Daniel Romero-Salas is a lifelong NBA fan with an inclination to statistical analysis of the game. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and strives to bring a refreshing take on one of the most popular leagues in the world.
Rankings are based on the win-loss tally of teams. Tiebreakers will be decided by head to head records of tied teams. If teams have yet to play each other, the team with the better conference record will be placed ahead of the other. Numbers in parenthesis indicate the team’s standing in last week’s rankings.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Last week: 3-0 (2)
The Thunder went undefeated this week and now leads in the standings. Kevin Durant averaged 27.3 points over the week while shooting at an outrageously efficient 62.7% from the field. The Thunder look like the team to beat in the West.
Last week: 2-2 (1)
Luol Deng has torn a ligament in his non-shooting hand and is postponing surgery till after the season. Deng is invaluable to the Bulls because he is the best wing defender and plays the most minutes on the team, even more than Derrick Rose at 38.3 minutes per game. Deng could be out for a week or so to rest his injury.
Last week: 4-0 (7)
The Heat have won 4 games straight including one against their potential playoff foe in the Chicago Bulls. Dwyane Wade also returned on Friday and scored 28 points with 5 steals. With 3 of their 4 games next week against teams with below .500 records, the Heat should be able to close in on the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Last week: 3-1 (6)
Boosted by the return of guard Kirk Hinrich, and some surprising production from center Zaza Pachulia (who is averaged 8.75 rebounds last week), the Hawks are just half a game behind the Heat in their division standings.
Last week: 3-1 (8)
The 76ers keep blowing out bad teams (by an average of 19.3 points) while losing close ones (by 7). So far they have won 8 games by 20 or more points, only the Heat and the Bulls can claim to have done the same.
Last week: 2-1 (5)
The Nuggets are shooting efficiently from everywhere. They lead the league in field goal percentage at 48.2% and what makes them even more dangerous is that they have gotten to the free throw line more than anyone in the league. Danilo Gallinari is having a career year scoring 17.9 points per game leading many to wonder if the Nuggets ever needed Carmelo Anthony.
Last week: 3-2 (4)
The Pacers are allowing opponents to shoot 41.5% from the field, the lowest in the NBA. The team has very long and active defenders in Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Paul George.
Los Angeles Clippers
Last week: 2-1 (10)
Against the Lakers, Grizzlies and Nuggets over the week the Clippers went 2-1. All of those opponents are in the thick of the playoff hunt and the Clippers dealt with relative ease against them. Since his return from injury, Mo Williams has shot a scorching and 56.8% for an average of 22.2 points in 5 games.
Last week: 3-1 (13)
Tyson Chandler was known to be the defensive anchor for this team last year. The mind-boggling thing is that this year, without him, the team has gotten even better. The Mavericks lead the league in points in the paint allowed with only 35.4 per game. The platoon of Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright are all providing great defense in limited minutes.
Last week: 1-2 (9)
The Jazz had a disappointing week losing to the Raptors and barely getting by the Kings. This week they will host the Trailblazers, Clippers and Lakers. The Jazz may have had a solid run so far but will be tested thoroughly in the upcoming days.
Last week: 1-5 (3)
The Magic are in an absolute freefall from last week with 5 losses. The 56 points they scored against the Celtics on Monday was the lowest the Magic have scored in their entire history. Dwight Howard has been producing but has received no help.
Last week: 3-1 (14)
The Rockets continue to pile up wins. In their last 10 games they have only lost once and won 2 games without Kevin Martin, their leading scorer who is battling plantar fasciitis in his foot.
Last week: 3-1 (15)
Marcus Camby has been a beast on the boards with 16 per game in the last week. In his last game against the Suns, Camby had 20 rebounds in only 24 minutes. The Blazers are 4th in the league in total rebounds thanks to the 37 year old Camby.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last week: 2-1 (16)
Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring at 30.0 points per game but the rest of the team has not helped. Before their win in Minnesota on Sunday, the Lakers had not scored over 100 points in a game in 13 tries. That 13 game streak was the longest in franchise history.
San Antonio Spurs
Last week: 2-2 (12)
The Spurs have a winning record but are abysmal when not playing at home. They are 2-8 on the road making them the 3rd worst road team in the NBA. The team is currently outside the playoff picture and will need to pick up some road wins if they hope to make the post season.
