Monday, March 30, 2015

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings Week 22

Three teams have double-digit winning streaks this season -- Atlanta Hawks (19), Golden State Warriors (16) and Cleveland Cavaliers (12).

Both the Hawks and Warriors have had nine-game winning streaks as well, but the Warriors' nine-game winning streak is currently active as we head into Week 22.

In Steve Kerr's first year as head coach, he has already set a franchise record with 60 wins (and counting), which breaks the previous record of Al Attles and the 1975-76 Warriors that finished with a 59-23 record. Of those 60 wins, 43 of them have been by double digits, which leads the NBA by a wide margin.

Despite playing less than 33 minutes per game, Stephen Curry is having a career season.

Curry is averaging 26.0 points, 8.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds with 2.3 steals per 36 minutes, all of which are career highs for him. Leading the league in free-throw percentage (91.6 percent), Curry is shooting 43.1 percent from three-point range and a career-high 52.9 percent on two-point attempts.

While Houston's James Harden leads the NBA in Win Shares (14.6) -- Curry is second (14.2), no player has more Win Shares Per 48 Minutes than Curry (.292). Harden (.265) is third as he trails both Curry and Anthony Davis (.278).

Meanwhile, Draymond Green currently leads the NBA in Defensive Win Shares (4.9).

Green is averaging nearly 10 minutes more per game this year (31.6/G) than last season (21.9/G) and stuffs the stat sheet across the board -- 11.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. On a per-36 basis, he's averaging a career high in all of those categories except for steals.

Clips continue to beat up East; real test vs. dubs next

The Clippers have the league's second-longest active winning streak of seven games.

Many of those wins have been against the league's bottom-feeder Eastern Conference teams with the three most recent wins against the Knicks, 76ers and Celtics last night.

The Clippers face the Warriors and Blazers on back-to-back nights (Tuesday and Wednesday), but then four of their final six games will be against the Lakers (twice) and Nuggets (twice).

Based on Western Conference seeding, the Clippers are currently the No. 4 seed, but they are within 1.5 games of the No. 2 seed (Rockets). On the other hand, they are only 1.5 games within the No. 6 seed (Spurs).

KD out 4-6 months

It's been a lost season for Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.

With Jones fracture surgery in his right foot delaying the start of his season by 17 games, Durant will now miss the next four to six months as he recovers from a bone-graft procedure.

Playing a total of only 27 games this season, Durant has also missed multiple games three different times between Game 1 and 27 for him this season.

Only five of those 27 games were in February, but the Thunder have won 19 of their 26 games in February and March.

Of course, Russell Westbrook has carried the team by averaging more than 30 points and 10 assists in both February and March.

Here are Westbrook's monthly per-game splits (since December -- played only three games before then):
  • December: 28. 3 points, 7.4 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 2.4 steals
  • January: 21.1 points, 7.6 assists, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals
  • February: 31.2 points, 10.3 assists, 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals
  • March: 30.9 points, 10.2 assists, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals
Since February, Westbrook has eight triple-doubles. The rest of the league combined has a total of 12 triple-doubles during that span.

NYK: From Worse to Worst

Obviously, the New York Knicks have struggled all season and Carmelo Anthony was shut down following the All-Star Game.

As bad as things have been, things are getting even worse with the potentially season-ending rib injury to Alexey Schved. Excluding his final game this season when he played only 17 minutes, Schved averaged 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals in previous eight games.

In the three games he has missed since the injury, the Knicks have lost all three games by a combined margin of 56 points. The Knicks now have four losses by 30-plus points; only the Sixers have more (five).

With eight games to go, the Knicks have just 14 wins and currently own the league's worst record. The team has never won fewer than 21 games in a season and both of those seasons were in the early sixties, but there is no chance that they win seven of eight games to avoid setting a franchise-low for wins.

Here are my Week 22 NBA Power Rankings:

RankTeamRecordLast WeekChange
1Golden State Warriors60-131-
2Atlanta Hawks55-182-
3Cleveland Cavaliers48-273-
4Houston Rockets50-235+1
5Memphis Grizzlies50-244-1
6Los Angeles Clippers49-257+1
7San Antonio Spurs47-266-1
8Portland Trail Blazers47-258-
9Chicago Bulls45-2912+3
10Dallas Mavericks45-299-1
11Washington Wizards41-3310-1
12Oklahoma City Thunder42-3211-1
13Toronto Raptors43-3013-
14New Orleans Pelicans39-3415+1
15Phoenix Suns38-3614-1
16Utah Jazz32-4117+1
17Indiana Pacers32-4116-1
18Charlotte Hornets31-4118-
19Miami Heat34-3919-
20Milwaukee Bucks36-3720-
21Boston Celtics32-4121-
22Brooklyn Nets32-4022-
23Detroit Pistons28-4526+3
24Denver Nuggets28-4623-1
25Sacramento Kings26-4624-1
26Orlando Magic22-5225-1
27Philadelphia 76ers18-5627-
28Los Angeles Lakers19-5328-
29Minnesota Timberwolves16-5729-
30New York Knicks14-6030-

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Monday, March 23, 2015

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings Week 21

After Paul George's gruesome injury with USA Basketball, it was expected that he would miss the entire season.

