- Klay Thompson turning into a human flamethrower on his historic night and the Warriors showing the most dangerous version of themselves sees them take the top spot in this week's power rankings.
The Crossover's power rankings are back following another great week of NBA action that made us all super certain we know what the hell is going on in this league.
For those of us who aren’t crying about Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins “ruining the league” though, we could still have fun watching tons of great basketball.
Let’s get started for this week.
30. Cavaliers | Record Last Week: 1-2 | Overall Record: 1-8 | Previous Ranking: 30
Let’s play “Good news, bad news” really quickly with the Cavaliers just to get them out of the way, because even those of you in Cleveland don’t really care what’s happening there.
Good news: The Cavaliers are not winless.
Bad news: The guy who the team announced would be the interim coach is refusing to call himself the interim coach until he gets a new contract.
Worse news: The veterans are reportedly saying the No. 8 pick from the draft doesn’t “know how to play” basketball.
29. Bulls | Record Last Week : 0-4 | Overall Record: 2-8 | Previous Ranking: 27
Is anybody sticking Klay Thompson yet? No? I kinda had a feeling.
Like all of you, the Bulls’ week got a whole lot better after Monday. Allowing one dude to hit 14 threes while his teammates combined for another 10 is a gut punch, to say the least. Chicago responded well by keeping things close against the Nuggets, Pacers and Rockets in their following games. But failing to steal a win in at least one of those three contests is why people in Chicago will spend a lot of time this year watching Duke to see which of the Blue Devils they might get to pair with Wendell Carter Jr. next season.
And in case you were wondering, the Bulls just gave up another three-pointer to Klay Thompson.
28. Wizards | Record Last Week: 1-2 | Overall Record: 2-7 | Previous Ranking: 23
Dwight Howard has looked solid in his return from injury. The rest of the Wizards don’t look good. Oklahoma City coming into D.C. to embarrass them on national TV might be the straw that broke the camel's back and made this team get its act together. Or, Sunday’s win over the Knicks was just a slightly more talented team (I think, maybe) getting a win at home against a younger team. Everything still looks pretty bad here though.
27. Suns | Record Last Week: 1-2 | Overall Record: 2-7 | Previous Ranking: 29
Devin Booker’s clutch jumpers against Memphis were further proof he is a professional bucket-getter. He doesn’t just score points, it’s more than that. Deandre Ayton only getting four shots and four free throws in 37 minutes in that game is further proof Phoenix is still far away from competing for anything important because there’s no reason the No. 1 pick should take fewer shots than Isaiah Canaan and Ryan Anderson.
26. Mavericks | Record Last Week: 0-3 | Overall Record: 2-7 | Previous Ranking: 19
If you were expecting to spend all season talking about how Luka Doncic is overrated and how a EuroLeague MVP is practically a participation trophy compared to a Naismith National Player of the Year award, it’s been a rough three weeks for you. If you were hoping the Mavericks were going to find a way to compete for a playoff spot this season, it’s been an even rougher three weeks for you. But unlike the Luka haters, you can at least enjoy watching Doncic get buckets as he shoots almost 40% from three.
25. Knicks | Record Last Week: 2-2 | Overall Record: 3-7 | Previous Ranking: 28
Y’all taking in all that data, Knicks fans?
David Fizdale has so many young pieces and question marks on this roster, and getting all those guys on the court as much as possible is the best approach. Going with Noah Vonleh and Mitchell Robinson as the starting frontcourt was also a great decision.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter are the type of veterans who are perfect for this team, but it’s up to Fiz to make sure the focus is the young talent. Moving Kanter to the bench to allow Vonleh and Robinson to play more together is a slick move for a squad that is shaping its future identity. Vonleh has been the team’s best shot blocker through the regular season and Robinson showed off his abilities to protect the rim during the summer league. Obviously one of them will not have that starting spot next season when Kristaps Porzingis returns, but for now, get them out there with Frank Ntilikina and see just what the defense can become in New York.
Hardaway is doing everything he can to justify the contract he signed last offseason, and so far it’s working. As the season wanes on though, it would be wise for Fizdale to take the ball out of his hands even more to see what all the other guards on this roster have to offer. Without Kevin Knox on the court, there’s been a little less of a logjam for rotation spots on the perimeter, but there’s still a lot of bodies trying to get on the court.
Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson battling for time at shooting guard will make all the lows this season a bit easier to tolerate. Dotson’s steady production and three-point shooting are the types of traits that stabilize an offense. Trier’s ability to get to the foul line and get hot quickly are the types of traits that stabilize a bench and jump-start an offense when it needs a boost.
