NBA Power Rankings
NBA power rankings, rating the entire league from top to bottom. Our NBA power rankings are based mostly on how good teams really are, with recent performances taken into partial consideration. Updated regularly during the regular season, InsideHoops.com's NBA power rankings focus on the big, season-long picture.
2016 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated November 28, 2016
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: After becoming the first team ever to sink at least 20 3-pointers in consecutive games in wins over Portland and Dallas, Cleveland predictably did only as much as it had to in Philly to pad what already must feel like an insurmountable lead to the rest of the East. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and LeBron James combined for a mere 90 points against the Sixers -- with memories of Love's 34-point quarter against the Blazers still fresh. The Cavs are just toying with teams.
2. Golden State Warriors: The Warriors have won 11 games in a row and recorded 30-plus assists in 10 of them. They're also very quietly up to No. 2 in the league as a team in blocked shots and No. 7 overall in defensive efficiency, despite the well-chronicled lack of a top-shelf rim protector. The truth, of ?course, is that a schedule on the soft side so far has helped to this point. But they're coming together in a fun (and assist-laden) fashion that's precisely what Kevin Durant was looking for when he made his momentous move.
3. San Antonio Spurs: For weeks now I've been reluctant to put the Spurs in the Cavs-Warriors-Clippers orbit. ?Not an easy thing to admit when they just became the fifth team in history to open 10-0 on the road. Of the previous four to pull that off, only last season's Warriors failed to win a championship. So it's probably time, in other words, for the Committee to have a long talk with itself. (The Spurs also happen to be the first team to go 10-0 on the road and win all 10 by at least five points.)
4. LA Clippers: We have a feeling that, fair or not, what looked like an admirable dose of team bonding -- staying over in Dallas for an extra day to watch the Dallas Cowboys post a Thanksgiving Day win over Washington Redskins -- is going to be billed as the wrong sort of tone-setter for the Clippers' six-game road trip. L.A. suffered its first road loss of the season in Detroit after the football excursion, got throttled by the Paul George-less Pacers on Sunday in Indy and have sunk to No. 3 in defensive efficiency.
5. Chicago Bulls: The Bulls went 4-2 on the final circus trip, though they might want a redo on Tuesday's final offensive possession in Denver, in which they drew up a play for an Isaiah Canaan airball. Of course, it's not like Jimmy Butler (4-for-17) and Dwyane Wade (3-for-13) have shot well in clutch situations. Canaan's shot hasn't been the only issue with their bench of late, as they've been outscored by 31 points in 34 minutes with Jimmy Butler off the floor in their last three games. Their bench has been better at home than on the road and they now play nine of their next 12 games at the United Center.
6. Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry saved the Raptors in another close game (Friday in Milwaukee) and rank fifth and eighth, respectively, in points scored in the clutch. But it's another season where Toronto's starting lineup has been underwhelming (and rather bad defensively), getting outscored by 0.9 points per 100 possessions in 160 minutes together. And once again, they've been at their best with Kyle Lowry on the floor with reserves. After a 3-2 trip, they begin their longest homestand of the season (six games) on Monday.
7. Houston Rockets: The Rockets' new starting lineup (with Patrick Beverley) has been even more potent offensively (scoring 131 points per 100 possessions) than their previous starting lineup. The Rockets haven't shown any defensive improvement, but they're 5-1 (with two important wins over Portland) with Beverley. Nine of James Harden's 10 assists on Sunday were for layups or dunks, but he's still on pace for 415 assists on 3-pointers, which would crush the record of 284, set by Steve Nash when he played for Mike D'Antoni.
8. Memphis Grizzlies: The only game the Grizzlies have lost in their last eight was the one (Friday vs. the Heat) in which Mike Conley came off the bench with a minutes restriction. But maybe the limited minutes on Friday helped late on Saturday, when Conley outscored Miami 9-3 in a critical stretch to lead the Grizz to their sixth straight road win. He leads the league with six clutch 3-pointers (on 11 attempts) and the Memphis offense has been almost 13 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than with him off.
9. Boston Celtics: The free throw disparity in Friday's loss to the Spurs got Tommy Heinsohn heated, but neither Heinsohn complaining about the officiating nor the Celtics' getting outscored at the line was anything new. In fact, it was the eighth time in 16 games that their opponents have attempted at least 10 more free throws than they have. Though Isaiah Thomas ranks seventh with 9.1 attempts per game, his team is one of four that ranks in the bottom 10 in both free throw rate and opponent free throw rate. They're 5-2 with Al Horford, who has the team's best plus-minus by a wide margin.
10. Charlotte Hornets: The differences between the Hornets that started 6-1 and the Hornets that have since gone 3-6 have been in the schedule (their only loss to a team currently under .500 was to the Pelicans after they got Jrue Holiday back) and on the defensive end of the floor, where they allowed 95.4 points per 100 possessions through their first seven games and have allowed 107.4 over the last nine. With Marvin Williams (knee injury) out and Frank Kaminsky seeing more time, the Hornets may need to rely more on their offense, though six of their next seven games are against teams that rank 24th or worse in offensive efficiency.