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Week 11 NBA Power Rankings
While COVID continues to be the biggest locker room threat the NBA has seen since Gilbert Arenas, the season has remained somewhat intact. Sure, it seems like every player in the game right now has had COVID at one time or another, and sure some games had to be postponed, but all in all, it could be worse, right?
We could at least get a solid look at how teams line up in terms of skill, but also in terms of depth–who can still perform when their star player (or players) are at home sneezing?
1. Golden State Warriors (27-6)
Thanks to a huge win over the Suns on Christmas Day, the Golden State Warriors sit atop the NBA Power Rankings once again. Of course, the phenomenal play they’ve been getting from Steph Curry takes a lot of the credit, but the support he’s been receiving from Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole throughout the season has pushed him to new heights. Curry is scoring almost 28 points a game and is attempting a career-high 13.5 threes per game, draining them at a 40% clip. If the Warriors can remain healthy, and get their guys off of the COVID list quickly, they’ll be a title contender for the rest of the season. Also, with Klay Thompson set to return in the coming weeks, this Golden State team is just getting better.
2. Brooklyn Nets (23-9)
Alright, I’m kidding (kind of). After a somewhat shaky start, the Nets have found their groove in recent weeks winning seven of their last nine. They seemed to have adopted this “next man up” mentality as their stars are forced to sit due to COVID-19, which is always a key factor to have in a team that wants to make a Finals push.
With Durant sidelined due to COVID-19, the Nets haven’t missed a beat–winning games over the Lakers and Clippers behind the performances of James Harden and company. Patty Mills has been particularly impactful over this stretch, averaging 25 ppg in Durant’s absence.
If the Nets can continue to show competence outside of Durant and Harden, and if things don’t implode when Kyrie returns, the Nets should effortlessly continue to find success.
3. Utah Jazz (24-9)
When you lead the league in points per game and are tied for the lead in field goal percentage, it’s hard not to find yourself amongst the top. As Donovan Mitchell continues to grow into an all-star talent, the rest of the offense continues to tune into the same frequency. The Jazz currently have five players averaging more than 14 points per game, and thanks to the hard work they’re getting from Rudy Gobert they currently lead the league in total rebounds per game with 47.6.
The Jazz are on a four-game winning streak coming into this week, and are currently one of the scariest teams to face in all of the NBA. With rumors of a serious trade involving Joe Ingles and some draft capital coming before the deadline, the Jazz may only become stronger as the season goes on.
4. Phoenix Suns (26-7)
While it’s hard to improve upon an offense that’s already amongst the top three in the league, the Suns have shown some inconsistencies in the past week that make me a bit weary. While they continue to win the games they’re supposed to, they most notably have trouble winning games against teams with a winning record. While I expect this to stop, its worth taking note of as the Suns continue to progress into the season. However, for now, I think Phoniex fans should be comfortable with Devin Booker behind the wheel.
5. Chicago Bulls (21-10)
What a feel-good story this Chicago Bulls team is. Thanks to some brilliant offense play from Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan the Bulls may be on their way to their first winning season in 6 years, and may very well finish atop for the East for the first time in a decade. Although they’ve been struggling with COVID recently they’ve been able to consistently win games, winning seven out of their last nine. Lonzo Ball is continuing to grow into one of the best balanced-talent role players in the game, and seems to mesh well with this Chicago offense.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (22-13)
While the Bucks may not be dominating the regular season like they have in years past, they are still an incredibly competitive team with some real finals potential. Spearheaded by the efforts of, of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have managed to remain one of the best defensive and offensive teams in the NBA. When Giannis, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday all start the Bucks are 13-2, so health remains the undefeated king over this Milwaukee team.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (21-14)
The Memphis Grizzlies remind me a bit of the Tampa Bay Rays. While there is technically a star in Ja Morant, everyone on the court has the potential to be the start THAT DAY, with each spot on the court being filled by a very consistent player. It’s teams like these that tend to give opposing teams the most trouble, seeing as you will need a full defensive effort from everyone on the court in order to throw a wrench in this offense. The scariest part about this team is their youth–their oldest player is 28, and four of the top five minute-getters are under the age of 27. It’ll be interesting to see how this Grizzlies team improves throughout the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they bump up a few spots as the year goes on.
