The Warriors are currently the best team in the NBA. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)
Here are this week’s NBA power rankings (as of Nov. 30).
1. WARRIORS (16-2): The collective fears of the 29 other NBA franchises upon Kevin Durant’s signing have all seemed to be well founded. This team looks superior to the 2015-16 version that set the NBA regular season wins record. The dubs have ripped off 12 straight wins, and sit firmly atop my power rankings.
2. CAVALIERS (13-3): The defending champions certainly have a strong argument for the top spot in the power rankings. Kevin Love has had a basketball renaissance of sorts, averaging 22.3 points per game, six points higher than last season. This team is far and away the class of the Eastern Conference.
3. SPURS (15-4): The retirement of Tim Duncan has had seemingly no affect on the Spurs in terms of them being right in the thick of the best teams in basketball conversation. Kawhi Leonard is a top-five player in the NBA, and few players can impact the game on both sides of the ball like he can.
4. CLIPPERS (14-5): The Clips hot start has taken a hit with a three game road losing streak, including an inexplicable double OT loss to the lowly Nets. Despite that, the Clippers have too much talent and are too well coached to not bounce back.
5. RAPTORS (12-6): Demar Derozan has come back down to Earth a little bit after a torrid scoring start to the season. The Raptors boast perhaps the second best backcourt in the NBA to the Warriors, and will go as far as Lowry and Derozan can take them.
6. ROCKETS (11-7): The James Harden point guard experiment is off to a rousing success. The Beard is averaging a league best 11.9 assists per game, and scoring in the top-five as well. The problem for Houston though is after Harden, the cupboard is pretty bare.
7. THUNDER (12-8): Oklahoma City’s success begins and ends with Russell Westbrook. Fortunately for them, Westbrook is in the midst of what could be a historically great individual season in the NBA. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, something that has not been done this late into a season since the great Oscar Robertson in the 1963-64 season.
8. CELTICS (10-8): An up-and-down start to the season due mostly to injuries to Al Horford and Jae Crowder seems to be turning itself around as the C’s have won four of their last six games. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are enjoying career years, but the Celtics inability to rebound could prove to be this team’s undoing.
9. BULLS (10-7): The Bulls have fared better than many pundits expected at this point in the season, largely in part to another leap in the game of Jimmy Butler. Butler is fifth in the league in PER, ahead of players like Steph Curry, Chris Paul, and Lebron James.
10. JAZZ (11-8): The Jazz might be a little too low on this list, but I’m not convinced yet. A recent four game losing streak was followed by a four game (and counting) winning streak. Offseason acquisition George Hill is averaging a crazy nine points better than his career average, if that lasts, the Jazz will rise quickly.
11.GRIZZLIES (11-8): The Grizz have been playing excellent basketball of late, including a recent 6 game win streak. However their hopes to stay alive in a highly competitive Western conference just took a major hit with the announcement that point guard Mike Conley will miss at least six weeks with a fractured vertebrae.
12. HORNETS (10-8): The fighting Michael Jordan’s, like several other teams on this list, started hot and have cooled off of late. Kemba Walker is playing at an all star level, but the Hornets are in desperate need of a second reliable scorer.
13. PACERS (9-10): A trendy pick for a bounceback season, the Pacers have been the model of inconsistency. Losses to the Nets, Suns, and 76ers have been paired with wins over the Cavs, Clippers and Thunder. Larry Bird is probably tearing what’s left of his blonde locks out
14. HAWKS (10-9): The Hawks have dropped six of their last seven games on the road and their quick 9-2 start to the season is starting to seem like a distant memory.
15. LAKERS (10-10): Some argued that Luke Walton should have had some coach of the year consideration last season in his stint filling in for Steve Kerr. This season, with a team all of his own, coach Walton should be the early front runner for his work turning around what was an awful Lakers team last year.
