Funny how the NBA schedule works sometimes. It was a week of the haves and have-nots, with six teams going undefeated and six teams going winless. Some of the league’s best teams feasted on some of the worst, while the two teams at the top kept their fantastic seasons rolling.
The Phoenix Suns have won 14 straight games, and they’re still not the No. 1 team in this week’s Power Rankings. They have every right to be upset, and if I were a member of the organization I’d probably be composing a sharply worded Twitter draft right now, but the Golden State Warriors, who have won five in a row and lost just two games all season, have just been too good to unseat.
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One undefeated team this week that not many, if any, saw coming, is the Minnesota Timberwolves. They picked up four quality wins, which helped springboard them from No. 24 last week all the way up to No. 8. Conversely, the Denver Nuggets plummeted 14 spots after an 0-4 week, the majority of which came without reigning MVP Nikola Jokic.
On a sappier note, this Thanksgiving I am certainly grateful for the fact that I get to write about the NBA for a living and work on these Power Rankings each week. I sincerely thank everyone who takes the time to read these, even if we disagree from time to time. Enjoy your Turkey Day, and at least now you have something to argue with your family about besides politics.
|Well, the Warriors were supposed to lose a game this week when they sat Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. against the Pistons, but the reserves and role players showed tremendous resolve to pull out yet another win. Golden State outscored opponents by 13.6 points per 100 possessions this week and have done nothing to dispel the notion that they’re the league’s best team right now. As if they needed more weapons, Andrew Wiggins has come alive, averaging 22.5 points on 39 percent 3-point shooting in four wins this week.||—||16-2|
|It’s almost unprecedented that a team could win 14 straight games and not claim the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings, but that’s just how good the Warriors have been this season. Phoenix won four more games this week, including road victories over the Spurs and Cavs. Devin Booker averaged 23.5 points on 50/48/87 shooting splits this week, while Deandre Ayton hasn’t missed a beat since returning to the starting lineup. The Suns are certainly clicking on all cylinders with a deep, smart, well-coached roster.||—||15-3|
|It’s safe to say that the Nets haven’t played their best basketball consistently this season, yet they’re still 14-5 after a 3-0 week with wins over the Magic, Cavs and Celtics — and that’s with Kevin Durant missing a game and shooting 12.5 percent from the 3-point line. Patty Mills has been excellent since being inserted into the starting lineup in Joe Harris’ place, averaging 20.7 points on blistering 59 percent 3-point shooting this week. LaMarcus Aldridge also continued his strong season, putting up 17.7 points on 56 percent shooting for the week.||—||14-5|
|Utah beat the Raptors, Kings and Thunder this week, with a one-point home loss to the Grizzlies on Monday. Donovan Mitchell struggled from the field, but he was one of six Jazz players to average double figures for the week. Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic each averaged 15 points in the four games while combining to shoot 43 for 82 from 3-point range.||7||12-6|
|The Hawks extended their winning streak to six games with victories over the Hornets, Thunder and Spurs this week. Trae Young is the head of the snake, averaging 26.7 points and 8.7 assists this week on 49/41/94 shooting splits, while six other Hawks averaged double figures, showcasing the depth of this roster — even with the absence of De’Andre Hunter.||9||10-9|
|The Hornets are now 7-3 over their last 10 games after a 3-1 week, with their only loss coming in Atlanta. LaMelo Ball has been tremendous, averaging 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists this week, while hitting 41 percent of his 8.5 3-point attempts per game. Terry Rozier is starting to find his groove as well, averaging almost 20 points on 39 percent 3-point shooting for Charlotte this week.||1||12-8|
|Nothing like four games against the Thunder, Magic and Pistons to get the juices flowing. The Bucks took care of business in a 4-0 week to get back on the winning track, behind 24.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bobby Portis also caught fire, averaging 20.5 points and 12.3 rebounds this week on 17-for-25 3-point shooting while filling in at center for Brook Lopez.||9||11-8|
|Well, well, well. Look who’s a .500 team. The Wolves absolutely caught fire in a 4-0 week, including a double-digit win over the Heat and a 43-point thrashing of the Grizzlies. Minnesota had a net rating of plus-24 this week, ranking third in offense and second on defense. Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell each averaged over 20 points per game, while Malik Beasley snapped out of his early-season funk by putting up 15.8 points per game on 38.5 percent 3-point shooting.||16||9-9|
