NBA Power Rankings: Thunder, Suns show staying power amid adversity

by | NBA Writer

The really great NBA teams -- not only clubs winning lots of regular-season games, but teams you can really buy into -- play well when things don't go their way. These units win when 3s don't fall, their best player has an off night or the defense doesn't quite lock in. They still find a way to adapt.

And the Thunder and Suns are great examples. Russell Westbrook is out, and yet OKC has blistered the league on its way to No. 1. The Suns lost Eric Bledsoe, but have won 6 of 7 -- including two wins over the Pacers -- and are riding a five-game winning streak. That adaptation is crucial. If losing a player really sinks you, it not only demonstrates how important the player is, but also how inflexible the team is.

It goes beyond personnel losses. For instance, when the Timberwolves don't create distance with their offense, they can't keep the pressure on late to win. When the Warriors don't find Stephen Curry's blazing hot fire, they have little rhythm on either end. When the Pistons falter defensively, they lose.

It's something to watch -- not only how clubs play when everything is right, but also how they handle adversity. Those who play well enough to win during rough stretches make memorable playoff runs. Otherwise, they might wind up like the Broncos.


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