Nov 4, 2013, 2:04 PM EST
The first few weeks of the Power Rankings see crazy fluctuations — teams that aren’t really that good start off hot, teams that are good start cold, so teams bounce up and down the rankings like they are on a bungee cord the first few weeks. Eventually things find their level. But this week was one of the hardest I’ve had to do in this ranking.
1. Pacers (3-0, Last Week No. 5). Through three games Paul George is averaging 25.7 points a game on 48.1 percent shooting overall and 43.5 percent from three — all big jumps from last year. He may not sustain that but he looks to be making another leap forward. Also early, but they have the best defense in the NBA so far.
2. Rockets (3-0, LW 7). So far, so good — they have the best point-per-possession differential in the league (+13.8 per 100 possessions). However, the Dwight Howard/Omer Asik pairing has struggled, -1.4 per 48 minutes so far. Expect that combo to go the way of the Dodo soon.
3. Timberwolves (3-0, LW 12). Kevin Love is averaging 29.7 points a game (on 50% shooting, plus 14.7 rebounds), but there is a balance to the Wolves offense with six players averaging at least 9 points a game. The defense also has been surprisingly strong so far this season.
4. 76ers (3-0, LW 30). No, I don’t think they will be this high up in the rankings for long, however, but they beat the Heat and the Bulls so here they are. They are playing at the fastest pace in the NBA. It’s too early to say Michael Carter-Williams is a Rookie of the Year frontrunner, but he has put himself in that conversation. The award usually goes to a guy with the ball in his hands who puts up numbers — MCW fits that mold.
5. Spurs (2-1, LW 2). Just grinding along, doing their thing, even in the first week of the season. Tim Duncan out for a night, they win in Los Angeles anyway. Popovich in-game interviews remain the highlight of any nationally televised Spurs’ game.
6. Clippers (2-1, LW 4). Through three games they have the statistically best offense in the NBA (113.3 points per 100 possessions) and the worst defense (108.9). Doc Rivers was hired to fix the second one of those numbers.
7. Warriors (2-1, LW 10). You knew their offense was going to put up points because Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s can knock down jumpers from the second they step off the team bus. But their defense has been good, too — Andrew Bogut shut DeMarcus Cousins down over the weekend.
8. Thunder (2-1, LW 6). Russell Westbrook was back Sunday after missing just two games, and with him the Thunder offense looked better. Not good yet, but better. This team has some work to do to get where it wants to get.
9. Heat (2-2, LW 1). The game against Washington Sunday sums up Miami: They were by far the better team, moving the ball well (86 percent of buckets came on assists), they were up 23… then they took their foot off the gas. Washington went on an 18-5 run and outscored Miami 29-16 in the fourth to make it a 10-point game. Expect the lack of focus to continue.
10. Mavericks (2-1, LW 13). Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are running the pick-and-pop well (each is averaging 23.3 points per game) to lead Dallas to the third best offense in the NBA so far this young season (108.9 points per 100 possessions).
11. Trail Blazers (2-1, LW 17). That was a quality win over the Spurs Saturday night, even if Nicolas Batum wasn’t exactly classy at the end. Strong offense to start the season for the Blazers.
12. Suns (2-1, LW 29). They have done it with defense — opponents are shooting 43.1 percent overall and 30 percent from three. However their entire season goes, if Jeff Hornacek can build a good defensive foundation it will be a success.
13. Nets (1-2, LW 9). That was a quality win over the Heat Friday night and their offense had a beautiful fluidity that night — the ball moved and players moved well off the ball. Then Sunday night against Orlando they did none of that. They settle for too many jump shots, they need to attack. Good test vs. Pacers this week.
14. Bulls (1-2, LW 3). Lots of drama in the Windy City — Rose off to a rough start, and the front office is telling Tom Thibodeau how to distribute minutes. However, the biggest concern is that their defense has been average. We wait for them to find their stride, but can they do that against the Pacers this week.
15. Knicks (1-2, LW 11). New York played really good defense through their first two games, then Kevin Love and Minnesota showed up and drilled them. Hopefully the defense returns — and speaking of returns J.R. Smith should be back this week.
16. Pistons (2-1, LW 15). Brandon Jennings returned Sunday, and with a very Brandon Jennings line: 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Tough tests this week against Indiana and Oklahoma City.
17. Raptors (2-1, LW 22). Great starts from Amir Johnson and Landry Fields this season… not so much for Rudy Gay and his 32.7 percent shooting on the season. If that keeps up the Gay trade rumors will ramp up (even as his trade value goes down).
