Kamenetzky Bros. Power Rankings: Finally, Another Legit East Contender?

An emphatic win at the always-treacherous Oracle was followed up by losses in Phoenix and Denver, plus an OT win over Sacramento. Surprising? Perhaps. Troubling? Absolutely not.1
2THUNDER(35-10)Their seven-game winning streak features back-to-back wins hosting Portland and visiting San Antonio, then back-to-back destruction of hosts Boston and Philly. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant appears incapable of playing a game that doesn’t further enhance his MVP credentials.3
One key to their admirable play sans CP3? Between Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick and even Blake Griffin, the roster is steeped in dudes who can create quality looks for teammates.5
Contests in Houston, OKC and Oakland equal a seriously tough week, and the Blazers fell all three times. But at least their own floor was protected against Minnesota and Denver.2
Their current three-game win streak featured noteworthy contributions from Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and even Greg Oden. Not that LeBron shirked his responsibilities, but he’ll gladly take as much help as possible.6
Losses to OKC and in Miami’s house will happen. But considering the absence of Kawhi Leonard (who joined Danny Green and Tiago Splitter on the shelf) coincided with these results, it’s fair to wonder how the Spurs will cope without their stopper.4
7GRIZZLIES(22-20)In nine games as a Griz, Courtney Lee’s averaging 15.3 ppg and is shooting an eye-popping 55.6 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from downtown. For an offense heretofore stuck in third gear, these numbers are manna from heaven.9
Back-to-back losses to Memphis and defensive anchor Marc Gasol featured back-to-back unremarkable performances from Dwight Howard. Coincidence? Daryl Morey really hopes so.8
A home loss on three days rest to Minnesota is why some folks question whether the Dubs are a truly elite team. Steph Curry’s wholly deserving All-Star starting nod is why the Dubs can nonetheless never be taken lightly.7
A 24-point win over the Pacers speaks to this team’s resolve to stay in the playoff hunt without Eric Bledsoe, as well as the importance of role players like Gerald Green stepping up on a regular basis to make such wins possible.14
Two road losses against Toronto (albeit without Dirk) and suddenly-hot Brooklyn come on the heels of recent falls to the Clips and Blazers. At some point, the D must be tightened if Dallas wants to continue besting preseason expectations.10
Amazing stat courtesy of Orlando Pinstriped Post’s Evan Dunlap: Terrence Ross‘ 51 points in Saturday’s loss to the Clips accounted for 5.6 percent of his career points through that game.12
Whenever the wheels appear to be coming off during this chaotic season, an impressive victory like the one against Indy temporarily (?) steadies the ship. Rookie head coach Brian Shaw has done commendable work under adverse circumstances.11
Their white-hot surge coincided almost immediately with the unavailability of super-expensive cornerstone pieces Brook Lopez and Deron Williams (now back as a reserve). We’ll let the front office decide whether this is inspirational or terrifying.16
Paul Millsap is probably too nice a guy to relish increased touches with Al Horford out for the season, but he can’t be accused of passing up an opportunity. In his last five games, the forward has averaged nearly 20 ppg.17
They remain an erratic bunch, but at they’re least an erratic bunch whose potential doesn’t require mental gymnastics to envision, which hasn’t been the case since the Arenas-Butler-Jamison salad days.15
A relatively soft schedule since trading Luol Deng has helped the Bulls remain afloat while increasingly starless. Of course, losses against whatever solid opponents they’ve faced (and needing OT to beat the Lakers) speak to Chicago’s vulnerability.13
Friday’s Bay Area win notwithstanding, the Wolves — who broke their 0-11 schneid in games decided by 4 points or less — continue to be arguably the NBA’s most inexplicably disappointing team.18
Putting aside the 62 served up to ‘Melo at the Garden, the ‘Cats recorded solid wins over the Raps and Clips last week, and lost by a bucket to the Bulls. If nothing else, they’re fighting for Steve Clifford.20
The Knicks are undefeated in games in which ‘Melo scores 60+. Why has it taken Woody so long to figure this out?21
Desperate to stop the bleeding, last Monday’s huge win over Memphis was rounded out nicely by besting Detroit and Orlando. Plus, the Brow did this to The Baby.27
When a date with the Bucks can’t prevent a winless week, safe to say it’s soul searching time. Unless the front office is cool with fans F-Bombing Mo Cheeks, of course.22
On the plus side, the jaw-dropping, loss-sealing five second violation against Dallas saved Cavs fans the inevitable trouble of complaining about whatever play Mike Brown drew up.19
Sacto predictably struggled during a recent tough stretch of the schedule, but at least they pushed the Pacers to OT. Baby steps for Boogie and Co.24
No team in the West has a lower efficiency differential, although the Lakers appear determined to make a move.26
Rajon Rondo’s return has unfortunately coincided with contests against Miami, Brooklyn, and OKC. As the saying goes, timing is everything.25
Pau Gasol has vented after each recent loss about their crappy defense. Granted, it would help tremendously if his own D wasn’t so crappy, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.23
Remember when everyone was actually wondering whether these guys were gonna screw up tanking?28
It’s a shame they can’t play the Lakers more often.29
To quote David Byrne, “Same as it ever was.”30

OTHER RANKINGS: MVP | Rookies | Most Improved | Sixth Man

Andy Kamenetsky is a frequent contributor to SheridanHoops.com. Follow him and his brother, Brian, on Twitter.


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