8. Miami Heat (21-13)
Another very consistent team with spread-out star power, the Miami Heat could prove to be a problem as the season continues. With six players averaging over 10 points per game, this Heat offense can get it done from anywhere. Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo account for most of the offensive production, but a supporting cast of Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson (if he can find his rhythm) could prove a threat.
With Adebayo and Lowery currently out, it will be interesting to see how the Heat can survive without them. If they can return without a problem, the Heat have the kind of veteran talent that no team would want to deal with in the postseason.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (20-13)
Nobody look, but Kevin Love is balling out in Cleveland right now. In his last five games, he’s averaged 18.6 pts, 8.6 rebounds, and has been shooting 48% from behind the arc. He’s been getting help from the youngsters on the team as well, with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Collin Sexton and Evan Mobley all having breakout years of their own. If the Cavs can continue this kind of production from both the young and the old, they should continue to see success in the regular season. If Evan Mobley can improve upon his 47% field goal percentage, then teams may have to change their underwear.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (17-16)
Isn’t crazy that the Ben Simmons drama is STILL going on? I mean come on, just trade the guy and move on. Joel Embiid is out here having another all-star season, and the best support you can give him is Tobias Harris and Seth Curry? No offense to them, but if this Sixers team wants to make a real push, Embiid is going to need a bit more help.
11. Charlotte Hornets (18-17)
Surprisingly the Hornets have the second-best scoring offense in the league, accumulating 115.1 points per game. Led by Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball, the Hornets offense has six different players averaging over 10 points per game. However, there are two sides to this coin–and on the other side is the worst defense in the NBA. If the Hornets can tighten up their defensive troubles then they are immediately a finals contender–but until then, it’s TBA.
12. Denver Nuggets (16-16)
Believe it or not, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is having a better season this year than he did last year. He’s rebounding more, scoring with more consistency, and has been the sole centerpiece of this Nuggets team. It has been hard for the Nuggets this year without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., but with Murray set to return in the coming months, the Nuggets may be set to make a late-season push. All they have to do is stay relevant until then, which is much easier said than done.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (17-17)
While the Clippers offense has actually been more efficient without Paul George than with Paul George (109.5 points scored through 100 possessions without him, 104.8 with him) it’s apparent the Clippers will have a hard time ahead of them as George recovers. With George out, a majority of the offensive responsibility falls on Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris, which may be too much for the veterans to handle.
14. Dallas Mavericks (16-17)
What Dallas desperately needs is a significant improvement in play from their role players. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are doing their thing, but Tim Hardawa Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, and Reggie Bullock have left much to be desired. They have one of the worst scoring offenses in the league, but have been able to stay afloat due to strong defensive play.
15. Washington Wizards (17-16)
Lead by the efforts of Bradley Beal, the Wizards have been the thorn in many teams sides this season. Washington are an astounding 14-1 in games where they were within 5 points in the last five minutes, and have been the single most clutch team in the NBA this season. A hot stretch of play could bump them up a few spots and make them a dangerous team to face in a late-season game.
Here’s how the remaining half of the league lines up:
16. Boston Celtics (16-18)
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17)
18. Los Angeles Lakers (16-18)
19. New York Knicks (15-18)
20. Atlanta Hawks (15-18)
21. San Antonio Spurs (14-19)
22. Portland Trail Blazers (13-20)
23. Toronto Raptors (14-16)
24. Indianapolis Pacers (14-20)
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (12-20)
26. Sacramento Kings (13-21)
27. New Orleans Pelicans (12-22)
28. Houston Rockets (10-24)
29. Orlando Magic (7-27)
30. Detroit Pistons (5-27)