18. Lakers (2-2, LW 19). You get the feeling that first week is what we will see a lot of from the squad — a great win over the Clippers with Xavier Henry stepping up, followed by a mess in Golden State. Close win over Hawks, close loss to Spurs (without Duncan). Expect a season of this roller coaster.
19. Grizzlies (1-2, LW 8). Normally a slow start to the season wouldn’t worry us, but the Memphis defense has not been good. Second worst in the NBA so far. That is worrying. They should turn it around, but if this little slump continues too long the road through the playoffs in a deep West just gets that much harder as you slip down the seedings.
21. Cavaliers (1-2, LW 16). Andrew Bynum is out there on the court, but there are other issues. Like Anthony Bennett not having scored yet. Charlotte tried to take the ball out of Kyrie Irving’s hands at the end of the game, and it worked. It shouldn’t.
22. Pelicans (1-2, LW 18). Anthony Davis told me that the Pelicans took preseason seriously (they were 7-1) but that hasn’t translated to the season so far. However, Davis has looked good averaging 23.7 points and 12.3 rebounds a game
23. Hawks (1-2, LW 20). Kyle Korver has started the season on fire but so far the Hawks defense has not, which is why the below .500 record. They need to pick up wins this week against the Kings, Magic and Nuggets.
24. Kings (1-2, LW 23). Fantastic opening night crowd, atmosphere and win. However, the losses to the Clippers and Warriors showed how far this team needs to go. Six of their next seven games are at home.
25. Bucks (1-2, LW 24). As our man D.J. Foster noted in The Extra Pass, new coach Larry Drew is benching Larry Sanders and John Henson in favor of Zaza Pachulia, and Ersan Ilyasova. That is not how you develop a young team, fireworks could follow.
26. Bobcats (1-2, LW 25). Al Jefferson pushed to get back for the first game, shot 6-of-19, then shut it down again. Without him the Bobcats offense is exactly what you think it is.
27. Nuggets (0-2, LW 14). Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler are out which hurts the offense, and while Brian Shaw was brought in to play JaVale McGee more the young center is showing why George Karl limited those minutes.
28. Celtics (0-3, LW 26). I don’t know what Gerald Wallace thinks he’s doing by calling this team out publicly, but it’s not helping. Welcome to the NBA, Brad Stevens, isn’t this fun?
29. Wizards (0-3, LW 21). Yes John Wall has struggled with his jump shot (9-of-29 outside the paint so far this season), but the bigger concern is the team defense, which has been terrible through three games (108.1 points per 100 possessions) was torched by the Heat Sunday. Is Randy Wittman’s seat getting warm?
30. Jazz (0-3, LW 28). They’ve come close to getting wins but coughed the ball up at the end against the Thunder and blew a 16-point lead against the Rockets. Oh, and they didn’t reach an extension deal with Gordon Hayward. Rough week.
Dec 18, 2013, 5:55 PM EST
The basketball gods can be cruel. The Washington Wizards were celebrating a dramatic win over the New York Knicks the other night — we focused on the Knicks’ failings but credit to the Wizards for making the right plans and knocking down the big shots. For a team with playoff dreams it was a win…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:11 PM EST
Damian Lillard nailed a three pointer from roughly Shaker Heights to give the Trail Blazers a dramatic 119-116 win over Kyrie Irving‘s Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. That prompted Kay Adams to start off this edition of PBT Extra with the question Lillard or Irving? We also talk about the rise of LaMarcus Aldridge to…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:19 PM EST
We told you Jordan Hamilton would be sitting out for this when it went down. Denver’s Hamilton has been suspended one game by the league for throwing this punch, striking the Thunder’s Steven Adams, the league announced Wednesday. Hamilton will sit Friday when the Nuggets play the Suns. The incident took place at the start…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
Houston’s Omer Asik is going to get traded Thursday. Not Wednesday —deals are still being hammered out. Not Friday — anyone acquired this day or later can’t be traded again at the February trade deadline in a combined deal with other teammates. It will happen Thursday. It looks more and more like the Celtics will…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:01 PM EST
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Southern Comfort’s “whatever’s comfortable” ad series included one with a skinny rocker white guy doing some karate moves in a the kind of hair salon your grandmother goes to. It was oddly compelling. Chris Webber decided to spoof this, for whatever reason. My guess…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:21 PM EST
Greivis Vasquez ranks No. 18 in points per play he finishes as the pick-and-roll ball handler, and Amir Johnson ranks No. 31 as the pick-and-roll screener, according to MySynergySports. That should make the newly formed Raptors duo pretty formidable, and everyone involved sounds excited about the possibilities. Via Eric Koreen of the National Post: “When…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
The New York Knicks are a team that can’t win consistently without Tyson Chandler in the lineup. You can blame that on whomever you wish — coach Mike Woodson, management, James Dolan, Justin Bieiber, there is plenty of blame to go around — but it remains a fact they need him on defense to protect…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:10 PM EST
