How did teams perform post-Thanksgiving? The folks in the Bay Area look like they ate too much turkey, while teams like Boston and Houston are finally beginning to look like the teams they were supposed to be.
High-Riser of the week: Pistons, Celtics, Rockets +6
Biggest Flopper of the week: Warriors -6
<> 1. Toronto Raptors – This Week: 3-0
Raptors continue to roll. During a 10 game win streak, the Raptors picked up a crucial overtime win against the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors. Even with an incredible outing of 51 points from Kevin Durant, the Raptors rallied behind Kawhi Leonard’s 37 to pick up the best win of the season. This team is something special.
+5 2. Denver Nuggets – This Week: 2-0
On Tuesday Denver showed extreme talent in their win against the Los Angeles Lakers, beating them by a whopping 32 points. Millsap, Murray, and Beasley combined for 60 points against the King and his Lakers, showing the league the Nuggets are here to play. On Friday, they walked away with a win from a nail-biter game against the Trail Blazers. The other young rising star guard Gary Harris had 27 points against Dame and company, once again showing Denver is ready to compete with the best of the best. Denver will look to continue to win as OKC is a half game back from first.
-1 3. Los Angeles Clippers – This Week: 2-1
The Clippers continue to win games and Tobias Harris is solidifying his name in the early MVP race. The season’s biggest surprise continues to impress. They finished off the week losing to a much improved Dallas team.
+1 4. Philadelphia 76ers – This Week: 3-0
The Sixers have been through a lot this season. Drama with Markelle Fultz continues, and trading for all-star Jimmy Butler has shown to be the best decision the organization has made in a while. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have made it clear that they have let Butler take the wheel and it’s paying off. The Sixers are on a 3 game win streak, with the toughest test of the season so far coming against the division foe, the Toronto Raptors, on Wednesday.
+6 5. Detroit Pistons – This Week: 3-0
For the first time in a long time, the Detroit Pistons are back and playing phenomenal basketball. The Pistons are 12-7 and Blake Griffin has grabbed this team by the horns and is doing everything in his power to take them back to the playoffs. Stanley Johnson is stepping up to the plate and playing at the level of ball that the Pistons expected of him when they drafted him at #8 overall back in 2015, and Andre Drummond is a monster grabbing 16.4 boards a game while averaging 18.6 PPG.
+3 6. Oklahoma City Thunder – This Week: 2-0
On Wednesday we saw vintage Westbrook securing yet another triple-double and another win for OKC against the Cleveland Cavs who have had their struggles. Paul George, who has been extremely efficient as of late, had 18 points during that game as well. On Friday, Brodie was just one rebound shy of yet another triple-double, and PG-13 had another solid outing with 20 points. With OKC being just 0.5 games back out of first, and Westbrook putting up regular Westbrook numbers look for them to make a push for the Nuggets first place spot.
-4 7. Milwaukee Bucks – This Week: 1-2
The Bucks are probably the most surprising team in the league this season. Behind the MVP level play of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks are sitting amongst the top of the Eastern Conference. Along with Antetokounmpo’s phenomenal play, Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton have stepped up and played their roles to drive this team to compete.
<> 8. Los Angeles Lakers – This Week: 3-1
The Lakers began the week getting blown out by the Nuggets. They followed that up by reeling off three straight victories. LeBron and Co. are starting to climb the crowded Western Conference standings.
-3 9. Memphis Grizzlies – This Week: 1-2
Memphis had a week they’d like to put in the rear-view mirror. They lost games to the East’s contending Raptors and Sixers. Their week could have been a complete disaster if not for squeaking out a win in double OT in Brooklyn.
-6 10. Golden State Warriors – This Week: 1-2
Things in the Bay Area continue to go south. The Warriors are glad to see their captain Steph Curry back in the lineup. However, the Detroit Pistons rained on Curry’s homecoming. Nonetheless, they should be excited to finally get the band back together.
+6 11. Boston Celtics – This Week: 3-0
The Boston Celtics did not start off the season how everyone expected them to, but this team looks like they’re getting it together. They’re currently on a three-game win streak and are moving into an easy part of their schedule with the next 5 opponents being .500 or under teams. These games are crucial for the Celtics and will show what drive Kyrie Irving and the rest of the C’s have.
<> 12. Indiana Pacers – This Week: 2-2
The Pacers continue to struggle without Victor Oladipo on the court, as they’re 3-3 this season without him. The season could go either way at this point for them, but with Oladipo returning soon, expect this team to be playing at a high level of basketball.
+6 13. Houston Rockets – This Week: 2-2
Houston is finally starting to work its way up the rankings. Their offense has also appeared to wake up. But as was the concern prior to the season, can their defense step up when it matters?
-4 14. Portland Trailblazers – This Week: 1-2
Rough week for the boys in Portland, despite getting away with a win on Wednesday against the Magic. Lillard and company took two losses this week to the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs. Taking those two losses puts them 2.5 games back from first place, so they will look to take a few wins this upcoming week to help them in their division standings.
