The job for your trusty committee (of one) would have been a lot easier if the Oklahoma City Thunder had just done what they were supposed to do Sunday night and taken care of the Toronto Raptors.
Our issues, though, aren’t what matter.
What matters is that OKC, despite that defeat, could not be denied its first promotion of the season to the top slot of ESPN.com’s weekly NBA Power Rankings.
You could make a passionate case for any of the top three teams in the rankings to be No. 1 on this Week 8 Monday. The Pacers, for example, responded to their failure to hold a late lead in Miami by beating Houston and Boston by a combined 60 points. The Blazers’ only loss last week, meanwhile, came on the road at Minnesota in their fourth game in five nights ... with Kevin Love falling just one assist shy of his first career triple-double in yet another otherworldly performance.
The Thunder, in the end, prevailed thanks to their dominant December. They’re 11-2 this month even after losing their unblemished home record to the Raps, but don’t forget that Sunday’s narrow defeat came right on the heels of OKC’s emotional Saturday night win at San Antonio, which nudged the Thunder to 2-0 against their longtime rivals.
The Thunder can’t answer the biggest questions that linger about them -- starting with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and whether they’ll get enough scoring help in the playoffs -- until we get to the spring. But the progress report on Christmas looks undeniably good with Durant brilliant as usual, Westbrook gradually making you forget he ever had knee surgery, Serge Ibaka anchoring the defense and Reggie Jackson emerging as a better sixth man than OKC could have ever hoped for after the exits of James Harden and Kevin Martin.
The latest rankings, as always, were compiled by the committee with Chris Paul-esque dishing from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. You can click here to rank the teams yourself until we return next Monday with a fresh 1-to-30 pulse-take of the league.