Make no mistake, the Miami Heat know exactly who is standing between them and a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — the wall that is 7’2” Roy Hibbert and his Indiana Pacers. The Heat also know no game in December is going to determine the outcome of what is a seemingly inevitable Eastern…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
The Bulls shoot 55 percent in the restricted area (29th in the NBA) and 32 percent on 3-pointers (28th in the NBA). That’s a bad combination, and it goes a long way toward explaining why Chicago scores just 95.7 points per 100 possessions, the league’s third-worst mark. But if there’s a bright side for the…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:45 AM EST
Should the Knicks have called timeout before Carmelo Anthony’s final shot attempt against the Wizards on Monday? That question has dominated discussion since the game ended, but perhaps a different question would deal with a more significant issue? Should Melo have been the Knick shooting? First of all, better him than anyone else in a…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:08 AM EST
How about these numbers: 21.1 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting (17.8 shots a game), 9.1 rebounds a night and with a PER of 20.4 as the undisputed leader of his team. That’s your newly minted early MVP candidate LaMarcus’ Aldridge’s numbers… from last season. This season he is scoring 23.6 points per game…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
Technically, the Raptors got Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes for Rudy Gay. But Toronto also got a new spirit. Without the shoot-first, do-little-else Gay, the Raptors have gone 3-1. They’re just clicking a little better. They might be playing with a little more passion, too. Terrence Ross certainly is. Landry Fields…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:13 AM EST
If you haven’t seen Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” well, now you have some homework for tonight. The movie has Denzel Washington and a young Ray Allen in the lead role of a movie where basketball is at the heart of the plot. This season the NBA is going to do “nickname games” where the…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Spurs released Stephen Jackson just before last season’s playoffs, reportedly, because Jackson had been feuding with Gregg Popovich. Jackson could have been bitter, but he wasn’t. Even as San Antonio made the NBA Finals, he said, “I wouldn’t want me on the team, either.” If nothing else, Jackson tells it like it is. If…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
After two straight game winners, it’s time for any team facing the Blazers in a late game situation to force the ball out of Damian Lillard‘s hands. He has that clutch gene. In the latest edition of the PBT Podcast myself and Eyton Shander of NBC Sports Radio discuss the Blazers fast start and how much…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
The Signature Series takes a look at a play that’s largely unique to one team. Here’s San Antonio’s “Hammer” set. The San Antonio Spurs don’t get enough credit for keeping up with the times. Although the end result is often the same as it has always been – Tim Duncan facing up and banking a…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:49 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while salivating over the idea of a “Rounders” sequel. Or wincing at the idea. (Count me with the latter group.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Two clutch game winners in a row. Tuesday night he had 23 of his 36 points in the second half…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:15 AM EST
To me, that looked like the start of a punch that Jordan Hamilton thought better of before it landed but couldn’t stop. And Hamilton is going to get suspended for that. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter of a game where the Thunder were in control (up 10), the Thunder were heading back…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
This is the one thing that is certain: Omer Asik will get his wish and be traded in the next 48 hours. Houston still plans to move him by Dec. 19 — after that date and they can’t flip any of the assets they get at the trade deadline. Where he is going to land…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Just two nights ago, Damian Lillard hit the game winner in overtime to lift the Blazers over the Pistons. Tuesday night he was playing the hero again. The Blazers and Cavaliers were tied 116-116 with 7.1 seconds left and Portland inbounded the ball and went with the simple 1-4 flat play and let Lillard create. I’m…
- PBT Extra: Damian Lillard or Kyrie Irving? Plus coaching hot seat talk. 2
- Report: Celtics may be frontrunners for Asik; would move Bass, Lee, pick 4
- Tyson Chandler returns to Knicks lineup Wednesday night 4
- Beasley out, LeBron game-time decision; Heat not worried about Pacers right now 12
- LaMarcus Aldridge’s MVP-level season looks a lot like last season 11
- NFL legend Jim Brown takes shot at Kobe Bryant, Kobe fires back (105)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- Pau Gasol expresses frustration with D’Antoni offense. Lakers have to think trade. (49)
- Deserving or not Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade among All-Star starters in early voting returns (48)
- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (47)