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NBA Power Rankings – 12/9/16

In our latest NBA power rankings, the Lakers and Hawks fall while the Bucks and Celtics climb.

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The Golden State Warriors were supposed to need time to develop their chemistry, but as we pass the first quarter of the NBA season, the Dubs are on pace to win 71 games. That’s definitely noteworthy.

Also noteworthy is the topsy turvy play of both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. The Central Division foes seem to lose games they should win. When they count, though, they tend to show up. Case in point: the Cavs making the New York Knicks look like a junior varsity squad on Wednesday night and the Bulls being the first team to hand the San Antonio Spurs a road loss this season.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks drop like hot bricks while the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics each make a power move.


stocknochanges4530. Dallas Mavericks (Overall: 4-17, Last Week: 30)

The last time the Mavs won back-to-back games was on November 6 and November 8. At this point, the question is not when they will do so again, it’s whether they actually will. The bright side is that the 2017 draft class is said to be somewhat strong.

stockdown4529. Phoenix Suns (Overall: 6-16, Last Week: 27)

The Suns haven’t won back to back games in over a month. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are pulling their weight for the most part, but the Suns are at a talent deficit and are seeing Devin Booker come back to earth a tad.

stocknochanges4528. Minnesota Timberwolves (Overall: 6-16, Last Week: 28)

A 15-point third quarter featured a mesmerizing display of dunks and shots from Karl-Anthony Towns in Thursday night’s contest at the Raptors, but the T-Wolves couldn’t get it done. They haven’t won in Toronto since January 2004, and Towns couldn’t change that.

stockup4527. Philadelphia 76ers (Overall: 5-18, Last Week: 29)

Stop the presses! The Sixers won a road game! On Thursday night, in defeating the Pelicans by a final score of 99-88, the Sixers snapped a 23-game road losing streak that dates back to January! Either these guys are turning a corner or the Pelicans are really bad. Or both.

stocknochanges4526. Brooklyn Nets (Overall: 6-15, Last Week: 26)

The bad news? The Rockets decided to match the offer sheet tendered to Donatas Motiejunas. The good news? The Nets were paid a visit by the Nuggets, whom Kenny Atkinson’s team beat to get just their second win over the past three weeks.

stockdown4525. New Orleans Pelicans (Overall: 7-16, Last Week: 24)

Three straight losses at home hurts, especially when you lose one to a Sixers team that hasn’t won a road game in almost a year. Many are beginning to wonder whether Alvin Gentry will last all season long. One reporter even asked him directly on Thursday night. He snapped. It was awkward.

stockdown4524. Miami HEAT (Overall: 7-15, Last Week: 23)

The HEAT will carry a three-game losing streak with them as they pay a visit to a few old faces. On Friday, they’ll visit the Cavs before heading to Chicago to see Dwyane Wade on Saturday. The week will end with home contests against the Wizards and Pacers and we expect them to get one victory from those four games. Sorry HEAT fans.

stockdown4523. Denver Nuggets (Overall: 8-15, Last Week: 20)

Losers of four of five, Thursday’s 92-85 loss to the Wizards drops the Nuggets to 1-3 on their current road trip with stops in Orlando and Dallas to come. After 23 games, they’re jostling with the T-Wolves for last place in the Northwest, and we expect that to be the case all season long.

stocknochanges4522. Sacramento Kings (Overall: 8-13, Last Week: 22)

The world has begun talking about DeMarcus Cousins and whether or not the franchise is going to trade him. Word on the street is that they won’t, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. When was the last time the Kings actually did something smart?

stockup4521. Washington Wizards (Overall: 8-13, Last Week: 25)

John Wall’s 52-point, eight-assist effort couldn’t get the win for the Wizards against the Magic on Tuesday, but they did manage to get one versus the Nuggets. They’ve won two of their last three, but if things continue going this badly, we should expect some changes to be made in D.C.

stockdown4520. Los Angeles Lakers (Overall: 10-14, Last Week: 12)

With four straight losses, the Lakers have fallen and they may not be able to get up, especially as they begin a SEVEN-GAME road trip on Monday. The schedule makers didn’t do the Lakers any favors, as they are set to play nine games over the next 15 days. And again, seven of those are on the road.

stockup4519. Orlando Magic (Overall: 10-13, Last Week: 21)

The three-game win streak ended at the hands of the Celtics on Wednesday, but the bigger story for the Magic has to be that they won four games on their five-game road trip. Only good teams do that, and for what it’s worth, the Magic are just 3.5 games outside of first in the division and 1.5 games out of the eighth seed.

stocknochanges4518. Portland Trail Blazers (Overall: 12-12, Last Week: 18)

Just 5-8 since beginning the season 7-4, the Blazers lost a hard-fought contest in Memphis on Thursday night. Damian Lillard has begun the month of December shooting just 41 percent from the field as the squad drops to 1-2 on the current five-game trip. They’ll see the Clips and Thunder over the next week, so we’ll circle those two.

stockup4517. Indiana Pacers (Overall: 11-11, Last Week: 19)

Clocking in at .500 after the first quarter of the season, the Pacers are 25th in points allowed and don’t stand to improve very much so long as Monta Ellis is scoring 9.6 points per game as he has been over their past 10 games. They did score a win over the Clippers on Sunday, though, which gives them a sweep of the season series. Go figure.

stockdown4516. Atlanta Hawks (Overall: 11-12, Last Week: 11)

The Hawks broke the losing streak that reached seven games with a 103-95 win over the HEAT on Wednesday, but the damage has been done. Losers of 10 of 11, they’ve inexplicably fallen to a game beneath .500. Their next 10 appear winnable, though, so we’ll be watching.

stocknochanges4515. Detroit Pistons (Overall: 12-12, Last Week: 15)

