Monday, December 15, 2014

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings Week 8

Since Kevin Durant made his season debut seven games ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder have won their past six games in a row.

All six of those wins have come against teams that missed the playoffs last year and although the Cleveland Cavaliers still remain the favorites (based on Vegas odds) to win it all, the Cavs were without LeBron James (knee) when they faced the Thunder last week.

That said, the Thunder have beaten the opponents on their schedule and are now just two games under .500 and only one-half game behind the Phoenix Suns, who currently occupy the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Their next game is against the Kings, who have been without DeMarcus Cousins for nine consecutive games and have lost eight of their past 10 games. Before his bout with viral meningitis, Cousins had seven consecutive double-doubles with at least 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Assuming the Thunder beat the DMC-less Kings, they will try to get back to .500 against the Golden State Warriors, who have now won 16 consecutive games.

Kobe Bryant moves into third all-time in scoring

While Magic Johnson would like the Lakers to lose all of their remaining games to get the highest 2015 NBA Draft pick as possible, it should come as no surprise that Kobe Bryant isn't on board with that philosophy.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, if their first-round pick is outside of the top-five selections, they will send that selection to Phoenix as part of the deal that led to the acquisition of Steve Nash.

That said, the Lakers have won three consecutive games and five of their past eight games.

Despite shooting a career-low 38.6 percent from the field in his 19th NBA season, Bryant is one of the all-time greatest scorers the game has ever seen. With 26 points last night against the Timberwolves, Bryant moved past Michael Jordan for third all-time in the career scoring list.

Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928) have more career points than Bryant (32,310). Meanwhile, Jordan (30.12) and Wilt Chamberlain (30.07) are the only two players that have averaged more than 30 points per game over their careers; Bryant is 10th on that list at 25.46 PPG.

It's unlikely that Bryant plays long enough to catch Malone.

Pau Gasol, the double-double machine

Bryant's ex-teammate Pau Gasol is currently tied with three others for the most double-doubles (14) this season.

Averaging 19.0 points and a career-high 11.9 rebounds per game, Gasol had just nine points and nine rebounds on Sunday, but he had double-doubles in all of his previous eight games. Of the six games in which he has not had a double-double this season, Gasol was short by one point and/or one rebound in four of those games.

In other words, Gasol has 18 games (out of his 20 games played) this season with nine-plus points and nine-plus rebounds.

Gasol had 30 double-doubles in 60 games last season and only 15 of them in 49 games in the 2012-13 season.

Here are my Week 8 NBA Power Rankings:

1. Golden State Warriors (Record 21-2, Last Week 1)
2. Memphis Grizzlies (Record 19-4, Last Week 2)
3. San Antonio Spurs (Record 17-7, Last Week 3)
4. Houston Rockets (Record 18-5, Last Week 5)
5. Portland Trail Blazers (Record 18-6, Last Week 4)
6. Toronto Raptors (Record 18-6, Last Week 6)
7. Washington Wizards (Record 17-6, Last Week 10)
8. Los Angeles Clippers (Record 16-7, Last Week 9)
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record 13-9, Last Week 7)
10. Dallas Mavericks (Record 17-8, Last Week 8)
11. Chicago Bulls (Record 15-8, Last Week 11)
12. Atlanta Hawks (Record 16-7, Last Week 12)
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record 11-13, Last Week 16)
14. Phoenix Suns (Record 12-13, Last Week 13)
15. Sacramento Kings (Record 11-13, Last Week 14)
16. Miami Heat (Record 11-13, Last Week 15)
17. New Orleans Pelicans (Record 11-12, Last Week 18)
18. Milwaukee Bucks (Record 12-12, Last Week 17)
19. Denver Nuggets (Record 10-14, Last Week 19)
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record 10-12, Last Week 20)
21. Los Angeles Lakers (Record 8-16, Last Week 24)
22. Orlando Magic (Record 10-16, Last Week 22)
23. Indiana Pacers (Record 7-17, Last Week 23)
24. Boston Celtics (Record 7-14, Last Week 21)
25. Charlotte Hornets (Record 6-17, Last Week 25)
26. Utah Jazz (Record 6-18, Last Week 26)
27. Detroit Pistons (Record 5-19, Last Week 29)
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record 5-18, Last Week 27)
29. New York Knicks (Record 5-21, Last Week 28)
30. Philadelphia 76ers (Record 2-21, Last Week 30)

Also, check out our Fantasy Basketball Rest-of-Season Rankings

Follow our updates Twitter - Facebook - Google+

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings Week 7

The day was Tuesday, November 11th.

That was the last time that the Golden State Warriors lost a game. In fact, it was the second of back-to-back losses against the Suns and Spurs.

