FOXSports.com NBA power rankings
NOV 27, 2013 12:37p ET
Just when you thought the East couldn't crumble any lower, Derrick Rose goes down with a season-ending injury. Ouch. The East has now fallen to just two genuine contenders and has just three teams above .500. The West continues to flourish, as just four of the 15 teams have a losing record. It’s all making for dramatic, week-to-week shifts in our rankings.
Follow the NBA season through the lens of Jimmy Spencer on Twitter at @JimmySpencerNBA.
1 Pacers 13-1
The Pacers haven’t lost momentum and maintain their throne. Indiana spent this past week rolling through the lowly East (N.Y., Boston, Philly) and then flexed its defensive muscles with a 98-84 win against Minnesota. The Pacers are the best in the league at that, holding opponents to 87.4 points per game and 39.2 percent shooting.
2 Spurs 13-1
The NBA is a superstar league, and while the veteran Big Three plus Kawhi Leonard has star power, it's truly a system built around year-to-year depth. The Spurs pick at opponents with solid production, as nine different Spurs are averaging between 7.7 to 17.9 points per game. They're a clear No. 1 if not for the Pacers' continued dominance.
3 Heat 11-3
LeBron James is, by far, the greatest player the league has seen since Michael Jordan. And he's getting better. During Miami's current seven-game win streak, James has averaged 27.6 points, 63.9 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
4 Trail Blazers 13-2 +3
There’s no denying Portland a top-five spot any longer. The Trail Blazers have made their case as a legit contender for the West with an 11-game win streak that included a road victory against Golden State. There's a flip side here though -- isn’t there always? -- as the Blazers have only beaten one winning team, the Warriors, during their entire streak.
5 Clippers 10-5
The Clippers made up for their loss to the Thunder this past week by slipping past the Kings and then delivering a franchise-high, 39-point dismantling of the Bulls. The Clippers' defense has looked a tad improved, as LA allowed opponents to shoot just 42.6 percent through four games this past week. Or maybe that was just an effect of playing the Bulls.
6 Thunder 9-3
The trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka is an overall better "big three" than any other set of superstars in the league -- yes, including the Heat, who are led by LeBron's individual dominance. Don't believe it? Check the numbers. (Oh, and if you want to talk rings, then let's talk San Antonio's Big Three.)
7 Rockets 10-5 +2
The league's highest scoring offense weathered the absence of James Harden with wins against Minnesota ( Aaron Brooks, 26 points) and Memphis (Omri Casspi, 16 points). The Rockets' offensive pace is quick, but a league-worst 19.1 turnovers needs to be cleaned up.
8 Warriors 9-6 -4
The Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak with a road win in New Orleans, but that’s no surprise. The Warriors look fantastic against bad teams, but they are just 3-6 against teams with winning records. The other concern is the hamstring of Andre Iguodala, who is out at least through the team’s current three-game road trip.
9 Nuggets 7-6 +6
There's so much to love about the NBA's most unheralded superstar, Ty Lawson. Little has changed for him under Brian Shaw, as Denver still has the third-highest pace (number of possessions per 48 minutes) at 100.47. Of course, that may have less to do with Shaw and more to do with Lawson’s quickness pushing the ball. The guard is averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists.
10 Grizzlies 7-7
Losing that clog in the middle known as Marc Gasol will prove just how valuable the center truly is for Memphis. The do-it-all big will be missed mostly on the defensive side, but he also controls the paint with his passing and scoring. The left knee sprain should only keep him out 1-2 months though, so there is plenty of time for the Grizzlies to make up any lost ground.
11 Mavericks 9-6 +1
Back-to-back losses to the Nuggets, including their first home loss, keeps the Mavericks from climbing much even with a win vs. Houston. Rick Carlisle understands he has an old, not-so athletic squad, so playing defense against teams like Denver or Golden State on Wednesday is always going to present a challenge.
12 Timberwolves 8-8 -1
It isn't that the Wolves got too good, too fast or anything like that. It's just that we witnessed a team thrive in transition and succeed within a small sample size. Losses in four of their last five reveal the Wolves are obviously not yet one of the elite. Still, they remain a likely playoff team in the tough West.
13 Bulls 6-7 -5
It's hard to say, "poor Bulls fans," after all those years with Michael Jordan, but this Derrick Rose injury just flat-out stinks. Chicago can still compete in the East, but the talent to win a title without Rose just isn’t there. Four straight losses, including one to Utah, proves Chicago is deflated.
14 Hawks 8-7 -1
The Hawks aren't doing "all that bad," and are therefore a top team in the East. Kyle Korver has 88 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer, just one away from Dana Barros' record. Of course, there's more excitement built around remembering Dana Barros than the record itself.
