As much as we humans fancy ourselves creatures of routine, we unabashedly crave novelty. The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers were obviously the best teams in their conferences when they met in five consecutive NBA Finals, but did we jump on Twitter to rant about how awesome it was to see basketball played at its highest level? Nah, we complained that it was boring and wanted to see more parity.
A similar sentiment has surrounded this season's Power Rankings, with the Boston Celtics holding the No. 1 spot for the majority of the year because of their utter dominance. Yawn.
So, as much as we feel for the Celtics (they'll be fine), it is nice to see some fresh blood at the top of the rankings this week with the Memphis Grizzlies, who have taken the NBA by storm. They've won seven straight games, and their astounding performance against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night punctuated the impressive run.
Another couple of hot teams, the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers, are knocking on the door of the top five after starting to play like the teams we thought they would be prior to the season. Conversely, the Dallas Mavericks went from being the league's biggest risers last week to the biggest fallers this week. Life comes at you fast, fellas.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers tied for the biggest leap this week, each rising seven spots. And last but certainly not least are the New York Knicks, who are bing-bonging their way up the rankings on the heels of a five-game winning streak. Here are this week's NBA Power Rankings.
*Please keep in mind that our NBA Power Rankings are based on weekly performance, not the whole season.
|Ladies and gentlemen, your first-place Memphis Grizzlies. If there was any doubt about them earning the No. 1 spot this week, they eliminated any shred of it with a 41-point thumping of the Bucks on Thursday night in which it seemed like they never missed a shot. Memphis has now won seven games in a row and nine of its last 10. Ja Morant missed a game and shot 36 percent for the week, and the Grizzlies still won by an average of 26 points. The talent is so deep and the development has been so impressive that you have to appreciate what the Grizzlies have been able to do in just a few seasons.||3||0-0|
|We haven't said this often this season, but what a rough week for the Celtics. Consecutive blowout losses to the Warriors and Clippers were followed by an overtime win over the Lakers that required a monumental late comeback. Jayson Tatum averaged 27.3 points and nine rebounds for the week, while Jaylen Brown added 25.7 points per game on 54 percent shooting. The defense is the main concern, but a back-to-back home set against the Magic -- and the return of Robert Williams III -- should help regenerate Boston's confidence.||1||0-0|
|The Pelicans started off the week with consecutive wins over the Suns, the first of which sparked some controversy when Zion Williamson decided to unleash a vicious 360 windmill dunk instead of running out the clock in the final seconds. The end of the week didn't go as well, however, as New Orleans dropped two games to the Jazz in Salt Lake City. With Brandon Ingram still out, Williamson has been a terror, averaging 31.8 points, eight rebounds and five assists this week on 63 percent shooting. He even went 3 for 6 from 3-point range, just for kicks. The defense, which has been so good all season, slipped a bit this week as they allowed at least 117 points in each game.||1||0-0|
|This week was a roller coaster for the Bucks, who beat the Mavs, then lost to the Rockets, then beat the Warriors, then got annihilated by the Grizzlies by 41 points. Khris Middleton turned his ankle just six minutes into the Houston game, but was able to come back for the next two games. Unfortunately Jrue Holiday missed both of those games due to an illness, so Milwaukee was rarely whole. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the mainstay, averaging 23.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, but he shot an uncharacteristic 41 percent from the field. Bobby Portis put up a double-double of 17.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the week.||1||0-0|
|Denver only had two games this week, beating the Jazz and the Wizards. They scored 141 points against Washington, with Nikola Jokic putting up a ridiculous line of 43 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Jamal Murray averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 assists in the two games, shooting 60 percent from the field.||4||0-0|