Other than those two games, however, they haven't lost another game this season and they carry a league-best 12-game winning streak and 17-2 record into this week.

From a team statistical standpoint, the Warriors lead the league in point differential (+10.9) while ranking third in scoring (107.1 points per game) and seventh in team defense (96.2 PPG).

In addition, they rank first in the league in assists (26.1/G), third in rebounding (45.6/G) and second in three-point shooting percentage (.384).

Point guard Stephen Curry is averaging 23.2 points, 7.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game in just 32.8 minutes per game. Curry played 38.2 and 36.5 minutes per game in each of the past two seasons so Curry's scoring and assists numbers are down slightly year over year.

On a per-36 basis, however, Curry is averaging a career-high 25.5 points, 8.5 assists and 2.1 steals. In addition, Curry is once again converting on more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts and is making at least two per game.

Assuming that Curry maintains that pace, it will mark the sixth consecutive season he has done so to start his career. To put that into perspective, only two other players in the history of the NBA have six such seasons: Ray Allen (seven) and Reggie Miller (six).

Pistons on 12-game losing streak, giving Sixers run for their money No. 1 pick

While the Pistons have won more recently (Friday, November 14th) than the Warriors last lost, Detroit is on a 12-game losing streak, the longest active losing streak.

One of their recent losses was to the Sixers in overtime on Saturday. In fact, the Sixers have now won two of their past three games and the Pistons now only have one more win than the Sixers.

Detroit has really struggled to score as they average just 93.1 points per game, third-worst in the league, and they rank last in the league in FG percentage (40.7 percent) and second worst in FT percentage (68.9 percent).

As bad as Detroit has been, there is a strong chance that they could lose their next six games as well.

The Pistons host the Blazers on Tuesday, then they head on the road to face the Suns, Kings and Clippers before returning home to host the Mavericks and Raptors. Perhaps the Kings still won't have DeMarcus Cousins back for their matchup on Saturday, but the Pistons should be underdogs in all six of those games.

Cavs turning things around

After a 5-7 start, the Cavaliers have won their past six games. Some of those matchups were against poor teams, but wins are wins and two of those wins were over the Wizards and Raptors.

During their six-game winning streak, the Cavs have scored 100-plus points in all but one game and held their opponents to less than 100 points in all but one game.

Meanwhile, LeBron James is averaging 24.3 points, 10.2 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game during that six-game span. James has double-digit assists in three consecutive games and in five of his past seven games.

With Kevin Durant returning last week, fans will get treated to a KD-versus-LeBron matchup later this week.

Here are my Week 7 NBA Power Rankings:

1. Golden State Warriors (Record 17-2, Last Week 2)
2. Memphis Grizzlies (Record 16-4, Last Week 1)
3. San Antonio Spurs (Record 15-5, Last Week 3)
4. Portland Trail Blazers (Record 16-4, Last Week 4)
5. Houston Rockets (Record 16-4, Last Week 5)
6. Toronto Raptors (Record 15-5, Last Week 6)
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record 11-7, Last Week 11)
8. Dallas Mavericks (Record 16-6, Last Week 7)
9. Los Angeles Clippers (Record 14-5, Last Week 9)
10. Washington Wizards (Record 13-6, Last Week 10)
11. Chicago Bulls (Record 12-8, Last Week 8)
12. Atlanta Hawks (Record 13-6, Last Week 15)
13. Phoenix Suns (Record 12-9, Last Week 12)
14. Sacramento Kings (Record 10-10, Last Week 13)
15. Miami Heat (Record 9-11, Last Week 14)
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record 7-13, Last Week 19)
17. Milwaukee Bucks (Record 11-11, Last Week 17)
18. New Orleans Pelicans (Record 9-10, Last Week 18)
19. Denver Nuggets (Record 9-11, Last Week 16)
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record 8-10, Last Week 21)
21. Boston Celtics (Record 7-11, Last Week 24)
22. Orlando Magic (Record 9-14, Last Week 22)
23. Indiana Pacers (Record 7-13, Last Week 20)
24. Los Angeles Lakers (Record 5-16, Last Week 28)
25. Charlotte Hornets (Record 5-15, Last Week 26)
26. Utah Jazz (Record 5-15, Last Week 23)
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record 4-15, Last Week 25)
28. New York Knicks (Record 4-18, Last Week 27)
29. Detroit Pistons (Record 3-18, Last Week 29)
30. Philadelphia 76ers (Record 2-18, Last Week 30)

Also, check out our Fantasy Basketball Rest-of-Season Rankings

Follow our updates Twitter - Facebook - Google+

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kevin Durant to make season debut on Tuesday

One game after Russell Westbrook returned from his multi-week hand injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder will get back Kevin Durant for tonight's game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The initial timetable for Durant was six to eight weeks and he's returning in the early part of that range so naturally he'll be on a minutes restriction in his debut -- and probably for his first few games.

