The Jump Ball’s December NBA Power Ranking

A winning streak ended for one team, another one started for another team, and another coach was shown the door in the past month in the NBA.

1. Houston RocketsScreen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.37 AM

The Rockets have been great, James Harden is playing like an MVP Contender and Chris Paul has been great since he came back, pretty much putting to rest any questions of whether these two can co-exist.
2.  Boston CelticsScreen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.44.42 AM The Celtics own the second half of games, their net rating in the first half is -0.2 but it is a different story in the second half at 13.6.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.09 AM The Cavaliers have been winners of 12 straight games and erasing any concern people had for them. The big thing going forward is how to integrate Derrick Rose back into the lineup as well as Isaiah Thomas whose return seems likely by the next rankings.
4. Golden State Warriors             Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.32 AM Three straight finals trips, two championships, the Warriors’ biggest opponents is complacency. They are a bit banged up and Steph Curry sprained his ankle pretty badly against the Pelicans, expect him to be out for a few games could get the Dubs to lock back in.
5. Toronto Raptors  Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.27 AM Toronto is quietly putting together a good season, they are 8-1 at home but just .500 on the road. If they can start winning at a few more road games and they could be a real force in the East.
6. San Antonio Spurs  Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.21 AM With Kawhi Leonard missing a quarter of the season it is a major shock that the Spurs are 16-8 and the machine is still rolling along. LaMarcus Aldridge has been fantastic as the lead guy, the real question is can he do it when Kawhi returns which should be happening before the New Year?
7. Detroit Pistons      Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.26 AM If Tobais Harris can keep up his hot shooting he will be a candidate for the Pistons who are 0-3 on their current road trip but lucky for them 7 of their next 12 games are at home.
8. Milwaukee Bucks    Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.16 AM 8-4 after the Eric Bledsoe trade and their defensive rating climbing and yet there still seems to be some uneasiness around the team. The biggest issue, they are giving up a high percentage on threes, a product of their ultra-aggressive defensive Pick-and-Roll.
9. Portland Trail Blazers                  Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.09 AM The good news for the Blazers is that Damian Lillard averaging 28 points over their last six games, now if they can get Nurkic playing the way he did at the end of last season. His stats are pretty much the same but it doesn’t seem like he’s playing with the same sense of urgency he was playing with then.
10. Utah Jazz              Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.34 AM The Jazz didn’t just survive Rudy Gobert’s absence, they thrived. Donovan Mitchell burst onto the scene with a 41-point explosion against the Pelicans. While Gobert was down the Jazz had a net rating of 9.6 points and a surprising defensive rating at 104.6.
11. Philadelphia 76ers  Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.57 AM With the way the Sixers are playing on constantly moving the ball, Brett Brown needs to get a little love for coach of the year. Despite losing to the lowly Suns the young Sixers put on a show each night.
12. Indiana Pacers          Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.43 AM The Pacers are the little team that could make the playoffs behind Victor Oladipo’s 23.1 points a night and should take advantage of a light travel schedule in December, with only 4 road games.
13. Washington Wizards                         Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.38 AM With John Wall out the Wizards have struggled, losing six of their last nine games, including a 47 point loss to the Jazz on their first of a five game road trip. In their last 5 games, Bradley Beal has fallen off averaging only 15 points on 30% shooting from deep, they need to get him going again.
14. Denver Nuggets       Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.20 AM It was already bad enough that Nuggets lost Paul Milsap for a few months but losing Nikola Jokic to a bad ankle sprain just as they are about embark on a 6 game road trip and 10 of their next 14 games on the road is a killer. The sooner they get him back the better.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves              Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.23 AM The Wolves underachievement has largely gone unnoticed thanks to OKC. Thibs is playing his starters HEAVY minutes, which may explain why they fade down the stretch of close games. Gibson averages 33.1 minutes the fewest among the starters, Tyus Jones averages 17.6 minutes the most of any bench player that is too large of a gap