Last week, however, it was reported that he could potentially make a return this week, although he has been ruled out for Monday's game.

"We want to make sure I'm as close to 100 [percent] as possible," George said (via ESPN). "It's not coming down to you know, 'Paul's feeling good, let's get him out there.' It's about making sure everything's where I'm comfortable, where the medical staff is comfortable, where the front office is comfortable."

The Pacers were surging in the standings, but they have lost five consecutive games and currently sit outside of the top-eight seeds in the Eastern Conference. That said, they are only one-half game behind the Hornets, who are currently the No. 8 seed.

Four teams -- Charlotte, Boston, Indiana and Brooklyn -- are all separated by one game in the Eastern Conference standings.

Back-to-back triple-doubles for Payton

Elfrid Payton is having a magical rookie season and the ex-Ragin' Cajun did something this past week that no Magic player has ever done.

Payton recorded back-to-back triple-doubles on Wednesday (15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds) and Friday (22 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds). The last time a rookie posted consecutive triple-doubles was Antoine Walker in 1997.

While these are the only two triple-doubles of Payton's career, he is one of just eight players that have multiple triple-doubles this season. In addition, the only player with more than three triple-doubles this season is Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (10).

Over his past five games, Payton is averaging 13.2 points, 9.4 assists, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Among rookies that have played at least 25 games this season, Payton ranks first in assists (6.2/G), second in steals (1.6/G), seventh in rebounding (4.2/G) and seventh in scoring (8.6/G).

Six straight losses for Bucks, 4-13 since trade deadline

The Milwaukee Bucks were one of many teams that made major moves prior to the trade deadline.

Sending Brandon Knight to the Phoenix Suns, they received Michael Carter-Williams in return from the Philadelphia 76ers.

MCW did not play in his first three games as a member of the Bucks and he also missed a game against the Grizzlies on March 14th. Since the trade deadline, however, the Bucks have won only four of 17 games. Three of those four wins were against bottom-feeder teams -- Denver, Philadelphia and Orlando.

The Bucks carry a league-high six-game losing streak into this week's games. The Bucks will host the Heat, Pacers and Warriors in a three-game week.

Noel averaging double-double in March

Philadelphia 76ers power forward Nerlens Noel has really stepped up over the past month on a team otherwise devoid of (healthy and local) talent.

In 12 March games, Noel is averaging a double-double -- 13.2 points and 10.5 rebounds -- per game.

More impressive than the double-double, however, is that Noel is averaging 2.7 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.

To put it into perspective, the list of players with at least 15 steals and 15 blocks this month is one: Noel.

But Noel has way more than 15 of each -- 32 steals and 24 blocked shots.

The Manimal averaging double-double post-Shaw

Since the Nuggets have fired Brian Shaw on March 3rd, the Denver Nuggets have been playing much better basketball although they have lost three of their past four games. In the 12 games without him, however, the Nuggets have posted a 7-5 record.

With Shaw, the team won only 20 of 59 games.

One of the players that has been playing well without Shaw is Kenneth Faried.

The Manimal is averaging 16.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game since the firing of his head coach. During that span, Faried has seven double-doubles in 11 games.

As a comparison, Faried averaged 11.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 steals in 54 games with inconsistent minutes with Shaw as coach.

Here are my Week 21 NBA Power Rankings:

RankTeamRecordLast WeekChange
1Golden State Warriors56-131-
2Atlanta Hawks53-172-
3Cleveland Cavaliers46-263-
4Memphis Grizzlies49-214-
5Houston Rockets46-235-
6San Antonio Spurs44-257+1
7Los Angeles Clippers46-258+1
8Portland Trail Blazers44-246-2
9Dallas Mavericks44-2710+1
10Washington Wizards40-3012+2
11Oklahoma City Thunder40-309-2
12Chicago Bulls42-2913+1
13Toronto Raptors42-2814+1
14Phoenix Suns38-3317+3
15New Orleans Pelicans37-3311-4
16Indiana Pacers30-3915-1
17Utah Jazz31-3818+1
18Charlotte Hornets30-3816-2
19Miami Heat32-3721+2
20Milwaukee Bucks34-3619-1
21Boston Celtics30-3920-1
22Brooklyn Nets29-3923+1
23Denver Nuggets27-4422-1
24Sacramento Kings24-4524-
25Orlando Magic22-5025-
26Detroit Pistons26-4426-
27Philadelphia 76ers17-5328+1
28Los Angeles Lakers18-5027-1
29Minnesota Timberwolves15-5429-
30New York Knicks14-5630-

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Russell Westbrook posts fourth consecutive triple-double

After missing Sunday's game against the Lakers with a cheekbone fracture, Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook returned to the court on Wednesday against the Sixers and picked up where he left off.

Before the injury and missed game, Westbrook had three consecutive triple-doubles and he extended his triple-double streak to four games with a career-high 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists and added three steals and a block.

