NBA Power Rankings: Can Anyone Knock Off the San Antonio Spurs?
The NBA season is in full swing and things are really starting to take shape.
After a sluggish start to the season, the Miami Heat seem to be finding a rhythm and are looking to make a charge up to the top of the Southeast division and the power rankings.
Meanwhile, over in the west, the Spurs have been the most dominant team in the league since the beginning of the year. They remain on top of this week's power rankings after completing a 4-1 week and improving their NBA best record to 17-3.
Now onto the rest of the NBA week six power rankings.
The Bleacher Report NBA Power Rankings are done by averaging individual feature columnists' tallies. This week's contributors were Lance Pauker (NBA), Allen Kim (NBA), John Friel (Heat), Andrew Bailey (NBA/Mavericks) and Bryan Toporek (NBA Team Leader).
30. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have a stranglehold on the last spot in the power rankings; that pesky 5-17 record will do that for you. Things did get a little better last week as they went 2-2, including a victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
This team still has a lot of work to do to improve in the future but at least they have Blake Griffin, who looks like a star in the making.
29. Sacramento Kings
Though the Clippers have the bottom ranking in this list, there is a serious case to be made for the Kings. They have lost eight games in a row, they haven't won a division game this season (0-5), and they have beaten one team in the western conference this year (over Minnesota in their first game of the year).
At least for Kings fans they can watch Tyreke Evans play, unfortunately they have to see everyone else on the team too.
28. New Jersey Nets
Another team without a win in their division, the Nets played a tough stretch of games last week. In four games they played at New York, home v. the Thunder, at Charlotte, and home against Boston. They lost all four games but they played well, with the exception of the Celtics game where they were run out of the building.
They don't quit and they play hard for Avery Johnson, but the talent level just isn't quite there yet.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves
If this team had any kind of defensive presence they could compete for a playoff spot in the western conference. They give up 109.3 points per game, while averaging 102.3 per game themselves. They don't get blown out a lot but they haven't developed the ability to hold off a team late in the game.
Two tough games last week against two of the best teams in the NBA, Dallas and San Antonio, certainly don't help matters.
26. Washington Wizards
Rough times in the nation's capital, the Wizards lost three of four games last week.
The win was a tough, ugly win over the Blazers.
The three losses were brutal blowouts where this team looked completely lost at times. John Wall is really good at the point, but there is not a lot of help anywhere else.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers
The picture is directed at LeBron and his return to Cleveland (I don't know if you heard about that).
After watching the game, she may want to say that she was a displaced Miami fan and that was directed at the Cavaliers. Everyone knew that LeBron made that Cavs team great, but things are going to get a lot worse in Cleveland before they get better.
24. Philadelphia 76ers
If the 76ers could play all their games at home they would at least be respectable, as they are 5-4 at home and 1-10 on the road.
They won two of three games last week, defeating fellow bottom-feeders Portland and Charlotte.
It's time for a rebuild in Philly but they may not want to alienate a fan base by trading away their most popular player in Andre Iguodala.
23. Detroit Pistons
The Cavaliers are making it really difficult for the Pistons to retain their spot in the cellar of the central division.
The Pistons are doing their part to stay on the bottom though, losing all four games that they played last week by an average of nearly 15 points.
22. Charlotte Bobcats
A 1-2 week that included a blowout loss to the 76ers has put the Bobcats on the brink of falling below the Wizards in the southeast division.
Michael Jordan and Larry Brown have a lot of work to do if they want to think about sniffing the playoffs again this year.
21. Toronto Raptors
Armed with probably the worst roster in the NBA, the Raptors are at least playing with pride.
They have put together a pretty good stretch lately, winning six of their last ten games.
See, even without Chris Bosh they can be mediocre.
20. Milwaukee Bucks
Not too long ago the Bucks were 5-5 and things were starting to look a little bit brighter. Sadly there were still 72 games left to play, and in the 10 games since that start, they have lost eight of them, dropping their record to 7-13.
The consolation is that division is not strong at all so they are only 4.5 games behind the division leading Bulls.
19. Houston Rockets
Not sure if it speaks to the strength of the southwest division, or just how inept the NBA is, but the Rockets are in last place in the southwest, yet they are ahead of eight teams in the eastern conference.
To be fair, the Rockets did win three games last week against the Thunder, the Lakers, and Grizzlies.
Two pretty impressive victories for the Rockets.
18. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have been a very hot and cold team to start this season. They came out of the gate winning six of their first eight games.
Since then they have gone 2-10, including three straight losses last week. The losses were against three of the better teams in the western conference, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Tough times for the Grizzlies, they beat the Lakers and then lost four straight, including one against the punchless Cavaliers.
On the plus side, they are competitive in these games against the good teams, like the Jazz, Nuggets, Lakers, Celtics, and beating most of the bad teams so they are moving slowly in the right direction.
