Happy New Year! It’s time to bring in 2017 with the first NBA Power Rankings of the New Year here on SportsandSwag.com. The top teams in the league have really begun to separate themselves in recent weeks. That’s especially so out west where injuries have plagued teams like the L.A. Clippers (23-14). So much so, that the Clippers have fallen from 3rd to 5th in the conference standings. Another team that’s been plagued by injuries are the Utah Jazz. George Hill is averaging 18.8 points and 4.2 assists per game. However, that’s in only 13 starts. The Jazz (22-13) are much better with Hill running the show. With unsung players like Rodney Hood and Rudy Gobert to go along with Gordon Hayward, the Jazz bear watching. But, George Hill being healthy is a must.
Now, onto this week’s NBA Power Rankings – 1/3/17
1. CAVALIERS (26-7) The Cavs have been basically unbeatable unless Lebron is resting. And, there seems to be nothing or no one that will stop that. Not in the Eastern Conference anyway.
2. WARRIORS (30-5) Kevin Durant finally flexed his scoring muscles against the Cavs on Christmas Day. But, the result was the same…..a loss. KD is making a strong case for MVP behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but MVP’s aren’t the reason he left Oklahoma City are they?
3. SPURS (27-7) Kawhi Leonard missed a layup at the buzzer in overtime loss to the Hawks on Sunday. It was only the Spurs third loss on the road. Three road losses is incredible at this point in the season. But, this still doesn’t seem like a typical Spurs team that contends for titles.
4. ROCKETS (27-9) James Harden is the league MVP right now. Simple as that. Saturday night’s performance of 53 points, 16 boards, and 17 assists against the Knicks was ridiculous. Still, the Rockets have to prove themselves against teams like the Spurs on a consistent basis before we label them serious contenders.
5. JAZZ (22-13) At nearly 15 points per game Rodney Hood is one of the better players people know little about. Gordon Hayward and Hood give the Jazz one of the better wing combos in the league.
6. RAPTORS (23-10) Toronto still looks like the second best team in the east. Rumors are swirling that the Raptors are interested in possibly trading for the Hawks’ Paul Millsap. IF, they make that happen, they can possibly make Cleveland sweat a little.
7. CLIPPERS (23-14) The injury bug that bit Blake Griffin and Chris Paul has now hit J.J. Redick. The Clippers are a walking emergency room. To top that off, Doc and Austin Rivers became the first Father-Son duo to get ejected from an NBA game. Can’t script that, not even in La-La Land.
8. GRIZZLIES (22-14) Now, that Mike Conley is back from his back injury the Grizzlies are looking to get things back in swing. Unfortunately, Marc Gasol’s sprained left ankle is another setback they’ll have to endure.
9. CELTICS (20-14) Isiah Thomas became only the fourth Celtic ever to score 50 points in a game in Friday’s win over Miami. Celts look solid as the third best team in the east.
10. HAWKS (18-16) The Hawks have had their ups and downs, but they also own wins over Cleveland and San Antonio. Paul Millsap is a primetime player. Can the Hawks keep him in Atlanta?
11. THUNDER (21-14) Despite his ejection from the Memphis game, where he had no assists, Russell Westbrook still averages a triple-double.
12. BUCKS (17-16) Giannis Antetokounmpo ‘AKA’ The Greek Freak, continues to be on a serious roll. But, until he gets consistent help on a nightly basis, the Bucks’ mediocrity will continue.
The Best of the rest….
13. HORNETS (19-16)
14. WIZARDS (16-17)
15. KNICKS (16-17)
16. PACERS (17-18)
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