Well, there were no blockbuster trades, or catostrophic injuries to quarterbacks in the NBA this week, but there were a few big movers and shakers! The Sixers proved that The Process is probably not over quite yet, Chris Bosh shot WAY up the videobomb rankings with a surprise return, and John Wall invented a new word. The bottom of the top 10 continues to be fluid, but the top-five, as we discussed last week, is still pretty cemented. So, who was a Big Baller this week? Let’s find out!
(All stats and records used through Dec. 10).
30. Chicago Bulls (5–20)
Last Week: 30
If you’re going to complain about the Bulls remaining at the bottom of the power rankings despite winning two games this week, then I don’t know what to tell you. You should know by now what this season is: a race to the bottom.
29. Phoenix Suns (9–19)
Last Week: 29
Devin Booker really needs to cool it with these good games. It’s hurting the Suns!
28. Dallas Mavericks (7–20)
Last Week: 28
Just four more games until Dirk Nowitzki passes Kevin Willis for sixth on the all-time games played list with 1,425. If he hits 1,462 to move into the top-five, we should have a party at Josh McRoberts’s house, because somehow he’s the fourth-highest paid player on this team.
27. Atlanta Hawks (6–20)
Last Week: 27
Ersan Ilyasova is 16–for–20 from the field over his last two games. Go see him now!
26. Memphis Grizzlies (8–18)
Last Week: 25
At least Tyreke Evans has returned to form. Here I was a month ago thinking he was a great bargain on a contending team! Perhaps Memphis flips him for something good at the deadline if he keeps this up.
25. Sacramento Kings (8–18)
Last Week: 22
BULLY THESE BULLIES!
24. Charlotte Hornets (9–16)
Last Week: 20
Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, NicBatum and Jeremy Lamb are all dealing with injuries. That’s like two-thirds of the team.
23. Orlando Magic (11–17)
Last Week: 21
Imagine how differently this team would feel if it still had Victor Oladipo and DomantasSabonis? Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic are playing their faces off. That’s, like, three good players, and one promising prospect!
22. L.A. Clippers (9–15)
Last Week: 24
We’ve all forgotten about Milos Teodosic, haven’t we? He’s (allegedly) coming back this week!! I’m so excited.
21. Los Angeles Lakers (10–15)
Last Week: 26
How would BigBallerBrand have spun this if Brandon Ingram missed the shot? I kind of wish we could have found out.
20. Denver Nuggets (14–12)
Last Week: 17
No wonder the Nuggets struggled this week... I never knew Novak Djokovic started at center for them. By the way, what the hell is going on with that sweatshirt? Do I count four zippers?
19. Brooklyn Nets (10–15)
Last Week: 23
It’s remarkable how well the Nets have rebuilt considering they started with no picks and, like, two players with trade value. And that will still ring true even if JahlilOkafor flops in Brooklyn. Credit goes to Sean Marks.
18. Utah Jazz (13–14)
Last Week: 15
Could this finally be the season Alec Burks wins Sixth Man of the Year? I’ve been waiting for, like, three years.
17. New Orleans Pelicans (14–13)
Last Week: 19
There are only two players averaging at least 11 points, 11 assists and five rebounds per game in December. Russell Westbrook and... Rajon Rondo.
16. New York Knicks (13–13)
Last Week: 18
Kristaps Porzingis is back in the rotation, but more importantly, RON BAKER is back in the rotation.
15. Philadelphia 76ers (13–13)
Last Week: 9
The most disappointing thing about the JahlilOkafor trade wasn’t what Philly eventually got back, it was when they traded him. There was once a time they’d probably get a first-rounder in return, and there was certainly a time where they wouldn’t have to attach a second-rounder.
Oh yeah, they also went 0–4 this week. This team left a crater as it crashed down to Earth.
14. Miami Heat (12–13)
Last Week: 13
That... that’s Chris Bosh’s music!! My GOD!
13. Portland Trail Blazers (13–12)
Last Week: 10
There was a lot to like about Portland’s epic battle with Houston, whether it was Damian Lillard’s offensive output, Al-FarouqAminu’s great shooting night or C.J. McCollum’s effort in the fourth. The most encouraging thing, though? It took a blistering hot fourth from James Harden and Chris Paul to beat the Blazers on a night they so desperately missed JusufNurkic out there.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (12–13)
Last Week: 16
Only two teams—the Warriors and Nets—have a better defensive rating this month than the Thunder.
11. Washington Wizards (14–12)
Last Week: 11
Bradley Beal, he gets bucket buckets. Like, his buckets even get buckets.
10. Detroit Pistons (14–12)
Last Week: 7
The Pistons had to play the Spurs, Bucks, Warriors and Celtics in the span of a week. I think I can confidently say they will never run into a seven-day stretch like that one again. The only thing that I’d maybe be concerned about is the return of ~inconsistent~ Andre Drummond.
9. Milwaukee Bucks (15–10)
Last Week: 12
Don’t look now, but the Bucks have the league’s third-best offensive rating in December! It feels like Eric Bledsoe is finally starting to click with this unit.
8. Indiana Pacers (16–11)
Last Week: 14
This is a legitimately fun basketball team right now.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (16–11)
Last Week: 8
This was the moment the Timberwolves turned the corner:
6. Toronto Raptors (17–7)
Last Week: 6
Just as I was preparing my “meh” remarks about the Raptors, they surged past the Grizzlies and totaled the most fast-break points (41) in the NBA since 2003. They’ve had a lot of time between games lately and it looks like it’s refreshed their legs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers finished their win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday on a 22–12 run and LeBron James scored or assisted on all 22 of those points. According to Elias, that's the most points scored or assisted on for any player this season to close out a game.
4. San Antonio Spurs (19–8)
Last Week: 5
Gregg Popovich just stealthily rested Danny Green, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and possiblyKawhi Leonard (there was talk of him returning for this game) on the same evening. He’s just gonna keep doing this again until someone notices and makes it a big deal again.
3. Golden State Warriors (21–6)
Last Week: 2
Golden State may not have Steph Curry right now, but it does have its suffocating defense. That will keep them in games against tough opponents—like Saturday’s against Detroit—where no one but Durant and Klay Thompson show up to score. So they’ll be in it, but how will they manage in crunch time? This team, in the Durant era, hasn’t really had to sweat out a lot of games. Perhaps this will make them even stronger.
2. Houston Rockets (20–4)
Last Week: 3
The Rockets’ 12–1 start on the road is their best since 1996–97. They own the best offense and defense statistically over the past two weeks and are quickly creeping up on the Celtics
1. Boston Celtics (23–5)
Last Week: 1
Jayson Tatum is currently the NBA’s leader in three-point percentage at over 52%. The ribbon committee may want to reconsider giving this “Blue Ribbon Yearbook” a blue ribbon. Perhaps a yellow ribbon, or even a purple one would be more appropriate.