Power Rankings: Warriors or Griz?
Monday, Dec. 1
Golden State and Memphis remain almost impossible to separate at the top of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings.
The 14-2 Warriors, with a league-leading eight more road victories than home defeats, have clung to the top spot in the rankings ahead of the right-there 15-2 Grizzlies, who have the league's best record and sport a healthy plus-7 when it comes to calculating plus/minus using road wins and home losses.
Yet the most notable development on this Rankings Monday is the fact that the top seven slots are occupied by Western Conference teams, with No. 8 Chicago, No. 9 Toronto (down six spots after a DeMar DeRozan injury and an OT loss to the Lakers) and No. 10 Cleveland (up five after a 3-0 week) rounding out the top 10. The Oklahoma City Thunder, meanwhile, made this week's biggest leap, rising from No. 26 to a heady No. 15 thanks to the return of Russell Westbrook -- with Kevin Durant not too far behind.
A more detailed look at this week's order can be found on Stein Line Live. You can also comment below on this week's 1-to-30 ladder, which, as always, was assembled with the usual helpings of helpful dishing from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau.
|2014-15 Power Rankings: Week 5
|TEAM / RECORD
Last Week: 1
|Steve Kerr's Warriors lead the league in FG percentage (.487) and FG percentage D (.407). It's a slightly premature discussion, true, but we haven't seen a team lead both categories at season's end since the Sixers -- yesteryear's Sixers, of course -- pulled off the feat way back in 1980-81.
Last Week: 2
|A loud statement win in Portland marked the first time in team history that the Griz halted an opponent's winning streak spanning at least nine games. An 11-0 start against the West essentially has Memphis on even footing with the team in possession of the league's longest active winning streak.
Last Week: 4
|Questions persist about the severity of the "broken rib" Tony Parker just revealed and the ongoing Tiago Splitter calf issues that even Pop says have left the Spurs "very confused." What I'd really like to know, though, is what on earth Pop has in mind to try to cheer up his buddy Brett Brown on Monday night?
Last Week: 7
|One of the most surprising developments of the season's opening month: Dallas leads the league in dunks with 110. Even harder to process: Milwaukee is next in line with a mere 91. The far more important stat is that Rick Carlisle is manufacturing more rest for Dirk than he's ever gotten.
Last Week: 5
|Home L's to the Dubs and Griz dull the shine of Portland's opening month slightly, but they are still in a pretty good place considering the schedule, as promised, is about to get road heavy. Golden State, Memphis, Toronto and these Blazers remain the only teams in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Last Week: 10
|All that fuss about how the Clips didn't leave California for the first time until the season was 22 days old and what happens? It takes what was thought to be a daunting seven-game trip for Doc Rivers' guys to uncork a 6-1 mark and start looking a bit more like the team we expected.
Last Week: 6
|Considering that the Rockets played without three starters for long stretches and managed to trot out their projected starting five just twice, I suspect they are not going to fret too much about where they are in the top 10. Don't be surprised to see Dwight back for Wednesday's showdown with Memphis either.
Last Week: 9
|The Bulls wound up going 4-3 on their annual Circus Trip -- only their second winning Circus Trip since MJ retired -- and watched D-Rose start and finish consecutive games for the first time all season. In spite of all the drama, Chicago has to feel pretty good about life with a road record of 9-3.
Last Week: 3
|Losing DeMar DeRozan to that nasty torn tendon (do not watch this replay) will inflict a more lasting sting than the losses to Dallas or the Lakers. No Toronto starter missed more than five games last season, so naturally it happens now as the Raps inch away from their favorable early schedule.
Last Week: 15
|The Cavs, fragility and all, are 6-1 when LeBron scores at least 25, so score one for those who have been clamoring for him to be more assertive. Here at committee HQ, meanwhile, we took a weekend respite from the ceaseless dissection of these guys to watch LeBron's gorgeous no-looker on an endless loop.
Last Week: 8
|Any win without Nene is a good one for the Wiz, who dropped their first three Nene-less games before surviving Anthony Davis' 30 and 13 to edge the Pels. On the plus side: Bradley Beal's return has had an immediate impact on a team that was 29th in the league in 3-pointers per game while Beal healed.
Last Week: 14
|Chris Bosh is up to five 25-point games already for the season after managing just seven for the entire 2013-14 campaign. The first Dwyane Wade sighting in eight games was notable, too, after Miami went 3-4 without him: 27 points, five boards and five assists in an MSG win on that rested hamstring.
Last Week: 16
|Count on the young Bucks to make history whether or not they maintain their standing as a top-10 defense and build on this Cinderella start. How so? Here you go: Giannis (11.9 PPG) and Jabari (11.9, too) are on course to be the first pair of teenage teammates in NBA annals to score in double figures.