|You know things are rolling when you sit basically your entire rotation and still come away with a win. Edmond Sumner, Cam Thomas and Day'Ron Sharpe were outstanding in an improbable win over the Pacers on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Nets won their other two games this week as well, making it eight of their last nine. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combined to average nearly 60 points in the wins over Atlanta and Washington, while Ben Simmons put up eight points, seven rebounds and six assists in nearly 22 minutes per game.||4||0-0|
|It was a slightly weird week for the Cavs, who split games against the Kings and Thunder without Donovan Mitchell, then lost to the Spurs in his return before picking up a solid win in Dallas. The defense was solid in all four games, but offense was a bit of a struggle, even with Mitchell averaging 31 points after making his return. Darius Garland struggled this week shooting the ball, hitting just 36 percent from the field.||2||0-0|
|The Clippers opened a lot of eyes with three straight wins, including a blowout of the Celtics in which Kawhi Leonard looked like KAWHI LEONARD for the first time this season, going for 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists on 10-for-12 shooting in 29 minutes. They rested Leonard, Paul George and a bunch of players in Thursday's loss to the Suns, but that is likely just a blip on the radar. George averaged 26.3 points, eight rebounds and 6.7 assists in the three wins, while the Clippers allowed a frugal 97.6 points per 100 possessions. Let's hope the team can stay healthy for a decent stretch this time.||6||0-0|
|The Jazz lost to the Wolves and Nuggets to start the week, but bounced back for two solid home wins over the Pelicans, the second of which featured a 13-point comeback and some clutch shot-making down the stretch. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lauri Markkanen missed the two losses, and returned to average 25 points on 44 percent 3-point shooting in the wins over New Orleans. Malik Beasley is on one of his hot streaks, averaging 20 points this week on 40 percent from beyond the arc, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a strong week at 16 points per game on 52 percent 3-point shooting.||3||0-0|
|The 76ers put an end to a three-game losing streak by starting a three-game winning streak, beating the Lakers, Hornets and Kings in home games this week. Joel Embiid was a madman, averaging 40.7 points for the week -- including 53 on 32 shots in the win over Charlotte. James Harden had an incredibly efficient week as well, averaging 22.7 points and 14.3 assists on 44 percent 3-point shooting. De'Anthony Melton had a career night against the Lakers, putting up 33 points and seven steals while making eight 3-pointers.||7||0-0|
|The Blazers rattled off three more wins this week, two over the Wolves and one against the Spurs, and they're now 4-1 since Damian Lillard's return from his most recent injury hiatus. Speaking of Lillard, he has scored at least 36 points in his last four games, including an 11-3-pointer barrage in 29 minutes against Minnesota. This is about as hot as Lillard gets, and it's been great to see after his injury issues the last couple of seasons. Anfernee Simons was an excellent running mate, averaging 22 points on 44 percent 3-point shooting in the three wins.||7||0-0|
|It's good to see some joy around the Knicks -- both the team and their fans -- as they won three more games this week to make it five in a row overall. Both sides of the ball have been clicking, with Julius Randle looking like the All-Star of a couple seasons ago. He averaged 30.3 points and 9.3 rebounds this week on 36 percent 3-point shooting, while RJ Barrett has come alive of late as well, putting up 25 points, 7.3 rebounds and four assists per game on 44 percent from beyond the arc.||7||0-0|
|The Kings went 2-2 this week, with wins over the Cavs and Raptors and losses to the Knicks and 76ers. Sacramento came back from a 16-point deficit to beat Toronto on Wednesday, with Domantas Sabonis putting up a monster game of 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists. With De'Aaron Fox missing two games this week, Sabonis took the lead offensively, averaging 20.3 points, 15 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Rookie Keegan Murray is heating up from 3-point range, hitting 43 percent this week en route to 12.3 points per game.||6||0-0|
|After losing to the Pelicans twice and to the Rockets by 14 points to bring their losing streak to five games, the Suns got a schedule break on Thursday and easily handled the Clippers without a large contingent of their starters. Defense was the issue this week, as Phoenix allowed 120 points per 100 possessions in the three losses. The good news is Chris Paul and Devin Booker are both back on the court, though neither has been able to find the shooting stroke. Mikal Bridges picked up the slack, averaging 20.8 points for the week on 36 percent 3-point shooting.||6||0-0|
