nba

TST’s NBA Power Rankings Week 11

The Nuggets are atop the West behind yet another Nikola Jokic MVP campaign, the Lakers have the worst defense in the NBA without Anthony Davis, and the Nets continue to win big games and prove they are contenders.

30. Detroit Pistons, 8-28

The Pistons blew a 14 point lead with 3 minutes to go against the Clippers, and since Cade Cunningham went down with a season ending injury in mid November, the team has gone 5-20 despite Bojan Bogdanovic’s (20.9 points per game with a 3PT% of 40.9 and a TS% of 63.4) offensive brilliance and Jalen Duren’s (12.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game with a TS% of 71.3) breakout as a All-Rookie First-Team candidate. For the Pistons to not be the worst team in basketball, both Jaden Ivey (19.4 points and 3.8 assists per game with a TS% of 58.5 over his last 5 games) and Saddiq Bey (13.6 points per game with a 3PT% of 30.9 and a TS% of 53.6) need to be more consistent alongside Bogdanovic and Duren.

29. Charlotte Hornets, 9-24

LaMelo Ball (23.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game with a 3PT% of 38.4 and a TS% of 55.6) has taken another leap and is single-handedly keeping this Hornets team in games. However, despite Kelly Oubre Jr. (20.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game with a TS% of 51.8) playing the best basketball of his career, Terry Rozier (20.4 points per game with an abysmal eFG% of 45.7 and a TS% of 48.6) is one of the least efficient players in basketball and the Hornets have the worst offense in the NBA (108.9 offensive rating).

28. Houston Rockets, 10-23

Jalen Green (21.4 points per game with a TS% of 53.3) continues to progress as a prolific 3-level scorer, while Alperen Sengun (14.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with a TS% of 61.4) has taken a huge leap as the team’s second-best player. Despite having a defensive rating of 115.7 (ranked 27th) and an offensive rating of 110.4 (ranked 26th), the Rockets have a promising young core of Green, Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr. (12.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a TS% of 51.3), and Kevin Porter Jr. (19.3 points and 5.6 assists per game with a TS% of 54.1), and could be adding another top 3 pick in next year’s draft.

27. San Antonio Spurs, 11-22

Keldon Johnson (20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3 assists per game with a TS% of 52.3) and Devin Vassell (19.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game with a TS% of 56) have solidified themselves as valuable pieces for the team’s future. The Spurs have the worst defensive rating in basketball (118.7), but have won two of their last four games. They are already preparing for next year’s draft and the development of their young players is the main focus for this season.

26. Washington Wizards, 13-21

The Wizards stopped their 10 game losing streak last week and went 2-1 with impressive wins vs. the Suns and Kings, and an 8 point loss to the Jazz. Besides Bradley Beal (23.7 points and 5.2 assists per game with a TS% of 61.9), Kristaps Porzingis (21.9 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game with a TS% of 58.6), and Kyle Kuzma (21.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game with a TS% of 56.1), the team severely lacks depth and their 10th overall pick, Johnny Davis, is stuck in the G-League and hasn’t developed the way they wanted him to this season. Furthermore, the Wizards better hope they secure a top 5 pick because they desperately need it.

25. Los Angeles Lakers, 13-20

The Lakers had the 11th ranked defensive rating in the NBA when Anthony Davis (27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game with a TS% of 66.2 and a PER of 32) went down. However, in their last five games without him, they have a defensive rating of 127.3 (by far the worst mark in the NBA) and have gone 1-4 in those games. We already knew the Lakers lacked perimeter defenders that could guard an opposing team’s best small forward (think Kevin Durant or Jayson Tatum), but because of Davis’ defensive acumen, that weakness was hidden at times.

Now teams are not only continuing to exploit the Lakers on the perimeter with 3-pointers, but are also bullying the Lakers inside because of their lack of size. In the Christmas Day game against the Mavericks, with 6:44 to go in the 4th quarter, the Lakers fielded a five guard lineup of Patrick Beverley, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder, Russell Westbrook, and Lonnie Walker IV. Once Christian Wood made two easy dunks, the Lakers called timeout to change the lineup, but any chance the Lakers had at coming back was put to rest. Not even LeBron James (33.2 points, 7.7 assists, and 6.5 rebounds per game over his last 6 games without Davis) can save arguably a roster with the worst depth in basketball.

24. Oklahoma City Thunder, 14-19

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game with a TS% of 62) continues to be one of the NBA’s best players and, without him, the Thunder may only have 1-2 wins all season and that isn’t even an exaggeration. Besides SGA, the team’s only reliable players are Luguentz Dort (13.8. points and 1 steal per game while being the best defender on the team) and standout rookie Jalen Williams (11 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game with a TS% of 57.4).