The last player to record four consecutive triple-doubles was Michael Jordan.

Over that four-game span, Westbrook is averaging 37.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

For those that play daily fantasy basketball, Westbrook has scored more than 53 DraftKings fantasy points in seven consecutive games and over his past three games, he has scored an insane 82.0, 76.25 and 95.0 fantasy points, respectively.

Westbrook and the Thunder face the Bulls in Chicago on Thursday.

Monday, March 2, 2015

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings Week 18

King James. That was the headline.

Not in reference to LeBron James, but by the Houston Rockets twitter account in reference to James Harden.


A kick below the belt?

Wait, that happened too.

The Cavs were without point guard Kyrie Irving (and the Rockets, of course, were still without Dwight Howard), but the battle between the Cavs and Rockets and Harden and LeBron went into overtime.

LeBron put together a strong line overall with 37 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks, but he was awful from the free-throw line. Making only three of his 11 free throws, it was the first time in his career that he shot at least 10 free throws and made three or less.

Meanwhile, Harden (or should I say, King James?) posted a nearly identical line by scoring 33 points (including 15-of-18 free throws) and adding eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks.

With the win over the Cavs, the Rockets are tied with the Pelicans for the league's longest active winning streak of five games.

Houston will open this week with a tough back-to-back on Tuesday (at Atlanta, 47-12) and Wednesday (vs. Memphis, 42-16). Only three teams have a better winning percentage than the Rockets (.695) and the Hawks and Grizzlies are two of those teams.

Jimmy Butler latest Bull to miss multiple weeks

Since his MVP-winning 2010-11 season, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has played a total of 95 games over the past three-and-a-half seasons.

Unfortunately, there's a chance that Rose, who had surgery on his meniscus last week, won't play any more regular-season games this season.

With a timetable of four to six weeks, however, he is expected to return at some point and he's already rehabbing his knee. If he doesn't play during the rest of the regular season, D-Rose should return at some point during the playoffs.

Making matters worse for the Bulls, they will be without Jimmy Butler as well.

Butler is expected to miss the next three to four weeks with an elbow sprain, but it looks as though he will avoid surgery.

Butler and Rose are the team's top-two scorers -- 20.2 and 18.4 points per game, respectively -- and no player has averaged more minutes per game than Butler (38.9/G), who is also one of the league's best perimeter defenders.

In addition to the loss of Butler and Rose, the Bulls are expected to be without Taj Gibson for another week. Gibson is averaging a career-high 13.0 points in 28.7 minutes per game as well as 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Russell Westbrook: Three consecutive triple-doubles

Already without Kevin Durant (foot), the Thunder were without point guard Russell Westbrook on Sunday after having facial surgery.

That said, it doesn't look as though he'll miss much more time.

Before missing Sunday's game, Westbrook had three consecutive triple-doubles. During that three-game span, Westbrook averaged 33.0 points, 12.67 rebounds and 10.67 assists per game.

No player has more triple-doubles this season than Westbrook (five). Coincidentally, the two players tied for second -- Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams (three each) -- have both been traded during the season.

Here are my Week 18 NBA Power Rankings:

1. Golden State Warriors (Record 46-11, Last Week 1)
2. Atlanta Hawks (Record 47-12, Last Week 2)
3. Memphis Grizzlies (Record 42-16, Last Week 3)
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record 37-24, Last Week 4)
5. Houston Rockets (Record 41-18, Last Week 7)
6. Portland Trail Blazers (Record 39-19, Last Week 9)
7. Los Angeles Clippers (Record 39-21, Last Week 10)
8. San Antonio Spurs (Record 36-23, Last Week 6)
9. Dallas Mavericks (Record 39-22, Last Week 8)
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record 33-27, Last Week 12)
11. Toronto Raptors (Record 37-22, Last Week 5)
12. Chicago Bulls (Record 37-23, Last Week 11)
13. New Orleans Pelicans (Record 32-27, Last Week 16)
14. Indiana Pacers (Record 25-34, Last Week 17)
15. Washington Wizards (Record 34-26, Last Week 14)
16. Phoenix Suns (Record 31-29, Last Week 13)
17. Milwaukee Bucks (Record 32-27, Last Week 15)
18. Detroit Pistons (Record 23-36, Last Week 18)
19. Charlotte Hornets (Record 24-33, Last Week 19)
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record 24-33, Last Week 20)
21. Miami Heat (Record 25-33, Last Week 21)
22. Utah Jazz (Record 23-35, Last Week 23)
23. Boston Celtics (Record 23-34, Last Week 25)
24. Orlando Magic (Record 19-42, Last Week 22)
25. Sacramento Kings (Record 20-37, Last Week 24)
26. Los Angeles Lakers (Record 16-42, Last Week 28)
27. Denver Nuggets (Record 20-39, Last Week 26)
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record 13-45, Last Week 27)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (Record 13-46, Last Week 29)
30. New York Knicks (Record 12-46, Last Week 30)

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