|After a loss to the Spurs, the Heat won three close games over the Pacers, Thunder and Rockets. They're not exactly blowing the doors off opponents, but they'll certainly take the wins. Tyler Herro has been a wrecking ball, dropping a career-high 41 points and 10 3-pointers against the Rockets on Thursday and averaging 26.8 points for the week while making 55 percent of his nearly 12 3-point attempts per game. Herro, Caleb Martin and Max Strus were the only Heat regulars to play all four games this week, as the revolving door of injuries and rest remains in motion.||6||0-0|
|The Pacers are probably regretting the fact that they allowed 136 points in a loss to the depleted Nets, but they managed to close out a 2-2 week with a big win over the Warriors. Tyrese Haliburton continues to be the engine of the offense, averaging 22 points and eight assists this week on brilliant 55/54/93 shooting splits. Buddy Hield kept up his excellent shooting, knocking down 42 percent of his 3-pointers while averaging 20.3 points for the week.||--||0-0|
|Things were looking up for the Warriors after their best win of the season over the Celtics on Saturday, but it didn't last long. Road losses to the Bucks and Pacers hurt, but not as much as Steph Curry suffering a shoulder injury that will reportedly keep him out at least a few weeks. Golden State has a minus-11.1 net rating this season with Curry off the floor, and the offense plummets to a disturbing 99 points per 100 possessions. Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole will need to step up, while it will be on Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and the defense to make up for the lack of offensive firepower without Curry.||4||0-0|
|The Mavs lost any momentum they appeared to be gaining last week, going 1-3 with ugly losses to the Bulls and Cavs. There's a meme circulating of Luka Doncic refusing to shake the hand of Dwight Powell, which has sparked some concern about Doncic's commitment to a team that offers him little offensive help. Doncic averaged 33.7 points, 8.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds this week, but shot just 28 percent from 3-point range. Defense has been the main problem, however, as the Mavs allowed 122.5 points per 100 possessions this week -- not exactly going to get it done.||12||0-0|
|The Wolves started off the week with a win in Rudy Gobert's return to Utah, but dropped three straight games after that -- two to the Blazers and one to the Clippers. D'Angelo Russell was scorching hot in the three games he played, putting up 25.7 points per game on 52 percent 3-point shooting. Gobert's scoring output has increased since Karl-Anthony Towns' injury, with the big man putting up 18.3 points per game this week to go along with his 13.8 rebounds. Even with the output from those two, the Wolves managed just 108.5 points per 100 possessions in the four games.||4||0-0|
|Were it not for a miracle overtime win over the Bulls on AJ Griffin's contorting layup as time expired, this would have been an 0-4 week for the Hawks. They dropped games to the Nets, Grizzlies and Magic while allowing a robust 120 points per 100 possessions for the week -- a sign that they're having trouble adapting without the defense of Dejounte Murray. They also lost Clint Capela for at least a week with a calf strain he suffered late in the loss to Orlando, potentially hurting the defense even more. Offensively, Bogdan Bogdanovic has been a huge boost, averaging 25.3 points per game this week on 52/50/100 shooting splits to help out Trae Young, who shot less than 40 percent from the field.||--||0-0|
|Losing consecutive games in Orlando isn't great for morale, and the Raptors followed that up by blowing a 16-point lead in a heartbreaking loss to the Kings. Fred VanVleet struggled from 3-point range but found other ways to score, averaging 26 points for the week including a 39-point outburst against Sacramento. Pascal Siakam added nearly 25 points per game, but the defense just wasn't good enough, allowing 119.2 points per 100 possessions.||10||0-0|
|After throttling the Mavs on Saturday, the Bulls dropped consecutive overtime games to the Hawks and Knicks. The Atlanta loss was crushing, as what looked like three game-winning free throws by DeMar DeRozan were rendered irrelevant by AJ Griffin's twisting, miracle layup with half a second left. The offense was absolutely on point this week, putting up 122.2 points per 100 possessions behind 31.3 points per game from DeRozan and 20.7 from Zach LaVine.||2||0-0|