Josh Giddey (14.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game with an atrocious eFG% of 50.4 and TS% of 51.8) was supposed to take a leap, but has been worse this season, and the team severely lacks depth. Regardless, Gilgeous-Alexander’s super-stardom accelerates this rebuild, and once Chet Holmgren comes back next season alongside whoever else the Thunder draft with their multitude of 2023 NBA Draft picks, they will drastically improve next season.

23. Orlando Magic, 13-21

Paolo Banchero (21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 4 assists per game with a TS% of 55.6) and Franz Wagner (19.8 points and 4 rebounds per game with a TS% of 58.4) are the best young frontcourt duo in the NBA already and the Magic have won nine of their last ten games.

Bol Bol (12.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game with a TS% of 66.1), Wendell Carter Jr. (16.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with a TS% of 61.5), and Cole Anthony (13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with a TS% of 57.7) have provided the talent and depth needed to take pressure off of their two young stars when need be, and this Magic team could continue to compete at a high level if they play defense (defensive rating of 114.1, ranked 20th in the NBA).

22. Chicago Bulls, 14-19

After losing four straight games two weeks ago, the Bulls came back and went 3-1 last week with wins against the Knicks, Hawks, and Heat, and a 15 point loss to the Rockets. Despite the positives from last week, the Bulls continued to disappoint their fans with an abysmal effort against one of the worst teams in the NBA. Demar DeRozan (26 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game with a TS% of 60.1) has been his usual clutch-self winning close games for Chicago.

However, the Bulls had the 7th ranked defense in basketball just over a week ago, and now their defensive rating of 113.9 is ranked 19th. Lack of depth already plagues this team, but defense was their only redeeming quality and now that is gone as well. The Bulls aren’t going anywhere this season without Lonzo Ball, and my insistence regarding them blowing up this roster and rebuilding still persists. It is now or never for the Bulls front office to dictate their future.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves, 16-18

The Timberwolves have lost three straight games, most recently a 3-point loss to the Heat where Rudy Gobert was benched in the 4th quarter after being a team worst -14 on the night. Despite KAT not playing, the Wolves finished the game with Naz Reid (10.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game with a TS% of 63.3) at center instead of Gobert.

Reid’s final line from the contest was 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists with a +- of +15 in 29 minutes compared to Gobertโ€™s 10 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes. The Wolves had a the 7th ranked offensive rating and the 13th ranked defensive rating last season, and this year they have neither with an offensive rating of 112.4 (ranked 19th) and a defensive rating of 113.4 (ranked 16th). This is an average basketball team that has a lot to figure out if they want to even make the playoffs this season.

20. Toronto Raptors, 15-18

Since OG Anunoby (18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game with a TS% of 57.6) returned at the beginning of last week, the Raptors have won two of their last three games with wins against the Knicks and Cavs and a close loss against the 76ers.

It is tough to judge this team until I see how they fare against the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Suns this week, which is a brutal three game stretch. In the meantime, Pascal Siakam (26.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game with a TS% of 58) is having the best season of his career, and Scottie Barnes (14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists with a TS% of 51.6) is coming off of a 25 point-10 rebound performance.

19. Miami Heat, 17-17

After a four game win streak (vs. the Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, and Thunder) two weeks ago, the Heat came back to earth went 1-2 last week with losses to the Pacers and Bulls, and a win against the Timberwolves. Like I have mentioned in previous power rankings articles, defense has never been the problem for the this team (defensive rating of 111.4, ranked 7th in the NBA)…it has been offense.

The Heat only sport an offensive rating of 110.3, which is the fourth-worst mark in the NBA despite having three 20+ point per game scorers in Tyler Herro (21.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game with a TS% of 58.6), Jimmy Butler (21.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists with a TS% of 63.1), and Bam Adebayo (20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game with a TS% of 58.6). They are .500 at the moment because of their defense, but drastically more production is needed offensively from their bench to become one of the Eastern Conference’s better teams.

18. Indiana Pacers, 17-17

Tyrese Haliburton (20.4 points, 10.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game) had just 12 points and 3 turnovers in an embarrassing 20 point loss to the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans on Monday night. However, he also recorded 43 points just two games ago, so one blunder from Haliburton should not worry Pacers fans. What does worry me though, is Bennedict Mathurin’s (just 9.3 points per game over his last 3 games) lack of production recently.

