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The Sports Daily > Burning River Basketball
NBA Power Rankings – 11/23
  1. Cavs
    • Danny – The Cavs have been able to pick up right where they left off after coming back from 3-1 down against the Warriors in the Finals last June. LeBron James looks as if he hasn’t aged a bit even though he is approaching his 32nd birthday next month. Kyrie Irving has continued to develop into an unstoppable scorer, Kevin Love has looked better than he ever has in a Cavalier uniform, and everyone else seems to be healthy. The lone worry in Cleveland is the lack of a backup point guard.
    • JPD- The Cavaliers have been rolling early this season despite questions with transition defense and a few depth issues that may rear their ugly head. Still the prohibitive favorite to blow through the east. Channing Frye has been a more important part of the offense that I anticipated, and Kevin Love is looking more and more like the force he was in Minnesota. Meanwhile, LeBron is averaging 23/9/8, and if the Cavs keep rolling, he ought to be the hands down MVP.
    • Ben – The Cavaliers still have yet to play their best basketball of the season. The scary part about the Cavs is that they’re beating teams while coasting. This team is having fun and knows when to flip the switch and dominate when the situation dictates. Their lackadaisical attitude might cost them a few head-scratchers, but come spring, they will be locked in.

 

 

  1. ClippersDanny – The first upset of our power rankings comes at the second spot where we placed Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and company ahead of the deadly Golden State Warriors. The LA Clippers finally look like a team that is destined to make a run deep into the playoffs, then again, it’s only November.
  2. GSWBen – The Warriors are a good team, but right now, do not have the same cohesion of the Cavaliers and Clippers. The addition of Kevin Durant certainly did not hurt the Warriors, but there is only one ball to shoot and the Warriors are still figuring out how to best incorporate everyone on their roster.
  3. HawksBen – The Hawks have truly re-invented themselves this season and Dwight Howard has everything to do with the re-invention. The Hawks play plenty of defense with Howard at the back line and also have plenty of versatility on offense with Paul Millsap creating matchup problems on that end.
  4. RaptorsDanny – DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have really carried over momentum from winning a gold medal with Team USA at the Olympics this summer. DeRozan has averaged over 30 points per game on this young season. Toronto looks like a team that could end up as the opponent for the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row.
  5. Spurs – JPD  – Pau Gasol’s defense, and Tony Parker’s slow start haven’t been enough to drag the Spurs down too much. Kawhi Leonard is an early MVP candidate, and an opening night blowout of the Warriors looms as their best and most impressive win.
  6. RocketsBen – Mike D’Antoni’s presence in Houston has paid off dividends for the Rockets and their star James Harden. Harden is having a season that will keep him in the conversation for league MVP and the aforementioned Dwight Howard is gone, perhaps lifting a burden off the Rockets. If Houston could figure out how to stop somebody on defense, they certainly would be higher in the power rankings. The addition of Patrick Beverly from injury may help that.
  7. HornetsDanny – Kemba Walker is looking as if he is going to be heading to the All-Star game and has the Hornets looking as if they could make some noise come playoff time. The loss of Jeremy Lin and his ridiculous hairstyles hasn’t been too much of a factor.
  8. BullsJPD – Chicago is really interesting. They’re running a variation of the standard “Space and pace” model without having knockdown shooters from deep. Wade looks tremendous, and Butler is a darkhorse candidate for MVP of the first half of the season.
  9. ThunderBen – Despite losing Kevin Durant, the Thunder still are an interesting team. Russell Westbrook is putting up stupid numbers in Durant’s absence, which makes the Thunder competitive on any given night.
  10. JazzDanny – Not having George Hill has been a big let down for the Jazz, but some of the other pieces in Utah have a lot to like about them. I don’t have total confidence in this team down the stretch but I think they’ll be fun to watch now.
  11. CelticsJPD – I voted Boston 15th. Missing Horford and Crowder for the time that they did certainly wasn’t helpful. Contenders have depth that steps up in those times, and nobody on Boston really did so in a way that was truly impactful.
  12. GrizzlesBen – The Grizzlies are benefitting from being unorthodox, which has them in the top half of the power rankings. With Marc Gasol anchoring the team, the Grizzlies are a team that is out to out-physical teams. Zach Randolph moving to the bench is a move that allows the Grizzlies to play a physical brand of basketball in the second unit, as well.
  13. BlazersDanny – The whole Evan Turner thing hasn’t really worked out yet, but Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have been bright spots. This team can be very fun to watch, but for the time being they’re still a piece away.
