Week 12 Review, NBA Week 4 Power Rankings

Posted: 11/26/2013 by levcohen in Basketball, Football

Time for another short week 12 review and the NBA Week 4 Power Rankings.

This was another muddling week, but I think it’s safe to eliminate a few more teams from the playoff hunt (something I’ll be doing every week for the rest of the year). Oakland was 4-6 coming into their home game against 4-6 Tennessee, but lost the lead with 10 seconds left. At 4-7 now, they have no shot, with some tough games ahead of them and a multitude of, frankly, better teams a game ahead. So add Oakland to the eliminated teams.

The Browns look like they have phoned it in and are looking ahead to drafting a quarterback in next year’s draft. They were never a factor against Pittsburgh, and those two teams, owners of the same 4-6 record coming into the game, are heading opposite directions. The one good thing that came out of this game for Cleveland was Josh Gordon. Gordon, who has always had terrific talent, exploded for 237 yards and a touchdown on 14 catches.

In the NFC, I pleaded for a simpler NFC East, and I got it. The Cowboys kept pace with the Eagles, improving to 6-5, and in doing so effectively eliminated the 4-7 Giants. After four consecutive wins, the Giants could really have gotten back into it with a win, but their margin of error was so small that this probably eliminates them.

And that’s it. So three more teams are gone for the race, but each race is still so muddled.

As for my picks, I went 7-7 against the spread, with a couple of really solid picks. I had the Titans winning 23-20 and was just one point off the 23-19 final score. I had the Chargers upsetting the Chiefs, which not many people saw coming (to be honest, I didn’t see it coming either, but I do hate those Chiefs). I did have my clunkers. The Bears-Rams and Vikings-Packers (which ended as a tie) were among them.
71-99-6

Overall, I went 7-6-1 straight up, with the Packer tie.
102-72-2

As for over/under, I had my best week in a while, going 9-4-1. I had a chance at 10-4 or 11-3, but the Giants-Cowboys pushed and the Broncos couldn’t stop the Patriots in the second half.
93-81-2

I went 2-2 on my upset picks, moving to 18-27, and got my lock of the week right (the 49ers won convincingly in Washington on Monday Night.. Washington is a mess), moving to 10-2 on those picks.

Now for the week 4 power rankings…

1. San Antonio Spurs, 13-1 (1): The Spurs are absolutely steamrolling their opposition. They have won their last eight games by an average of 20 points (not a typo), and have a +12 point differential. They also just have one player, Tony Parker, averaging more than 12 points per game. Tim Duncan has been atrocious by his standards, as has Manu Ginobili. Nobody on the roster is playing to his potential, which makes their start even more incredible. They don’t just find a way to get things done, but they kill teams while not playing their best.

2. Indiana Pacers, 13-1 (2): After a loss to the Bulls, the Pacers are back rolling, with four consecutive wins. The teams they beat weren’t exactly world beaters, but that will be the case in many of the Pacers games. With at most four really competitive teams in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers will cruise.

3. Miami Heat, 11-3 (3): None of the top three teams lost last week, so they will stay on top, and right now it looks like they might be forming their own tier. There are other great teams directly below Miami, but I think these three are a rung ahead because of their maturity. They were three of the four teams in the Conference Finals last year, and both finals participants. Miami could easily be 14-0 if they want, but they are resting their stars more. LeBron James is averaging just 35 minutes per game, five full minutes below his career average. Dwyane Wade has missed three games. Chris Bosh is averaging 28 minutes per game, five minutes below last season’s number and a full eight below his career average. So the Heat are resting their studs. And they are still a comfortable 11-3.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder, 9-3 (6): The Thunder have played just two games since my last ranking, but they were two great ones, as they beat the Clippers by 14 and took care of business against the Jazz, winning by a comfortable 22. It’s same old, same old for OKC. It’s the Russ and KD show, although neither has been as efficient or good as they were last year. That will come. Serge Ibaka, on the other hand, looks like he has taken a step forward, averaging career highs in points and rebounds and consistently getting double doubles. OKC still sorely misses James Harden, but Ibaka is playing well.

5. Portland Trailblazers, 13-2 (9): The Blazers, despite my being cautious about moving them up last week, have just kept winning and winning and winning, and I can’t help but move them up at least this high. Their marquee win was at Golden State, and they are doing what a top team is supposed to be doing; winning.

6. Los Angeles Clippers, 10-5 (7): We haven’t really learned anything new about the Clippers, good or bad. They’ll be in this range the whole season barring an injury, and that Chris Paul dude is great. He might be leading the MVP race right now.

7. Houston Rockets, 10-5 (10): The Rockets aren’t title contenders, or they aren’t yet. But they are certainly a terrific team, even with an angry Omer Asik and a banged up James Harden.

8. Golden State Warriors, 8-6 (5): An 0-3 week for the Warriors, who got more bad news when hearing that Andre Iguodala is out indefinitely (probably around 10 games). Luckily, they do have Harrison Barnes coming off the bench, and Barnes has already answered the call by picking things up of late. The Warriors will be worse without Iguodala, but they still have the pieces to stay near the middle of the muddled Western Conference playoff race.

9. Denver Nuggets, 7-6 (17): What can I say? After an 0-3 start, the Nuggets have been hot, and have deserved a two week swing from 28 to 9. I don’t like teams fluctuating in my rankings that wildly, but the Nuggets have forced my hand. I’m still skeptical of their long term prospects, but as long as they keep playing at this pace they should be fine, especially since they will get Danilo Gallinari back at some point. Ty Lawson is having a career year (averaging 21 points and 9 assists with his usual blinding speed). He does need some secondary scoring, and that should come when Gallinari does.

