Wednesday, 16 January 2008

NBA Power Rankings

The season is nearly halfway done, and I with football and college basketball, I have hardly written anything on the NBA! Time to rectify that a little with some power rankings... here is my top 10.

1. Boston Celtics - They've lost 2 in a row(!), but it's tough not to put them at the top. As of this writing, their record still stands at 30-6, and they outscore their opponents by over 11 points per game. They're efficient offensively, and they look to be the best defensive team in the Association right now. That's a nice combination.

2. Detroit Pistons - I'm tempted to put them lower after their embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Knickerbockers a few days ago, but for now they stay at 2. Their 29-10 record is 2nd best in the NBA, as is their plus 8.6 scoring margin. Even in the much weaker Eastern Conference, that's enough to put them at 2 in the rankings.

3. San Antonio Spurs - They're making it look a little harder than they have in past years, but the Spurs are still 25-11 right now. Though there is a little concern in that they are only 6-8 on the road (as opposed to a bustling 19-3 at home), which could cause some problems if they don't shape that up. I'm pretty sure they will, though.

4. Dallas Mavericks - They were on a roll until losing to the Kings on Tuesday night. Like some of the other powers in the West, they just kind of seem to be coasting along, waiting until the playoffs. Like the Spurs, they will need to get better on the road... they are only .500 right now.

5. Los Angeles Lakers - Yes, the Lakers 5th. Andrew Bynum will be out for a while, but they still have solid depth and they're playing excellent basketball, leading the Suns in the Pacific Division as of this writing. Obviously Kobe is the catalyst here, but they have a plethora of guys contributing every night. It would appear the young guys have finally grown up around Kobe, which makes this team very dangerous. Don't look now, but the Lakers are quite potent offensively, averaging a robust 107.8 PPG.

6. Phoenix Suns - They're still the most fun team to watch, but they're struggling a bit more this year, relatively speaking. They're still 26-2, but they give up nearly 105 PPG (again, part of the pace they play), and they're still not getting enough contributions from their bench. Steve Nash is once again playing 34 minutes per contest, which will hurt later in the year. With Grant Hill out a little while longer, the bench will be even more thin... not good.

7. New Orleans Hornets - Led by Chris Paul (who has potentially morphed from the 2nd best PG in the NBA to a top 5 NBA player), the Hornets can beat anyone on a given night. People do not appreciate how good this guy is... he has surpassed Steve Nash as the best PG in the NBA, and is making a viable case to be the MVP of the NBA. You can't say enough about Chris Paul.

8. Utah Jazz - The Jazz are finally starting to play better basketball, having won 4 in a row to stand at 22-17. They have a very solid 4.0 plus scoring margin. This is the amazing thing about the West... at 22-17, if the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be on the outside looking in. In the East, they would be a 4 seed.

9. Golden State Warriors - The craze of the NBA last June, the Warriors struggled out of the gate this year. However, they appear to have found their stride once again under Don Nelson, and now sit at 23-16. As long as Baron Davis is healthy, they can potentially (as they have shown) beat anyone in a 7-game series.

10. Orlando Magic - They have cooled down considerably after their hot start, but they still look the be the 3rd best team in the East (granted, a long ways off from the top 2). Dwight Howard is averaging 15 rebounds per game right now. They are worth the price of admission if only to see that man rebound the basketball.

Your thoughts? What would you change around?