The team relies on Mathurin to bring elite 3-level scoring off of the bench and he was doing that for the first two months of the season. He is probably going through some rookie growing pains, but the Pacers don’t have another scorer off the bench that can produce like Mathurin. Nonetheless, this team is still in the hunt for the playoffs and their rebuild is much further along than expected.

17. Atlanta Hawks, 17-16

Trae Young (27.5 points and 9.9 assists per game with a 3PT% of 31.1, an eFG% of 47, and a TS% of 55.3) is playing better as of late, averaging 32 points and 10.3 assists with a TS% of 65.4 over his last four games. In that four game span, the Hawks have gone 3-1 with wins against the Pistons, Magic, and Hornets, and a 2 point loss to the Bulls.

They still have to prove they can beat good basketball teams, but with a defensive rating of 112.9 (ranked 11th in the NBA) and an offensive superstar in Young, the Hawks have the chance to make a run at some point. They’ll only go as far as their franchise player.

16. Portland Trailblazers, 17-16

The Trailblazers have lost four of their last six games and have fallen to 9th in the Western Conference despite having three 20+ point per game scorers in Damian Lillard (27.5 points and 7.2 assists per game with a TS% of 62.4), Anfernee Simons (22.4 points per game with a TS% of 57.7), and Jerami Grant (22.1 points per game with a TS% of 61.8).

Jusuf Nurkic (14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a TS% of 61.3) has also been fantastic and is coming off of a 28 point, 15 rebound, 6 assist performance where he went 5-5 from 3PT range. In fact, though in limited attempts, Nurkic is shooting 46.4% from 3 and is another offensive star for the Blazers. Their offensive rating of 114.8 is ranked 10th as they attempt to outscore all of their opponents, but their defensive rating of 114.4 is ranked 23rd and isn’t sustainable if they want to win against good teams, regardless of how much star-power they have on offense.

15. Utah Jazz, 19-17

Lauri Markkanen (23.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game with a remarkable 3PT% of 43.9 and TS% of 66.9) has been one of the most efficient players in the NBA this season and will be heading to his first All-Star Game in February. Jordan Clarkson (20.3 points and 4.5 assists per game with a TS% of 55.2), Malik Beasley, and Mike Conley have helped Markkanen establish the NBA’s 4th best offense (offensive rating of 116.2), but it hasn’t translated to many wins as of late.

The Jazz have lost five of their last nine games, but are still 8th in the Western Conference because of their ultra hot start to the season. Despite the Jazz’s stellar offense and Cinderella story start to the season, their defensive rating of 115.3 is ranked 26th in the NBA and I doubt they’ll even make the playoffs by the end of the season.

14. Sacramento Kings, 17-14

The last four games haven’t been easy for the Kings, who lost to the Hornets and Wizards, but defeated the Lakers and Pistons in the weakest four game stretch they’ll have all season. Despite being subpar over the last week, Domantas Sabonis (17.9 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game with a TS% of 67.6) is having the best season of his career and De’Aaron Fox (27.2 points, 6 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game with a TS% of 58.3 over his last 5 games) is back to his early season elite production. Together, they have the Kings rolling on offense with an offensive rating of 115.6, ranked 7th in the NBA.

13. Dallas Mavericks, 18-16

Luka Doncic (32.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game with a TS% of 61.1) is playing remarkable basketball and the Mavericks have won three straight games. Christian Wood (17.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a TS% of 63.4) is coming off of a 30 point game against the Lakers on Christmas, while Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with a TS% of 55.2 over his last 5 games) has been a knockdown shooter as of late.

Despite the positives, the Mavs’ still have a multitude of issues including their defensive rating of 113 (ranked 12th in the NBA despite having the 7th ranked defensive rating of 109.1 last season) and shooting. Though Hardaway Jr. is now more consistent from beyond the arc, Reggie Bullock, Davis Bertans, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber haven’t been and will need to step up to make Doncic’s job as the offensive orchestrator easier.

12. Golden State Warriors, 16-18

Despite having the worst road record in basketball (3-16) the Warriors seem to dominate just about every team at home (home record of 13-2) and the Grizzlies were no exception to that on Christmas. Jordan Poole (28.6 points with a TS% of 59.7 over his last 5 games) has stepped up in Stephen Curry‘s absence in a larger role and it’s paying dividends.

Still, the Warriors only have a defensive rating of 114.3 (ranked 21st in the NBA) despite having the 2nd best defensive rating in all of basketball last season. Even when Curry comes back, the Warriors need to play better defense as every single one of their title teams has defended at an elite level and this one simply hasn’t yet.

