Welcome to DraftKings Nation’s inaugural NBA Power Rankings! Every Monday we’ll update our rankings of each team in the League based mostly on how they’ve performed throughout the season and the previous week, with a few other factors coming into play (injuries, narrative, etc). So let’s dive into my though process for this week’s edition, shall we?
I took the Bill Simmons approach for deciding between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics at the top of the list. Who would win in a 7-game series? I think with Gordon Hayward (hand) out of the picture right now and the Celtics finally looking human vs. the Sacramento Kings last night, the obvious pick is LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lake Show. I’d put this iteration of LeBron ahead of most teams in the NBA currently and while the Celtics play a very complete brand of basketball, I still want to see how Kemba Walker does leading a team in the postseason. So for that, we’ll have LA at the top.
Just behind those two teams is James Harden. Yes, just James Harden. Well, it’s technically his team the Houston Rockets, but Harden has literally been carrying them, as is tradition. The Rockets haven’t lost since Nov. 3 against the Miami Heat and The Beard is on one of those scoring binges. He’s averaging 40.7 points per game in the month of November.
I think there are a few teams playing better than the Los Angeles Clippers, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt when considering what they’d look like if Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were both healthy vs. the Atlanta Hawks. LA posted 150 points with no Kawhi or Patrick Beverley. I mean, Paul George may not have to play more than 20 minutes a game all season and still win a scoring title at this rate.
I watched the Memphis Grizzlies win over the Utah Jazz last Friday night and fell in love with the team. Ja Morant is a stud and looks to me like a Derrick Rose clone: lightning quick, great handles, can finish pretty much everything. He’s going to be a highlight reel as a rookie and hopefully develop his shot and vision. It’s fitting that he’s in Memphis too, where D-Rose played his college ball. I gave the Grizzlies a bit of a high ranking at No. 15, but I think their young core will only grow stronger.
The Golden State Warriors’ fall from grace ... have we seen anything like this before in sports? A team that made it to five straight NBA Finals, wins three of them and now is the laughing stock of the NBA. I get it, no Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, now D’Angelo Russell is out (though that may help the Dubs). But even before Curry and D’LO went down, this team wasn’t looking anything close to a contender. Part of me thinks this is what they planned all along, “Hey, I’ve got a wacky idea,” says coach Steve Kerr. “Let’s tank a season, get a lottery pick again, get healthy, and break off another three out of four!”
“Steve, you’re a genius, have a promotion!” says some Golden State executive.
Anyway, looking ahead to this week, I think the Phoenix Suns will be tested with five games and the Celtics will also come back down to earth a bit. The Indiana Pacers have the fewest games with just two, so that should help get Malcolm Brogdon right from injury. Some games I’m eyeing already: HOU at LAC, DEN vs. BOS, PHX at MIN, DAL at HOU, WAS vs. literally anyone else who doesn’t play defense. I’m a sucker for endless scoring.
Check back with us next week to see where your team moved in the rankings!
|Los Angeles Lakers||11-2||vs. OKC, at OKC, at MEM|
|Boston Celtics||10-2||at PHX, at LAC, at DEN|
|Houston Rockets||10-3||vs. POR, at DEN, at LAC, vs. DAL|
|Milwaukee Bucks||9-3||at CHI, at ATL, vs. POR, vs. DET|
|Los Angeles Clippers||8-5||vs. OKC, vs. BOS, vs. HOU, vs NOP|
|Miami Heat||9-3||vs. CLE, at CHI, at PHI|
|Utah Jazz||8-4||vs. MIN, at MIN, vs. GSW, vs. NOP|
|Denver Nuggets||9-3||vs. HOU, vs. BOS, vs. PHX|
|Toronto Raptors||8-4||vs. CHA, vs. ORL, at ATL|
|Phoenix Suns||7-4||vs. BOS, at SAC, vs. NOP, at MIN, at DEN|
|Philadelphia 76ers||8-5||vs. NYK, vs. SAS, vs. MIA|
|Indiana Pacers||7-6||at BKN, vs. ORL|
|Dallas Mavericks||7-5||vs. SAS, vs. GSW, vs. CLE, at HOU|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||7-6||at UTA, vs. UTA, vs. PHX|
|Memphis Grizzlies||5-8||vs. GSW, vs. LAL|
|Orlando Magic||6-7||at TOR, at IND|
|Charlotte Hornets||6-7||at TOR, at BKN, at WAS, vs. CHI|
|Brooklyn Nets||5-7||vs. IND, vs. CHA, vs. SAC, at NYK|
|Sacramento Kings||5-7||vs. PHX, at BKN, at WAS|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||5-7||at LAC, at LAL, vs. LAL|
|Portland Trail Blazers||5-8||at HOU, at NOP, at MIL, at CLE|
|New Orleans Pelicans||3-9||vs. POR, at UTA, at PHX, at LAC|
|San Antonio Spurs||5-8||at DAL, at WAS, at PHI, at NYK|
|Atlanta Hawks||4-9||vs. MIL, at DET, vs. TOR|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||4-9||at NYK, at MIA, at DAL, vs. POR|
|Chicago Bulls||4-9||vs. MIL, vs. DET, vs. MIA, at CHA|
|Detroit Pistons||4-9||at CHI, vs. ATL, at MIL|
|Washington Wizards||3-8||vs. SAS, vs. CHA, vs. SAC|
|New York Knicks||3-10||vs. CLE, at PHI, vs. SAS, vs. BKN|
|Golden State Warriors||2-12||at MEM, at DAL, at UTA|