Rockets Drop in Week 8 Power Ranking
By Tamberlyn Richardson
This week the power ranks share a few things in common like the top spot belonging to Golden State, Memphis belonging in the top four spots and are almost unanimous in their placements of teams 15 and under. It’s the team rankings between 2 through 14 that vary dramatically. As you can see below the Rockets fell on all lists ranking as low as eighth and as high as fifth.
Atlanta and Portland made the greatest jumps on all lists while San Antonio had the largest drop. I’ve included the links if you’d like to compare how each expert views all 30-teams in the Association.
Week 8 Lists:
NBA: John Schuhmann was particularly harsh on the Rockets dropping them from third to eighth on nba.com.
USA Today: The panel dropped Houston 3-spots to sixth, however they noted the additions of Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved could offer the NBA’s largest line-up (if they chose to play them together)
ESPN Marc Stein moves the Rockets down 2-spots this week and notes Harden’s brilliance citing him as an early season MVP candidate. For daily ranks visit John Hollinger who lists the Rockets a bit shockingly in 11th even after their massive win over Portland.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports offers the final power rank weekly list. If you recall he was the only analyst to move the Rockets down last week one spot, but this week he drops them 5 spots to eighth. Further he definitely doesn’t see the benefit of adding Corey Brewer unlike some of his peers.
SCS Writers Ranking: We decided to provide our own takes on the best this past week, so here’s how we at Space City Scoop rank the top 10:
Of note, I give high marks for teams that play both ends of the court which is why Atlanta, Portland, Memphis and Chicago round out my top-5 as they are the only teams other than Golden State to hold that distinction.
Similarly, unlike many of the experts I believe teams who excel on one end of the court but are in the bottom third on the other need to be reviewed more closely. For example the Rockets, Raptors, Thunder and Spurs have all played numerous games without one or more of their stars. But teams like Cleveland, Dallas and the Clippers have been relatively healthy through the first third of the season. In my opinion that fact should weigh in the decision of where they rank and is reflected below
1. Golden State : With big man Andrew Bogut out for an undetermined time the dubs got news David Lee would be returning this week. They remain in the top-5 of offense (5) and defense (1) the only team in the league to have that distinction. (last week 1)
2. Atlanta: With the wins the Hawks posted recently over Cleveland, Chicago and Houston coupled with the fact they rank top-7 in both offense and defense finds them moving up my list as the top Eastern team. (last week I ranked them 6 much higher than most of the media pundits I might add)
3. Portland: The loss to Houston not withstanding the fact they beat San Antonio twice and also rank in the top 10 of both categories registers high with me. He had an off night in Houston, but I’ve been impressed by Damian Lillard and continue to wonder if he’ll make the All-Star team. (last week 5)
4. Memphis: I move Memphis down one spot but keep them high based on their top-10 rank in both offense and defense. We’re witnessing a bit of a drop off though which may be due to Zach Randolph nursing an knee injury and the load Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are carrying. I’m wondering if some of their uncharacteristic losses may be a sign their offense is not having the fire power necessary to remain in the top-10. (last week 3)
5. Chicago: I’m moving Chicago up in concert with my belief a team that ranks in the top-10 of both offense and defense deserves higher placement. Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah have all spent time on the sidelines which has me thinking it’s only a matter of time until they begin moving up the Eastern Conference. In a short period of time they’ve improved their defense which just recently entered the top-10. (last week 9)
6. Toronto: It’s hard to rank the Raptors so low given they have lead the Eastern Conference for over 30-days. They lost Landry Fields in a bad fall on the weekend, but the highlight of the weekend by James Johnson could’ve been what spearheaded Van Gundy in Detroit after the dunk (below) happened followed by THIS. As you can see the Raptors all rally around each other while Detroit’s bench is a mixed bag perhaps highlighting the lack of chemistry on their team.