Per Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman, Durant's minutes will be limited to "around 30 minutes" for tonight's game.

Winning the league's scoring title in four of the past five seasons, Durant averaged a career-high 32.0 points per game last season with 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He was only the fourth player in league history to average 32/7/5 and the other three were Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Elgin Baylor.

Durant should obviously be started in all seasonal leagues, but I'd probably fade him in daily fantasy leagues given the minutes restriction and expected rust and conditioning levels in his first game back.

Only LeBron James ($11,600) and Anthony Davis ($11,500) are priced higher than Durant ($11,400) on DraftKings. Davis ($11,600), James ($10,800) and DeMarcus Cousins ($10,400) are the only players priced higher on FanDuel than the Durant ($10,000).

With Westbrook and Durant back, the Thunder are currently 4.5 games behind the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Monday, December 1, 2014

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings: Week 6

When healthy, the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the few elite teams in the NBA.

Although they are only 5-12 through the first 17 games after winning back-to-back games, they are getting healthy as Russell Westbrook returned from his multi-week hand injury to drop 32 points in just 24 minutes and he added eight assists, seven rebounds and a steal.

Not only has Westbrook returned, but Kevin Durant, the NBA's reigning MVP, is on the verge of returning from his foot injury. Durant is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game, but he's likely to return at some point within the next week if he doesn't return on Tuesday.

Based on odds from, only four teams have better odds to win the NBA Championship than the Thunder (12/1): Cavs (3/1), Spurs (9/2), Warriors (13/2) and Bulls (10/1).

Here are my Week 6 NBA Power Rankings:

1. Memphis Grizzlies (Record: 15-2, Last Week: 1): In the final year of his existing contract, Marc Gasol is having a career-best season (20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game). Gasol is the only player in the league averaging a 20/8/3/1/1 line this season.

2. Golden State Warriors (Record: 14-2, Last Week: 2): The Warriors have the league's longest active winning streak (nine games).

3. San Antonio Spurs (Record: 12-4, Last Week: 5): The Spurs have won seven games in a row and that streak began against the Sixers, who is also their Monday night opponent. With games in back-to-back nights, we'll likely see a lot of Matt Bonner, who led them in scoring vs. Philly on Nov. 17th, and very little, if any, of Tim Duncan and usual starters tonight.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (Record: 13-4, Last Week: 6): The Blazers currently rank in the top six in the NBA in scoring (104.2 PPG), rebounding (48.1 RPG), assists (24.0 APG) as well as defense (96.2 PPG allowed).

5. Houston Rockets (Record: 13-4, Last Week: 3): With Dwight Howard (and others) sidelined, James Harden continues to put up dominant stat-stuffing numbers. Harden is averaging 28.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.4 blocks over his past five games.

6. Toronto Raptors (Record: 13-4, Last Week: 4): After tearing his adductor longus tendon, DeMar DeRozan hopes to return in four weeks. Stepping into the starting lineup, Greivis Vasquez scored 19 points with five assists, but the Raptors have now lost back-to-back games.

7. Dallas Mavericks (Record: 13-5, Last Week: 9): Even though Dirk Nowitzki is playing just 28.6 minutes per game, the fewest since his rookie season, Nowitzki is averaging 24.4 points per 36 minutes, which is his most since the 2008-09 season (24.7).

8. Chicago Bulls (Record: 11-6, Last Week: 8): In the games that Derrick Rose has played at least 20 minutes, the Bulls are 7-1. In the games he hasn't, they are 4-5.

9. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 11-5, Last Week: 11): Even with DeAndre Jordan (11.6 RPG) and Blake Griffin (7.5 RPG), the Clippers have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league this season. Only the Heat (36.9/G) average fewer rebounds per game than the Clippers (37.9/G). Only the Sixers (-5.7/G) and Heat (-3.7/G) are worse in terms of rebounding differential.

10. Washington Wizards (Record: 10-5, Last Week: 7): Marcin Gortat had his best game of the season against the Pelicans on Saturday night. The Polish Hammer finished with a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, which ties a season high. It was his third double-double in the past four games.

11. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record: 8-7, Last Week: 14): Last year, Kevin Love led the NBA in 20/10 games (50). DeMarcus Cousins was second with 40 of them. While Love certainly won't get 50 of them this year, he did get his third 20/10 game of the season on Saturday with a season-high 28 points and 10 boards.