|The Lakers lost overtime games to the 76ers and Celtics this week, with a win over the Pistons in between. The Boston loss was particularly painful, as the Lakers erased a 20-point deficit and held a 13-point lead with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Anthony Davis would be in the MVP discussion if the Lakers were performing better, as he kept on rolling with averages of 34 points and 13 rebounds this week on 62 percent shooting. LeBron James struggled from 3-point range, but still put up 30.3 points and 6.7 assists per game.||1||0-0|
|What a week for the Magic, who beat the Raptors in consecutive games before dispatching the Hawks with a 135-point showing on Wednesday to bring their winning streak to four. Paolo Banchero is settling in after returning from injury a couple of weeks ago, averaging 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists this week. But the real story was Franz Wagner, who put up 27 points per game on 54/53/89 shooting splits. Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony have also provided a spark in the backcourt, each averaging over 12 points and five assists per game on 57 percent shooting this week.||5||0-0|
|OK Rockets, we see you. Houston started off the week with home wins over the Bucks and Suns, and followed that up with a three-point loss to the Heat. In the last two weeks, the Rockets have now beaten the 76ers, the Bucks and the Suns twice -- some signature wins for an extremely young group. Jalen Green averaged 26 points for the week, but most impressive were his 7.3 free throw attempts per game, including 12 against the Suns. Part of his evolution is to figure out how to get his points even when his shot isn't falling. Rookie Jabari Smith Jr. didn't shoot as well as he has been, but he still nearly averaged a double-double with 11.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.||1||0-0|
|After losing 11 games in a row, the Spurs ran their winning streak to three with victories over the Heat and Cavs to start the week, before losing to the Blazers on Wednesday. Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell led the way, as usual. Johnson averaged 22.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, while Vassell added 15.7 points and three steals per game. Veteran Josh Richardson provided some scoring and court spacing as well, putting up 12.7 points per game on 41 percent 3-point shooting.||4||0-0|
|OKC lost games to the Cavs, Mavs and Heat this week, as the recently potent offense took a bit of a dip. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander averaged over 30 points for the week, as usual, but he made only 29 percent of his 3-point attempts. Josh Giddey put up 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game, while rookie Jalen Williams seems to be hitting his stride, averaging 14 points this week on 62 percent shooting.||4||0-0|
|The Pistons salvaged what would have been a winless week with a 141-point effort in an overtime win over the Hornets. Unfortunately, they also learned that prized second-year guard Cade Cunningham will miss the remainder of the season due to shin surgery. Major bummer. With youngsters Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Jaden Ivey struggling from the field this week, Bojan Bogdanovic was the team's leading scorer with 27 points per game on 41 percent 3-point shooting. He lit up the Lakers for 38 points on 6 for 12 from deep.||1||0-0|
|Four more losses for the Wizards -- three by double digits -- brings the overall skid to a painful eight games, as they've gone 0-for-December so far. The defense has been rough, most recently allowing 141 points to the Nuggets in Wednesday's loss. Jordan Goodwin has been a great story, averaging 14.8 points, 5.5 assists and 3.3 steals this week while filling in as a starter for Monte Morris in two games. Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis carried the offense, each averaging more than 26 points, while Will Barton has been good in two games since returning from injury, putting up 22 points per game on 50 percent 3-point shooting.||4||0-0|
|Charlotte lost three more games this week, bringing the overall streak to six, and Steve Clifford has seen enough. He blatantly called out his team's lack of effort on the defensive end, evidenced by its 126.8 (!) defensive rating for the week. It's not like the offense has been great either, but at least they got LaMelo Ball back in the Detroit loss, when he put up 23 points and 11 assists with just a single turnover in 34 minutes. He should take some of the scoring load off the shoulders of Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr., but it will be interesting to see how Ball affects the defense.||2||0-0|