Tag:Power Rankings
Posted on: December 14, 2010 6:27 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 6:28 pm
 

3-Up, 3-Down: The top keeps rising

Posted by Royce Young



Three teams that are rising and three that are falling in this week's edition of our Power Rankings:

3-UP

Chicago Bulls (6): The Bulls are quickly becoming a strong riser in the East. They made the biggest jump going up five spots in the rankings. They're winning with a ton of defense and with Carlos Boozer back, are a cool 6-1 and winners of six straight. Now with Boozer playing at a high level, coupled with Derrick Rose's MVP emergence and the fact Luol Deng is a capable third scorer, the Bulls have every right to stake a claim as one of the East's true contenders.

Oklahoma City Thunder (10): Floundering a bit here and there, they have. While the Thunder just rose up two spots this week, they are definitely in the category of rising. Oklahoma City is playing better and have three more home games after blowing the doors off the Cavaliers Sunday by 29 (largest win ever by the Thunder in OKC). Expectations were a bit inflated before the season so some were a little discouraged with OKC's up and down start, but the Thunder appear to be settling in. Kevin Durant is regaining his scoring machine swagger, Russell Westbrook is tearing apart opponents and even James Harden is finding some offensive game.

Milwaukee Bucks (16): The Bucks were a big riser, going up five spots this week. A lot of that is because of their big road win over the streaking Mavericks, but the Bucks are winners of three straight and of four of five overall. Plus, the wins are against quality opponents (Magic, Pacers, Rockets, Mavs). At 10-13, Milwaukee has been disappointing after its playoff run last season, but it appears that the Bucks might be finding themselves a bit lately.

3-DOWN

Phoenix Suns (19): The Suns have slipped five spots and could be heading for an even bigger dip as the schedule doesn't get easy ahead. After a winnable game against Minnesota, the Suns play at Dallas, at Oklahoma City, at San Antonio and home against the Heat. Yikes. They've lost three straight and have fallen below .500 at 11-12. After next week, Phoenix could be multiple games under.

New Orleans Hornets (14): The fall continues. The Hornets are 3-7 in their last 10 and have dropped three straight. And this is after starting the season 8-0 and then 11-1. Consider this fun fact: The Hornets haven't scored 100 points in their last 13 games. Offense is a big issue late in games with Chris Paul desperately looking for scoring options. Trevor Ariza hasn't been the answer and coach Monty Williams continues to sit potential spark Marcus Thornton.

Denver Nuggets (12): This feels like a temporary fall, as the Nuggs have dropped three of four, but all were on the road against decently decent teams. They're quite inconsistent though, so Denver is certainly a candidate to drop multiple games. But at the same time, the Nuggets also look like one of the top teams in the West on any given night, so who knows, they could be headed up. But Chauncey Billups is now battling a wrist injury and with the Carmelo stuff reaching its apex, the distractions could weigh heavily on the Nuggets.

Be sure to check the full rankings out here.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 2:22 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 9:34 am
 

Mavericks breaking out with more than front five

Mavericks excel with more than the starting five, as their win streak reaches ten. Posted by Matt Moore



The Mavericks have always been able to gunsling with the best with them this decade. Having a seven-foot Hall of Fame, former MVP legend will do that for you, alongside one of the top point guards of all time and a former sixth man of the year. But as was evident in the Mavericks' tenth straight win , it's not just the starters for Dallas that are getting the job done. 

After the Mavericks outran the Jazz on December 3rd, Dirk Nowitzki said this is the deepest team he's been on . The numbers are bearing out that this is at least a very good team depth-wise, and not just on the offensive end. 

Dallas' bench entered play Tuesday night averaging 33.6 points per game and allowing just 28.7 per game. It's that kind of advantage when your starters come off the floor that leads to starters being able to rest more, and coaches like Rick Carlisle not having to throw starters back out into weird rotations in order to plug leaks as a lead drops or a deficit widens. 

Tonight's contributor was Ian Mahinmi, who provided his first career double-double against the Warriors with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with 2 steals and one very nasty block. Mahinmi being a viable backup center when Tyson Chandler and/or Brendan Haywood can't go gives a whole new dimension to the Mavericks, allowing them to play big against opponents. That's something that will be crucial to keep an eye on as the playoffs approach, even if the Mavericks aren't as hot as they are now (and odds are they won't be). 