24. Magic | Record Last Week: 1-2 | Overall Record: 3-6 | Previous Ranking: 24
Orlando was doing everything it could to negate the first 40 minutes of basketball it played against the Spurs on Sunday. I want to take more out of how the Magic held on for the win on the road, but they made life way more difficult for themselves than they should have in the first place. At least they broke 100 points in the victory. They hadn’t done that in more than a week.
23. Heat | Record Last Week: 0-3 | Overall Record: 3-5 | Previous Ranking: 14
Miami’s offense has been scoring at basically the same clip all season, but the defense wasn’t quite there this week.
The Heat allowed more than 120 points for the first time all year against the Kings, and then proceeded to do it two more times when they played the Hornets and Hawks.
Monday’s game in Detroit will be the end of a three-game road trip, and returning home for the next four after that should leave the door open for Miami to make up for this ugly week. However, if the team is still going to struggle defending point guards, don’t bother looking ahead too much.
At least Josh Richardson continued his hot start to the season. So long as he continues to knock down shots from deep, he will open up room for others on the team to help him out with the scoring load. If he can get to the free throw line the way he did this past week, he can start to cement himself as a No. 1 option throughout this season.
22. Hawks | Record Last Week: 1-3 | Overall Record: 3-6 | Previous Ranking: 26
Trae Young had himself a week.
No, there wasn’t much winning going on in Atlanta aside from the victory over the Heat, but the rookie gave fans a reason to be hype about what is on the way. When you put up 24 points in the one game you didn’t record at least eight assists, it seems safe to assume you are at least find finding some level of comfort at creating offense in the NBA.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, there is much more to the season than just seeing Young develop. So, squandering a 9-for-13 performance from Young and losing to the Kevin Love-less Cavaliers by 22 points will keep the Hawks low in the rankings. Getting completely stomped out by the Kings didn’t help matters, either.
There’s only but so much you can legitimately expect out of Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore on a nightly basis, but if they can keep pitching in upward of 14 points per game, they should provide enough of a threat to allow Young to keep improving.
21. Pistons | Record Last Week: 0-3 | Overall Record: 4-4 | Previous Ranking: 11
This was a tough road trip for the Pistons. They had a chance at revenge in Boston, but then Blake Griffin threw the ball away with one of the sloppiest late-game turnovers you will ever see. They were on the verge of victory in Brooklyn, but Spencer Dinwiddie hit a triple to send the game to overtime and then another triple in the extra period to give the Nets a one-point win. The game against the Sixers seemed like the perfect time to turn things around considering how impressive their win over Philadelphia was earlier in the season, but Joel Embiid started building his next property unit in Andre Drummond’s head. Hopefully, going home will make things better.
20. Lakers | Record Last Week: 2-2 | Overall Record: 4-6 | Previous Ranking: 15
Did Luke Walton get fired yet? More importantly, did Lue get hired yet? Magic Johnson can say the job is safe all he wants, but we’re going to get these jokes off until LeBron’s entirely out of patience. I’m not going to be in the locker room when that happens, so I’m eagerly awaiting to see if the season does reach that point. I need something to laugh at postgame besides Charles Barkley not knowing who is or isn’t in the NBA.
19. Timberwolves | Record Last Week: 2-2 | Overall Record: 4-6 | Previous Ranking: 22
So apparently we just got to wait until the day of the game to figure out whether or not we’re going to get to watch Buckets. While you might not enjoy that as a fan, imagine how Karl-Anthony Towns feels. He finally had a good game with Butler on the court in the win over the Lakers, but in the loss to the Warriors, he needed 13 shots for 13 points and posted a minus-15.
18. Rockets | Record Last Week: 2-1 | Overall Record: 3-5 | Previous Ranking: 18
Back-to-back wins make everything feel a little bit different. After getting thumped by the Trail Blazers to start their week, Mike D’Antoni let it be known his team was “playing like crap.” Now, after a pair of road wins, Houston is in position to make its horrendous start a problem of the past. All they'll have to do is pull out at least three wins in two games against the Pacers, one against the Thunder and another against the Spurs. And for everyone out there who got lazy on Halloween and repurposed their Hoodie Melo costume by wrapping a towel around their waist and walking around with a loofa and soap on a rope to go as “Washed Up”, know that Carmelo’s scored at least 17 in four of the last five and shot 44.4% from distance during that stretch.
17. Kings | Record Last Week: 3-1 | Overall Record: 6-4 | Previous Ranking: 25
De’Aaron Fox is a problem. His 20.0 points, 8.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds over the course of the week were all the confirmation I need to think Sacramento has a potential All-Star running point right now. Don’t expect the wins to keep piling up like this for the Kings, but if Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica can keep up with what they’ve done to start the year and Buddy Hield stays above 40% shooting from three, they will at least be entertaining and create an environment that allows Fox to continue to improve.
