NBA Power Rankings: Breaking Down the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Every Team

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 30:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics pumps up the crowd prior to the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 30, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The 2012-13 season may be going swimmingly in terms of record for some teams out there, but there is no squad that's completely happy with everything that's happened this season.

Especially unhappy are those teams falling down the power rankings with their poor play. When we took a look last week, the Miami Heat were at the top of the rankings. Did their loss to the Washington Wizards knock them down a peg this week?

Keep in mind that I don't use a simplistic "who has played the best" metric to rank the teams. At this point in the season, it's an amalgam of preseason assumptions, on-court performance and the seven-game series corollary. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest batch of power rankings and have some fun with it, looking at one good thing, one bad thing and one ugly thing for each team. 

1. Miami Heat (12-4)

The Good: Ray Allen's acquisition has gone exactly as planned. The 37-year-old shooting guard is averaging 13.3 points per game while having career highs in field goal (51.6) and three-point percentages (52.6). 

The Bad: Dwyane Wade has not magically returned to superduperstar form. He's averaging the least amount of points (19.5) and rebounds (4.1) per game since his rookie season and has already been bothered by nagging injuries. 

The Ugly: Joel Anthony is still the backup center.

2. San Antonio Spurs (14-4)

The Good: Tim Duncan seems on the verge of a renaissance season. He's back to averaging 18-10-2 per night and is third in the NBA in PER (27.57).

The Bad: Manu Ginobili seems on the verge of a career-worst season. The Argentinian star is shooting just 40 percent from the field, his 11.7 points per game are the lowest of his career since his rookie season and he's just not beating guys off the dribble anymore.

The Ugly: David Stern dropped the $250,000 boom hammer on the team last week.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-4)

The Good: Kevin Durant is challenging LeBron's throne as the NBA's most complete player. Not only is KD averaging his patented 26.2 points per game, but he's also averaging 1.61 blocks and steals a night as well.

The Bad: Russell Westbrook is making just 32.7 percent of his jump shots thus far.

The Ugly: Sooo, about Kendrick Perkins' contract...

4. Memphis Grizzlies (13-3)

The Good: The Grizz are the best defensive team in the NBA. Memphis leads the league both in point per game allowed (90.7) and defensive efficiency, giving up 96.4 points per 100 possessions.

The Bad: Rudy Gay is shooting 42.2 percent on the season, the lowest rate he's had since his rookie season.

The Ugly: Who do you trust to take the last shot?

5. Brooklyn Nets (11-6)

The Good: Brook Lopez still can't rebound, but he's been the unquestioned MVP for the Nets this season. Averaging 18.5 points and 2.5 blocks per game, Lopez has settled into the second-tier elite center level.

The Bad: Lopez is currently out of the lineup with a foot injury. I know, shocker, right?

The Ugly: Sooo, about Joe Johnson's contract...

6. New York Knicks (12-4)

The Good: Carmelo Anthony has to be at or near the top of most analysts' MVP ballots at this juncture. He's slid into the power forward role brilliantly and has shown a career-best ability from beyond the arc.

The Bad: Amar'e Stoudemire's return date has been pushed all the way back until Christmas time. And, yes, that is a bad thing, Knicks fans.

The Ugly: This is still the NBA's oldest team by a pretty wide margin. One or two injuries could send the Knicks from fringe title contention into the mid-tier of the Eastern Conference. 

7. Los Angeles Lakers (8-10)

The Good: At 34 years old, Kobe Bryant is having a career-best season from the field.

The Bad: I'll allow ESPN's Dave McMenamin to take this one for me:

D'Antoni w/ a Nash non-update update: "He's plugging along. I think he's getting better. But there's not a date yet. We're working at it"

— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 1, 2012

The Ugly: "Starting, at butt punter, from Lower Marion High School, Kooooobe Bryant!"

8. Los Angeles Clippers (11-6)

The Good: Jamal Crawford has been everything the Clippers wanted and more. Averaging 17.6 points per game, it seems like Crawford is far removed from his nosedive in play from the past two seasons.

The Bad: He's not been awful by any stretch, but Blake Griffin seems to have taken a step down instead of the proverbial "leap." For the Clippers to be title contenders, Griffin has to be a superstar, not just a very good player.

