- Boston looks like a defensive juggernaut again after winning six straight games and building a cushion atop the East. How far do the Celtics rise in this week's Power Rankings?
Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly NBA Power Rankings! New Year’s resolutions were soooo last week (who even keeps those past the first four days, anyway?) and we’re ready to rock on with our normal theme of...basketball?
This week there’s a shakeup at the top as the Celtics awake from their slumber, a new member of the top-10 emerges (hint: it’s the team Wayne Ellington currently plays for), and we have many embedded videos for those with short attention spans. Speaking of attention spans...let’s get to those rankings!
(All stats and records through Jan. 7).
30. Memphis Grizzlies (12–27)
Last Week: 30
I don’t know what this is but I found it on Grizzlies reddit.
29. Atlanta Hawks (10–29)
Last Week: 29
The Atlanta Hawks plan to guarantee the contracts of Isaiah Taylor ($1.3M) and Tyler Cavanaugh ($679K) for the rest of the season, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 6, 2018
Just when you thought the Hawks couldn’t bring in any more random dudes you’ve never heard of, they out-did themselves.
28. Orlando Magic (12–28)
Last Week: 28
It’s really getting insane now. Elfrid Payton’s hair is actually blocking his shots. He has to cut it.
27. Utah Jazz (16–24)
Last Week: 25
We will be fine— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) January 6, 2018
Exactly what someone on a team that will not be fine would say.
26. Dallas Mavericks (13–28)
Last Week: 23
Man, not like this. Don’t want Dirk to go out like this.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (12–27)
Last Week: 24
Biggest news to come out of this week was that Kobe Bryant talks to Kyle Kuzma on the phone.
24. Chicago Bulls (14–26)
Last Week: 20
Phew. Things got a little scary there. The thought of the Bulls adding Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine to a team that was hot was a little too much for fans to handle. It was like a college student falling asleep on his keyboard while writing an essay the night before it’s due. Wild dream, but now they’re back up. Time to get back to work. Pedal back down on the tank.
23. Phoenix Suns (16–26)
Last Week: 26
It’s obviously in the Suns’ best interest to lose, but what are you gonna do when Dragan Bender drops 20 points off the bench? After how much folks were hyping the Thunder the past two weeks, it was pretty hilarious to see Phoenix drop them like a McGregor left. Loved every minute.
22. Brooklyn Nets (15–24)
Last Week: 27
I swear, you can turn on any Nets game, at any point, and they’re right in it. For a while, it looked like they were going to pull off the upset over the Celtics this week. Spencer Dinwiddie continues to be phenomenal and just as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson hits a mini-snag, Joe Harris comes flying in out of nowhere! Add him to the list of Nets beginning to break out this year.
21. Charlotte Hornets (15–23)
Last Week: 21
Are the Hornets trolling? Or have things gotten so terrible that they need to get fans excited about Johnny O’Bryant?
20. Sacramento Kings (13–25)
Last Week: 22
Admit it. You forgot about Harry Giles.
Is it odd that I’m super-excited to see him play with this young core?
19. Philadelphia 76ers (19–19)
Last Week: 18
One thing really got to me as I watched Ben Simmons dunk in yet another losing effort this week: Why are we letting the Sixers get away with wearing these knockoff 2015 NBA Christmas jerseys? No one’s said a word.
18. New Orleans Pelicans (19–19)
Last Week: 19
This is the most annoying team ever. I feel like that old dude in It’s A Wonderful Life yelling at George Bailey to just kiss Mary already. Watching a team that has Anthony Davis AND Boogie Cousins AND continue to miss its chance is downright infuriating. They were shooting the lights out, now they’ve fallen in another mystifying slump. Get it together!
17. Indiana Pacers (20–19)
Last Week: 15
Remember when the Pacers were fun and we were laughing at Sam Presti (on the inside, anyway) for trading Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George? Those were great times, and then Oladipo got hurt and the Thunder got good. Well, Oladipo returned on Saturday in a win, and OKC lost to the freakin’ Suns on Sunday. Are things reverting back to how they were? I think so.
16. L.A. Clippers (17–21)
Last Week: 17
Literally as soon as we all bought into the Clippers competing for a playoff spot, Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic got hurt and then Blake Griffin took an elbow to the face. Can Lou Williams carry this team by himself? Probably not.