16. Miami Heat             Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.11 AM The Heat have not been able to keep up the momentum they had at the end of last season, they have been playing .500 ball. Now with the news that Hassan Whiteside will be out 2 to 3 weeks, they will have to figure out how to defend without, when he is off the court their defensive rating goes up by 8.6 points.
17. New Orleans Pelicans                             Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.29 AM The Pelicans have been holding up pretty well despite the injuries but have to hope that Anthony Davis won’t miss a large chunk of the season with his groin injury. The other issue that really plagues this team is the high number of turnovers, they average 16.3 a game that needs to come down if they really want to get rolling.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder                            Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.45 AM Despite being the most disappointing team this season, the Thunder are lucky that some of the other Western Conference teams have been struggling with injuries to keep them in the hunt. The Thunder need to unlock their offense especially in the fourth quarter, things will change once/if they figure it out.
19. New York Knicks       Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.35 AM It’s tough when you lose your top two scorers, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Junior to injuries. Besides that the Knicks who are 1-7 on the road, have a road schedule starting late in December, it could be the beginning of a big slide for them.
20. Charlotte Hornets     Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.44.56 AM A home heavy December should help the Hornets recover from their recent losing streak. Dwight Howard has been playing well for Charlotte averaging a double double but 1-10 on the road will not get them in the playoffs.
21. Brooklyn Nets            Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.44.48 AM Last season it took 42 games for the Nets to reach 9 wins; this season it took just 23 games, that’s improvement! The Nets are 5th in the league in scoring despite being without D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin for most of the last month.
22. Phoenix Suns             Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.02 AM The Suns had a HUGE win in Philly and have been 9-13 under interim Jay Triano. Devin Booker has been on fire in their last four games he is averaging 34.8 points and is shooting 53.8% from three.
23. Los Angeles Clippers                             Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.52 AM It has been a rough run for the Clippers, after losing Beverly for the season Griffin went down with a sprained MCL, rumors of DeAndre Jordan on the trading block but things could be looking up as Gallinari and Teodosic are looking to return very soon and they need them back desperately.
24. Sacramento Kings     Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.47.14 AM It might be time for the Kings to explore trading George Hill, the signing has not panned out and it is time to give De’Aaron Fox the keys to the kingdom. The ironic thing about the Kings, they have wins against Golden State, Portland, and Philadelphia in the past month.
25. Los Angeles Lakers   Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.58 AM Things are about to get ugly in Lakerland as they head to December, as they play the Rockets three times, the Warriors twice, Cleveland, Philadelphia, to name a few of their tough games. It will be interesting to see how the young Lakers respond if they go on a long losing streak during this stretch.
26. Dallas Mavericks     Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.14 AM It is never a good sign when Hot Dog Gate is the most interesting story in Dallas. It is not exactly clear why Nerlens Noel is not getting any minutes for the Mavs after they trade for him last year, not really sure what their end game is.
27. Orlando MagicScreen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.51 AM After starting out a surprise 8-5, the Magic have come back to earth losing 9 straight games in November but Aaron Gordon is keeping his campaign for Most Improved Player by continuing his hot three point shooting.
28. Atlanta Hawks           Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.44.34 AM The Hawks in rebuilding mode and the most important thing in rebuilding mode is nailing their draft picks. It is early but it is safe to say that the Hawks nailed it with their 2017 pick with John Collins who before getting injured averaged 11.5 points and 7.1 boards.
29. Chicago Bulls             Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.45.01 AM It’s not about wins and losses for the Bulls, but it has to be great for the Bulls to see Kris Dunn have the best stretch in his career over the last five games averaging 13 points, 5.8 assists, while shooting 61.5% from three (on 2.6 attempts).
30. Memphis Grizzlies    Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.46.03 AM Before last night’s win, the Grizzlies lost 11 straight, chose their star player Marc Gasol over their coach David Fizdale leading to his firing. It’s been an incredibly tough month but at least they got their first win since November 7th.

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