16. PISTONS (10-10):The Pistons have been a superb 7-2 at home this season, the only problem, they’ve been an abysmal 3-8 on the road. The return of point guard Reggie Jackson who just was cleared to practice should help.
17. BUCKS (8-8): A team that some thought might make a leap has remained pretty much stagnant this season. A gruesome injury to Khris Middleton that may keep him out all year certainly didn’t help, but the fact that the Bucks are getting next to nothing from Greg Monroe is a killer.
18. KNICKS (9-9): I’m not sure this is what Derrick Rose had in mind when he dubbed the Knicks as a super team. If anything, the Knicks are a super average team. Carmelo can still score, Porzingis is absolutely the real deal, but it seems to be increasingly obvious the mix of players in New York is not a good fit.
19. TRAILBLAZERS (10-10): Out in the pacific northwest, the Blazers were hoping to build on a 44 win season. Thus far though, the Blazers haven’t been able to find their rhythm. The Lillard and McCollum backcourt is still giving teams fits, but Portland lacks any real quality wins since early November against the Grizzlies.
20. PELICANS (7-12): There are one man teams, and then there is the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis is doing all he can night in and night out to try to drag this Pels team to victory. Unfortunately for him he’s not getting much help. Sixth overall pick Buddy Hield shooting 23 percent from three certainly is not getting the job done.
21. NUGGETS (7-11): The Nuggets find themselves in a place they’ve been many times before…the dreaded no man’s land territory of the NBA. They aren’t bad enough to be amongst the bottom teams, and they aren’t good enough to make a playoff run. Strong starts to the season by youngsters Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray certainly gives Denver fans some hope for the future.
22. KINGS (7-11): New season, same story line for the Kings. Will Demarcus Cousins be traded? The All Star center continues to put up great numbers but the team can’t convert that into wins. It’s looking more and more apparent that Sacramento might be best off blowing it up and starting from scratch.
23. TIMBERWOLVES (5-13): The young and extremely talented T-Wolves are still very much a work in progress. While Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns continue to shine night in and night out, the losses keep piling up.
24. WIZARDS (6-11): On paper the Wizard’s starting 5 actually looks pretty good. John Wall and Bradley Beal are both scoring in the 20’s and Otto Porter has been contributing. The issue for Washington, is that when they turn to the bench, all hell breaks loose. The Wizards’ bench is averaging 23.7 points per game, second-worst in the NBA.
25. MAGIC (7-11): A recent four game skid was stopped by a very impressive win in San Antonio. That however doesn’t change the fact that the Magic lack a true scoring threat, and until they acquire one (or two), they’ll continue to struggle.
26. HEAT (6-12): This Miami team is virtually unrecognizable from the Heat teams of recent years. With Dwyane Wade gone to Chicago, Hassan Whiteside is the alpha dog in South Beach. Injuries to Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow have hampered them, but even when fully healthy, this Heat team just isn’t very good.
27. 76ERS (4-14): The team that has been the laughing stock of the NBA the past few years, is for the first time showing signs of life. Not many signs mind you, the basketball equivalent of the wiggle of a big toe, but it’s enough to keep them out of the bottom three of the rankings. Philadelphia fans can thank the play of Joel Embiid who has been nothing short of phenomenal in his rookie season.
28. MAVERICKS (3-14): The Mavs will almost certainly finish the season under the .500 mark for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Despite major offseason additions of Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, Dallas seems destined to finish the season towards the bottom of the standings.
29. SUNS (6-13): Nobody expected the Suns to be good this year, and they are dutifully complying with that assessment. Losses to Philadelphia and Brooklyn should probably put Phoenix in the last spot, but the talent they have in their backcourt just squeaks them above the Nets.
30. NETS (5-12): Some early victories had Celtics fans in a state of shock, that quickly wore off however after a 7 game losing streak. Even a gutsy double OT win over the Clippers can’t mask the severe lack of talent on this team. Expect Brook Lopez to be on the move soon, leaving Brooklyn with even less NBA level talent.