20 – Minnesota Timberwolves (Moved down 5 spots)

Record: 12-15

The Timberwolves can’t seem to go on a run of wins and this has seen them drop down the power rankings.

21 – Portland Trail Blazers (Dropped down 11 spots)

Record: 11-16

Injuries to CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard haven’t helped the Blazers this season. They are on a run of five straight defeats.

22 – Toronto Raptors (Unmoved)

Record: 9-13

The Raptors have lost their last three games.

23 – Indiana Pacers (Unmoved)

Record: 12-17

Indiana is in a weird space. They are 10th in Offensive Rating, 13th in Defensive rating, and 11th in net rating. But they can’t shake their losing habit.

24 – Sacramento Kings (Unmoved)

Record: 11-17

The Kings have lost their last three games, they are 5-5 in their last 10 games. A steady ratio but nowhere close to pulling them up the rankings.

25 – San Antonio Spurs (Unmoved)

Record: 10-16

The Spurs have shown that they are focusing on development and their haphazard form continues to mirror that.

26 – Oklahoma City Thunder (Unmoved)

Record: 8-18

The Thunder broke up an eight-game losing streak with two wins. But the ‘losing’ has returned to OKC.

27 – New Orleans Pelicans (Unmoved)

Record: 8-21

The Pelicans just can’t get clicking. Ingram has tried but the team is still 26th in both Offensive and Defensive rating and 27th in net rating.

28 – Houston Rockets (Unmoved)

Record: 9-18

The Rockets have shown some signs of life. Their seven-game winning streak was followed by two defeats in a row. However, the victory over Atlanta will have them smiling.

29 – Orlando Magic (Moved up 1 spot)

Record: 5-23

The Magic have looked good for some portions of games but their five-game slide keeps them in the bottom two.

30 – Detroit Pistons (Moved down 1 spot)

Record: 4-22

The Pistons occupy the ground floor of the NBA with 12 sec

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