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

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