  14. PacersJPD – Indiana is better than they’ve played, I think, and they’re going to continue to improve. New pieces trying to find their way, and a head coach who prefers a slower pace have made things difficult off and on early, but PG13 and crew should find their footing before long.
  15. T’WolvesBen – The Timberwolves are a team that is coming on to the NBA scene in a big way. Karl Anthony-Towns is one of the best centers in the league in just his second season and Andrew Wiggins, although inconsistent, is developing into a star. If the Wolves stay healthy, they will be a tough out in the West.
  16. LakersDanny – Not to be ‘that guy’ but Kobe Bryant’s retirement has been the biggest addition by subtraction in the NBA. These Lakers are definitely fun. They’re not a playoff team this year, but they have a bright future.
  17. HeatJPD – I hadn’t expected Miami to play nearly this well this early, but Hassan Whiteside is an absolute terror, and the recent surge in play from Dion Waiters (!) has kept them afloat. Getting, and keeping, Goran Dragic healthy will be huge if they expect to make a meaningful playoff run.
  18. PistonsBen – The absence of Reggie Jackson to start this season has definitely hurt the Pistons. When Jackson is fully healthy, this team is good enough to compete for seeds 6-8 in the East, but their ceiling is not much higher than that, given that they lack a bonafide star.
  19. Knicks Danny – I scratched my head when Derrick Rose said that the two ‘Super Teams’ in the NBA were the Warriors and the Knicks. If this was 2011, this team would be absolutely loaded, unfortunately it’s 2016 and they’re nowhere near the top of the league. Kristaps Porzingis is developing really nicely, however.
  20. BucksJPD – Point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is turning into a LeBron James lite. Making a difference on both ends for the Bucks, he’s become a prolific scorer and playmaker without possessing any real threat of a consistent jump shot. He needs consistent scoring from a wing to really take his game, and the young Bucks, to the next level in the East.
  21. NuggetsBen – Much like the Grizzlies, the Nuggets are somewhat of an unorthodox team in today’s NBA. The Nuggets are very young, but they have two of the best big men in the game in Jusef Nurkic and Nikola Jokic. As the team continues to grow together, it definitely could be one that surprises some people and climbs the power rankings a bit.
  22. MagicDanny – The Magic are a solid team defensively, but offensively they’re not very good. Their schedule early on hasn’t been difficult, and I still don’t think I agree with the trade sending Victor Oladipo to OKC.
  23. PelicansJPD – Anthony Davis is top five NBA player, but the rest is not quite there. The offseason additions haven’t solved their shooting or scoring problems, and Jrue Holiday missing time has hindered their ability to produce on a nightly basis. If things don’t turn quickly, we may hear rumbles about an unhappy Davis coupled with trade deadline rumors galore. A situation worth keeping track of.
  24. SunsBen – Outside of Eric Bledsoe, the Suns do not have a ton going for them. The Suns are a case of a team without a well-rounded roster. Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are probably the team’s two best players, but one of them could probably help the team more if he were traded for some front court help. Rookie Dragan Bender figures to be a good NBA player, but right now, struggles are abound for the Suns.
  25. KingsDanny – I’m starting to think that Boogie Cousins will never be on a winner, and if he is, it certainly won’t be in Sacramento. This organization is honestly one of the worst run in sports.
  26. WizardsJPD – I suppose this is what happens when your offseason cap space turns into Andrew Nicholson. They’re having a hard time finding him minutes. John Wall and a healthy Bradley Beal are playing well, but things in Washington are dire. This is a roster that should have competed for a spot at the end of the Eastern Conference Playoff picture. Instead, a trip near the top of the lottery seems more likely.
  27. MavericksBen – The Mavericks have been somewhat of a disappointment so far this season. Harrison Barnes has had some good games, but probably has fallen short of the superstar expectations he was given when he signed a huge contract this offseason. There are a lot of holes in Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki is not getting any younger. It does not look great for the Mavs in 2016-17.
  28. 76ersDanny – Joel Embiid fever is real. Trusting in the process for the last two years has finally shown us that he has real NBA talent when healthy. If only we could be watching Ben Simmons as well…
  29. Nets – JPD – As always, Brook Lopez has been a bright spot for a team that just doesn’t have enough consistently good NBA talent to matter. Their 29th ranked scoring defense has managed to be bad enough to offset the offense ranking ninth. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is emerging as a high level NBA wing defender.