11. New York Knicks, 18-16

The Knicks won 9 games in a row before entering their now three game losing streak, to the Raptors, Bulls, and 76ers. Despite the three game skid, the Knicks have shown a lot of promise and should certainly be in the playoffs being one of a select few teams with a top ten offensive and defensive rating of 114.9 and 112.5, ranked 8th and 9th respectively.

Julius Randle (23.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game with a TS% of 58.9), Jalen Brunson (20.2 points and 6.6 assists per game with a TS% of 56.5), and R.J. Barrett (25 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game with a TS% of 57.7 over his last 10 games) have solidified a formidable big 3 that has been putting it all together on a nightly basis.

10. Phoenix Suns, 19-15

The Suns rely on Devin Booker (27.1 points and 5.6 assists per game with a TS% of 58.5) to take over every game to win this season. Thankfully for the Suns, Booker has done that more times than not, but it isn’t sustainable. Until Cam Johnson returns, the Suns need Torrey Craig, Cam Payne, Damion Lee, and Landry Shamet to step up and become stars in their roles, hitting 3’s and playing great perimeter defense. However, besides Shamet keeping the Suns in the Christmas game against the Nuggets (with his 31 points and 7 made threes), that bench unit has rarely stepped up when needed to.

Chris Paul (12.3 points and 9.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 46.8) has lost a step and its evident in his offensive production. Despite the obvious elite playmaking Paul still brings to the table, he hasn’t been able to get to his spots and knock down mid-range jumpers consistently like he used to. Add in DeAndre Ayton’s inconsistencies on both ends of the floor and the Suns are lucky they are even 19-15 and 5th in the Western Conference right now.

9. Los Angeles Clippers, 20-15

The Clippers were down 14 against the Pistons on Monday night with under 3 minutes to go, but somehow staged a remarkable comeback that resulted in a 11 point win in overtime. The Clippers usually win games on defense (defensive rating of 109.9, 4th in the NBA) but stepped up to the plate against the Pistons and showed they can win in variety of ways if need be.

Kawhi Leonard (who did not play in the Pistons game due to load management) has been spectacular averaging 23.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game over his last 5 games. If Leonard continues to look like he’s still in his prime, and Paul George (23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with a TS% of 58.3) continues to play like himself, then this Clippers team has the depth and the defensive acumen to win the NBA Championship if they continue to progress this season.

8. Philadelphia 76ers, 20-12

Joel Embiid (33.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game with a TS% of 63.8) leads the NBA in scoring and has been his usual dominant self, but it has been James Harden (21.8 points and 11.1 assists per game with a TS% of 58.9) and De’Anthony Melton (12.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game with a 3PT% of 39.2 and a TS% of 55.1) that have impressed me the most.

Harden looks the best he has looked since his first half-year in Brooklyn, and Melton has turned into the prototypical championship caliber glue guy, a defensive menace who can create his own shot on offense, and does all of the little things right. Melton’s arrival has helped elevate the 76ers into a dominant defensive team (109.2 defensive rating, 2nd in the NBA). Once Tyrese Maxey (22.9 points per game with a TS% of 56.9) returns this weekend, the 76ers could turn on a whole other gear and have a run like the Brooklyn Nets over the last month and a half.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers, 22-13

The Cavaliers have the best defense in basketball (defensive rating of 108.4), but have lost two straight games, to the Raptors and Nets. Donovan Mitchell (28.5 points and 4.5 assists per game with a TS% of 63.1) and Darius Garland (21.4 points and 7.8 assists per game with a TS% of 57.4 and just dropped 46 points) are one of the best backcourt duos in basketball, while Jarrett Allen (13.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with a TS% of 65.5) and Evan Mobley (14.6 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game with a TS% of 60.1) are the best interior defensive duo in basketball.

Offensive consistency has been this team’s problem, and when Mitchell or Garland are struggling on certain nights, Allen, Mobley, Caris LeVert, and Kevin Love haven’t been able to take pressure off of them and produce. Perhaps the eventual return of Ricky Rubio will provide some much needed offensive depth, but the Cavaliers may want to bolster their roster before the trade deadline for the stretch run.

6. New Orleans Pelicans, 21-12

The Pelicans have won three straight games without their two best players. Let that sink it. That is how much talent and depth the Pelicans have. Zion Williamson (25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with a TS% of 64.6) missed three games due to health and safety protocols, and Brandon Ingram continues to miss time due to injury, but C.J. McCollum (25.3 points, 8.7 assists, and 7 rebounds per game with a TS% of 57.5 over his last 3 games) and Jonas Valanciunas (20.8 points and 11.8 rebounds over his last 4 games) have stepped up in their absence.

