I normally don’t write NBA articles until after the New Year. But, with so many compelling stories and games, The NBA pulled me back in. It is time for The Sports Whisperer’s NBA Power Rankings.
#10) New York Knicks (10-7).
Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. He has taken over for Carmelo Anthony and he is rewarding the Knicks for putting their faith in him. When Porzingis was drafted, I wrote, “He will be the best New York Knicks player since Patrick Ewing”. After a slow start to the season, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been a very good second option. He is averaging 16.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. For the Knicks to win 40 or more games, Hardaway has got to average at least 18 points per contest.
#9) Philadelphia 76ers, (10-7).
What can you say about the 76ers? I wrote in the pre-season… “If I was buying stock in an NFL and NBA Teams over the next five years, I would take the Philadelphia Eagles the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers. Not since LeBron James have we seen a player like Ben Simmons. The Former LSU star is averaging 21.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. He will win rookie of the year ,and he could be the face of the NBA over the next 10 years. Joel Embid is a double/double machine. He is averaging 24.3 points and 11 rebounds per game. This team is fun to watch and their young stars are hungry to compete every night.
#8) Washington Wizards, (10-8).
This is one of my favorite tweets of all time because it doesn’t make any sense. This woman thinks, if you work out, you will get taller.
I work out 5 times a week and I am six feet one. According to her logic I should be 7’6. I bring up her tweet because it makes absolutely no sense to me, why the Wizards are 10-8. John Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the best back-courts in the NBA. The two are averaging , 44 points, 8.2 rebounds and 12.5 assists. The problem with this team is they have absolutely no bench. Other than Kelly Oubre Jr. who is providing offense on this roster. The wizards have a very good top 6 but if they don’t turn it around soon they my not make the playoffs.
#7) San Antonio Spurs, (11-7) Minnesota Timberwolves (10-7).
Both teams will get better as the season goes on. The Timberwolves are still getting used to playing with free agent Jimmy Butler and the Spurs have survived without All-NBA superstar, Kawhi Leonard. LeMarcus Aldridge is averaging 21.9 points and 8.3 rebounds. 2nd year player, Dejounte Murray, has been a bit of a disappointment. He is only averaging 7.7 points per game. If he doesn’t pick it up, he maybe the 3rd point guard on the spurs roster behind Patty Mills and Tony Parker.
#6) Detroit Pistons, (11-6) and Toronto Raptors, (11-6).
I understand the cities of these two teams wanting to be included in these power rankings. But, quite honestly, neither of these organizations are a threat to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. I look at the Pistons and the Raptors like I view the Kansas City Chiefs. They are above average in the regular season but will never win a title as presently constituted.
#5) Houston Rockets (14-4)
Once again, Chris Paul was injured. James Harden is doing everything he can to get Houston to 60 wins.
The man they call “The Beard” is putting up hall of fame like numbers. In 18 games, he is averaging 29.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game. Center Clint Capela continues to improve. He is averaging 11.3 rebounds and 13 points per game. Capela and Harden have great chemistry running the pick and roll. The Rockets may win 55 plus games this season but under Mike D’Antoni leadership, this team will never get to the western conference finals. He only coaches one side of the ball.
#4) Boston Celtics, (16-3).
At the start of the season, I tweeted out a poll. Who would you rather have, Kyrie Irving or John Wall? The Washington Wizards point guard won the poll 60%-40%. I disagree with those results. Irving has been everything the Celtics thought he would be. He is averaging over 25 points and over 5 assists per game. He is doing this without a legitimate #2 option. Gordon Hayward went down with a season ending injury, yet Kyrie hasn’t missed a beat. Brad Stevens is becoming an elite coach and this team should get the number one seed in the east. They just don’t have the depth to make it to the NBA Finals.
#3) Cleveland Cavaliers, (11-7)
Despite having 6 new players who should contribute on their roster, the Cavs are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won 6 in a row. They have done all this without a point guard. Isaiah Thomas hasn’t played in one game yet and Derrick Rose has played in only 7 games due to injuries. LeBron James is averaging 28.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He is shooting 58% from the field and 42% from three-point range. Kevin Love has been great as well ( 18 points and 10 rebounds per game). When Thomas starts to play, this team will be explosive offensively. Their bench maybe the deepest in the league. Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Corver, Iman Shumpert and DRose.
#2 Golden State Warriors, (13-5).
The Warriors have been to three straight NBA finals and have the best record in the history of the NBA over the past 3 seasons. The “Big 4” of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are averaging 72 points per game combined. Other than that, their top scorer is David West who is averaging 6.6 points per contest. The Warriors will win 55 plus games, sleep walking through the NBA schedule.
#1) Oklahoma City Thunder, (8-9).
How can a team this doesn’t have a winning record, be the #1 team on a power rankings list? The Thunder defeated the Warriors Wednesday night 108-91. Now, one game doesn’t make a season, but there were some very troubling sings if you are a Golden State Fan. No one on the Warriors can guard Russell Westbrook, the former UCLA Bruin drove to the basket with no resistance all night. Westbrook finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Steve Kerr’s strategy of putting Klay Thompson on Russell backfired. During the game,Thompson missed 8 shots in a row. He was obviously fatigued trying to defend last year’s MVP. Paul George had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals. George is once again one of the best-two way players in the NBA. Carmelo Anthony looked like he did when he played in the Olympics. He had 22 points and was basically a catch and shoot player. The Thunder now have two elite defenders on the perimeter in George and Andre Roberson. Center Steven Adams had 14 points and 12 rebounds, for the year he is averaging 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds. The Thunder need to acquire another shooter before the trade deadline, Roberson is a liability on offense. If they can somehow land an experienced three-point threat, like a JR Smith, they can get to the NBA Finals.
The New Orleans Pelicans are 10-8 and the Milwaukee Bucks are 9-8. If these teams do not make the playoffs, both coaches should be fired and never hired again. There is simply too much talent on their rosters not to be in the post-season.
I think it is safe to say that Doc Rivers will be out as Clippers coach by mid-season. The team is 6-11 and 1-9 in their last 10. Has this roster tuned him out?
The Mavericks are 4-15, they will be a lottery team. Mark Cuban has not been able to sign big-time free agents, so hopefully, a few losing seasons and acquiring draft picks will turn this franchise around.
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