Last week: 1-3 (11)
The Grizzlies are the best ball hawking defense in the league creating more steals than any other team. Steals create opportunities for them to get out on the fast break adding much needed scoring because without easy baskets they struggle to score with a defense that is setup. The Grizzlies have spacing issues since they have attempted and made the fewest 3 pointers in the league.
Last week: 3-1 (18)
The Celtics defense is starting to settle in and get stops, as a result the team has now allowed the fewest amount of 3 pointers. Rajon Rondo is still hurt with a sprained wrist and could be out until after the All-Star break. Without him the offense will have to run through Paul Pierce and so far his 5.4 assists per game indicate that he is up to the challenge.
Last week: 2-2 (17)
In 3 games this week, Kevin Love has scored over 30 points and brought down over 10 rebounds a game. He recently signed a contract extension giving the Timberwolves less to worry about in the next few seasons.
Last week: 2-2 (20)
As mentioned last week, The Bucks are one of the worst 10 teams in defensive rebounding and blocks. It will get worse as Andrew Bogut fractured his ankle and will be out for 2-3 months depriving the team of its best rebounder and shot blocker.
Last week: 2-2 (19)
The Cavaliers are an average team; in fact they do not rank in the top 10 of every major offensive and defensive category except for having the 10th best 3 point shooting percentage. As a rebuilding team the best they can hope for is to end the season at .500.
Last week: 1-3 (21)
This could be Steve Nash’s final year in Phoenix as his contract is set to run out at the end of the season. He has made recent comments about the lack of talent on the team and his dissatisfaction with recent results. Any more weeks where the Suns go 1-3 again may add more misery to this team.
New York Knicks
Last week: 1-3 (22)
The Knicks offense continues to struggle as they were unable to score more than 90 points in their last three losses. The team is 2nd in the league in three point attempts yet they are 24th 3 point percentage and things may get worse as Carmelo Anthony was held out their loss on Saturday with wrist problems.
Last week: 2-2 (27)
Andrea Bargnani came back from a strained calf to lead the Raptors to 2 wins last week. Without him the team had been struggling but on Wednesday against the Jazz, Bargnani reinjured his calf. The Raptors proceeded to lose their next game and could continue to do so without their leading scorer.
New Jersey Nets
Last week: 2-2 (25)
The Nets may not have the best defense but they are making up for it by leading the league in 3 pointers made and are 4th in offensive rebounds. Those extra opportunities on the offensive glass have helped create more 3 point chances.
Golden State Warriors
Last week: 1-2 (24)
The good news for the Warriors is that Stephen Curry has come back from his ankle injury and averaged 21.7 points per game, 6 assists and 3 steals. Curry’s play has helped the scoring but more worrisome for the Warriors is their defense which is still the 2nd worst allowing 99.7 points per game to opponents.
Last week: 0-3 (23)
Marcus Thornton, the team’s second leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, has a thigh bruise that has kept him out since Wednesday. The Kings have promoted Jimmer Fredette to the starting lineup in Thornton’s absence and he has responded by averaging 16.5 points the last 2 games.
New Orleans Hornets
Last week: 1-3 (28)
Things keep getting worse for the Hornets as Eric Gordon’s knee has kept him out for another week while the team has kept on losing. Worst for the Hornets, Gordon recently turned down a contract extension making him a restricted free agent next year. The team was looking to rebuild around Gordon after Chris Paul’s departure but he may leave if another team steps in with a better offer.
Last week: 2-2 (30)
The Wizards split their games this week with 2 wins and 2 losses. The good news, they are no longer the worst team in the NBA. The bad news, both wins have come against the Bobcats and both of their losses have been by an average of 23.5 points. Coach Flip Saunders was recently fired and the team is hoping that new coach Randy WIttman can make some positive changes soon.
Last week: 0-4 (26)
The Pistons have lost their last 4 games this week while Ben Gordon has been injured with a sore left shoulder. The offense now scores the least points per game of all teams in the league as well as the least field goals made of all teams despite having played the most games of all teams (tied with the Bulls and the Lakers at 22 games this season).
Last week: 0-4 (29)
The Bobcats have lost their last 8 games and currently have the worst record in the league. DJ Augustin is injured with an inflamed big toe while Gerald Henderson was held out with a strained back in the last game on Friday. Both players average 28.7 points per game combined for one of the worst offenses in the league. – Rappler.com