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PBT NBA Power Rankings: San Antonio slides into top slot

Nov 18, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

Another season, another year of the Spurs just making teams pay with their execution. Portland is flying up the rankings, on the other end Utah continues to anchor the bottom.

source:  1. Spurs (9-1, Last Week No. 2). The winners of seven in a row, they move into the top spot as they appear the machine-like Spurs we’ve come to know and love. However, there is one thing of concern out there — Tim Duncan is averaging 12 points a game on 39.4 percent shooting.

source:  2. Pacers (9-1, LW 1). The hot start this season — the Bulls ended their undefeated run Saturday night — will be put to the test as 8 of their next 11 games are on the road. Plus, when the calendar turns to Dec. 1 things get very difficult.

source:  3. Heat (7-3, LW 6). LeBron James is shooting 62 percent from three this season. Because he wasn’t already a nearly impossible cover. Miami has won three in a row and have a pretty easy week (Atlanta then a home-and-home with Orlando) so if they are focused they could extend that streak. But that’s a big “if” with this team right now.

source:  4. Trail Blazers (8-2, LW 9). Winners of six in a row, they are doing it with the third best offense in the NBA — they are hitting their shots and being a force on the offensive glass. But they may be leaning a little too heavily on their starters right now.

source:  5. Warriors (7-3, LW 5). There are no statement games in November, but you had to like the way Golden State played Oklahoma City last week — with Andre Iguodala they have a guy who can make life more difficult for Kevin Durant (5-of-13 in that game). Interesting tests this week against Memphis and Portland, but both are at home where Golden State is 5-0.

source:  6. Clippers (7-3, LW 7). The defense is showing signs of improvement — in their last five games they have allowed 103.8 points per 100 possessions (its 106.1 on the season). Chris Paul has been a stud with double-digit points and assists in every game — think he likes having shooter

source:  7. Thunder (6-3, LW 3). As we said with the GSW, there are no statement games in November, but losses last week to the Clippers and Warriors are a reminder this team has some work to do if it plans on winning the West. They get the Clippers at home this Thursday night, we’ll see if the Clippers size is an issue again.

source:  8. Timberwolves (7-4, LW 4). Minnesota’s defense and Kevin Love rightfully are getting a lot of credit early, but Kevin Martin has been key — 24.4 points per game, creates his own shot and is hitting 47.4 percent from three to space the floor. Minny came back to earth a little with a .500 week (2-2) but this is still a great start.

source:  9. Rockets (7-4, LW 10). With Greg Smith out for at least this week — which is fortunate, when his sprained knee happened it looked worse — the Rockets need Asik to be a professional, suck it up and play hard off the bench. That helps his trade value, too.

source:  10. Bulls (5-3, LW 14). Here is a hopeful sign for Chicago — they are +13.3 points per 100 possessions in their last five games. That’s a good indicator that both the defense is clicking and the offense is starting to figure itself out. Friday night Damian Lillard faces the Derrick Rose for the first time, that should be fun.

source:  11. Mavericks (6-4, LW 11). Odds Mark Cuban keeps his mouth shut and doesn’t take a backhanded dig at Dwight Howard before the Rockets come to town Friday? I’d say about 1 in 10.

source:  12. Hawks (6-4, LW 16). They got Lou Williams back last week, which should bring some scoring spark to what was already the seventh best offense in the NBA. He and Jeff Teague (averaging 19 and 9 this season) form a good point guard duo.

source:  13. Grizzlies (5-5, LW 13). They have won a couple in a row over the Lakers and Kings, looking like a team that got its defense back and was finding a groove. We’ll see. Big tests this week against the Clippers, Warriors and Spurs.

source:  14. Suns (5-4, LW 8). They keep playing close games — every one of their games has been within five points in the final five minutes. That’s fun to watch, and while that’s not how you win sustainably it’s better than we expected from them preseason.

