Rockets News

NBA Power Ranking SCS Editor List Week 9, Holiday Ball

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Dec 30, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives direction to his team during the first half against the Phoenix Suns at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives direction to his team during the first half against the Phoenix Suns at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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As I noted in the week 8 list the rankings for week 8 – 11 will just be scaled back. They feature the team record, week performance, ranking for offense, defense and net differential included with which teams each club faces the following week, and of course my ranking.

I am taking these lists directly from my notes though so there isn’t any hi-jinx at work here, which I’m sure you’ll figure out once you see some teams who I incorrectly judged to either keep progressing (Wolves) or expected to regress (Knicks).

I’ve grouped the list into 3 categories until I return to week 12 where I’ll once again return to a grouping of 5 teams per category:

This week some some minor shifts within each of the 3 tiers occurred and much like the calendar turned over a page to a New Year so to has my top ladder rung. Here’s the rankings by team from 30th through to the top seed:

Bottom Feeders

Sixers: 2-30 (1-2)

This Week: 30th – Last Week: 30th 

Offensive Rank: 30th Defensive Rank: 26th Net Ranking: 30th

Week 10 Sixers face both LA teams, Sacramento and Utah.

Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview: Something Smells Hinkie

Lakers: 5-26 (1-3)

This Week: 29th – Last Week: 29th

Offensive Rank: 29th Defensive Rank: 30th Net Ranking: 29th

Next up Kobe and co. play Charlotte, Boston, Philly and Phoenix.

Lakers Season Preview: Bryant’s Swan Song?

Nets: 8-22 (1-2)

This Week: 28th – Last Week: 28th

Offensive Rank: 28th Defensive Rank: 24th Net Ranking: 28th

Like their cellar dwelling mates the Nets also won a single game out of their 3 tries and next up will face the Heat, Magic and Celtics.

Brooklyn Nets Season Preview: Russian Roulette With 6 Bullets

Nuggets 12-19 (1-3)

 This Week: 27th – Last Week: 25th

Offensive Rank: 21st Defensive Rank: 28th Net Ranking: 26th

This week they face the Cleveland, Golden State and a home and home versus Portland.

Denver Nuggets Season Preview: Malone’s Reformulation

Suns: 12-20 (0-3)

This Week: 26th – Last Week: 23rd

Offensive Rank: 18th Defensive Rank: 18th Net Ranking: 19th

Suns are 1- 6 in their last 7 and not getting better any time soon. The scary part is they play the rare 5 games in 7 days this week featuring Cleveland, Spurs, Thunder, Kings and Lakers. Though the first 2 games will be a challenge the Suns need to post a 3-2 week if they want to correct the ship.

Phoenix Suns Season Preview: Project Desert Identity

Bucks: 12-19 (1-1)

This Week: 25th – Last Week: 26th

Offensive Rank: 25th Defensive Rank: 25th Net Ranking: 27th

Split their games this week and next up face the Mavericks, Thunder, Pacers and T-Wolves.

Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview: Team Futuristic

Pelicans:  10-20 (2-1)

This Week: 24th  – Last Week: 27th

Offensive Rank: 11th Defensive Rank: 30th Net Ranking: 27th

Week 10: Magic, Clippers and Mavericks.

Pelicans Season Preview: The BROW Era

Blazers: 13-20 (2-2)

This Week: 23rd – Last Week: 24th

Offensive Rank: 11th Defensive Rank: 22nd Net Ranking: 17th

The Blazers will play a home and home versus Denver and Utah in week 10.

Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview: Free Fall

Knicks: 14-18 (0-4)

This Week: 22nd – Last Week: 20th

Offensive Rank: 24th Defensive Rank: 16th Net Ranking: 22nd

It’s been an odd couple weeks with sweeping results: week 8 the Knicks were a solid 3-0, week 9 they reversed that fortune going 0-4 and now in week 10 they’ll get some stiff competition from the Pistons, Bulls and Hawks.

New York Knicks Season Preview: The Melo Rebuild

Timberwolves: 11-19 (0-3)

This Week: 21st – Last Week: 16th

Offensive Rank: 18th Defensive Rank: 19th Net Ranking: 19th

So all the losing is finally catching up to my exciting young T-wolves who’ll need to start winning more than they lose soon if they want to still challenge for that last playoff seed. This week they play the Spurs, Jazz, Pistons and Bucks.

Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview: Ascending Youth

Middle Ground

The teams who continue to hover in the middle generally remain in this middling area. Occasionally a team will drop down a level or up a level but none have experienced a streak that will keep them up or down. The one team we could see do that will be the Jazz once they get healthy just like the Hornets may never get back out of this tier now that they’ve lost momentum and suffered multiple injuries.

