- The Cavs have ended their early slumber and surprisingly transformed into the NBA's hottest team. How far up do they shoot in this week's NBA Power Rankings?
Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly NBA Power Rankings. Hope you’re out of your Thanksgiving food coma, because big things are happening in the NBA! The Cavs have suddenly become the league’s hottest team, the Warriors are playing angry again, and Lance Stephenson is BACK! At the moment, it seems the number of teams with reasons for optimism grows larger each week, which makes for more entertaining games on a nightly basis. It’s a good time to be an NBA fan, so get to your television sets. Now, let’s see how the league’s looking...
(All stats and records used through Nov. 26).
30. Chicago Bulls (3–15)
Last Week: 30
The Bulls scored just 13 points in a quarter on Sunday...and still led by SIX! Chicago has really put on its best tanking shoes of late, but even the best struggle sometimes. (They’d eventually lose, thank goodness.)
29. Phoenix Suns (7–14)
Last Week: 26
It seemed like Greg Monroe was well on his way to driving up his trade stock after a 20-point, 11-rebound game against the Rockets in his debut, but he’s scored just 46 points in five games since then.
28. Atlanta Hawks (4–16)
Last Week: 27
Who the hell is Josh Magette and how did he become a rotation player?
27. Sacramento Kings (5–14)
Last Week: 28
I realize no one will ever forgive Vivek for thinking Buddy Hield was the next Stephen Curry (and they probably shouldn’t!) but Hield can be a legit scorer in this league. Thanks to that crazy outburst on Saturday—where he legitimately looked like Kobe Bryant for a quarter—he’s up to 44% shooting from deep on the season. That’s elite.
26. Orlando Magic (8–12)
Last Week: 17
You see this? This is me officially losing all hope in Orlando. The beginning of the season was fun, but it’s clear now that even in the East the Magic are not serious playoff contenders. Aaron Gordon is probably on his way to a breakout season, but this team is still very much in rebuilding mode.
25. Dallas Mavericks (5–15)
Last Week: 29
Dirk Nowitzki’s awakening has brought the tank to an abrupt halt. That’s probably bad news for Dallas’s future, but it’s fun to watch him score like this! Brings back old memories.
24. L.A. Clippers (7–11)
Last Week: 25
Blake Griffin has hit a three in each game he’s played in this season. His game continues to get better year after year, and even though the Clippers stink right now, he’s been awesome.
23. Brooklyn Nets (7–12)
Last Week: 24
Sean Marks should get a medal for turning Justin Hamilton into two picks and DeMarre Carroll.
Also worth noting:
Credit to the Nets player development staff (and management) on Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Two players who have had their young careers resurrected in Brooklyn.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 27, 2017
Good job all around!
22. Los Angeles Lakers (8–11)
Last Week: 20
This week was kind of boring for the Lakers, splitting a pair of games, but next week should be exciting with Larry Nance Jr. finally back in the lineup.
21. Utah Jazz (9–11)
Last Week: 26
Okay, so Joe Ingles probably isn’t going to make an All-NBA team like I jokingly proclaimed before the season began. But holy moly, he’s shooting 49% from three!
20. Memphis Grizzlies (7–12)
Last Week: 12
Marc Gasol: "If I start venting, that would be counterproductive. But at the end of the day, I'm as competitive as anybody. I hate not playing, that's what I value most. If I'm not out there, I'm not valued. I'm sure they knew that would hurt me the most."— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 27, 2017
More Gasol: "I mean, anyone wouldn't like it, right? You don't put Mike back in? I'm sure they wouldn't do it to Mike. I don't know. It's just the way it is. You have to deal with it. But I'm not just gonna lay down and take it."— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 27, 2017
Notable that Marc did not change out of his playing gear (very unusual) and was extremely calm, positive about his teammates, and even-keeled throughout. He wanted to talk.— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 27, 2017
This season, Fizdale wanted Marc to be more positive and encouraging to his teammates. And even during the losing streak, by all accounts, he has been. So to get benched without explanation has to be more than a little baffling and especially confusing for Marc.— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 27, 2017
If Dave Fizdale has lost Marc Gasol...perhaps things are more dire than I thought for this team.
19. Denver Nuggets (11–8)
Last Week: 21
I’m not sure how this team has eleven wins. Eleven! I feel like I only remember five or six of them. It seems like the Nuggets have caught teams at the perfect times this year, whether in the midst of a slump or on a back-to-back. This week, they took down the Grizz at the height of their dysfunction.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (8–11)
Last Week: 14
I know the Thunder continue to slide in these rankings week after week—and they beat the Warriors last week, which is a huge deal—but they’re not nearly as dangerous as they should be right now. Melo just hasn’t clicked with this unit yet, though he and Russ have improved their play together.
