Not much has changed with the NBA standings this past week. The hot stayed hot. The Boston Celtics are riding a 12-game winning streak, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets have won six straight and the Detroit Pistons have won five straight. Two of these teams play each other this week. After the top four, things get a little messy.
Statistically, there’s a unicorn, a Greek freak, a beard, a brow and a boogie putting up gaudy numbers in the early parts of the season although some of their teams still aren’t winning.
Let’s get started.
1. Boston Celtics (12-2). Last week: 2nd
After jumping from unranked to number two in last week’s Power Six, the Celtics snatch the top spot away from the Warriors. They haven’t lost after starting 0-2 and look deep and well-coached. If Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown continue playing well in the absence of Gordon Hayward, the Celtics look like the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Oh and Kyrie Irving is doing pretty well on his own.
2. Golden State Warriors (10-3). Last week: 1st
It’s hard to knock a team out of first that has won six straight and nine of their last 10 but that’s how good the Celtics have been. The Warriors seem to be starting a long winning streak of their own and are sporting a plus-12 point differential. Stephen Curry (25.2), Kevin Durant (25.2) and Klay Thompson (21.1) are all averaging over 20 points per game.
3. Houston Rockets (11-3). Last week: 3rd
Another team on a winning streak exceeding five games. The Rockets were supposed to look a little different this year with the arrival of Chris Paul. Well, Paul’s injured and the team looks almost identical to last year’s team with James Harden running the point. He’s averaging 30.5 points and 9.8 assists per game. Clint Capela is averaging 12.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
4. Detroit Pistons (10-3). Last week: 4th
Last week, I said time will tell how long the Pistons will stay on this list. They’ve won three in a row since for a total of five straight wins. The starting lineup of Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond has been lethal and if they keep playing like this they’ll find themselves on this list for the rest of the season.
5. Denver Nuggets (8-5). Last week: Unranked
The Nuggets have won three straight and seven of their last 10 after starting the year 1-2. They have a star in Nikola Jokic who’s averaging 17.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Jamal Murray had a 32 point game this week and if he can fulfill his potential this quickly, Denver may be here to stay.
6. San Antonio Spurs (8-5). Last week: Unranked
The Spurs fell out of the Power Six last week but find their way back this week. They’ve been hit or miss without Kawhi Leonard, winning their first four, losing their next four and now going 4-1 in their last five games. The Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks have an argument for this spot; but I’ll trust Greg Popovich and the annual 50-win Spurs.
Dropped out of Power Six: Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies.
Game of the Week
The Celtics host the Warriors on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. on TNT. The top two teams in the Power Six will face off for the first of two match-ups the teams have against each other this season. The Celtics winning streak could be at 13 (if they beat the Brooklyn Nets) and the Warriors at seven (if they beat the Magic) at tip-off.
Atlantic Division: The Celtics are on top with the next closest teams (Raptors and Knicks) four games behind. The Philadelphia 76ers (6-6) and Brooklyn Nets (5-8) are in fourth and fifth. The Knicks are the second hottest team in the division. They have gone 7-3 in their last 10 led by Kristaps Porzingis who is averaging 30.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
Central Division: The Pistons are followed by the Milwaukee Bucks (6-6), Cleveland Cavaliers (6-7), Indiana Pacers (6-8) and the Chicago Bulls (2-9). The Bulls are the lowest scoring team in the league and have lost four straight. Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James are stuffing the stat sheet, but it hasn’t resulted in wins.
Southeast Division: The Magic hold a slight half game lead over the Wizards (7-5) followed by the Miami Heat (6-7), Charlotte Hornets (5-7) and Atlanta Hawks (2-11). The Hornets have lost three in a row and the Hawks have lost four. The Wizards have won two straight behind the play of Bradley Beal (24.6 points per game), John Wall (20.3) and Otto Porter Jr. (16.9).
Northwest Division: The surging Nuggets jumped the slumping Timberwolves (7-5), who have lost two straight, and now hold a half game lead. The Portland Trail Blazers (6-6) have also lost two straight. The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder are in last at 6-7. The Thunder have won two in a row after a four game losing streak.
Pacific Division: The Warriors hold a four and a half game lead over the 5-7 Los Angeles Clippers, who have lost five in a row. The third-place Los Angeles Lakers (5-8) have lost three in a row followed by the Phoenix Suns (5-9) and Sacramento Kings (3-9).
Southwest Division: In short, the Rockets are good, the Mavericks are bad, and everyone else is hovering around .500 in this division. Statistically speaking, the Pelicans probably have the best duo in the game with DeMarcus Cousins averaging 28.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals per game and Anthony Davis averaging 27.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per game.
Stat of the Week: Assist Leaders (per game)
- Russell Westbrook, OKC, 10.2
- James Harden, HOU, 9.8
- John Wall, WSH, 9.7
- LeBron James, CLE, 8.5
- (tie) Ben Simmons, PHI, & Jeff Teague, MIN, 7.8
Rookie Watch: Lonzo Ball
The UCLA product became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double this week at 20 years and 15 days, five days younger than LeBron James did it. Ball had 19 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds in the 98-90 loss to the Bucks. He has been struggling with his shot but made 58.3% of his looks from the field and shot 60% from downtown in this game. He’ll be looking to build on this effort. For the year, he’s averaging 9.7 points, 7.4 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game.
NBA MVP Update
Team records are going to start to matter more as we get deeper into the season and the MVP update will reflect that this week. Giannis and LeBron both drop and Russell Westbrook gets replaced by Kyrie Irving. Porzingis and Drummond just miss out.
- James Harden
- Stephen Curry
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Kyrie Irving
- LeBron James