Heisler’s NBA Power Rankings After Week Eight

Spoelstra says Christmas win over OKC “felt like a different month.” Anything’s better than December with Bron saying he’s felt so unmotivated that “I don’t like me.”3
When is last time they had NBA’s best record at this late date? Never! On franchise-record 14-game winning streak with Blake, career 60% free throw shooter 21 out of 27 in last six. CP3 says streak is “fool’s gold.” Skeptics are out there.4
Bah, humbug: 12-game win streak ends with loss in Minnesota. One-game losing streak becomes two with Christmas loss in Miami. As Westbrook goes …1
There goes the neighborhood: New, stat-conscious owners who cleaned out scouting department and hired ESPN maven Hollinger reportedly will sack GM Chris Wallace, who assembled this team.2
Forget your father’s Spurs, these aren’t even your older brother’s Spurs: In 2009 when Lakers beat them 4-1 in West finals, Spurs were No. 23 on offense. Now No. 2 at 105 a game to Houston’s 106, with OKC No. 3 at 104.8.5
When is it a bad idea to take 29 threes a game? When you make only 30% of them, averaging 8.6 a game as you go 2-3 in your last five, compared to making 41%, averaging 12 a game in your 18-5 start.6
Miracle transformation continues. Remember when everyone sneered at Lee’s 20-12 average with non-competitive Knicks? Now at 20-11 in bid to become first Warrior All-Star since Spree in 1997.8
Hawks now so balanced, J-Smoove is their leading scorer at 16.6, No. 34 in league. Congratulations to DeShawn Stevenson for a very special dunk — his first 2-point basket in 12 games over 27 days. His previous 25 buckets were 3-pointers.7
Just as everyone marveled at what they were doing without Rose as his replacement, Hinrich, shot 37%, Rockets came in on Christmas, ran up 120, beat them by 23.9
Someone up there, or at least on top floors of 645 Fifth Ave., must not like them: Being fed to Clippers in Staples on Christmas made it 20 road games out of their first 29.10
Back, at least to what they were: Team that went 42-24 last season and took Miami seven games in East semis started this one 4-7 but has won 12 of 17 since. And w/o Granger.13
Another reason there’s a lot of eye-rolling at GM Morey’s moves: He’s a stat guy, like Hollinger. But he’s also in Exec of Year conversation after acquisitions of Harden, Lin, Asik.16
Hold that reunion celebration: Rubio, on minutes restriction, averaging only 18 and sits out second half of back-to-back as they go 2-3 since his return. Handcuffs come off soon, though.14
Rondo’s definitely high maintenance—and is a part of the reason Ray-Ray’s in Miami—but he’s also a force of nature in career year, averaging 14, 12 assists, shooting 51%.17
Still not what they were, but at least no longer out on their feet: Win five in row with Nash back for last two, including morale-builder over Knicks, who had 23-point lead 12 minutes into first meeting.18
One of your more unusual playoff contenders: You don’t see many who get outscored, outrebounded, outshot from the field, outshot on threes and get fewer free throws than opponents.12
Played 15 on road, which is a lot, and won five, which is a lot for them. If you wonder what holds them back, it’s No. 20 defense, 0.1 ppg ahead of No. 21 Lakers, whose matador clinics appear nightly on SportsCenter.11
Well, you’ve got to start somewhere: Dirk makes surprise season debut Sunday at San Antonio, scoring eight points in 20 minutes… as Spurs rout them by 38.19
Sometimes you add by subtraction: Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young at career-best 18-17-15, up a combined 14 over last season… or just about what Iggy averaged last season.20
With Trail Blazers winning five in a row before loss at Sacramento, Terry Stotts joins list of incoming coaches who have already exceeded expectations with Jacque Vaughn, Mike Dunlap.21
Next coach fired?: Heat is on Avery Johnson as Nets, who started 11-4, lose nine of 11, including Christmas bombing at home by Celtics, running that offense D-Will said he isn’t comfortable in.15
Big Baby, whom I’d better stop cheap-shotting, was averaging career-best 16-8 (18-7 in December), shooting 46%, when he was lost for 6-8 weeks.22
Remember the days when they were West royalty and Clippers beneath contempt? They must be over as Clips come in end Suns’ four-game home win streak, beating them by 27.25
Fans ask why Calderon, averaging 15-5-10 in their 5-0 run since Lowry’s latest injury, can’t start over him? Answer: Calderon is 31, on expiring contract and on trading block.26
Even if it’s three or nothing, second-year point Brandon Knight having best month as pro, averaging 17 in December even if 3-point shooting (41.5%) is better than overall (39.3%).24
Happily, Cousins says “I learn from all my mistakes” after snapping out at Smart, being left in dressing rooms for second half of loss to Clippers. Unhappily, he has so much to learn. Trade the guy?29
Dion Waiters, No. 4 pick in draft, started 17-32 on threes, but has made 22% since while continuing to take five a a game. In the real bad news, 2011 No. 4 pick Tristan Thompson is averaging a modest 8-8.25
Losing streak up to 15 with Miami coming to town next, then a game in Brooklyn. Looks like we can put them down for 17 before their big chance, hosting New Orleans Saturday.27
Everything can’t go wrong: Ryan Anderson, on his third team in five NBA seasons, now second only to Dirk as a stretch 4, averaging 18-7, shooting 40% on threes.28
Latest losing streak: seven…. Wittman apologizes to fans after 32-point loss in Detroit. On the bright side, most of fan base tuned out weeks ago.30

PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Most Improved | MVP | Rookies | Euroleague


  1. A.J. says

    Can Sheridan finally simply admit that James was cursed by the empty vessel that is Danny Ferry? After that hire, Stern should have permanently banned both Gilbert and Ferry from participating in anything that has the letters n, b or a in it.

  2. George says

    David Lee is one of the most ignored stars of the league. He diligently goes about the business of being a double double machine and a 20-10 guy without any self promotion. Its nice to see him finally getting recognition for his play.

    • A.J. says

      Considering the fact the guys he purports to “defend” have an aggregate PER of 20 against him, there’s a pretty good underlying reason he’s ignored.

  3. Chris Harris says

    How in the world can the Rockets be 3 spots behind the Bulls? They JUST beat the Bulls yesterday by 23 AND IT WASN’T EVEN THAT CLOSE. They have identical records, Houston swept the season series, and plays in the toughest division in bball. Wack.

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