10. Dallas Mavericks, 9-6 (12): The Mavericks were on a roll, moving to a 9-4 record that would place them seventh in these rankings. But then they dropped back to back games in a home and home against, not coincidentally, the team right above them. I still love Dallas’s chances, with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ells meshing well, but they aren’t a top tier team.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves, 8-8 (8): Could I have jumped on the Timberwolves bandwagon too early? I was certainly very bullish on Minnesota at the beginning of the season, and expected them to be a mainstay inside the top 10 of my rankings. But now, just four weeks into the season, they have dropped outside the top 10 and are now outside the playoffs in the West. There are a few problems. One is that their point guard, Ricky Rubio, sort of looks like a poor-man’s Rajon Rondo. He can’t even reach double digits in scoring most games, which really destroys spacing. They have also gotten almost nothing from their bench, and are relying on Kevin Love and Kevin Martin for a large portion of their scoring. That is ok, until one of them gets hurt. And they both have injury histories.

12. Memphis Grizzlies, 7-7 (11): The Grizzlies lost their stabilizing big man, and to be fair, their best player, for around two months. Marc Gasol is out, and that’s never a good thing for a very big man oriented Grizzlies team. Luckily for Memphis, Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis are competent big men and should keep the Grizzlies in it. Right now, they are looking at an uphill battle in a fierce Western Conference.

13. Phoenix Suns, 7-7 (13): The Suns have definitely fallen back to earth. They have lost five of their last seven after starting 5-2, and that included losing both sides of a home and home with the Sacramento Kings, which is pretty bad. They rebounded from those losses with wins against two mediocre East coast teams (Charlotte and Orlando), before being blown out by Miami. And they have been without electric point guard Eric Bledsoe for all five games since my last power rankings, so I’ll give them a bit of a pass.

14. Los Angeles Lakers, 7-7 (18): The Lakers are treading water, and Kobe could be back within a week or two. So things are looking up for the Lakers.

15. New Orleans Pelicans, 6-7 (15): It’s too bad that the Pelicans are in the Western Conference, because they usually get the job done against Eastern conference teams (they are just 3-5 against the West). Ryan Anderson has provided the Pellies a boost with his 19 points per game in four games, and Anthony Davis is still a beast. And I realize that my East vs. West split has gotten even wider. Indiana and Miami are the only two teams in this conference. Thirteen of the top fifteen are in the West, which is frightening.

16. Atlanta Hawks, 8-6 (14): With the Derrick Rose injury, the Hawks look like they are now the third best team in the Eastern conference. And some people thought this team would tank before the year. Their 1-3 record against the Western conference, while a small sample size, is telling. And they haven’t even faced the best of the West (losses to Dallas, the Lakers, and Denver with a win over Sacramento).

17. Toronto Raptors, 6-7 (16): My seemingly ridiculous ranking of the 4-7 Raptors was vindicated with back to back wins, as the Raptors are now the fourth and final team in the East who have scored more points than they have allowed. Right now, they lead the Atlantic division over higher profile teams like the Knicks and Nets, and they should easily make the playoffs.

18. Detroit Pistons, 6-8 (20): The Pistons have also turned it around a little, with back to back wins over cellar dwellars Brooklyn and Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings has clearly made a huge difference to the Pistons, as he is shockingly becoming a pass-first point guard, with eight and a half assists per game and three straight games with double digit assists. They have talent, with Jennings joining Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond to form a better core of four players than nearly any team in the East.

19. Washington Wizards, 5-8 (25): Last week at this time, the 2-7 Wizards were looking desperate. But since then, they, like Detroit, have finally started to show their talent, with three wins in their last four. John Wall is averaging 19 and 9, and Bradley Beal has boosted his scoring total from 14 points per game to a team-leading 21 this year.

20. Charlotte Bobcats, 7-8 (19): Nothing to say about the Bobcats.

21. Chicago Bulls, 6-7 (4): You might say it’s too dramatic of a drop, but it’s truly out of respect of Derrick Rose. With Rose shockingly out for the season again with a torn meniscus, the Bulls look demoralized, and I understand. They waited all of last year for Rose to get back. They even won a playoff series with hopes that D-Rose would return in the second round. He didn’t. But he was back at the start of this year, and the 6-3 Bulls were just starting to gain momentum. And then Rose tore his meniscus. Suddenly, his season is done, and the Bulls season might be done as well. Sure, they have enough talent to go .500, like they did last year. But wouldn’t you rather play for next year if you were a Bulls player or coach? I would pack it in. The Bulls have lost their first two games without Rose by 39 points to the Clippers and then by six points to the worst team in the NBA, the Jazz. When I put it that way, the Bulls could even be lower down, couldn’t they?

22. Orlando Magic, 4-9 (21): I don’t know what to say about the Magic. They almost moved into the “Too depressing to talk about” section, but I promised myself that would be limited to just the eight most depressing teams. The Magic did just get an exciting young player, Tobias Harris, back from injury, so there is some hope.

The Rest (too depressing to talk about). And in fact, these teams have been too depressing to talk about, as only one team, the Washington Wizards, got out of this bottom eight. The Brooklyn Nets take their place, and deservedly so, as name values only get you so far.

23. Boston Celtics, 6-10 (24)
24. Philadelphia 76ers, 6-9
(26)
25. Sacramento Kings, 4-9
(28)
26. Brooklyn Nets, 3-10
(22)
27. New York Knicks, 3-10
(23)
28. Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-10
(27)
29. Utah Jazz, 2-14
(30)
30. Milwaukee Bucks, 2-11
(29)

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