Kings: 12-18 (1-2)

This Week: 20th – Last Week: 21st

Offensive Rank: 19th Defensive Rank: 25th Net Ranking: 24th

The Kings continue to be a team full of talent, but one we just can’t trust to succeed. This week they’ll play Warriors, Sixers and Suns.

Sacramento Kings Season Preview: Royal Turmoil

Jazz: 12-16 (1-2 )

This Week: 19th – Last Week: 19th

Offensive Rank: 15th Defensive Rank: 18th Net Ranking: 16th

This week play the Sixers, T-Wolves, Blazers, and the Grizzlies.

Utah Jazz Season Preview: Return To Old School Jazz

 

Grizzlies: 17-16 (2-2)

This Week: 18th – Last Week: 18h

Offensive Rank: 26th Defensive Rank: 17th Net Ranking: 23rd

They follow a 2-2  week with games vs. the Heat and Jazz.

Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview: The Constant Grind

 

Houston: 16-16 (2-2)

This Week: 17th – Last Week: 15th

Offensive Rank: 14th Defensive Rank: 23rd Net Ranking: 18th

For the second straight week they split their games going 2-2 and week 10 finds them playing the Hawks, Warriors and a rematch of the Christmas Day game versus the Spurs. Can they become a team who we trust or will they spend the entire season be consistently inconsistent?

Houston Rockets Season Preview: The “Hard”en Pursuit

Magic: 17-13 (2-1)

This Week: 16th – Last Week: 14th

Offensive Rank: 16th Defensive Rank: 12th Net Ranking: 12th

While the Magic may not have figured out how to close teams out consistently they sure have figured out a way to defend and compete on a nightly basis. They’ve sputtered occasionally which is to be expected with a young, inexperienced team. Skiles has them continuing to bring effort especially defensively and man is their future bright! They are 5-2 in their past 7 with games versus the Pelicans, Nets, Wizards and Cavaliers this coming week.

Orlando Magic Season Preview: Identity Crisis

Wizards: 14-14 (3-0)

This Week: 15th – Last Week: 22nd

Offensive Rank: 17th Defensive Rank: 21st Net Ranking: 20th

After stumbling and sliding downward John Wall grabbed his team and threw them on his back to get back in the race. Despite the injuries he’s refusing to just throw away the season. Whether he can continue to play a super hero until his team is at full strength remains to be seen. This week the Wizards play the Clippers, Raptors, Magic and Heat.

Washington Wizards Season Preview: Wittman Gets Hip

Pistons: 17-14 (1-2)

This Week: 14th – Last Week: 7th

Offensive Rank: 23rd Defensive Rank: 11th Net Ranking: 15th

Another team who continues the yo-yo cycle is the Pistons who jumped up 7 spots on my list last week and fall back 7 spots this week. They carried the huge four overtime win over Chicago into their next game beating Miami, but then lost their next 2 against the Hawks and Celtics. This week they’ll face the Knicks, T-Wolves and Pacers.

Detroit Pistons Season Preview: Forming a Wall

Hornets: 16-13 (1-2)

This Week: 13th – Last Week: 11th

Offensive Rank: 9th Defensive Rank: 8th Net Ranking: 7th

There mounting losses are beginning to effect their ranking though they remain in the top 10 in the 3 major categories, but fall 4 spots offensively and 2 spots in net differential. Their Achilles Heel remains the road which the upcoming schedule is jam packed with. Fortunately the coming week features primarily home games versus the Lakers, Clippers and Thunder with the lone road game to Toronto. I’m going to continue to cite  Nicolas Batum as the main factor that has helped improve the Hornets offensively, but also assisted defensively while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist recovers.

Charlotte Hornets Season Preview: Buzzkill

13th – Clippers: 18-13 (2-1)

This Week: 12th – Last Week: 13th

Offensive Rank: 6th Defensive Rank: 14th Net Ranking: 11th

Fact: they still have a solid offense regardless of who is on the floor and they still don’t scare any of the top 10 teams! Their defense is susceptible and the new additions don’t seem to be fitting in  – – still. They’ll follow a 2-1 week with more easy competition facing the Wizards, Hornets, Pelicans and Sixers.