With the loss of DeMar DeRozan to the adductor tear in his groin many thought it signaled the end, but they’ve not only taking care of business they remained the second best offense and re-focused their defensive effort in the past 6-games. After Christmas they face a tough Western road trip that should provide a better idea of how good they really are. Consequently, if initial reports are accurate it could also coincide with DeRozan’s return. They weathered the storm without him, if they remain in first until his return they could live up to the We The North hype. (last week 4)
7. Houston: Dwight Howard and Kostas Papanikolaou are finally back and with them came a combination of rustiness and fatigue (not to mention the most ridiculous calls by Tony Brother’s of the season on Saturday) that led to back to back losses. Then came the trade Friday which in my opinion adds depth, size and most importantly versatility. Add in the fact Josh Smith will likely sign at the veteran’s minimum to join buddy Dwight Howard and we could see the rise of one of the most potent offenses to accompanying the leagues’ second ranked defense. Move over Golden State you might have company soon.
Of course this is all assuming malcontent Smith can get on board with the schemes in Houston and not be a negative in the locker. Given his friendship with Howard, one would have to think he’ll have a real desire to fix his image and embarrassment of being released with a $26 million plus contract. Bottom line the Pistons were determined to make Smith play the Small Forward and the experiment never worked. One has to think Smith running the wings with Ariza and offering a low post tandem with Howard while Harden does his thing could be very daunting. (last week 2)
8. San Antonio: While everyone cites back to back overtime losses as a reason for panic we need to remember this team has been playing some games without their entire starting line-up akin to what the Thunder were doing. However, they remain 6-games above-.500 and in the top-4 defense and just outside the top 10-offense. They’ve also played some strong opposition and battled. The month of January and early February offers a more favorable schedule and like the Raptors should coincide with the return of most their stars. Come on haven’t you learned not to count this team out? (last week 7)
9. Dallas: Yeah, yeah, I know they are the number one offense but I’m wondering how long they can retain that with the addition of Rondo. I ‘m not sold on Monta Ellis playing at the same level beside Rondo and I’m curious why the Mavericks would take such a big chance on messing up offensive chemistry like that. Also they still rank 21st in defense which is cause for concern. Sure, Rondo is an asset who can help with assists, rebounds and defense but with this trade Dallas lost their best bench producer in Brandan Wright and an energy guy in Jae Crowder. I’m not convinced this move will work, but if any coach can make it happen it’s Coach Carlisle who I’m sure everyone is sick and tired of me citing as the second best coach behind Popovich in the NBA. (last week 8)
10. OKC: Despite the loss to Golden State I still feel if Kevin Durant didn’t leave that game his trips to the free throw line alone would’ve made that game a coin toss. Factor in how worried that bench may have been when Durant went down with an apparent injury to his recently recovered right foot. The game that worried me more was the loss to New Orleans where Anthony Davis looked like a legit super star and MVP. I’m going to check this off as just a bad game and match-up as the Thunder had been on a absolute terror and were bound to lose a couple sooner or later. (last week they were just out of my top-10
NOTE: Like the Spurs I expect OKC to continue to rise up the West ladder and to see real movement in January. And, while Portland remain 8.5 games ahead of OKC in the Northwest Division they still have 3-games to play against each other and Portland still lacks depth. It’s a lot of ground to make-up but I’m not ruling out the possibility the Thunder could win the division.
Notes: I grappled with putting the Wizards 10th however OKC won out based on their talent. The other factor is while Toronto, Atlanta and Washington have all played an easy schedule Toronto beat Washington handily and have beat their opponents by much larger margins than the Wiz. I’ll need to see how they play once they start facing what I consider top-tier competition which begins with their match against Houston December 29.
More from Space City Scoop
- Rockets: Time to return the slander towards Rachel Nichols
- What the Rockets must do with the second overall pick
- Houston Rockets: The case for, and against, trading Christian Wood
- NBA Rumors: Why the Houston Rockets shouldn’t trade up to no. 1 in NBA Draft
- 3 players that would be a perfect fit for the Houston Rockets at 23 or 24
So that’s the power ranking lists for the week-8. Tell us what you think of the picks and share your own.