|The Heat went 2-2 this week, splitting with the Wizards while beating the Pistons and losing to the red-hot Wolves. Tyler Herro had perhaps his best week of an already-excellent season, averaging 22.3 points on 44 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week. Depth will be an issue for Miami all season long, but Gabe Vincent played well this week, averaging 11 points on 41 percent 3-point shooting in just over 20 minutes per game.||5||12-7|
|The Bulls were well on their way to a solid week and a rise in the rankings after wins over the Nuggets and Knicks, but they were stopped dead in their tracks by a 32-point loss to the Pacers and a shocking loss to the league-worst Rockets on Wednesday. Coby White played in all four games this week and Nikola Vucevic made his return in the Houston loss, so they should take some of the pressure off Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, who both averaged over 23 points per game this week.||1||12-7|
|The Celtics rattled off consecutive wins over the Lakers, Thunder and Rockets before running into a buzzsaw Nets team on Wednesday. Jayson Tatum averaged 28.8 points and 8.3 rebounds this week, while Jaylen Brown made his return for the final two games of the week — though the rust was apparent. Dennis Schroder put up 19.5 points and 4.5 assists over the four games.||4||10-9|
|The Knicks beat the Rockets and Lakers this week, with a loss to the Bulls in between. The defense improved but the offense was a bit of a struggle, with Julius Randle leading the way with 23.3 points on 47 percent shooting. Evan Fournier and Alec Burks had it going as well, each averaging over 15 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range this week.||5||10-8|
|The Mavs lost to the Suns and Clippers this week without Luka Doncic, then beat the Clippers in Luka’s return thanks to a dominant overtime period. Kristaps Porzingis is playing perhaps his best basketball as a Maverick, averaging 26 points, nine rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this week despite the extra defensive attention during Doncic’s absence. Doncic was dominant in his one game this week, putting up 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the win.||7||10-7|
|A rough 1-3 week for the Wizards was capped off with a brutal 25-point loss to the four-win Pelicans. Washington’s lone win came at home against the Heat, just two days after losing in Miami. The Wiz struggled to put the ball in the hoop this week, as Bradley Beal shot just 23 percent from 3-point range and Spencer Dinwiddie shot 32 percent from the field.||6||11-7|
|Portland beat the short-handed 76ers and Nuggets to start the week, then lost to the Kings on Wednesday. Damian Lillard has more closely resembled the player we’ve come to know and love over the years, averaging 32 points and 7.3 assists on 50/39/97 shooting splits this week. CJ McCollum added 21 points per game on 42 percent 3-point shooting, while Norman Powell put up 18 per game and knocked down 44 percent of his 3s.||2||10-9|
|Philly continued to tread water without Joel Embiid this week, beating the Nuggets and Kings while losing to the Blazers and Warriors. Tobias Harris also missed two games this week and Seth Curry missed one, leaving Tyrese Maxey to carry the offense with 23.3 points and 5.5 assists per game. Overall the Sixers have to be pleased at staying above .500 with Embiid’s return just around the corner.||3||10-9|
|The Clippers offense was stuck in the mud during a 1-3 week, with their only win coming in the first of a back-to-back against the Mavericks. Paul George nearly played the hero in the second game against Dallas, forcing overtime with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner, but the Clippers mustered just a single point in the extra frame to take the loss. The offense has been overly reliant on George and Reggie Jackson, but Marcus Morris returned this week to hopefully provide some relief.||7||10-8|
|Toronto wrapped up its Western Conference swing with wins over the Kings and Grizzlies, plus losses to the Jazz and Warriors. The Raptors played all week without OG Anunoby due to a hip injury, and Gary Trent Jr. stepped up with 22.8 points per game on 46 percent 3-point shooting. Scottie Barnes has cooled off after a hot start to his career, averaging 9.8 points this week on 39 percent shooting from the field.||3||9-10|
|The Grizzlies beat the Clippers and picked up a big road win over the Jazz, with losses to the Wolves and Raptors this week. Desmond Bane was a human torch, averaging 21.3 points per game on 56 percent 3-point shooting, while Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant all averaged 18 points or more. The defense still hasn’t been up to the standard Memphis set last season, giving up at least 108 points in each game this week, including an eye-popping 138 in Minnesota.||1||9-9|