The Pistons have quietly gone 6-3 over their past nine to clock in at 12-12 through 24 games. Reggie Jackson made his long-awaited season debut in Sunday’s 98-92 loss to the Magic, but things are looking up for the squad.

stocknochanges4514. New York Knicks (Overall: 12-10, Last Week: 14)

The Knicks were humbled by LeBron and his Cavs on Wednesday night, 126-94. Even with the loss, the Knicks are 9-4 over their past 13 games as they embark on a five-game Western Conference road trip that has stops at the Kings, Lakers, Suns, Warriors and Nuggets. The goal should be at least three wins.

stockup4513. Boston Celtics (Overall: 13-9, Last Week: 17)

Al Horford’s missed layup at the buzzer cost the Celtics a win against the Rockets on Monday, so they were that close to riding a four-game winning streak into Friday’s battle with the Raptors. The Celts trail by two games for the division lead, so it’s a fairly important game.

stockup4512. Chicago Bulls (Overall: 12-10, Last Week: 13)

Since beating the Cavs last Friday, the Bulls lost three straight and lost Rajon Rondo to a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. They then follow that up by beating the Spurs and handing Kawhi Leonard’s team their first road loss of the season. The best words to describe this ride thus far? Topsy Turvy.

stockup4511. Milwaukee Bucks (Overall: 11-9, Last Week: 16)

Jason Kidd’s team has very quietly won five of six, including wins over the Cavs and Blazers. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to impress. From Wednesday’s triple-double to his 22 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals per game, we must point out that no other player in NBA history has ever accomplished those numbers for an entire season. He’s 22 years old.

stockdown4510. Charlotte Hornets (Overall: 13-9, Last Week: 8)

Winners of three of their last four, Team Kemba begins a five-game road swing on Saturday and will pay visits to the Cavs, Celtics and Hawks along the way. They lead the struggling Hawks by 2.5 games out in the division as Walker closes in on what will likely be his first All-Star berth.

stockup459. Utah Jazz (Overall: 14-10, Last Week: 10)

Gordon Hayward missed Thursday’s 106-99 loss to the Warriors, ending the club’s three-game win streak. They’ll see the Kings, Thunder and Mavericks to end the five-game home stand. When they see the Thunder (on Wednesday), they could actually be playing for the division lead, so that’s one worth watching.

stockup458. Memphis Grizzlies (Overall: 16-8, Last Week: 9)

Marc Gasol’s season-high 36 points helped the Grizzlies outlast the Blazers on Thursday night, but it was the newly signed Toney Douglas’ two clutch free-throws that made the difference in the 88-86 victory. They’ll need more of these epic efforts without Mike Conley, even if they’re 5-1 without him so far.

stockup457. Houston Rockets (Overall: 15-7, Last Week: 8)

After last Thursday’s impressive win over the Dubs, the Rockets rolled into Denver and crushed the Nuggets. After besting the Celts and Lakers, Russell Westbrook and James Harden will have a good old-fashioned shoot out. Winners of four straight and nine of 11, we have zero complaints.

stockup456. Oklahoma City Thunder (Overall: 14-8, Last Week: 7)

Let’s be honest here, as impressive as Russell Westbrook’s six straight triple-doubles are, what’s more impressive is that the Thunder are 6-0 in those games. He’s averaging 31 points, 10.9 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game and has 11 triple-doubles in 22 games. That puts him on pace for 41 for the season, which would tie him for Oscar’s single-season record.

stockdown455. Toronto Raptors (Overall: 15-4, Last Week: 4)

A six-game win streak came to an end on Monday when the Cavs rolled into Toronto, but Thursday’s 124-110 win over the visiting T-Wolves means they’ve won seven of eight. Jonas Valanciunas’ 20-point, 10-rebound double-double went a long way toward pulling that one out, as well.

stockup454. Cleveland Cavaliers (Overall: 15-5, Last Week: 5)

After dominating the Knicks on Thursday night to the tune of a 126-94 beating, the three-game losing streak is a distant memory. When these guys are dialed in, no team out East has a chance. That includes the Raptors, who are nipping at their heels but yield their top 4 spot from last week after losing to the Cavs on Sunday. Kevin Love is averaging 21.4 points per game—a full five points higher than last season.

stocknochanges453. Los Angeles Clippers (Overall: 16-7, Last Week: 3)

Last week’s win at the Cavs was impressive, and it’s the main reason why the Clips keep the third spot, despite having lost their last two and five of seven. They were embarrassed by the Warriors in Wednesday night’s 115-98 loss, but that doesn’t mean much since the Dubs are clearly the top dogs in the Association. Sunday’s loss to the Pacers bothered us much more than the one to the Dubs, but the Cavs haven’t been world beaters, either.

stocknochanges452. San Antonio Spurs (Overall: 18-5, Last Week: 2)

The Spurs won their first 13 road games of the season but fell short in Chicago. One more win would have tied the Warriors for the best road start to begin a season, but the Spurs managed just 91 points—17 below the 108.1 they’ve averaged on the road thus far this season. Still, it’s tough to complain, especially since this was the third game in four nights.

stocknochanges451. Golden State Warriors (Overall: 20-3, Last Week: 1)

The Dubs have three guys who are capable of scoring 60 points on any given night. One of them recently did, but forget about that. These guys have averaged about 132 points per game over the past week and very quietly, through 22 games, are on pace to win 71.


In the end, it appears that the Warriors are separating themselves from the pack, though they only lead the Spurs by 2.5 games for the lead out in the Western Conference. Christmas Day is just a few weeks away, though, so we will continue to look forward to the Dubs and Cavs renewing their rivalry. Be sure to keep an eye on our weekly power rankings each and every Friday.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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