15. Denver Nuggets (21–18)
Last Week: 16
Nikola Jokic is currently third in the league in ESPN’s real plus-minus, behind James Harden and Steph Curry, at 5.43. Normally you’d hear about this from the JokicHive on Twitter, but they’ve been strangely silent this season. Too silent. What are they planning?
14. New York Knicks (19–21)
Last Week: 13
Well, after all the excitement of the first half, the Knicks are right where they don’t want to be: stuck in the middle. The next few weeks will determine whether or not this team needs to trade some bigs and enter full tank mode, or if it can compete in the playoffs. The bad news for those who think this is a playoff team: there are still plenty more road games ahead. The good news? Tim Hardaway Jr. is just about ready to return. The Knicks will be a compelling situation to watch this month.
13. Detroit Pistons (21–17)
Last Week: 8
Was Detroit beating Houston without Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson a coincidence or indicative of something else? I dunno. Just askin’...
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (22–18)
Last Week: 9
Man, you’re out of your mind if you think I’m moving this team up after they lost to the Suns. Dragan Bender dropped 20. Jared Dudley even played six minutes. Smh.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (21–18)
Last Week: 14
Shabazz Napier looks like a real point guard out there; he seems to be in control at all times, he’s setting his teammates up with great passes and he’s scoring the basketball. The Blazers will have to find a way to get him on the court a little more when Damian Lillard returns. Perhaps his emergence will help keep Dame fresh for the postseason.
10. Milwaukee Bucks (21–17)
Last Week: 11
This offense can be rough to watch at times, with little-to-no ball movement, very few threes (24.4 attempts per game is tied for the fourth-fewest) and a slower pace. In the end, though, they usually find a way to score (sixth-highest offensive rating in basketball). I’m still not totally sure how.
9. Washington Wizards (23–17)
Last Week: 10
Santa apparently brought the Wizards some...new fingers, or something; they’re fourth in the league with a 39.4% mark from three since Christmas and still locking down shooters, holding opponents to 32.3% shooting from distance. They can win a lot of games if they win the battle behind the arc.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves (25–16)
Last Week: 7
KAT’s deadpan delivery here was pretty damn impressive.
7. Miami Heat (22–17)
Last Week: 12
Who would have thought in 2015 that the dude Miami drafted at No. 40 would be a catalyst to a scorching-hot run in 2018, and not the dude they took at No. 10? Well, Josh Richardson is helping fans forget about Justise Winslow’s injury right now, averaging 20 points in January and displaying consistency and solid playmaking ability. He’s blossoming right before our eyes.
6. San Antonio Spurs (27–14)
Last Week: 6
If you don’t know wrestling, then this analogy will miss you, but to me Manu Ginobili kind of reminds me of Chris Jericho. Definitely one of the greats of his generation, and out of all of his accomplishments, the most impressive may be his longevity. Still wowing us with his athleticism at 40, much like Jericho is still doing lionsaults and putting on great matches late into his career.
Look, I dunno. I’m just still amazed by this dude. Every night. The Kawhi injury really stinks, but they were a top-five team before he returned from injury, and with Ginobili playing this well they can remain in that conversation through his newest one.
5. Toronto Raptors (27–10)
Last Week: 4
Contrary to popular belief, ‘52’ is not where we had DeMar DeRozan ranked in our preseason Top 100.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (26–13)
Last Week: 3
This photo sums everything up at the moment and also is the type of post that would make kids hate you in high school.
3. Houston Rockets (27–11)
Last Week: 2
The shots just haven’t fallen over the past two games—Houston was under 35% from three in both. They’ll surely begin to drop again.
2. Boston Celtics (33–10)
Last Week: 5
Up until Christmas, the Celtics allowed the second-fewest points per 100 possessions, and since then they’re No. 1... by five entire points. Boston’s a defensive juggernaut again and proving it can win big games without tremendous offensive showings. After wins over Houston (thanks to some dramatic defense!) and Cleveland, it’s time to reinstall the Celtics in the top-two.
1. Golden State Warriors (32–8)
Last Week: 1
If there was any doubt that Steph's still got his fastball after sharing shots with Kevin Durant for two years, there’s none anymore. This man is still DANGEROUS.