Last Week: 19
|I'd say the Hawks got their revenge for that game-winning triple Lance Stephenson banked in at the OT buzzer on Nov. 7. Saturday's 30-point undressing of the Hornets, combined with Jeff Teague's 21.3 PER and Kyle Korver's 55.3 percent shooting from deep, gives Atlanta some shiny numbers to stare at.
Last Week: 26
|Apparently there is little correlation between the like-sounding words Russ and Rust. FWIW, we do think A) Kevin Durant will make his comeback Tuesday, and B) OKC does have enough time to rally and make the playoffs as long as Russ and KD can stay healthy for the rest of the way.
Last Week: 13
|The Kings continue to show real fight. They showed it Sunday night against Memphis even without an ailing Boogie Cousins. Yet as great as 9-8 sounds for a team that didn't win its ninth game until after Christmas last season, Sacramento is 29th in assist rate and can certainly move the ball better.
Last Week: 17
|If you're looking for a fun conversation starter, try this one: Now that the Nuggets, with the ankle-breaking Ty Lawson leading the way and by uncharacteristically slowing down the pace, seem to have played their way into some peace for Brian Shaw, which coach resides on the hottest seat in the NBA?
Last Week: 20
|Frank Vogel has what's left of his squad playing so hard that, with David West back on the floor, Cleveland can legitimately classify its home win over Indy as a quality W. How many teams can claim road wins in Miami, Chicago and Dallas -- all without West or Paul George -- like these Pacers can?
Last Week: 12
|Routed in Denver. Humbled at home by Orlando. And still waiting for Isaiah Thomas to shake off an ankle tweak that shelved him for the Suns' past three games. Not even a new gem for Gerald Green's collection can mask the fact that the Suns' final 72 hours of November were thoroughly un-fun.
Last Week: 11
|Anthony Davis moves into December with a Jordan-esque PER of 33.4 and a sub-.500 record despite the fact his Pels managed to go 2-2 during the recent absence of key sidekick Omer Asik. The sad reality is that the game's most impressive individual, at the moment, remains a playoff long shot.
Last Week: 18
|Phoenix is the first of Orlando's five road victims that boasts a winning record after the Magic's earlier away W's in Philly, New York, Detroit and Charlotte. Not that they are terribly picky after going 4-37 outside of the Magic Kingdom last season, which ranked as the league's worst road record.
Last Week: 21
|The best thing going for the visibly unhappy Nets is the sight of the five sub-.300 Leastern Conference teams below them in the standings. Brooklyn, mind you, is by no means safe with 10 of its next 16 opponents at .500 or better and Lionel Hollins at 0-7 thus far against such teams.
Last Week: 23
|Big leads over Cleveland and Chicago don't provide much encouragement because the Celts crumbled in both fourth quarters. When you really examine it, they are winless since Nov. 8 if you toss out their Nov. 19 triumph in Philly. Something else to sweat: Rajon Rondo is somehow only 9-for-30 at the FT line.
Last Week: 22
|The committee presumes we're speaking for the majority when we say we would like to see more Rudy Gobert than we've been getting. As for your Gordon Hayward update amid Utah's increasing struggles to stay competitive: He's up to four 30-point games after just four in the first 287 games of his career.
Last Week: 28
|Outside of Kevin Love's Twin Cities return Jan. 31, is there a bigger game in the Wolves' foreseeable future than Wednesday's home date with a Sixers team that figures to be 0-17? Rest assured Philly has it circled, along with Saturday's trip to Detroit, as a game it could conceivably steal.
Last Week: 27
|The latest indictment of the Lakers' unspeakably porous D: Wolves rook Zach LaVine had an 18-point quarter at Staples Center after scoring in double figures just twice in his first 10 games as a pro. The latest indictment of the Leastern Conference, meanwhile, is the Lakers' 3-0 record against Charlotte, Atlanta and Toronto.
Last Week: 25
|The committee happened to be in the building for the Knicks' two finest performances of the season: Cleveland away and Dallas away. Yet our ability to brag about this promptly perished after we dared to follow the Knicks to OKC, where they no-showed against the returning Russell Westbrook.
Last Week: 24
|Carrying the longest active losing streak outside of Philly, with a defense that has dipped to No. 25 and doubts about the Lance Stephenson fit growing while the Cavs were rediscovering their offense, Charlotte wound up clinching November's Most Disappointing Team status all too comfortably.
Last Week: 29
|The enormity of the task Stan Van Gundy has taken on surely has to be setting in. Andre Drummond finally had two Drummond-esque games against the Bucks with Brandon Jennings out, but SVG felt the need to shuffle the lineup amid all the losing and fourth-quarter misfiring, shifting Greg Monroe to a bench role.
Last Week: 30
|On the heels of all those annoying How would they fare against Kentucky? questions, Thanksgiving Week spawned a new source of unwanted debate for the Sixers: Who will win more games this season? The 9-3 Eagles or the 0-16 Sixers, who have been in a one-possession game inside the game's final minute just three times so far?