17. Charlotte Hornets (8–11)
Last Week: 23
Dwight Howard became the first Hornet to log a 20-point, 20-rebound game in four years, then promptly got fined for...gesturing...toward a fan on Friday. Don’t let that distract you from the fact that he has been very good this season.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (9–9)
Last Week: 9
You’re hot then you’re cold,
You’re yes then you’re no,
You win when Giannis is out
He plays the Jazz you fall down
You’re wrong when it’s right
It’s black and it’s white
Please Thon Maker
Rescue this team from its plight
15. New Orleans Pelicans (11–9)
Last Week: 19
Behold, OMER ASIK:
Yes, he lives, and apparently so do the Pelicans. Don’t look now, but they’re inching towards the top 10 in Net Rating.
14. Washington Wizards (10–9)
Last Week: 8
The Wizards made just five of their last 18 shots on Saturday against Portland. Without John Wall, someone’s going to need to score down the stretch, or else Washington’s going to dig itself into a sizeable hole.
13. New York Knicks (10–9)
Last Week: 13
The Knicks went on a 28–0 run this week...against Toronto! Nothing else matters.
12. Indiana Pacers (11–9)
Last Week: 16
As you recovered from your Thanksgiving feast this weekend, Lance Stephenson was busy dropping 34 points on consecutive nights. Is he back? Is Lance back???
11. Portland Trail Blazers (12–8)
Last Week: 11
I touched on Portland’s struggles late in games a couple of weeks ago, and this week I’m going to touch on its great play late in games. CJ McCollum led the way in two nailbiters last week, with a little help from Jusuf Nurkic and Shabazz Napier (!). Once an afterthought, the UConn product has been quite productive off the bench this season.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (11–7)
Last Week: 15
It seems like it happened years ago, but the greatest play in basketball history took place last week:
Parts of that play, ranked:
1. Joel Embiid calling the technical foul
2. Joel Embiid admitting he flopped
3. Joel Embiid pumping up the crowd
4. Joel Embiid staring down Donovan Mitchell
5. Joel Embiid actually blocking Donovan Mitchell’s shot
9. Minnesota Timberwolves (12–8)
Last Week: 6
The week was kind of tumultuous, but it ended on a high note:
8. Miami Heat (10–9)
Last Week: 18
Miami has begun to rest Goran Dragic a bit more, and it’s paying dividends. Not only is he fresh for the end of games, but Tyler Johnson is getting a longer look and playing just fine in those minutes. In fact, he was probably the MVP of Miami’s streak-ending win over Boston with 16 off the bench. If he can keep that up, Erik Spoelstra won’t blink twice when pulling Dragic off the floor to recharge his batteries in the fourth.
7. Toronto Raptors (12–7)
Last Week: 4
DeMar DeRozan has lost his scoring touch lately, and as he goes, so does the team. During Toronto’s second-half collapse against the Knicks, he attempted just three shots and missed each one. That just won’t cut it.
6. Detroit Pistons (12–6)
Last Week: 7
Detroit has finally risen above Minnesota in the power rankings. Are you happy, Pistons fans? It wasn’t a week to write home about but it was good enough to keep pace in the East with a hefty bunch of teams in hot pursuit.
5. San Antonio Spurs (12–7)
Last Week: 5
This team just continues to find a way. Without Kawhi Leonard—a perennial DPOY candidate—and Tony Parker, they’re still the league’s fourth-ranked defense. They’ll get the latter back this week, but the former...I’m beginning to get worried about him.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (12–7)
Last Week: 10
They got off to a sluggish start and had to watch Kyrie Irving lead the Celtics on a torrid winning streak, but the Cavs have quickly reversed their fortunes and become the hottest team in the league, winning seven straight. Jae Crowder is finally finding his groove, LeBron is stealing a little rest, and Isaiah Thomas tweeted he’s nearing a return. Hard to top that week.
3. Houston Rockets (15–4)
Last Week: 3
As if last year wasn’t nuts enough, the Rockets are averaging four more three-point attempts per game this season. And look what it can do:
Knicks led 25-5 with 5:51 left in 1st quarter; from that point, the Rockets made 18 3-pointers, the Knicks made 1— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 26, 2017
2. Golden State Warriors (15–5)
Last Week: 2
Perhaps, in a way, losing to the Thunder was a good thing. Golden State has come out of that loss looking agitated, and there are no longer questions about whether they care or not.
1. Boston Celtics (18–3)
Last Week: 1
I’ve touched on this before, but it still amazes me: Did anyone predict that just a few months after losing Avery Bradley that this defense would become the best in the NBA? It limited Indiana to just 16 points in the third on Saturday and helped take control of that game. Coupled with one of the most gifted offensive players in the game today, the Celtics are a true force.