Monday, December 30, 2013

2013-14 NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 10

Heading into the 10th week of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Oklahoma City Thunder currently have the league's best record (25-5).

The Thunder are on a three-game winning streak, but they have been nearly unbeatable since the middle of November.

Since their win over the lowly Bucks on Nov. 16th, the Thunder have compiled a 20-2 record.

The best player in the league not named LeBron James, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant is having another dominant season.  Durant is currently averaging a league-best 28.5 points per game and is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field despite taking 4.5 three-pointers per game.

In addition, Durant is averaging 8.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game, all of which are career highs, plus 0.9 blocks per game.

While Durant is playing extremely well, they will need other players to step up as Russell Westbrook will be out through the All-Star Game due to his knee.  Westbrook was averaging 21.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 7.0 APG and currently leads the team in assists and steals (1.8 SPG).

The Thunder have three others that are currently averaging double-digits: Serge Ibaka (14.1 PPG), Reggie Jackson (12.6) and Jeremy Lamb (10.0).

The Thunder are currently third in our consensus NBA power rankings heading into Week 10 behind the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.

- See our full 2013-14 NBA Power Rankings for Week 10 here

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Monday, December 23, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 9

Less than two months into the new season, the Portland Trail Blazers are only 10 wins from tying their 2012-13 win total.

One year after finishing 16 games below .500 (33-49), the Blazers are 18 games above .500 and have the league's best record at 23-5.

The Blazers have yet to lose back-to-back games and they have a few matchups against the league's best clubs between Christmas and New Year's.

Portland will face the Clippers, Heat and Thunder, all of whom are in the top six of our power rankings, over their next four games.  They will also face the Pelicans during that stretch.

After that, however, they will face several below-mediocre squads to start the year: CHA (13-15), PHI (8-20), SAC (8-18), ORL (8-19), BOS (12-17) and CLE (10-16).  Those six clubs all have losing records and are collectively 46 games under .500.

Although they rank in the bottom third in defense (102.1 points allowed per game), Portland is primarily winning with their offense as they lead the NBA in scoring (108.4 points per game).  They also rank fourth in the league in rebounding (45.9 per game) and fifth in assists (23.5 per game).

Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is currently having the best season of his seven-year career.  Aldridge is averaging 23.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game, all of which are career highs.

In addition to Aldridge, Damian Lillard (21.5 PPG) is also scoring more than 20 points per game.  Both Wesley Matthews (16.3) and Nicolas Batum (14.0) are also scoring in double-digits as well.

Compared to the previous week, the Blazers edged up by just one-quarter point in our Consensus NBA Power Rankings heading into Week 9.

Despite compiling the best record in the NBA up to this point, the Blazers are currently third in our power rankings behind both the Heat and Pacers.  In fact, this is the first week since Week 1 that the Heat are atop our power rankings.

- See our full power rankings here

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Monday, December 16, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 8

The Eastern Conference — and even more specifically the Atlantic Division — has been incredibly weak with the exception of the top two teams.

It's too bad we couldn't move some Western Conference teams east or fast forward to a likely Pacers-versus-Heat Eastern Conference Championship.

The good news about the Pacers and Heat is they are clearly the two best teams in the entire assocation with the league's best player (LeBron James) and one of the league's most underrated superstars (Paul George).

Roundtable question: Will any team(s) in the Atlantic Division finish the season with a winning record?

John Trifone (follow on Twitter):

As pathetic as the Eastern conference as a whole has been, and specifically the Atlantic Division, I do think at least one team, and probably two teams, will finish over .500.

The Nets have a good team on paper, and have showed some signs of putting something together.  The Knicks also are not as bad as they've played.  Prior to moving Rudy Gay and now possibly unloading Kyle Lowry, I thought that Toronto had a chance to be decent as well, although I would now take them out of the mix.

And finally, Boston has been substantially better than predicted.  Brad Stevens may just be a great coach, but I think between the Celts, Knicks, and Nets, at least one of them will end the year with a winning record.

Sean Beazley (follow on Twitter):
Yes, I believe Brooklyn will make a run and finish above .500 and win the Atlantic division this year.   I think the Eastern Conference playoffs will have at least three teams in it that are under .500 in the playoffs.  NBA action; it's Fantastic!

Dan Yanotchko (follow on Twitter):
I would have to say that this year's Atlantic Division of the NBA has to be the worst possible division in the history of sports.  Right now, we are past the quarter point of the season, and not one team is over .500.  The Celtics lead the way with a lofty 11-14 record, good enough to be three games clear of the .500 mark.

This division will have a .500 finisher though, and the only team that will finish over 41 wins, will be the Brooklyn Nets. Although the Nets have one of the worst coaches in the league, they have way too much talent, and of course, they play in the Atlantic division of the Eastern conference, so they can stockpile wins.  The Nets will eventually get to, and finish over, the .500 mark.

Kevin Hanson (follow on Twitter):
For a couple of reasons, I'd like to see all five of the teams in the division lose all of their games.  As a Sixers fan, I'm rooting for more ping pong balls leading to a (very) high lottery pick.  For the rest of the division, I root for them to lose, as always.

That said, I think we see the Nets finishing above .500.

Over the long haul of the NBA season, there will be plenty of games against the other teams in the division.  The trio of Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will eventually get healthy and gel and finish with around 45 wins on the season.  Adding Pierce and KG, however, I'm sure that the organization and its fan base was hoping for more than a 45-37 regular-season record.

- See full power rankings here

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Monday, December 9, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 7

After missing eight months due to his ruptured Achilles, Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his season debut.

Things did not go as planned for Kobe as the team loss to the Raptors and Kobe was only two of nine from the field with eight turnovers.

"There's a bunch of things I messed up on," he said. "I can't wait to watch the film and start criticizing every little thing,' Bryant said, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

The best quote of the night from Bryant: "I think the last time I had eight months off I was still in the womb."

The Lakers are now 10-10 and would miss the playoffs as the 10th seed in the Western Conference playoffs if the season were to end now. They are the 11th-ranked team in consensus NBA power rankings heading into the seventh week of the season.

- See full power rankings here

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Monday, December 2, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 6

Going into the season, it seemed that the teams in the Central Division would pose the biggest threat to LeBron James' and the Heat's hopes of three-peating.

With one of the league's most underrated superstars in Paul George, the Pacers are off to a league-best 17-1 start this season.  Before losing the Central Division's other superstar, Derrick Rose, for the season, the Bulls were expected to be a legitimate contender to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now the Eastern Conference is clearly the Heat, Pacers and everybody else.  In fact, the Heat (14-3) and Pacers (16-1) are the only teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning record through Sunday's games.

Things are especially bad in the Atlantic Division as the Raptors (6-10, .375) have a half-game lead over the Celtics (7-12, .368) in the division.

Fueled by the great start of rookie Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers were a surprise 3-0 to begin the season, but they have since lost 12 of their past 15 games.  That said, they are middle of the pack in the division.

The biggest surprises are the Nets (5-12) and Knicks (3-13).

With a Coke-spilling first-year head coach in Jason Kidd and veteran additions like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, it's understandable if it takes longer for them to gel.  In addition, Deron Williams has played in only nine games this season and now the Nets will be without Pierce (hand) for a few weeks.

The Knicks have lost nine consecutive games, which includes a franchise-worst seven straight games at home.  Interestingly enough, it will be the Nets that host Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks on Thursday for a chance to extend their losing streak to 10 games.  Glass-half-full view: One of these two teams has to win the game.

The Nets and Knicks are the 23rd-ranked and 27th-ranked teams, respectively, in our updated power rankings.

- See full power rankings here

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