16. Nets | Record Last Week: 2-2 | Overall Record: 4-6 | Previous Ranking: 20
Jarrett Allen is continuing to come into his own. His presence at the center of Brooklyn’s defense isn’t at the level of Joel Embiid or Rudy Gobert, but he could be on his way there if he can continue to deal with switches and guard on the perimeter when forced out there. D’Angelo Russell’s emergence as a three-point threat will be crucial if he’s going to elevate to the next level as a lead guard.
15. Jazz | Record Last Week: 0-3 | Overall Record: 4-5 | Previous Ranking: 6
Utah became stingier over the course of the week, so that was one plus. The Jazz started by giving up 128 to the Timberwolves without Jimmy Butler. They finished this tough stretch with a horrid 6-for-31 three-point shooting performance in Denver.
14. Pelicans | Record Last Week: 0-4 | Overall Record: 4-5 | Previous Ranking: 5
They were without Anthony Davis for two of the games this week, but 0-4 is still 0-4. The losses to the Spurs, Nuggets and Trail Blazers hurt. If you remember the giant jumble that led to complicated tiebreaker scenarios last season, you would agree that every win is important in the Western Conference.
13. Clippers | Record Last Week: 1-2 | Overall Record: 5-4 | Previous Ranking: 13
Orlando might be the perfect place to end a road trip. You get to see Disney World and cap off your journey with a victory. An astonishingly bad third quarter in Oklahoma City got this week off to a bad start for the Clippers, but playing the Magic allowed the week to end on a higher note.
12. Thunder | Record Last Week: 3-0 | Overall Record: 4-4 | Previous Ranking: 22
What a difference a week makes.
Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder finding a good balance was a big help, but so were the contributions from the others. Hamidou Diallo is doing everything he can to force Billy Donovan to play him more, but Alex Abrines’s improved defense and steady shooting stroke could keep him from making the jump. Nerlens Noel as a backup center is also keeping the interior defense formidible when Steven Adams is out.
11. Grizzlies | Record Last Week: 2-1 | Overall Record: 5-3 | Previous Ranking: 16
Mike Conley has to get his shooting touch together for this team to battle for a playoff spot. Sunday’s close loss in Phoenix is one this team will want back come April, but the win in Utah on Friday is something it can build off right now. Garrett Temple’s production as the third option combined with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s development throughout the year will determine if Conley and Marc Gasol will be the leaders of either a scrappy bunch that fights for every victory or a 38-44 team that left too many wins on the table.
10. Hornets | Record Last Week: 2-1 | Overall Record: 5-5 | Previous Ranking: 17
If it wasn’t for Westbrook and Abrines, the Hornets would have had a perfect week. Instead, Charlotte picked up a home loss after leading by as many as 19 points in the game. Still, they leaned on a vintage Tony Parker masterpiece in Miami and took care of business against the Heat and made sure to beat the brakes off the Cavaliers. If Malik Monk can prove he is a legit second scoring option next to Kemba Walker, expect to see the threes fly down in Charlotte.
9. Spurs | Record Last Week: 3-1 | Overall Record: 6-3 | Previous Ranking: 10
You can’t go down 26 to the Magic at home. I don’t care if you were playing the Shaq and Penny Magic on 2K. You can’t go down 26 to the Magic at home.
Outside of Sunday, it's a great time for Gregg Popovich’s team. Turns out, this DeMar DeRozan guy is really good at basketball. Who would have thought one of the greatest coaches ever could get so much out of a four-time All-Star?
8. 76ers | Record Last Week: 3-2 | Overall Record: 6-5 | Previous Ranking: 7
Joel Embiid continues to will himself to post 30 and 10 and gather enough highlight material to place one person from every team on a poster... or his Instagram. Unless you blow the 76ers out by 25 on the second night of a back-to-back like Brooklyn did. That's one way to avoid Embiid's Twitter fingers.
7. Pacers | Record Last Week: 3-1 | Overall Record: 7-3 | Previous Ranking: 9
Are you loving season two of The Victor Oladipo Show as much as I am?
The dagger against the Celtics was one of the coldest things to happen in the state of Indiana since Michael Jackson learned to Moonwalk. The Pacers are going to need Dipo to be more reliable from beyond the arc if he plans to let it fly this much, but so long as he continues to step up in big moments, the rest of the team will plug whatever holes need to be filled.