The Ugly: Chauncey Billups seems pretty far away from being an effective player again.

9. Boston Celtics (9-8)

The Good: When he's not suspended for trying to beat up the ex-Mr. Kardashian, Rajon Rondo has been having an absolutely sensational season. His 12.9 assists per game lead the NBA, and he's even taken a slightly more vested interest in scoring this season.

The Bad: Paul Pierce cannot bring star-level performances every night anymore. Simple as that.

The Ugly: The Celtics are dead last in the NBA in rebounding and almost two per game behind the 29th-ranked Heat.

10. Denver Nuggets (9-9)

The Good: Kenneth Faried just continues to make a leap. Manimal is averaging a double-double per night and is well on his way toward making an All-Defense team this season.

The Bad: The Andre Iguodala acquisition certainly hasn't been awful, but his exile from Philadelphia did not quite turn him into a superstar, either.

The Ugly: Does anyone trust Iguodala or Danilo Gallinari to take the last shot?

11. Atlanta Hawks (9-5)

The Good: Atlanta has beaten both the Clippers and Thunder this season, proving that the team can survive against elite competition without Joe Johnson.

The Bad: The contract-year leap has not yet happened to Josh Smith.

The Ugly: DeShawn Stevenson has started seven games this season—and not due to injuries.

12. Golden State Warriors (10-7)

The Good: The Warriors are above .500 despite Andrew Bogut playing in just four games thus far. 

The Bad: Harrison Barnes may be able to destroy Nikola Pekovic with his dunking ability but hasn't exactly been Rookie of the Year material. 

The Ugly: Klay Thompson may be averaging 15.4 points per game this season, but it doesn't get much uglier than his 9.62 PER.

13. Utah Jazz (9-10)

The Good: The Jazz are top 10 in the league in points, assists and rebounds per game.

The Bad: The Jazz are also 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency.

The Ugly: At what point does Enes Kanter's potential turn into impressive on-court performances?

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-8)

The Good: Kevin Love is averaging 21-15 per night while still recovering from hand surgery. 

The Bad: The Timberwolves are still averaging just 92.5 points per game, which ranks 28th in the NBA.

The Ugly: Just about everything guard-related on the entire roster. 

15. Philadelphia 76ers (10-8)

The Good: All of those people who derided the Sixers giving Jrue Holiday an extension (*looks in the mirror*) are being proved wrong. Holiday is averaging 18-9 per night and has admirably shouldered his increased offensive responsibilities.

The Bad: Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen have been the team's starting centers this season.

The Ugly: Brown and Allen have started this season because the Sixers' franchise center, Andrew Bynum, is out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury and has begun sprouting hair like a Chia Pet

16. Houston Rockets (9-8)

The Good: James Harden and Omer Asik have been everything the general manager Daryl Morey had dreamed. Harden is averaging 24.1 points per game, while Asik will certainly end the season among the league's top rebounders.

The Bad: Jeremy Lin is making 27 percent of his jump shots thus far.

The Ugly: The entire Royce White situation.

17. Chicago Bulls (8-8)

The Good: Joakim Noah has stepped up in Derrick Rose's absence. He's averaging career highs in points (13.3) and blocks (2.2) per game and has become the most important player for the Bulls this season.

The Bad: Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng, on the other hand, have not stepped their games up.

The Ugly: Oh, Kirk Hinrich, how the once slightly above replacement-level have fallen.

18. Dallas Mavericks (8-9)

The Good: O.J. Mayo has been an absolute steal. Finally freed from his sixth-man role, Mayo is averaging over 20 points per game and has been hitting over 50 percent of his shots beyond the arc. 

The Bad: There is "no timetable" for Dirk Nowitzki's return to the lineup. 

The Ugly: Well, at least the Mavs aren't footing much of the bill for Elton Brand's contract this season.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (8-8)

The Good: Brandon Jennings may not be taking leaps with each season in the league, but he's setting career highs in three-point field goal percentage (37.0), steals (2.5) and assists per game (6.3).

The Bad: Scott Skiles cannot stick to a starting lineup.

