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Power Rankings: First month of NBA shows Grizzlies' long-term progress

by | Senior NBA Blogger

The Grizzlies show they can pull out wins even when starting PG Mike Conley's out of the lineup. (US Presswire)  
The Grizzlies show they can pull out wins even when starting PG Mike Conley's out of the lineup. (US Presswire)  

While it's still early, the NBA season starts to develop into kind of an ecosystem between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Teams have worked out their early-season kinks or gotten over the early-season rush. And a food chain starts to develop.

The Wizards, of course, are the grass. Everyone tramples on them and a few teams just eat them alive. The Nuggets are kind of in the middle, able to hurt some predators but occasionally getting blindsided and torn apart.

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The Grizzlies, right now, are lords of the forest or kings of the jungle or emperors of the desert, or whatever metaphor you want to use. They were nearly here last week before a Monday night loss to Denver tripped them up. But here they are, with the Knicks falling off, the Heat still inconsistent and the Clippers doing the equivalent of a cartoon character running full speed into a door.

Memphis has risen to the top and is the best team in the league through the first month of the season. No one saw that coming. It's another step forward for a franchise that has taken so many over the past three years, with its first playoff win and with cementing a core group the fans care about.

Memphis took down a game, though overall wimpy Cavs team on Monday, but they did it without Mike Conley. Winning those games says something and it makes the Grizzlies even more fearsome. They'll inevitably fall from this perch, but for now other animals scatter when they roar.

The Knicks, as it turns out, are discovering that their teeth aren't the scariest in the jungle, those claws aren't the sharpest, their legs not the fastest.

And the Hornets just keep jumping off of tree branches, wondering why they can't fly.

With that, here are the rest of this week's Power Rankings.


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