6. Trail Blazers | Record Last Week : 4-1 | Overall Record: 7-3 | Previous Ranking: 12
It’s alway nice to play a team without its best player. Watching Anthony Davis and Jimmy Butler sit out in Portland might have angered a few fans, but seeing the Trail Blazers rack up wins will probably help those people get over it.
Damian Lillard is doing everything in his power to convince the world he is a top-five player in this league, but his scoring still took a slight dip in the Trail Blazers’ victories as the team's role players continued to dominate. Zach Collins scored 17 points against the Pacers and then Jusuf Nurkic dropped 22 and 10 in Houston and 20 and nine at home against the Pelicans. Meyers Leonard chipped in 15 and 12 in Sunday’s victory over the Timberwolves as Nurkic led the way with 19 points.
The contributions from the post make this team more fierce, but not much will matter without C.J. McCollum operating at last year’s pace. His shooting percentage went up over the last week, but his scoring hasn’t been quite where it was last year or the season prior. Lillard taking over a bit more than before limits just how much McCollum can add on the offensive end, but, if Portland is going to make up for last season's disastrous end, he needs to be over 20 points per night no matter what Dame provides. Doing slightly less to start the year as Lillard and other players make bigger contributions might mean McCollum has better legs come the end of the year though.
5. Bucks | Record Last Week: 2-1 | Overall Record: 8-1 | Previous Ranking: 3
Remember when I told you about the Bucks' 6’11” freak of nature WHO CAN LITERALLY JUMP OVER HIS OPPONENTS? Guess what? HE DID JUST THAT SUNDAY.
We could spend time talking about how the loss in Boston, particularly the subpar late-game execution, is a sign Milwaukee still has a lot to improve on if it wants to finally get out of the first round, but it’s November, and Giannis dunked on Kosta Koufos so hard nothing else will matter in the entire state of Wisconsin until Christmas.
4. Celtics | Record Last Week: 2-1 | Overall Record: 6-3 | Previous Ranking: 4
Brad Stevens needs to find a way to make this offense more lethal. The Celtics are finding themselves in bad company. Like the Magic, Boston is one of few teams in the NBA who haven't scored more than 120 points in a game. And only the Suns and Magic average fewer points per game than the Celtics. Luckily, Boston is allowing the fewest points in the league. The offense can’t stay this bad forever, but as long as it does, it feels like the main aspect to discuss with this team. And Marcus Morris. Morris scoring one less total point than Jayson Tatum through nine games is great, but also troubling at the same time.
3. Nuggets | Record Last Week : 4-0 | Overall Record: 8-1 | Previous Ranking: 8
The defense in Denver is holding up well through three weeks, and because I feel obligated to continue mentioning Paul Millsap when discussing this team, it’s important to note he’s at the center of that effort. The Nuggets are third in the league in points allowed and point differential, but 16th in scoring. When Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas back the offense should see a jump, and depending on how well the defense holds, that will determine if this is just a fun regular season squad or a serious playoff threat in the West.
2. Raptors | Record Last Week : 3-1 | Overall Record: 9-1 | Previous Ranking: 1
With or without Kawhi Leonard this team is good. With Kawhi they are the second-best team in the NBA right now. Without him, they can still go on the road and run the Lakers out of Staples Center through three quarters.
We got cheated out of seeing Kawhi vs. Giannis on Monday, but watching the two-time Defensive Player of the Year turn Ben Simmons into a walking turnover machine was a decent substitute. The more and more Leonard gets to leave his imprint on this unit, the scarier Toronto gets on that end. As teammates learn how to better work off the guy who can create steals with his back turned, forcing turnovers and closing possessions will be even easier.
On the other end of the court, Kyle Lowry has his hands on everything and is setting the tempo. His league-high 11.6 assists per game are about four more than his career-high, and with the way this offense is scoring and how effortless it is for them to jump into transition makes it seem possible he will finish with double-digit helpers.
Nick Nurse will likely need to lighten up Danny Green’s minutes as the season goes on, but the time being, his floor spacing and experience are major bonuses.
1. Warriors | Record Last Week : 3-0 | Overall Record: 9-1 | Previous Ranking: 2
*Pauses to take a breath
Klay made 14 threes. He’s the third option and he made 14 threes. He could have made more if Steve Kerr would stop being a jerk and just let us enjoy this team for all four quarters when everything’s clicking like Pusha-T imagined. They’ll probably fall from this spot at some point this season, but then Trey5 or Wardell will put up 53 on 16 shots in 17 minutes or something stupid and we’ll remember that watching people play basketball at a ridiculously high level is what's fun about the NBA. Enjoy it all now because you’re going to be mad in June when no Warrior scores 30 and they shoot less than 50% as a team and still win.