12. Phoenix Suns (Record: 10-8, Last Week: 10): In his four games last week, Markieff Morris averaged 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals per game, but the Suns dropped three of those four games.

13. Sacramento Kings (Record: 9-8, Last Week: 12): DeMarcus Cousins has missed back-to-back games, but he has an active streak of five games with 22-plus points and 12-plus rebounds. Since the 2011-12 season, there have been only two longer streaks: Kevin Love (seven games) and LaMarcus Aldridge (six).

14. Miami Heat (Record: 9-7, Last Week: 13): After a seven-game absence, Dwyane Wade returned to score a season-high 27 points in the win over the Knicks. Wade now has scored 20-plus points in five consecutive games (that he has played), which ties his longest such streak of last season.

15. Atlanta Hawks (Record: 9-6, Last Week: 16): Paul Millsap is currently tied with John Wall for the league lead in steals per game (2.33) and only Anthony Davis has more games with at least 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals this season.

16. Denver Nuggets (Record: 8-8, Last Week: 18): Ty Lawson has seven double-doubles in his past nine games and he was just one assist shy of double-doubles in the other two games during that span.

17. Milwaukee Bucks (Record: 10-8, Last Week: 17): Rookie Jabari Parker had his best week of his young career. In his four games played last week, Parker averaged 13.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

18. New Orleans Pelicans (Record: 7-8, Last Week: 15): Getting more minutes (averaging 27/G over past four games), Austin Rivers has been really shooting the ball poorly since scoring 17 points on Nov. 17th. In his past seven games, Rivers has made just eight of 41 shot attempts (19.5 percent).

19. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record: 5-12, Last Week: 25): As noted above, the Thunder are finally getting (close to) healthy and while they may be fighting an uphill battle after their slow start, they are still one of the favorites to win it all.

20. Indiana Pacers (Record: 7-10, Last Week: 19): With the exception of perhaps the Thunder, no team has been as devastated by injuries as the Pacers, but they have at least one key player back. In his two games back, David West averaged 16.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game and should eventually see his minutes increase.

21. Brooklyn Nets (Record: 6-9, Last Week: 20): All six of Brooklyn's wins this season have come against teams with a losing record. Seven of their opponents thus far currently have a winning record and the Nets have lost all seven of those matchups.

22. Orlando Magic (Record: 7-12, Last Week: 22): Only the Kings have a worse turnover differential than the Magic and only the Rockets, Kings and Sixers have a lower assist-to-turnover ratio than Orlando. Rookie Elfrid Payton leads the team in assists with 4.9 per game.

23. Utah Jazz (Record: 5-12, Last Week: 21): One of the things the Jazz have done well is keep opponents off the free-throw line. Only the Hornets (.233) have a lower opponent's free-throw attempt rate than the Jazz (.236).

24. Boston Celtics (Record: 4-10, Last Week: 23): Since the 2010-11 season, no player has more triple-doubles than Rajon Rondo (16); LeBron James is second (nine). In his nine games since his triple-double this season, however, Rondo has only two double-doubles including none in the past five games.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record: 4-11, Last Week: 28): Mo Williams has three consecutive double-doubles and has averaged 19.0 points and 11.3 assists during that span.

26. Charlotte Hornets (Record: 4-14, Last Week: 24): With a winning record (.524) last year and only their second playoff appearance in the previous 10 seasons, expectations were high for the Hornets. Unfortunately, their 4-14 (.222) start is much more similar (at least so far) to the very lean years of 2011-12 (7-59, .106) and 2012-13 (21-61, .256).

27. New York Knicks (Record: 4-14, Last Week: 26): Missing two games, Carmelo Anthony returned to score 31 points (11-of-26 shooting) with eight rebounds, but the Knicks lost their fourth consecutive game and now 13th out of their past 15 games.

28. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 4-13, Last Week: 29): With his triple-double against the Raptors Sunday night, Kobe Bryant became the oldest player to ever record a 30/10/10 triple-double.

29. Detroit Pistons (Record: 3-14, Last Week: 27): The Pistons currently rank last in the NBA in points per shot (1.10) and only the Sixers (66.9 percent) are shooting worse at the free-throw line the Pistons (67.5 percent). No other team in the league is shooting below 70 percent from the line.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (Record: 0-16, Last Week: 30): Rookie K.J. McDaniels has played 30-plus minutes in back-to-back games and the extremely athletic rookie followed up a game of 18 points and six boards with a 21/13 double-double and nine of those boards were offensive rebounds.

Also, check out our Fantasy Basketball Rest-of-Season Rankings

Follow our updates: Twitter - Facebook - Google+