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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