NBA Power Rankings: November Edition
1. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James heard all the doubters and he’s responded by playing like the best basketball player in the NBA once again. Now paired up with Anthony Davis and running the role of point guard for the Lakers we’ve seen a lot of wins take place. Guys like Danny Green have played a big role and Dwight Howard has really accepted his new role in the NBA. As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy this Lakers team will have all eyes on a title.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Despite losing Khris Middleton for the last couple of weeks it has not slowed down the Bucks or Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks hold the best record in the Eastern Conference and have the third best offensive rating and fourth best defensive rating. As long as Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to play at an MVP level with steady role player contributions they’ll remain near the top.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
Finally healthy or at least as healthy as can be given with Kawhi Leonard’s knee issues. Now added with the fact that Paul George’s return has given the Clippers another lockdown defender and elite level scorer. This team has shown defensively what they’re capable of already. Currently the Clippers are top 10 for both offensive and defensive ratings.
4. Boston Celtics
Probably one of the bigger surprises here to start the season, despite some unfortunate injuries the Boston Celtics have regained their Brad Stevens identity. Using ball movement and finding strength in their defense. Kemba Walker has fit the system arguably better than Kyrie Irving has while Jayson Tatum & Jaylen Brown have both taken strides forward worthy of “Most Improved” conversations. Rim protection is an issue but as of now with a collective effort the Celtics have minimized the issues.
5. Houston Rockets
This team is still very questionable as a whole with their lack of depth and abundance of injuries but it just doesn’t matter! James Harden has been on a historic tear to start the season averaging just under 40 points per game. Although Russell Westbrook has his deficiencies shooting the ball, what he brings to the Rockets in terms of pushing the tempo is exactly what they want. Harden will continue to push and hold the Rockets to an elite level.
6. Denver Nuggets
A couple of tough losses so far this season, mostly due to the fact Nikola Jokic hasn’t looked fully healthy or conditioned. Yet the Denver Nuggets remain one of the best teams out West, their offense has been their surprising weakness to this point but they currently hold the best defensive rating in the NBA. Their offense will come along as Jamal Murray continues to progress and Jokic gets back into top 10 player form.
7. Toronto Raptors
No Kawhi Leonard? No problem! The Toronto Raptors are an elite team this year being led by a once again improved Pascal Siakam. Siakam has had an MVP candidate type of start to the season which has helped keep the Raptors near the top of the East despite injuries to Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Not to mention the clear regression in Marc Gasol. Once healthy the Raptors could climb higher on these rankings.
8. Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler has had shooting woes but man has he slid right into a perfect role with this Miami Heat team. The definition of a tough united team effort on a nightly basis. The Miami Heat are sixth in defensive rating and rely on a collective team effort to win from an offensive standpoint. Young guys have played huge roles early and we’ve seen progression for guys like Bam Adebayo and Justice Winslow.
9. Philadelphia 76ers
Not the type of start expected by the Sixers who came into the season as one of the favorites in the East to make the NBA Finals. Tobias Harris has struggled to be the knock down shooter the 76ers desire while Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid have faced some inconsistency in scoring. Nonetheless the 76ers have a top five defensive rating which should continue to be the case. With a boat load of talent in their starting lineup.
10. Utah Jazz
The Jazz made some splash moves this offseason to bring in some added firepower around Donovan Mitchell. Bojan Bogdanovic has surely been that but Mike Conley has struggled heavily to start this year, still one of the better teams early on but they still have things to figure out.
11. Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic that’s been the story and a huge reason why the Mavericks have had so much success. Averaging a triple-double in the month of November and at this point on triple-double watch nightly he’s been in the top 10 player discussion along with the MVP conversation. Kristaps Porzingis has shown flashes but overall it’s been the Luka show led by some high level coaching in Rick Carisle.
12. Indiana Pacers
No Victor Oladipo, several key player injuries early and the Pacers remain a top team in the East. Defined by their defense the Pacers have added better offensive weapons to help them score more points in bunches. Malcolm Brogdon has made some Bucks fans regret letting him walk after seeing him in a larger usage role have such success. Guys such as Jeremy Lamb and TJ Warren are constant offense. The biggest question still comes when watching how the pairing of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis will work out. So far it’s been a mixed bag. The Pacers regardless are a tough opponent on a nightly basis.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
Not a team coming into the year that many thought would be off to a hot start but no one expected to see Andrew Wiggins to bounce back like this! Wiggins has become the clear cut number two guy behind Karl-Anthony Towns and guy who can be relied upon late in games to create offense. As for Towns he’s been arguably the best center to start this season with his game becoming so well rounded while remaining efficient.