source:  15. Bobcats (5-5, LW 17). Steve Clifford has them playing solid defense — if they could keep Al Jefferson in the lineup for more than a couple games without an injury they could win a few more. Another team that has issues but is better than expected and can sustain solid play.

source:  16. 76ers (5-6, LW 12). They have lost six of eight and are fading back to the pack — except there is nobody in the Atlantic playing well enough to catch them, so they are still in first. The bigger concern being Michael Carter Williams having missed three games with a foot injury.

source:  17. Pelicans (4-6, LW 15). Ryan Anderson returned from his toe injury Saturday night and put up a quick 26 points. It’s easy to see why Rockets fans covet him but this outing showed why New Orleans needs him to space the floor, too.

source:  18. Lakers (5-7, LW 26). Yes, yes, Kobe Bryant is back practicing with the team. We heard. The more surprising news is that the Lakers defense has been average (17th in NBA in points per possession), which is better than expected.

source:  19. Nuggets (4-5, LW 29). After a slow start to the season they went 3-1 last week — coincidence it happened with JaVale McGee sidelined? Tough week ahead with Oklahoma City then a Chicago/Dallas back-to-back.

source:  20. Nets (3-6, LW 18). We said before the season injuries would matter a lot to this team, so the fact that Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez were all out against the Clippers Saturday is not a good sign. This team needs time on the court with its stars to figure out some chemistry issues.

source:  21. Magic (4-6, LW 20). Arron Afflalo is off to a fast start this season is averaging 21.7 points per game and hitting 50 percent of his threes — which in Orlando means he is trade bait. Tough home-and-home with Miami this week.

source:  22. Pistons (3-6, LW 19). After seeing them in person Sunday night, it’s really stunning just how bad the Josh Smith/Andre Drummond/Greg Monroe combo is on defense. Our man DJ Foster broke it down well. As teams go small and space the floor around the league, how long will Detroit go with this big experiment if it doesn’t work?

source:  23. Cavaliers (4-7, LW 21). Lots of drama with a team meeting last week and some questions about how sick Dion Waiters really is, the only thing that got them a win was Kyrie Irving going off against Washington. This team feels like it could spiral down from here.

source:  24. Celtics (4-7, LW 22). With no Rajon Rondo to stabilize things this is what you get — four losses in a row, then four wins, then three losses. Very inconsistent. Like Jeff Green. They also are giving up a league high 17.3 points a game on opponent second chance points.

source:  25. Knicks (3-6, LW 13). Normally you’d say a team that is about to play five of their next six on the road is facing a challenge, but as the Knicks are 1-5 at Madison Square Garden maybe what this squad needs is a road trip. Words can’t express how much they miss Tyson Chandler.

source:  26. Raptors (1-3, LW 24). Rudy Gay missed 26 shots in a game last week and is still shooting 38 percent on the season. However, if you’re thinking, “they should trade him” realize they replace him with DeMar DeRozan, who is shooting just 40 percent on the year.

source:  27. Wizards (2-7, LW 25). They have lost four in a row and the offense is struggling, which is why Randy Wittman watch is still going on. That said, they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the NBA this season, which doesn’t help.

source:  28. Kings (2-7, LW 28). The Kings’ starters have been so bad that Sunday coach Mike Malone benched the lot of them 4:22 into the third quarter and went with his bench the rest of the way against Portland — and it almost worked. Lots of big issues to solve here.

source:  29. Bucks (2-7, LW 27). They have lost five in a row, but to be fair Milwaukee has been injury ravaged — four of their five starters are banged up right now, leaving O.J. Mayo to carry the load.

source:  30. Jazz (1-10, LW 30). Hey, they got a win last week with a nice comeback against New Orleans. Derrick Favors had 18 rebounds in a game. So there’s that. The Jazz have the worst offense and the 26th ranked defense in the NBA so far this season.