|The Lakers were in danger of a 1-3 week, but LeBron James came to the rescue with 39 points in Wednesday’s overtime win over the Pacers, which they played without Anthony Davis. Russell Westbrook averaged 23.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists with James and Davis each missing a game this week due to suspension and illness, respectively. Carmelo Anthony added 14.3 points per game on 44 percent 3-point shooting.||2||10-10|
|It was a rough week for the Nuggets, who inexplicably lost at home to a depleted 76ers roster, then dropped their three remaining games with Nikola Jokic on the sidelines due to a wrist injury. Aaron Gordon and Will Barton did their best to carry the offense with Jokic out, but the defense was the real issue, allowing 124.2 points per 100 possessions in losses to the Bulls, Suns and Blazers.||14||9-9|
|The Cavs have now dropped five straight after losses to three powerhouses this week — the Warriors, Nets and Suns. The good news for Cleveland is it’s starting to get healthy, with Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen making their returns this week. Allen looked sharp, averaging 22.5 points and 13 rebounds on 64 percent shooting in two games, while Darius Garland led the way with 22.7 points and 7.7 assists per game this week.||10||9-10|
|The Pacers beat the Pelicans this week and handed the Bulls a surprising 32-point defeat in Chicago, while losing to the Hornets and Lakers. Malcolm Brogdon led the offense with 19 points per game on 52/50/93 shooting splits, while Domantas Sabonis added 15.8 points per game on 55 percent shooting.||1||8-12|
|What an eventful week for the Kings, who saw a fan puke on their home court, followed by Luke Walton’s firing, and then the first win for interim head coach Alvin Gentry on Wednesday. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have each averaged 22 points in Gentry’s first two games with Sacramento. Marvin Bagley logged a season high in points (10), rebounds (8) and minutes (19) in the win over the Blazers, so it will be interesting to see if he carves out a more consistent role in Gentry’s rotation.||1||7-12|
|The Pels doubled their win total this week, beating the Clippers and Wizards with losses to the Pacers and Timberwolves. All four games were decided by double digits, with Jonas Valanciunas averaging a team-high 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Brandon Ingram has yet to get back to his All-Star form, but Josh Hart stepped up with Devonte’ Graham missing the last three games.||4||4-16|
|The Rockets lost to the Knicks and Celtics before perhaps the most unexpected result of the entire NBA season in a win over the Bulls on Wednesday. Kevin Porter Jr. returned to the lineup to put up 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the win, and he was one of eight Rockets in double figures. Christian Wood averaged a double-double for the week with 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.||4||2-16|
|OKC kept things relatively close against four tough opponents this week, but ended up going 0-4. The Thunder played the last two games without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which makes things extremely difficult offensively. Lu Dort averaged 17 points for the week on 39 percent 3-point shooting, while rookie Josh Giddey put up 15.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game on 39 percent 3-point shooting.||4||6-12|
|Isaiah Stewart made the screens of pretty much every NBA fan in the world this week with his relentless pursuit of LeBron James after being struck in the face, but that was the only reason the Pistons made headlines in an 0-4 week. Jerami Grant led the way with 22.3 points per game, while Cade Cunningham put up 11.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, though he shot just 32 percent from the field. Cunningham also notched his first career triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in Sunday’s loss to the Lakers.||2||4-14|
|Three more losses for the Spurs this week, bringing their overall skid to six games. Both the offense and defense struggled this week, as they allowed at least 115 points in each game. Dejounte Murray averaged 15.7 points, 8.7 assists and 8.7 rebounds for the week, but shot poorly from the field. Jakob Poeltl returned to the lineup this week, putting up 10.7 points and seven rebounds on 61 percent shooting.||1||4-13|
|No wins for the Magic this week. They lost to the Bucks twice, along with the Nets and Hornets. The offense struggled without Cole Anthony, who has missed the team’s last three games due to an ankle injury. In his absence, Jalen Suggs and RJ Hampton have taken a larger role, with mixed results. Franz Wagner and Terrence Ross, both with more offensive opportunity with Anthony out, struggled from the field this week while failing to averaged double figures.||3||4-15|