15 Lakers 7-8 +2
What's helping the Lakers survive without Kobe Bryant? Three-pointers. A league-high 30.7 percent of the Lakers' points come from behind the arc. D'Antoni's team is jacking up 25 3-pointers per game and hitting 40.7 percent. It will be interesting to see if that style changes after Bryant’s return and the ball is in his hands more.
16 Suns 7-7 -2
The Suns might not be too far away. Yes, that sounds crazy, but the perimeter of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Gerald Green offers a matchup nightmare with a spread of ball handlers. The Morris brothers off the bench have been tremendous. And, annnnnd, if the Suns are ever able to land a dynamic star for the front court, this team would be interesting.
17 Pelicans 6-8 -1
Ryan Anderson is the outside gunner New Orleans has needed to help spread the floor for their plethora of perimeter guys who can’t, uh, shoot from the perimeter. Anderson is averaging 3.4 of 6.4 3-pointers (53.1 percent) in five games since his return. Just the threat of him can stretch defenses, and it allows guys like Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans to attack more.
18 Pistons 6-8 +6
The Pistons were standing in line at the club, with little chance of getting in before last call. Suddenly, team after team has left the line and their chances of getting into the postseason party look pretty good. No one will want to dance with them.
19 Wizards 6-8 +7
Heightened expectations came as a result of a healthy roster. But just when Washington was beginning to deliver, winning three of four games, leading scorer Bradley Beal suffered a right leg injury that will cost him at least two weeks. Unfortunately, Wizards fans are getting too used to this.
20 Raptors 6-8 +3
Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun reported that Rudy Gay has banned stat sheets from the locker room after games. Of course he did. It's in Gay's best interest that no one sees his shooting totals. If only he could be more unselfish -- and ban fans from their seats so they don't have to watch the Raptors. Toronto, actually in first place in the Atlantic and a top-four team in the conference, offers the biggest proof of the East's dramatic weakness.
21 Bobcats 7-8 -2
The Bobcats have finished above .500 just once (2009-10) in their decade of existence. So floating around that even win-loss record nearing December is a step in the right direction for the perennial lottery squad.
22 76ers 6-9 -4
The 76ers have dropped five of their last six but have a chance to collect some wins coming up as they won't face a team with a winning record until the Nuggets on Dec. 7. In Philly's three games last week, Spencer Hawes averaged 26.5 points and 11 rebounds and Evan Turner averaged 20.3 points and 9.0 rebounds.
23 Magic 5-9 -1
Finally, Magic fans have a new poster to hang in place of that old Dwight Howard one. Rookie Victor Oladipo may have had the dunk of the year when he posterized both Paul Millsap and Al Horford in the team's win in Atlanta. Those highlights make us all forget he’s shooting below 40 percent.
24 Celtics 6-10 +4
It might take 25 wins or less to earn a top-five lottery pick and 35 wins to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are on pace to claim neither.
25 Cavaliers 4-10 -5
LeBron James is returning to Cleveland on Wednesday, and the city has gone Mad Men in terms of pitching their ex-superstar on a long-term return. Of course, that’s like selling an ex-smoker on coming back to cigarettes. The only convincing argument? Put Kyrie Irving's potential over the next few years up against that of Dwyane Wade.
26 Nets 4-10 -5
Here's an unexpected formula: Bring in veteran superstars (even as a coach), lose 10 of your first 13 games, and then hang on for a win against the Raptors to move within just two games of an Atlantic Division lead. Math is weird.
27 Kings 4-9
To finally pull away from the cellar, it takes a break here and there. Perhaps the Kings finally got one. New management plucked 2011 second overall pick Derrick Williams, who was sandpaper to Minnesota's current plan, in exchange for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. If Williams plays anywhere close to his original potential, the Kings will claim a massive talent on the relative cheap.
28 Knicks 3-10 -3
Mike Woodson is right: It's too early to panic. But that's not because losing six in a row or a 3-13 start to the season is nothing to worry about. Instead, it’s because the Knicks are still only a few games out of the woeful East playoff picture. As much as NBA fans want to hate on the Knicks, there's still plenty of time to figure things out.
29 Bucks 2-11
Even the Bucks have something to be thankful for this week. The longest losing streak in the league is now at nine games, but Milwaukee’s pair of 22-year-old power forwards are acting as a silver lining. Khris Middleton and John Henson are combining to average 21.4 points and 9.9 rebounds.
30 Jazz 2-14
Think this stuff is easy, rookie? Trey Burke made his debut this past week, and he looked mighty healthy in shooting 5 of 8 from the field for 11 points in just 12 minutes. It was one heck of a start, but his next three games haven't been so nice as he's shot just 26.4 percent (9 of 34) since.