Los Angeles Clippers Season Preview: Dance Lessons With Ballmer

Pacers: 17-12 (1-2)

This Week: 11th – Last Week: 9th

Offensive Rank: 13th Defensive Rank: 7th Net Ranking: 9th

I said they might find troubles once they hit the road and abracadabra not only are they losing but dropping in the major categories. To wit this week they fell 3 spots offensively, 1 spot defensively and 2 spots in net differential.  As I predicted teams weren’t going to just let C.J. Miles continue shooting without a hand in his face and subsequently his 3 point percentage has significantly fallen off.  That’s not to say they won’t remain in the top 8 or that Vogel won’t ensure his squad is defending. This week they have just one road game in Chicago and then 3 at home versus the Hawks, Bucks and Pistons.

Indiana Pacers Season Preview: Experimenting Warp Speed

Masters

The Top of my ladder remains relatively unchanged specifically in terms of the 5 teams who seldom fall below 7 on my list (Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Cavaliers and Raptors) while the remaining teams who make up my top 10 finds some shifts as predicted .

Bulls: 16-12 (1-2)

This Week: 10th – Last Week: 8th

Offensive Rank: 27th Defensive Rank: 5th Net Ranking: 14th

It continues to be an exercise to develop chemistry as the Bulls seem to spout off about each other constantly in the press more than any other franchise.  Jimmy Butler is a stud, but is he a leader? And, more importantly is he even liked by his team? Their losses are catching up to them as well as they drop a full 3 spots in defensive ranking in one week.  But, the Bulls are still chock full of talent and depth with some of the best vets in the Association, so…. they’ll probably bounce out of this and get back on track. Next up the Bulls play a home and home set versus the Raptors as well as games against the Pacers and Knicks. Chicago Bulls Season Preview: Culture Change

Mavericks: 17-13 (2-1)

This Week: 9th – Last Week: 12th

Offensive Rank: 8th Defensive Rank: 15th Net Ranking: 13th

Another winning week (2-1) from the team everyone keeps expecting to fall off the charts, but who continue to surprise. Carlisle is a master of the misfit vets and you can’t help but pull for this team to continue excelling. This week they play the Bucks, Warriors, Heat and Pelicans.

Dallas Mavericks Team Preview: Recovery From the Shaft

Heat: 18-11 (2-1)

This Week: 8th – Last Week: 8th

Offensive Rank: 12th Defensive Rank: 4th Net Ranking: 5th

Still sticking around the top and demonstrating qualities especially defensively and still haven’t had a western trip and won’t for another 2 weeks. Until then expect them to remain in the upper echelon and then we’ll see where they land. This week they have games against Brooklyn, Memphis, Dallas and Washington. Miami Heat Season Preview: Heating Up

Celtics: 18-13 (4-0)

This Week: 7th – Last Week: 17th

Offensive Rank: 22nd Defensive Rank: 3rd Net Ranking: 8th

As much as Dallas has been a pleasant surprise in the West perhaps the star-less Celtics have been their equivalent in the East. A strong week finds them in the top 10, a position not unfamiliar given their third ranked defense. Now they need to find some consistency across the board as this unbeaten week followed a poor 0-3 week. They’ll look to continue the win streak versus extremely easy opponents: Lakers and Nets.

Boston Celtics Season Preview: The Win -Win Season

Cavaliers: 19-9 (1-2)

This Week: 6th – Last Week: 4th

Offensive Rank: 7th Defensive Rank: 6th Net Ranking: 4th

As much as this team has flirted with lack of interest, slow pace and letting lower end teams stay closer than necessary there is an argument to be made they were just waiting to get healthy. No doubt with Kyrie Irving back in the line-up their offense will only get better, their pace will speed up and the minutes for LeBron James can be cut back.

It’s rather annoying to see the zebra’s constantly keep the Cavs in games (like they did on Christmas Day), but it’s equally exciting to see them calling LeBron occasionally for his notorious push offs and strong arms which he never got called for last season. Perhaps this is partly due to the rise of other stars around the league such as Curry, Leonard, Green etc. Then again, the majority of the teams in the Association will have to suffice with not getting those calls and should expect to enter their games with a mindset of being 10 points down before the tip.

Their rank is indicative of the week had and not so much the loss to Golden State, rather their subsequent loss in Portland (a game they never should have lost). Week 10 they play Phoenix, Denver and Orlando.

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview: Long Live the King

Hawks: 20-12 (3-0)

This Week: 5th – Last Week: 5th

Offensive Rank: 5th Defensive Rank:  13th Net Ranking: 10th

Unlike the Pistons who fell back down the ladder the Hawks maintained their top 5 rank after an 3-0 week. The reason Toronto jumps ahead is two-fold. The Hawks competition wasn’t as difficult, their major category rank is lower and they’ve been less consistent.