  1. phillysports1 - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Charlotte is better then philly ? And hey we beat Houston Chicago and Miami lol keep it up philly

  2. azarkhan - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    “I’m going to be honest. The way [the Spurs’] young players play, it’s beautiful because they commit to do the right thing. They move. They cut. They help each other. It’s amazing the way they play, simple basketball….” – Nene

    “Even though we have more talent — our guards have more talent than they have — still, they just play together,” newcomer Marcin Gortat said. “They’re sharing the ball. They’re running the system, and they are playing the way [Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich] tells them to play.”

  3. ufools - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    GS higher than Clips? I don’t understand. Best teams they have best are Minnesota and OKC. Clips beat them both too. They beat GS.

    Flawed. Just flawed.

  4. cattdaddy702 - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Mr. Helin, please list the loss that Golden State posted at home to verify your 5-1 home record smdh (if your going to report it please verify it)

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 19, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      My error, this was already corrected.

  5. spacemaker101 - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Philly sucks bro.. They getting lucky it won’t last

  6. whereyaat - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    But can the Miami Heat overcome having the WORST fans in the NBA? What a bunch of BANDWAGON fans!

    • jt1138 - Nov 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Really? Because I’ve been a Heat fan since the Thunder Dan days. I bet I’m a more dedicated Heat fan than you are a basketball fan…

  7. chiadam - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    We need to find a way to rank the Jazz 31st.

  8. Sinan - Nov 18, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    did anyone notice that the nets and nuggets have the same log as part of this ranking?

  9. antistratfordian - Nov 18, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Another regular season power ranking with the Spurs at #1 – what a surprise – 6 straight years of this nonsense. They should be capped at #2 until they stop choking in the playoffs.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      They got robbed by themselves.

    • Anoesis - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      Yeah, they shouldn’t ever get any benefit of the doubt because they choked their way to the title in ’99, ’03, ’05, and ’07. After all, everyone knows a power ranking less than 10% into the season is definitive and won’t change for the rest of the year.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:52 PM

        They’ve been living off of that for years now – time to cut them off. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

        They’re capped at #2 until further notice.

    • kavika6 - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:46 AM

      Choking in the playoffs? Game 7 of the finals is choking in the playoffs? I guess in your mind Miami should be ranked at #1 all season and the rest of the teams don’t matter. You must be a Miami fan or a fan of one of the teams the “chokers” knocked out of the playoffs.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 19, 2013 at 7:31 AM

        “Game 7 of the finals is choking in the playoffs?”

        No, Game 6 of the finals was choking in the playoffs.

        Besides, you can’t hold up that game 7 as an accomplishment – it is The Son of Choke. Its manifestation confirms the existence of a spectacular choke that was required to conceive it.

    • pinhead2 - Nov 21, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      Haters gonna hate. Spur fan loves it.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 21, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        Other things Spurs fans love:

        • Losing in the first round in 2009.
        • Pop getting outcoached by Rick Carlisle.
        • Getting swept in the 2nd round by the Suns in 2010.
        • Pop getting outcoached by Alvin Gentry.
        • Being the #1 seed and losing in the first round in 2011.
        • Pop getting outcoached by Lionel Hollins.
        • Winning 20 straight games, being undefeated in the playoffs, grabbing a 2-0 lead on the Thunder in the WCF, then choking and not winning another game in 2012.
        • Pop getting outcoached by Scott Brooks.
        • Game 6.
        • Pop getting outcoached by Erik Spoelstra.

    • pinhead2 - Nov 21, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      Haters gonna hate. Spurs fan loves it.

  10. Anoesis - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    1. Duncan will be fine.
    6. Clippers defense had nowhere to go but get better. Simply playing some made an improvement.
    8. Nice to see Love, Martin, & co. off to a good start.
    11. Cuban has the mouth, you know he’ll use it. Sort of like having a bazooka: Of course you want to shoot it off. And Howard is a large, easy target.
    18. Big move up the rankings.
    19. Even bigger move up the rankings.
    25. Huge drop, but maybe they didn’t belong at #13 in the first place.

    Still very early, expect more large changes, but the jostling for position and consistency is interesting to watch.

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