Both Jose Alvarado and rookie Dyson Daniels are pests defensively, Trey Murphy is a 6-10 3 and D star who shoots 40+% from 3PT range, and Herb Jones is already one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. The Pelicans are the only team in basketball with a top 6 offensive and defensive rating and aren’t even fully healthy yet.

5. Memphis Grizzlies, 20-12

After being ranked 1st in my last power rankings, the Grizzlies went 1-2 last week with 14 point losses against the Nuggets and Warriors and a 25 point win against the Suns. Ja Morant (26.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game with a TS% of 54.5) has been the heart and soul of this team, but until Desmond Bane (just 6-26 from the floor in his two games back) gets back into a rhythm, the Grizzlies could continue to struggle offensively.

Jaren Jackson Jr. (16.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game) is a Defensive Player Of the Year candidate and has almost single-handedly transformed this defense from being ranked 24th into now being the 3rd best defense in the NBA (defensive rating of 109.7). The Grizzlies have to become more consistent offensively as the year goes on, and that should happen once Morant, Bane, and Jackson Jr. continue to get comfortable playing together again.

4. Denver Nuggets, 21-11

The Nuggets are in 1st place in the Western Conference and it’s no surprise that Nikola Jokic (25.4 points, 11 rebounds, and 9.4 assists with a TS% of 68.5 and a PER of 32.2) is the biggest reason why. The two-time reigning NBA MVP continues to boggle our minds and is coming off of a 40 point, 15 rebounds, 15 assist, performance in an impressive overtime win against the Suns on Christmas.

The Nuggets have won 7 of their last 8 games and have an offensive rating of 116.7 (ranked 3rd), a team eFG% of 57.2, a team eFG% of 57.2 (ranked 2nd), and a team TS% of 60 (ranked 3rd in the NBA). With one of the best offenses in basketball and arguably the leagues best offensive player in Jokic, the Nuggets should continue to stay toward the top of the Western Conference.

3. Milwaukee Bucks, 22-11

The Bucks once had the top defense in basketball, but they have lost three games in a row (all to their biggest competition, Cavs, Celtics, and Nets) and now sport only the 5th best defensive rating in the NBA. (110.5). Giannis Antetokounmpo (31.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game with a TS% of 59.2) and Jrue Holiday (18.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game with a TS% of 56.2) continue to thrive on both ends of the floor, while Brook Lopez (14.9 points and 2.5 blocks per game with a TS% of 63.1) is a defensive player of the year candidate.

One of their most relied upon and consistent 3PT shooters, Bobby Portis (13.4 points and 10 rebounds per game with a TS% of 56), is hitting just 29.8% of his three’s this season, a mark substantially worse than his 3PT% of 41.9 over the past two season combined. The Bucks need Portis to return to his production from the last two seasons otherwise too much pressure will be put on Antetoukounmpo, Holiday, and Middleton to produce offensively in the playoffs, something that won’t bode well against a juggernaut offense such as the Celtics.

2. Brooklyn Nets, 22-12

The Nets have won 10 straight games and have the best offensive rating and 3rd-best NET Rating in the NBA in the month of December. Kevin Durant (30 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with a TS% of 67.3) and Kyrie Irving (26 points per game with a TS% of 60.4) have been the best offensive duo in basketball over the last month, but its been the improved 10th ranked defensive rating of 112.7 (10th in the NBA) that has catapulted them into one of the leagues best teams.

Nic Claxton, T.J. Warren, and Ben Simmons are all playing great basketball and since Jacque Vaughn took over as Head Coach, the Nets have a 19-7 record, the best mark in the NBA. If they continue to defend at a high level with an offense than ranks in the top 5 of every single offensive category, then this team will be a championship contender.

1. Boston Celtics, 24-10

The Celtics reclaim their #1 spot after a 2-1 week with a loss against the Pacers and wins against the Timberwolves and Bucks. The Christmas Day performance against the Bucks was remarkable as the Celtics put up 139 points on a top 5 defense and Jayson Tatum (30.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game with a TS% of 61.7.) continued his MVP campaign with 41 points and a poster dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the best offensive rating (118.2) and now 8th best defensive rating (111.9) in basketball, the Celtics are the most complete team in the league and will only further improve defensively as Robert Williams III continues to progress.

Note: Advanced Statistics used in this article are gathered from Statmuse.com and NBA.com and are updated as of Tuesday, December 27th, 2022

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