It should be noted that Jason Terry is a big reason for the bench points as DeShawn Stevenson has been starting in his stead at shooting guard. Still, there's not an absence of production for Dallas off the pine as Mahinmi, Jose Juan Barea, and Shawn Marion are all capable of putting in solid to great nights if they're feeling on. That's a pretty big set of weapons to account for, and that's part of the reason Dallas has been so unstoppable thus far this season. 

Oh, and have we mentioned Rodrigue Beaubois isn't even back in action, yet? 

The Mavericks aren't just stocked at each position, they're capable of throwing together combinations to specifically counter what their opponent puts on the floor. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, the team is willing and able to adjust on the fly to problems presented, which is partially responsible for Dallas' remarkable ability to close this season. 

When Beaubois returns, the Mavs will feature a stellar four-guard rotation, a solid punch-counterpunch at small forward with Caron Butler and Shawn Marion providing contrasting approaches, and a three-headed center system with veterans Haywood and Chandler backed up by young buck Mahinmi. Quite simply, when the Mavericks are healthy, they are not a team you want to run into on a dark and stormy night. And unlike the Hornets, this success doesn't seem to be the product of a hot streak. 

Get past all that? 

You've still got Dirk Nowitzki in effect. 

#1 (for now ) indeed. 
Posted on: November 16, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 10:08 pm
 

Power Rankings 3-Up, 3-Down: Week 3

The Texas Two-Step is high among the greats while the Magic have no magic and the Knicks have no sense, in this week's 3-Up 3-Down.
Posted by Matt Moore

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Our
Power Rankings for Week 3 are out. Here at F&R, we'll give the the direct line to who was notable in the rankings from week to week. Here's three who are up and three who are down in week 3.

http://sports.cbsimg.net/u/photos/basketball/nba/img14272944.jpg 3-Up


San Antonio Spurs (1): 8-1, and their only loss to the also 8-1 Hornets. So why am I not as big on them as our distinguished Power Rankings Overlord? Probably because their signature win was against a Thunder team that can't decide which way the sun sets, or against a Suns team that let's face it, historically doesn't have much luck against them (last spring excepted). Confusing the issue is Tim Duncan's performance. Duncan's still doing all the things Tim Duncan does off-ball, but his rebounds, points, and percentages are down. That the Spurs are 8-1 despite that makes you wonder, can they really be this good without him playing up to TD standards, or conversely, how good are they going to be if he starts playing to that level?

In closing, Manu Ginobili owns your face. Thanks for your time.

Dallas Mavericks (2):
A Texas Two-Step. How nice. The Mavericks topped the might Hornets (that sounds weird) last night, no doubt helping them climb up behind the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki is rebounding at a better rate than he has since the 06-07 season. They have the ninth best offense in efficiency and the fifth best defense, landing them a top five spot in differential of points produced vs. allowed per 100 possessions. That's pretty good. Throw in the work they've done in besting Denver once out of a home and home and taking down the Celtics, and that's good enough to show good cause for why so many people thought this team would wind up second overall in the West.

The lingering questions of the backcourt depth remain, Caron Butler does not look tip top, and they still need Beaubois back. But Tyson Chandler has filled in much better than anyone anticipated.

Utah Jazz (6):
Well, that was a pretty good week. The Jazz toppled four playoff teams in the East, all on the road, in five days. Losing to OKC was simply an inevitable return to the mean. But the difference this year is the Jazz' mean is a little bit meaner than in years past. For all the concerns that this team wouldn't be as talented as in years prior, they look stacked, top to bottom. Speed, versatility and depth in the backcourt, size, scoring ability and smooth rotations on the defensive end in the frontcourt. And, yeah, Deron Wililams? He's pretty insanely good.

3-Down


Orlando Magic (7):
You'd have thought the Rashard Lewis contract would have bitten them sooner than this, but hey, worse late than never, I suppose. The Magic have one win against a team above .500 and two losses to Miami to and Utah. It's early yet so they haven't had many cracks at it, but throw in a loss to the Raptors, and yeesh, not a great start for SVG's crew. The defense is still excelling, but the offense has fallen off a cliff, thanks in part to Rashard Lewis not being able to hit the broad side of a barn. And yet still, Ryan Anderson gets no minutes. Crying shame, really.

Denver Nuggets (12): Be wary of this team, friends. The resume is solid, the numbers hold up (10th in offense, 14th in defense). And they toppled the mighty Lakers first. But this team is very much on the cusp of oblivion. They can fall apart completely, as they did last night against the Suns. Melo's playing well, but we all know that situation is still ticking. In the meantime, they can beat anyone or lose to anyone on any given night. Teams you can't figure out? They're usually not very good.