<> 15. Charlotte Hornets – This Week: 2-2
The Hornets split their games this week. They continue to be inconsistent, as they will look like an East contender in some games (Monday versus the Bucks) and a mess in others (back to back home losses versus the Jazz and Pelicans). The concerning part? They are even worse on the road, winning just three games in ten tries.
-2 16. Dallas Mavericks – This Week: 2-1
The Dallas Mavericks have continually gotten better as the season goes on. Luka Doncic appears as if he could be running away with the Rookie of the Year award. What’s promising is that they were able to beat a very good Clippers team on Sunday without their young star.
-3 17. Orlando Magic – This Week: 1-2
Nikola Vucevic has been an absolute monster this season. His stats are up in every category this season. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to gain any consistent traction in the win column. If only they could just play the Lakers every game.
+2 18. Minnesota Timberwolves – This Week: 2-1
Minnesota started the week off strong, beating the Cavs on Monday 102-95, and completely blowing out the Spurs by 39 points on Wednesday. However, on Thursday, they lost to the Celtics by 9. The T-Wolves have had an interesting year, so they look to claw their way into the playoffs somehow someway. The biggest potential for Minnesota is the emergence of Derrick Rose showing a whole new life playing with a sense of urgency.
-3 19. Sacramento Kings – This Week: 1-1
The magic is starting to fade for the Cinderella Sacramento Kings. After starting the season hot, they are only 4-6 in their last ten games. At least the Kings have potential to look forward to this season as both De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic continue their strong play.
+5 20. Utah Jazz – This Week: 2-2
Well, Utah is not the same Utah we saw in the playoffs last season. On Monday, they were blown out by 33 points against the Pacers. They then showed life against the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets by walking away with both wins. However, on Sunday they were beaten in a close game against the Miami Heat. Jazz will continue to go up and down the win and loss column, but still continue to show life here and there.
-3 21. New Orleans Pelicans – This Week: 2-2
The Pelicans have shown that they are capable of scoring with the best of them. However, will they be able to stop the opposing teams from scoring more? After giving up 124 points in a home loss on Monday it may be a valid concern.
<> 22. Washington Wizards – This Week: 2-2
After looking like an utter disaster to start the season, the Wizards have quietly worked its way back to within two games of the eighth seed. Will they continue to surge through, especially if the rumors are true that guys like John Wall and Bradley Beal may be on the trade block? To make matters worse, The Wiz will be without center Dwight Howard for a significant period of time.
-2 23. San Antonio Spurs – This Week: 2-2
I’m not sure anyone ever thought they would see an inferior Gregg Popovich team. Not only are they losing, but they are losing big. They lost back to back games by over 30 points, including a 39 point whopping in Minnesota.
<> 24. Miami Heat – This Week: 2-1
Miami was able to salvage the week after an embarrassing loss to Atlanta early in the week. They followed up the loss with a couple of promising wins against the Pelicans and Jazz. On a positive note, Hassan Whiteside still continues to lead the league in blocks per game and Dwayne Wade is making the most of his farewell tour.
-2 25. New York Knicks – This Week: 1-2
The Knicks are steadily trying to figure things out. Kristaps Porzingis is still rehabbing from ACL surgery, and the team was in the news this past week with rumors of trading away Frank Ntilikina. But despite that, Allonzo Trier continues to play great and Kevin Knox is showing potential for the future. The Knicks are falling, but it’s all apart of the process in New York.
<> 26. Brooklyn Nets – This Week: 0-3
Brooklyn seems to have figured out its backcourt formula with Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell, but they continue to struggle to win games. Sitting at 8-15 this season and approaching some tough games against the Thunder, Raptors, Sixers, and Lakers in the near future, this team is going to have to step up soon or press the panic button.
+3 27. Atlanta Hawks – This Week: 1-2
Atlanta’s rise in the power rankings is not so much about how good they’ve been, but about how bad the others are. Trae Young may not be shooting very efficiently, but he is continuing to let it fire. You know what they say, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
-1 28. Cleveland Cavaliers – This Week: 0-4
LeBron James leaving this team is showing a huge impact, as they are 4-17 on the season, the worst record in the East. Hopefully, with Kevin Love returning soon, this team can win more, but for right now? That’s not the case. This Cavs team is bleeding. Badly.
-1 29. Phoenix Suns – This Week: 0-4
As if things in the desert couldn’t get any worse. After going winless this week, Devin Booker exits the game on Sunday against the Lakers with a hamstring injury. Phoenix could be without their star guard for the near future.
-1 30. Chicago Bulls – This Week: 0-4
It seems as if the only positive coming out of Chicago when it comes to basketball this season is Zach LaVine. LaVine is posting all-star numbers but has absolutely no supporting cast. Standing at 5-18, this is a dreadful season for the Bulls.