- The Knicks are doing just fine without Carmelo, the Nuggets are winning games by the bunches, and the Warriors are still very much the Warriors. Let's break down this week's rankings.
Welcome back to The Crossover’s Power Rankings, where we won’t judge you for thinking the Pistons will win the NBA Finals. After reshuffling the deck last week, this week features slightly less chaos. A couple teams moved down five spots, Denver’s up seven, and—SPOLIER—the Knicks are higher than the Thunder. Let's get straight to this week's rankings.
(All stats and records through Nov. 12).
30. Chicago Bulls (2–9)
Last Week: 27
Chicago will host the 2020 All-Star Game. Perhaps Lauri Markkanen will be in it. So there's that, Bulls fans.
29. Dallas Mavericks (2–12)
Last Week: 30
LeBron James is now Dennis Smith Jr.’s hype man. That’s kinda cool.
28. Atlanta Hawks (2–11)
Last Week: 28
Jeremy Evans is signing with the Hawks’ G-League team. Great excuse to waste some time today watching these dunk contest highlights:
27. Sacramento Kings (3–9)
Last Week: 29
De’Aaron’s Fox’s game-winner with 13.4 seconds left against the Sixers game made him the youngest player in the last five seasons to make a game–winning shot in the last 30 seconds of a game. He’s going to sink one of those in the playoffs one day.
26. Indiana Pacers (6–8)
Last Week: 24
Victor Oladipo is doing with the Pacers what I thought Harrison Barnes would do with the Mavericks. He’s getting his on a nightly basis, and making some good impressions around the league.
25. Phoenix Suns (5–9)
Last Week: 26
Unless Devin Booker goes for 70 again, last week's win over the Timberwolves (where Booker and TJ Warren combined for 70) could be the highlight of the season.
24. Utah Jazz (6–7)
Last Week: 22
With Rudy Gobert shelved for at least a month, the Jazz could fall out of the playoff picture quickly in the West. If Gobert heals slowly, does Utah embrace the tank?
23. Brooklyn Nets (5–8)
Last Week: 25
They’re No. 1 in pace, so at least they’re entertaining to watch.
22. Los Angeles Lakers (5–8)
Last Week: 19
Lonzo Ball has taken a lot of heat this season, so it was, dare I say, nice to see him make history with his triple-double. He is an incredible talent, and hasn’t yet really flashed the athleticism or shooting ability he did at UCLA. It’s only been 13 games, give him time.
21. Charlotte Hornets (5–7)
Last Week: 16
Lord, Carry Them Now.
20. Miami Heat (6–7)
Last Week: 21
There are signs of life, and the most encouraging one is Dion Waiters, who dropped 21 in a close win over Utah and finished with a game-high +24 plus/minus. Waiters and Hassan Whiteside are beginning to play like they did at the end of last season.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (6–6)
Last Week: 20
Just when you thought you couldn’t love Joel Embiid any more...
18. L.A. Clippers (5–7)
Last Week: 13
I saw DeAndre Jordan miss a putback dunk the other night. Has that ever happened before?
17. New Orleans Pelicans (7–6)
Last Week: 17
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday have taken turns going for 34 or more over the last three games. There aren’t many teams in the league that can boast the kind of scoring versatility.
16. Denver Nuggets (8–5)
Last Week: 23
Last week I wrote: My initial thought when I saw Nuggets–Thunder on the calendar for this Thursday was, "There’s a twenty-point win for OKC." Let’s see how things went this week for Denver:
I’m a moron.
15. Orlando Magic (8–5)
Last Week: 18
Last year, there were some who thought Magic assistant Chad Forcier might help Aaron Gordon catapult his game to the next level just like he did in San Antonio with Kawhi Leonard. That may be what’s happening this season.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (6–6)
Last Week: 14
I saw a man float this week:
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (6–7)
Last Week: 10
The league’s second-best defense after the Celtics? Not the Warriors. No, not the Spurs. It's the Thunder, allowing 98.5 points per 100 possessions! Who said Russ and Melo can’t check guys?
(By the way, Raymond Felton has made eight of his last 16 shot attempts.)
12. New York Knicks (7–5)
Last Week: 15
The consensus appears to be that the Knicks are having more fun without Melo than Melo is having without the Knicks. And so far, more success too. The story this week was the same as last week: As long as Porzingis is suiting up, you’re not looking forward to playing New York right now. Not even the most optimistic Knicks fan saw this coming.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (6–6)
Last Week: 7
The Blazers have one of the league’s best closers in Damian Lillard, but things have been going horribly wrong in crunch time of late. Portland looked all out of sorts down the stretch against Brooklyn last week, turning the ball over and missing rebound opportunities. That came one game after an awkward attempt at a game-winner from C.J. McCollum that wouldn’t go. Perhaps Dame Time is still adjusting to Daylight Savings.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (6–7)
Last Week: 9
LeBron is averaging 33 points per game this month on nearly 60% shooting. Save for one impressive performance by Jeff Green, it’s been all about the King in November.
9. Toronto Raptors (7–5)
Last Week: 12
The Raptors looked poised to finally put an end to Boston’s winning streak, but ran out of gas in the second half. That might continue to happen as they search for production outside of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The two can only do so much.
8. Washington Wizards (7–5)
Last Week: 11
I’m so confused about the Wizards. They look really good out there, but have some strange losses on their résumé so far this season, including last Tuesday's defeat vs. the Mavericks. I'm keeping them this high out of respect to Andrew Sharp.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (7–5)
Last Week: 4
J.R. Smith said it best the other night, when he noted that “everyone’s beating everyone” in the NBA this season. The Timberwolves lost to the Suns (gah!) this week, just as I was getting excited about them, but the Suns have also beaten the Wizards, who have beaten the Pistons and almost the Warriors. Somehow, Phoenix is a five-win team, and just as crazily, the Timberwolves are only 7–5 despite playing like they’re 9–3.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (7–5)
Last Week: 8
The biggest bargain in the league might be Tyreke Evans at $3.29 million.
5. San Antonio Spurs (8–5)
Last Week: 5
In their win against the Clippers, the Spurs had three guys (LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green and Rudy Gay) go for 20 or more, which marked the first time since 1997 that three Spurs other than Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard went for 20+ in a game. Crazy!
4. Detroit Pistons (10–3)
Last Week: 6
Even Luke Kennard is getting in on the fun. This team is deeper than you think.
3. Boston Celtics (12–2)
Last Week: 3
It’s been 26 days since the Celtics lost a game, and to make matters worse for their opponents, Masked Kyrie is returning.
2. Houston Rockets (11–3)
Last Week: 2
James Harden is averaging 11 three-point attempts per game this season. The only player averaging more is Eric Gordon, who averages 11.2. There were a lot of teams that wouldn’t take that many as a whole just a few years ago.
1. Golden State Warriors (12–3)
Last Week: 1
They’ve won nine of 10. Remember when Golden State began the season 1–2? Me neither.