The Ugly: Ersan Ilyasova is too good to be this bad for long, but I'll be gosh darned if he's not one of the biggest individual disappointments of the season.

20. Portland Trail Blazers (8-10)

The Good: Damian Lillard is the Rookie of the Year.

The Bad: Meyers Leonard is not.

The Ugly: The Blazers have one of the three worst benches in the league.

21. Indiana Pacers (9-9)

The Good: David West continues to be one of the five most underrated players in the league. Despite being the team's obvious No.1 option, West's averages have risen back toward his New Orleans heyday.

The Bad: Danny Granger is out and the Lance Stephenson-Gerald Green pu-pu platter is in. Not the best way to increase offensive efficiency, if you ask me.

The Ugly: Sooo, about Roy Hibbert's contract...

22. Phoenix Suns (7-12)

The Good: Unsurprisingly, Goran Dragic has lived up to every penny of his shiny new contract. He's leading the team in points (15.3) and assists (6.6) and doing so efficiently, turning the ball over just 2.3 times per game and shooting 47 percent from the field.

The Bad: Unsurprisingly, Michael Beasley has not lived up to every penny of his shiny new contract. He's trying hard, but the results just aren't there.

The Ugly: This is a very, very bad defensive team. 

23. Orlando Magic (7-10)

The Good: Nikola Vucevic may just turn into a pretty good NBA center, after all.

The Bad: On the other hand, Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson both look like they need a ton of work to turn into rotational players. 

The Ugly: Truth be told, this team is better than anyone in the Magic organization actually wants it to be.

24. New Orleans Hornets (5-11)

The Good: Ryan Anderson has been surprisingly brilliant thus far. He struggled mightily without a big man anchoring the middle last season in Orlando after Dwight Howard went down but seems to have developed some sneaky shot-creating ability. 

The Bad: Anthony Davis cannot stay on the floor.

The Ugly: Eric Gordon cannot even get on the floor. Plus, the Pelicans? Really, Tom Benson? Sheesh.  

25. Detroit Pistons (6-13)

The Good: A frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond could be something special in the near future.

The Bad: For now, it's just Monroe anchoring the middle by his lonesome.

The Ugly: The Pistons have seemingly decided that starting Jason Maxiell takes priority over getting Drummond some run and allowing him to take his lumps. Now that's what I call solid franchise runnin'. 

26. Charlotte Bobcats (7-9)

The Good: Not that this will shock anyone who watched him play at UConn, but Kemba Walker is not lacking in confidence in the fourth quarter. If he can simply become more efficient as both a passer and shooter, Walker could live up to his lottery-pick billing.

The Bad: Jeffery Taylor plays almost as many minutes per game as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The Ugly: Only one player on the roster who shoots more than five times per game is making over 50 percent of his field goals—and that player is Brendan Haywood. 

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-14)

The Good: Anderson Varejao would win just about every non-MVP superlative possible if the season ended today.

The Bad: Injuries to Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters aren't exactly the best way to accurately judge the Cavs' backcourt.

The Ugly: Are we going to talk about Tristan Thompson or just stand here awkwardly and stare at our feet? The latter? Oh, OK.

28. Toronto Raptors (4-14)

The Good: Twelve of the Raptors' 18 games this season have been decided by 10 or fewer points.

The Bad: Toronto is 2-10 in those contests.

The Ugly: Andrea Bargnani is grabbing just 4.5 rebounds per night and is shooting 40.4 percent from the field.

29. Sacramento Kings (4-12)

The Good: DeMarcus Cousins may not have taken a leap yet, but he continues to give opposing centers more problems than just about any other guy in the league.

The Bad: Isaiah Thomas or Aaron Brooks starting at point guard? Pick your poison.

The Ugly: This roster continues to be the most ill-constituted group of players in recent memory.

30. Washington Wizards (2-13)

The Good: Most ping pong balls coming? Won a meaningless game against the Heat? I really don't know.

The Bad: Nene and John Wall have played a combined five games this season. 

The Ugly: The Wizards are almost guaranteed to be over the salary cap for 2013-14.

(Note: All stats are up to date as of Dec. 4 and courtesy of


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