Power Rankings: Warriors continue to wow, 76ers finally vacate No. 30
Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you're here?
It's fitting that the Warriors have done the NBA's best "Gladiator" impression over the first six weeks of the season. Golden State has slain the competition, earning its best start in team history and a franchise-best 12-game winning streak. There's almost nothing the Dubs can't do: They are No. 1 in defensive rating, assists, blocks and opponent field goal percentage. They are No. 2 in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and defensive rebounds. They have the best backcourt, far and away the best starting lineup and legitimate candidates for MVP (Stephen Curry), Coach of the Year (Steve Kerr), Most Improved Player (Harrison Barnes) and the Sixth Man Award (Marreese Speights).
Short of taking down a tiger at the Colosseum, there's not much more the Warriors can do to prove themselves. They're the NBA's best and most entertaining team -- a rare feat being pulled off with relative ease.
Let's see where all 30 teams stand in this week's NBA Power Rankings:
(All stats and records are through Dec. 7.)
The defense will be tested in three significantly different ways this week, facing James Harden (Rockets), Dirk Nowitzki and the NBA's best offense (Mavericks), and the most dominant force in the league, Anthony Davis (Pelicans).
LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be as efficient as ever despite expanding his game. The All-Star power forward has already hit twice as many three-pointers (10) as he did all of last season and is shooting 50 percent from deep. Aldridge also has the second-lowest turnover percentage (5.3) of any player in the top 20 in usage.
The Rockets are 7-2 since Dwight Howard went down with an injured right knee, and their defense hasn't dipped despite the absence of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. On offense, Donatas Motiejunas has stepped up, averaging 13.9 points and a team-best 7.6 rebounds while shooting 58.1 percent over his last nine games. That's good, because Kevin McHale says he doesn't expect Howard back "anytime soon."
San Antonio is 10-1 in its last 11 games and hasn't lost by more than a bucket since Nov. 6. Gregg Popovich likes to see role players such as Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph and Boris Diaw be aggressive, as was the case Saturday when the trio combined for 55 points in a victory over the Timberwolves.
As sharp as the Grizzlies have been, they're just 3-3 against teams top-10 teams in my Power Rankings. Memphis suffered its first home loss of the season -- and first in 22 games dating to last year -- against the Spurs on Friday.
Dallas has already scored at least 125 points in four games. The other 29 teams have combined to do it just eight times. The Mavs are also 12-0 when reaching 107 points.
The Clippers have been lights out of late -- they have won seven consecutive games -- and for most of this season. Los Angeles leads the league in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and true shooting percentage.
Kyrie Irving broke in his new signature kicks with a 37-point showing against the Knicks. Cleveland has won six straight in good part because of Irving, who is the only member of the Cavs' newly formed Big Three to increase his PER this season.
The Raptors remain atop the Eastern Conference, but it's clear that DeMar DeRozan's absence will make that position temporary. Toronto has lost three of its last five and is giving up 116.7 points per 100 possessions since Greivis Vasquez moved into the starting lineup for DeRozan, who is out indefinitely with a groin injury.
The Hawks have won six in a row, leading by at least 16 points in five of those games. While Atlanta's offense has done most of the heavy lifting this season, the defense is tops in rating (92.0) during the streak.
After scoring 136 points in 50 games for the Pacers last season, Rasual Butler has scored 103 in his past six for the Wizards. The 35-year-old swingman has provided much-needed shooting off the bench, hitting 30-of-55 (54.5 percent) three-pointers this year.
Derrick Rose is averaging more three-point attempts (5.8) than drives (5.6) per game. Considering he's shooting 30 percent from deep and 54.8 on the latter, that's not a great trend for the Bulls.
Everyone knows the Suns love to run, but can you stop them? Phoenix is averaging 1.20 points per possession in transition, third-most in the league according to Synergy Sports.
The Kings have lost four of five since DeMarcus Cousins was sidelined with viral meningitis, and the big man is set to miss at least another week. Sacramento's struggles are a reminder of just how good Cousins has been this season, with averages of 23.5 points (on 51.2 percent shooting) and an NBA-high 12.6 rebounds.
The Bucks have taken their licks of late, but they should be proud of playing .500 basketball while having Jabari Parker (19 years old), Giannis Antetokounmpo (20) and Brandon Knight (23) leading the team in minutes.
All is right once again in Oklahoma City: Kevin Durant is pouring in shots and Russell Westbrook is posterizing opponents. The Thunder are just 4½ games out of a playoff spot. Expect that number to continue to shrink.
Danilo Gallinari is back after missing last season with a knee injury, but his game has yet to return. Gallo, who went scoreless on 0-of-6 from the field in Sunday's loss to the Hawks, is shooting just 33.3 percent in 18.6 minutes.
Miami has failed to score 90 points in four of its last five games. The Heat are struggling in other areas, too. They were outrebounded 45-20 by the Grizz on Sunday, an NBA season low for boards.
Any goodwill built up by an OT win over the Spurs was decimated by a humiliating 98-75 home loss to the Hawks. For a team with so many veterans, this group suspiciously lacks a backbone.
Victor Oladipo has been downright feathery of late, averaging 18.5 points and 4.3 assists in four December games. Most impressive, he's shooting 55.1 percent, including 5-of-9 from three-point range.
After essentially calling his team soft, Brad Stevens has seen his Celtics respond by winning a season-high three straight. In the most recent of those victories, Boston held off Washington after leading by 25. Said Stevens: "We played gutsy at the end."
You can only get so far on elbow grease and bench players. A sobering 0-4 road trip encapsulated how trying this season will be without Paul George.
In Sunday's loss to New Orleans, Nick Young changed his shoes three times because of shooting struggles (he finished 3-of-13). With Kobe Bryant still shooting under 40 percent, it's good the Black Mamba doesn't adhere to those rules.
Losses hurt, but losing a developing player for the season during a rebuilding campaign stings even more. The Jazz got some good news this weekend that Alec Burks not only avoided season-ending shoulder surgery, but has been cleared to practice and could return as early as Monday.
If you think you had a rough week, be thankful you're not a member of the Wolves. Minnesota fell to the previously winless 76ers, was blown out by 20-plus points twice and lost to the Rockets in OT.
The Knicks are finding ways to lose games. As Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal notes, New York has lost 13 straight games that had a margin of five points or fewer with five minutes to play. Carmelo Anthony might want to try out a hat that covers his eyes.
In the city's biggest underdog story since Rocky, the 76ers defeated two professional basketball teams last week. In games that counted. Forty-eight minutes and everything. But just like the moon landing, I'm not entirely convinced this wasn't just some big hoax.
The new "Bad Boys" Pistons are taking the nickname in a more literal sense. Detroit has lost 12 straight games, including an OT defeat to Philadelphia on Saturday. That's the same team Stan Van Gundy ripped last season, stating, "If you're putting that roster on the floor, you're doing everything you can to lose." So ...