14. Phoenix Suns
It’s been an incredible start for the Suns who have benefited greatly from the coaching change to Monty Williams. While also bringing in a true point guard in Ricky Rubio to help run the show and free up Devin Booker more. While the Suns have taken a slight dip in the past couple of weeks, they are still a high scoring offense led by Devin Booker.
15. Orlando Magic
A disappointing start as some key young players for the Magic haven’t had good starts. Aaron Gordon and Terrance Ross to be exact. However, their defensive identity has remained their strong suit which has kept them afloat despite the injuries they’ve suffered along the way. Jonathan Issac and Markelle Fultz have both shown to be promising young players they can rely on going forward has been one of the clear things.
16. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have steadied thanks to some sensational form from guard Spencer Dinwiddie. They’ve had a lot of close losses which could in turn made them much higher on this list. With the return of Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert on the horizon, look for Brooklyn to make a jump in the rankings.
17. Sacramento Kings
After a shaky start the Kings have steadied of late. They’ve had a raft of injuries to key players but are still right around the playoff race. DeAaron Fox’s return will be integral to how far this team goes throughout the rest of the season.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are a prime candidate to make some moves at the deadline. Gallinari has been productive and an important part of all their relevant success to date. If Sam Presti trade him and others there’s no doubt they’ll move down a spots in the rankings.
19. Portland Trail Blazers
Who would have thought a team led by the sublime talents of Damian Lillard would be so far down in the power rankings? The loss of some key rotation forwards in the offseason and having to rely on inconsistent rotation pieces leave them light years off their Finals appearance from last year.
20. Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte have been a fun watch. DeVonte Graham is super exciting and PJ Washington is one of the more productive rookies from last year’s class. There’s a tangible amount of hope with a good coach in James Borrego instilling confidence in his young players.
21. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are in grave danger of missing out on the postseason for the first time in decades. It’s so hard to write off Gregg Popovich and this franchise but they’re sinking fast. Mini shoutout to Aussie, Patty Mills for being one of the few players who’s actually hitting threes on this team.
22. Atlanta Hawks
Outside of Trae Young’s brilliance and some brief moments from Jabari Parker and rookie De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks have been an abject disappointment. The return of Jason Collins will no doubt boost the franchise, though probably not enough to make them a playoff contender out East.
23. Detroit Pistons
Is it time to blow it up in Detroit? Should the Pistons front office trade one of their front court stars? The Griffin and Drummond experiment has clearly failed. However, in a weakened Eastern Conference there’s still time for this team to find a little bit of form and head back up the standings and rankings.
24. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. make up an enviable young nucleus in Memphis. They’ve exceeded expectations so far but the Morant injury hurts their chances of staying out of the doldrums of the power rankings.
25. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been decimated at early points of their season. They’ve been ravaged by injury and their franchise youngster still hasn’t appeared on the court. Brandon Ingram has been superb but it just hasn’t been enough to bring the requisite wins required to be a successful team.
26. Chicago Bulls
Chicago’s season has been an abject failure. There’s been few shining lights other than some occasional big games from Zach LaVine and rookie Coby White. The Bulls suck and something needs to change with their organisation for them to jump back up the rankings.
27. Washington Wizards
The Wizards being one of the best offensive teams in the league is one of the most shocking stats of the season. They may be a disaster on the other end of the floor but at least they possess some sort of identity. Moritz Wagner has been an analytics darling and Beal continues to play at an All-NBA level.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite being a lowly 28th in the power rankings the Cleveland Cavaliers have exceeded expectations. They play with energy and hustle. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love continue to prove their worth and the young guards are showing promise too.
29. Golden State Warriors
My oh my how things change. The ‘G League’ Warriors have been cruelled by injury this season. Rookie Eric Paschall has been one of the few positive takeaways from an otherwise dreary start to the season.
30. New York Knicks
Knicks gonna Knicks. Things need to change in New York to change the trajectory and image of the franchise. There are problems aplenty that are unlikely to be solved without systemic changes. On the bright side RJ Barrett certainly hasn’t shied away from the bright lights of the big city.