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.
2017 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated January 9, 2017
According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com:
1) Spurs: It was only five weeks ago that the Spurs ranked 13th in defensive efficiency. They've been so good defensively since then, they're even stealing the ball from each other. Having allowed less than a point per possession over their last 17 games (seven against top-10 offenses, only five against bottom-10 offenses), they are back in that No. 1 spot, where they were for the last 22 weeks of last season. Their offense has been better too, they've led seven of their last eight games by at least 20 points, and they've outscored their opponents by a league-best 11.5 points per 100 possessions since Thanksgiving.
2) Rockets: The Rockets still have the league's best first-quarter offense, but they had some ugly starts in Orlando (missing 20 of their first 26 3-point attempts) and Toronto (missing 19 of their first 22 threes) over the weekend. Of course, their offense eventually got going both nights and they've scored 117 points per 100 possessions over their eight-game winning streak. They're reportedly in the market for a big man, but haven't broken stride since Clint Capela broke his leg, with Montrezl Harrell and Nene taking turns as the starter. Harrell's two biggest games, including 28 points on 12-for-13 shooting on Sunday, have come off the bench.
3) Cavs: The Cavs' 13-game, with-LeBron winning streak came to an end against Chicago on Wednesday when they blew an early 13-point lead. And that wasn't the only big lead they let get away last week. They had a 24-point lead cut to six in Brooklyn on Friday and had a 22-point lead erased completely in Phoenix on Sunday. They won both games with 40 total fourth-quarter points from Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, but wouldn't have needed those guys on the floor if they had able to keep their foot on the gas against two bad teams. The Cavs know how to close, and adding Kyle Korver should only help with their consistency.
4) Warriors: The Warriors' fourth-quarter collapse against the Grizzlies on Friday and Draymond Green's mini-tantrum about Kevin Durant isolating on a critical possession should only help them down the line. It's better for them to hash it out about late-game play-calling and have Durant realize "who he play for" (not Oklahoma City anymore) in January than in June. There will only be so many high-pressure situations between now and when their season is on the line. This week should be relatively easy (and they'll have three full days off before next Monday's rematch against the Cavs), but they could use it to get back on track defensively, having allowed 108 points per 100 possessions over their last eight games.
5) Celtics: The Celtics are making the most of their home-heavy January schedule. They're 3-0 this month, holding a four-game winning streak and a five-game home winning streak. They've made at least 17 3-pointers in each of their last four games, something they'd done just three times prior in the history of the franchise. And the onslaught really comes in the third and fourth quarters. Over their last 10 games, they've scored 105 points per 100 possessions in the first half and 124 in the second half, never scoring less than 57 points after halftime. At 16.0 points per game, Isaiah Thomas ranks second in second half scoring.
According to Matt Moore of CBS Sports:
6) Raptors: Toronto's defensive slippage is officially a concern. The Raptors are now 20th in the league, and can't seem to find a rhythm on that end. They don't have the firepower to just outscore everyone, no matter how good their offense is. They need to tighten up the defense.
7) Grizzlies: The Grizzlies are just unkillable. They had lost four of six, including losses to the Magic, short-handed Clippers and the Lakers. Yet then they go into Oracle, storm back from 24 down and beat the Warriors to go 2-0 against them. Memphis has wins against the Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Cavaliers (who rested players), Thunder and Jazz (Sunday) this season. They continue to lose games they should win and win games they should lose.
8) Hawks: They're considering a total teardown ... so of course the team goes out and wins six straight. Don't be surprised if a stupid-easy schedule through the trade deadline scuttles any future trades. The only outlier is the worry that they won't get anything for Paul Millsap after getting nothing for Al Horford last year.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
9) Clippers: Chris Paul just joined Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and John Stockton as the only players in league history to rank in the top 10 in career assists and the top 15 in career steals. What this means most, of course, is that Paul is back in the Clippers' lineup after an eight-game run in which he was only able to play once thanks to a hamstring problem. Skepticism abounds in the wake of Doc Rivers' recent vow that both he and his players will endeavor to cut down on the techs they rack up, but credit the Clips for mustering consecutive double-digit wins (over Phoenix and Memphis) in their final two games without CP3 ... and in the wake of six-game losing streak.
10) Jazz: The Jazz didn't place a single player in the top 10 in the first batch of Western Conference All-Star voting returns. Utah hasn't had an actual All-Star, of course, since Deron Williams back in 2010, but the fact neither Gordon Hayward nor Rudy Gobert are even in the fan conversation at the minute is rather disappointing. Sunday night's loss in Memphis, for the record, was Utah's first this season with both Hayward and George Hill in the lineup. The Jazz are 8-1 when Hayward and Hill are in uniform, 3-3 with Hill only, 12-11 with Hayward only and 0-1 without both.
11) Pacers: Remember when Paul George, right before Christmas, publicly shared how frustrating and, well, un-fun this season has been? The Pacers have responded to PG-13's laments with a flurry of gaudy offensive performances and a season-high five straight wins since, sending Indy overseas with some real momentum for the first time since preseason prognosticators were touting this team as the East's sleeper. They'll next be seen Thursday in London against the reeling Nuggets and their porous D. In other words: If the Pacers don't savor every moment of a trip we can only dream of taking, rest assured that it'll be the Committee (of One) doing the ranting.
12) Thunder: Didn't take long for the well-chronicled concerns about the Thunder's January schedule to prove justified. They began the new year with three frustrating road losses and will end up traveling more than 12,000 miles by month's end; road dates still loom against the Clippers (Jan. 16), Warriors (Jan. 18), Jazz (Jan. 23), Cavs (Jan. 29) and Spurs (Jan. 31). Here are some more numbers, meanwhile, that aren't going in Westbrook's favor: He's now 0-for-6 on potential go-ahead shots from 3-point range in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime after that two-point loss in Houston in his latest duel with Harden.
13) Wizards: Forget what we wrote here last week. Let the ledger show that, for the Wizards, Christmas actually arrived on Jan. 8. The Wiz pulled into Milwaukee this weekend with all of three road wins this season -- fewer than any team in the league apart from the 1-17 Nets -- but found a way to capitalize on Sunday's absence of a flu-ridden Greek Freak to overturn a double-digit deficit and nudge themselves back into a tie for eighth in the East with those same Bucks. Wall was just recognized as the Eastern Conference Player of the Month and, in the part we got right in this comment cyberspace last time out, he's starting to get help more consistently.
14) Bucks: Do the Bucks merit two All-Stars? For all of our constant (and justifiable) slobbering over Giannis Antetokounmpo, let's not forget that Jabari Parker has a better field-goal percentage than all but three of the other 29 players (James, Kevin Durant and Antetokounmpo) averaging 20+ PPG, sports a higher PER than Carmelo Anthony, George, Kristaps Porzingis, Millsap and Horford and his hiked his success rate from 3-point range to better than 40 percent after shooting in the mid-20s in each of his first two seasons. The Bucks, though, have dropped two in a row after coming back from deficits of 15 and 16 to escape with the W in their previous two outings against visiting OKC and in New York.
15) Hornets: Confession time: I did not want to put the Hornets in the No. 10 slot last Monday. The Clippers' six-game losing streak necessitated moving someone new into the league's upper third and Charlotte, at the time, looked like the closest thing to promotion-worthy. But that's actually a touchy word for Steve Clifford's team at the minute ... close. Going to Detroit on the second night of a back-to-back after dealing with Westbrook on your home floor isn't the easiest assignment, but Charlotte's 115-114 loss to the Pistons was particularly galling, given Detroit's recent funk and the fact that the Hornets are now a potentially costly 0-5 in games decided by three points or less.