New York Knicks (24): Oh, Knicks. You had such promise. Felton's numbers look great but suffer in execution, they can't close, Amar'e can't do everything and Anthony Randolph is a disaster, yet again. Here's what I don't get. They're not bad at defense, they really aren't, at eleventh in the league. Their offense is struggling. Yet Raymond Felton has a 34% assist rate and is shooting well. They have 7 players with a PER above 14.5 but they just don't look like a good basketball team. Either this team's record doesn't reflect its performance, or its performance doesn't reflect what kind of team it really is.




Posted on: November 9, 2010 8:17 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2010 2:30 pm
 

Power Rankings 3-Up, 3-Down: Week 2

The Mavericks, Hornets, and Cavs rise, while the Heat, Blazers, and Timberwolves tumble in our power rankings.
Posted by Matt Moore
 



Our Power Rankings for Week 2 are out. Here at F&R, we'll give the the direct line to who was notable in the rankings from week to week. Here's three who are up and three who are down in week 2.

3-Up


Dallas Mavericks (8): Mavericks rise from 14 to 8 this week and have big victories over the Nuggets (split on a home-and-home) and the Celtics. That's a tasty platter. And for once, they're getting it done with defense. Dallas boasts the fifth best defense in terms of defensive efficiency. Combine that with a legit superstar in Dirk Nowitzki who's carrying 25.8 points per game for Dallas along with 9 rebounds. Dirk's certainly motivated. Offense needs a step up (and a step down in turnovers), but they're getting it done.

New Orleans Hornets (3): KB already told you how they're such a surprise this season, and they rightly rise in the rankings from 5 to 3. Chris Paul is awesome, we already knew that. Okafor's being a man's man, we already knew that, but don't sleep on David West. West has been consistently there for the Hornets, through last year with Paul's injury and Okafor's adjustment, and this season all he's doing is averaging 18 per game shooting 55% from the field, 6.5 boards, and 1 block per game. He's reliable, he's consistent, he's efficient, and he's just as much a part of the Hornets' success as the returning star and resurgent big. Tough week coming up for the Hornets with Portland and Dallas. We'll see if they're still undefeated last week. If they are, going to be hard to keep them out of the second overall spot (LA is still  LA).

Cleveland Cavaliers (20): Eight slot bump for the Cavs this week, who, if they keep this up will be your sentimental favorite in the playoffs come April (in what could be a first-round series with Miami - yikes). The Cavs are just working. The odd thing about it? For years the Cavs have been a tremendous defensive team that couldn't get the buckets. Now it's completely flipped. Their offense is filling it up, but they're letting their opponents get to buckets pretty easy. The weird part is it isn't their at-rim defense, it's their midrange defense that's lacking. Meanwhile, though, J.J. Hickson-Gibson is your new hotness. Bizarre what a new coach can do for you. This team isn't just hanging, they're playing pretty decently, and Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison are largely irrelevant. Which means they could trade both those guys to get younger pieces and still compete.

3-Down

Miami Heat (4): A drop with a loss to the Hornets that they could have won, had they not kept handing off the ball to James Jones and Eddie House who were frozen. With Chris Bosh struggling to find his place , and both of the other stars deferring way too much, the Heat have some problems. Huge week with a rematch versus Boston on Thursday at home. Could this team have 3 losses by the middle of November?  Not exactly Most Dominant Ever so far.

Portland Trail Blazers (9): A minor drop but this team is on kind of a ledge. They get outworked by the Thunder and then obliterated by the Lakers with an unimpressive push against the Raps in-between. It's hard to believe Oden is the difference in this team, and with Brandon Roy talking like he's 35 , and with OKC and New Orleans in the next week, this team will either rise or tumble under the pressure.

Minnesota Timberwolves (29): You know the road kill that makes it all the way to the lane divider? Where it manages to make some progress before having its life ended in a violent and brief encounter with a motor vehicle? That's the Wolves. The past two years they've managed to get an early win, before melting into nothingness. The Wolves were absolutely annihilated by both Miami and Orlando and look absolutely lost on both ends. Michael Beasley cares and is playing well, but in reality, there's just not a lot here for them to develop. The coaching is bad, the team is young, but it's also bad, and the overall construction of the team is bad. It's not surprising, but it's still a downward move from the first week where they just looked pretty bad versus pretty terrible.





 
 
 
 
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