By: Louis Prejean
It took the Warriors seven weeks in the 2015-16 NBA season to lose one game. The San Antonio Spurs make their case for the best team in the NBA and the Cavaliers are finally getting healthy. Seven weeks of NBA are down and we rank the top ten teams so far in the 2015-16 season. Time for some power rankings.
- Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors suffered their first loss of the season and now stand at 24-1. Time to hit the panic button. The Warriors loss to the Milwaukee Bucks after coming off a double overtime game in Boston. They were going to lose eventually, but it is sad to see the winning streak fall short of the 33-game record. However, expect the Warriors to continue to dominate the rest of the league because Stephen Curry and company are still the best team on both sides of the ball. Easy to bounce back from a loss when the team has the reigning MVP that has played even better than last season.
- San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have had an easier schedule than the Warriors, but they have arguably been more dominant. The Spurs have four more losses, but they have won games by a greater margin than Golden State has. The Warriors are still playing the best basketball and no one should overreact just yet. On the other hand, the Spurs are looking to catch up with the Warriors in the coming weeks by playing their smothering, number one defense night in and night out.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are on a five game winning streak and there are no signs of stopping them. Oklahoma City still remains above the Cavaliers, but we will find out where these two teams stand on Thursday when they play for the first time. The combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have never played better in their careers and that is a scary thing to think about. The Thunder do need a consistent third scorer to balance out the offense, but these two have proven they can lead this team to victory.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are getting a little bit healthier. Iman Shumpert recently returned to the line up, but injured his groin last night against the Boston Celtics. Kyrie Irving is expected back sometime real soon, which is bad news for the rest of the NBA. Once Irving comes back, the Cavaliers can show their full potential as a team and Kevin Love and LeBron James will have another great scorer by their side. Kyrie Irving also improved defensively last season so we will have to see how he is on that end when he returns, but there is no doubt it will only be beneficial to the 16-7 Cavaliers.
- Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls have been playing solid basketball as of late and look to extend their current three-game winning streak in the upcoming days. The 14-8 Bulls are only 1.5 games back of the Cavaliers. Jimmy Butler is consistently showing the NBA what he is capable of. His leadership and improvement have been vital for a Bulls team that looked to him for guidance once Derrick Rose could no longer perform at a high level. Butler was up to the challenge. Chicago has their next three games at home and their schedule seems favorable to them. This team has the third best defense in the NBA by only allowing 96.8 points per 100 possessions and they seem to be clicking right now.
- Toronto Raptors
This is a weird team. The Raptors were up 26-5 in their matchup against the Pacers, but went on to lose the game by 25 points. The inconsistency has dealt the Raptors some losses that should have went the other way for them. Regardless, Toronto remains top ten in offensive and defensive efficiency and have one of the highest scoring duos in the NBA. Not too shabby. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, like Durant and Westbrook, need a third scorer, but so far in the season this duo has proven to be a lot to handle for opposing teams. They gained a nice win over the San Antonio Spurs in their 4-1 run over the last five games and that is something to respect. The Raptors need to find balance to consistently win games and climb among the best of best in the NBA.
- Charlotte Hornets
Don’t look now, but the Charlotte Hornets are starting to come together. The Hornets are 7-3 in their last ten games and Steve Clifford has done an outstanding job coaching this roster up to a competitive team in the NBA. The play of Batum and Kemba Walker has been tremendous, but the overall team is playing cohesively. The Charlotte Hornets are fifth in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating. They score 104.4 points per 100 possessions and give up 98.6 points per 100 possessions to the opposition. The Hornets are becoming the real deal and face some good tests in their upcoming games.
- Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are 14-9 overall and 7-1 against the Western Conference this season. The Heat have also played the most home games out of any team, so that helps with their record. They remain the second best defense by allowing teams to score 96.7 points per 100 possessions against them. The Heat gained a nice win at Atlanta in their last game as Dwyane Wade turned back the clock to hit the game-sealing shot late in the fourth quarter. They must find an offense, however. The team ranks 19th in offensive rating and 27th in pace. Perhaps picking up the tempo will help the Heat score easier and more points.
- Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are 8-2 in their last ten games, but maybe that is due to their easy schedule as of late. Regardless, the Clippers are winning the games they should win and that could be a confidence boost going forward in the season. Blake Griffin is still playing the best basketball of his career and his most efficient. Chris Paul is still hitting timely shots and making defenses’ lives hard coming off of screens. One can argue that they haven’t played a quality team in a month, but wins are wins and the Clippers are rolling right now. They do play the Spurs soon, so that will be a good measurement of just how good the Clippers really are.
- Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are often overlooked at the start of this season. They have competed against tough competition and have succeeded with a record of 14-11. With the Pacers losing four of their last six games, the Celtics deserve some mention for their play thus far. The Celtics have beaten teams by a greater margin than the Pacers and play better defense. Boston has the fourth ranked defense in the NBA. They lack a superstar, but their team plays as a whole and that is appreciated in today’s league.
You can follow me @LouisPrejean.
Be sure to follow @NutsAndBoltsSP and @bucketsanddimes for more sports updates.