16. Portland Trailblazers
Injuries have been this team's undoing for the last few years.
We know that on paper, they are as talented as any team in basketball. They have just been unable to stay together for a whole year.
They started the year 6-4, but have stumbled lately, losing seven of 10 games.
When the story is written on this Blazers team, as presently constructed, it will likely be titled "What could have been."
15. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers don't have the firepower to compete with the really good teams in the league, but they play hard and they stay in almost every game.
They will not compete for a title this year but they will get into the playoffs in the eastern conference and be able to take necessary steps to build towards becoming a true contender in the NBA.
14. New York Knicks
Don't look know but the Knicks have won some games, five in a row to be exact.
Mike D'Antoni has this team playing that old Phoenix Suns style of basketball, little defense and whole lot of offense. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games.
They are getting better each week and Amare Stoudemire has been playing like a man possessed: He has scored at least 30 points in five straight games.
13. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are starting to get hot, having won six of their last seven games, including a tough, gritty 80-74 win over division leading Orlando.
They aren't talked about in that division, since both Miami and Orlando play in it, but the Hawks are going to give those teams fits.
The two-horse race in the southeast division may have a third party joining them.
12. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have been the most inconsistent team in basketball this year. Here is the way that their games have gone this year: L-W-L-L-W-W-L-W-W-W-L-L-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W.
They are hot, they are cold. They are up, they are down.
Gone are the days when they can win 50 or 60 games by outscoring teams. They are really at a crossroads as a franchise and will need to take a serious look at things, either later this season or during the offseason.
11. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are a tweener team. They haven't beaten any of the upper level teams, like the Spurs, Lakers, Magic, Celtics.
On the other hand, they beat all of the mediocre or bad teams that they have played.
They will likely win the central because they are the best team in that division and someone has to win it.
They won't be able to advance once they get in until they learn how to compete with, and eventually beat, those top teams.
10. New Orleans Hornets
They have cooled off since that 11-1 start, going 2-6 in their last eight games.
They need to get a scorer to compliment Chris Paul at the point, but given that the NBA has taken ownership of the Hornets, it seems that adding payroll will be out of the question.
9. Denver Nuggets
Denver is one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now; they have won seven in a row and have taken over Oklahoma City for second in the northwest division.
Everything seems to be clicking in the mile-high city right now, and Carmelo Anthony is leading the charge.
That win streak has come against some bad teams, but they are taking care of business and will be a scary team the rest of the year.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
Things haven't quite gone as expected for the Thunder to start the year. They haven't found that solid rhythm that they had last year, Kevin Durant hasn't been himself, and the team has underachieved a bit.
They could be putting a lot of pressure on themselves given the expectations that everyone had for them, and even with the slow start, they are still a very respectable 14-8 in the western conference.
7. Miami Heat
Apparently all it took for LeBron James to become LeBron James again was taking his talents back home.
His return trip to Miami was a lot more memorable for what might have happened then it was for the game, which wasn't as close as that 118-90 final score.
The big three seem to be finding some kind of rhythm and are starting to look like the team that we all thought they would be.
6. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have exploded since their 8-4 start, having won eight of 10, including a seven game win streak, that was snapped last Friday against Dallas.
Deron Williams is great and the rest of the team has provided good contributions to support the point guard.
They don't blow you away offensively or defensively but they are solid in every area of the game and Jerry Sloan has his team playing really well.
5. Orlando Magic
This Orlando team can be very frustrating to watch because you don't know which team will show up.
They have the talent to beat any team in the league on any given day.
The problem is, they seem to lose focus at times and become disinterested in what they are doing.
Miami is charging hard and could overtake Orlando by the end of the week if the Magic doesn't take care of business.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers ended a season high four game losing streak by defeating the Kings 113-80 on Friday night.
That losing streak caused them to slip down two spots in this week's power rankings.
There is really no need for panic in LA because all the games were close, they were just unable to make enough plays late to win.
They will work on fixing those issues and will turn things on again, probably around March or April when it really matters to them.
3. Dallas Mavericks
It must be difficult to be a fan of Texas basketball.
The teams with the two best records in basketball play in Texas, but no one really talks about them.
Dallas is the hottest team in the league, having won nine in a row and playing stout defense. The Mavs aren't as sexy a team as they once were because they are able to get by on offense and play in-your-face defense.
2. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have steamrolled over the eastern conference thus far, posting a 13-2 record v. their eastern brothers.
For all the talk about the Heat possibly having things figured out means little, if anything, because the road to the finals in the east is going to run through Boston.
1. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs remain on top of the power rankings after winning three of four last week.
Even with a loss to the Clippers, they have the best record in the NBA, and look like the team that we all thought they would be last year.
They are so talented and have so much depth, that things are starting to look and feel like they did in 2003, 2005, and 2007 when the Spurs won the NBA title.