Next up they’ll play Indy, Houston and New York.

Atlanta Hawks Season Preview: Soaring in Unity

 

Raptors: 19-12 (2-0)

This Week: 4th – Last Week: 6th

Offensive Rank: 4th Defensive Rank: 10th Net Ranking: 6th

Sure it was only 2 games, but the fact they rebounded from 2 games with questionable officiating and a bad loss to Indy with solid victories over Dallas and Milwaukee speaks to their M.O. which is consistency. They jumped back into the top 10 in all 3 major categories with their effort and continue to be the most consistent Eastern squad this season. Week 10 finds them playing a home and home series against Chicago as well as Charlotte and Washington.

Toronto Raptors Season Preview: Northern Rising

Thunder: 21-10 (3-1)

This Week: 3rd – Last Week: 3rd

Offensive Rank: 2nd Defensive Rank: 9th Net Ranking: 3rd

For the second consecutive week the Thunder posted identical ranks in the 3 major categories. While their offense is as exciting as some of Russell Westbrook’s fashion they still have plenty of room to improve defensively. The funny thing about the way the West has shaken out is the Warriors took center stage for the first half of the season.

Many say the Spurs have gone unnoticed, but the truth is they haven’t. In fact the team who seems to be pushed to the side is OKC. That’s a dangerous proposition for the Spurs and Warriors and it’s perfect fodder for the Thunder. Why? The longer the pundits discount them or say they rank below those top 2 teams the more inspiration you are giving to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who I guarantee you need no additional motivation after last season. In week 10 they’ll face Milwaukee, Phoenix and Charlotte.

Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview: The Revenge Tour

Warriors: 28-1 (2-0)

This Week: 2nd – Last Week: 1st

Offensive Rank: 1st Defensive Rank: 2nd Net Ranking: 1st

It was time to spread the love to San Antonio and even the Dubs would likely admit they need to rekindle the top ranked defense of last season. They certainly know without it, their quest to repeat will be that much harder.

Bottom line picking between the Spurs and Warriors, or if you’d rather Steph Curry and Kawhi “the Claw” Leonard is really like choosing between your favorite sandals and your best stiletto’s. Quite frankly you need them both and it really comes down to how you feel on that given day. Well today I’m leaning toward the sandal, so the Warriors drop down to second until I feel like being slightly sexier in my stiletto’s.

Now that they’ve taken out Cleveland (in a game which felt more in hand than the final score) we’ll all have to wait until the end of January to see these two awesome Western power houses play each other for the first time. Something tells me I may want to go bare foot that day!

This week the Dubs play the Kings, Mavericks, Rockets and Denver.

Golden State Warriors Season Preview: All Hail the Champs

Spurs: 26-6 (3-1)

This Week: 1st – Last Week: 2nd

Offensive Rank: 3rd Defensive Rank: 1st Net Ranking: 2nd

It was inevitably going to happen this season at some point – – the Spurs were going to make their way ahead of Golden State in my rankings. As much as I love awesome offensive displays (and the Spurs sure do have pretty offensive sets) great defense wins out for me every time. Why? Because defense wins more often than offense and like an old comfy sweater it’s just more reliable.

To wit:

  • in a game where the team can’t hit the broad side of a barn – – defense will keep you in the game
  • one of your scoring stars tweaks an ankle – – defense will allow you to stay close so your team can make up the difference
  • or when you are in a dog fight and it comes down to one possession great defense will halt your opposition and quite possibly account for a turnover which lets your team win.

And, bottom line the Spurs have trotted out the best defense the NBA has seen in years.  They move to the top for being great on both ends, and though the Warriors also continue to be great they’ve slide this season defensively. Moreover since losing their first game there have been signs of small fissures in last season’s top ranked defense.

And so the Spurs vault to the top of the ladder replacing the previous season long first ranked team. Week 10 finds the Spurs facing the Timberwolves, Suns and getting a chance of revenge versus the Rockets at the Alamo.

San Antonio Spurs Season Preview: Master Class

So there you have it, my week 9 NBA Power Ranking list. Let me know your thoughts on whether you agree, disagree or have some stats that might influence my decision next week.

Archived Weekly Power Ranking Lists

Week 1 – Shock and Awe

Week 2 – Power Shift

Week 3 – Preseason Favorites Lose Ground

Week 4 – Parity, Coaches and Western Turmoil

Week 5 – Holy Parity Ballman

Week 6 – Southwest Adjustment

Week 7 – Quarter Mark

Week 8 – West Confusion

Next: Join Space City Scoop Writing Team

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

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