The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 3

The LA Clippers are world-beaters right now with wins over the Lakers, Spurs (2x), Grizzlies, Heat and Bulls. They are clearly the best team in the state of California. But are they the best team in the NBA? How about the Western Conference?

The NY Knicks have started strong and lead the Eastern Conference with an 8-1 record. They lead the NBA in winning margin and are among 3 teams with unbeaten 4-0 home records (Miami & Utah). They are no longer undefeated, can the Knicks hold on to the top spot in the Rankings?

Speaking of elite teams, the current longest winning streak of the season belonged to the Memphis Grizzlies, an 8-gamer. They defeated the Thunder, Heat, Knicks and Bucks during that stretch. Their 2 losses came from playoff teams (Clippers and Nuggets).

The 3rd edition of the Power Rankings for the 2012-13 season delivers a new team at the top for the 3rd consecutive week.

The standings are current up to November 21. The rankings from last week refer to Week 2.

Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies have mauled
their competition in 8 of their 10 games

1. Memphis Grizzlies | 8-2 | Last Week: 4 | +3
Their 8-game winning streak is over. They get to start another winning streak against the Lakers on Friday or it could be a 2-game losing streak. Zach Randolph has 10 double-doubles in 10 games which leads the NBA. They get the top spot after beating the Knicks last week and their two losses have come from playoff teams.

2. New York Knicks | 8-1 | Last Week: 1 | -1
They still lead the league in winning margin at +11.8 and that loss in Memphis was understandable after they rallied against the Spurs in San Antonio the night before. Raymond Felton (15.5 ppg, 6.5 apg on 42% shooting) has outplayed Jeremy Lin (10.6 ppg, 6.6 apg on 34% shooting). The Knicks play the Rockets and Linsanity on Friday.

3. Los Angeles Clippers | 8-2 | Last Week: 5 | +2
The hottest team in the NBA (6-game winning streak) would like to continue their pace with quality wins against the Thunder, Nets and Hawks this week. Going 3-0 will surely earn them the top spot next week. Jamal Crawford continues to lead the team in scoring while Chris Paul leads them during the clutch. Eric Bledsoe has played magnificently in his backup role (10 ppg, 3 rpg, 3apg).

4. Miami Heat | 8-3 | Last Week: 3 | -1
LeBron James is still performing at a high level with 8 double-doubles in 11 games. Chris Bosh has been very productive and efficient (top 10 in PER). Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade has struggled with injuries and his last 3 games produced 11 ppg on 30% shooting. The worst part? His defense on opposing guards has been horrible. They have torched Wade with more points and he has consistently been beaten off the dribble.

5. San Antonio Spurs | 8-3 | Last Week: 2 | -3
The Spurs lost Kawhi Leonard to an injury for about a month. Stephen Jackson also followed with an injury and could be out 4-6 weeks. The Spurs embark on a 6-game road trip to the East with games against the Celtics, Pacers and Heat. Ginobili is starting to warm up and their bench needs to come up big during this upcoming trip Blair and Diaw need to pick up the slack.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder | 8-3 | Last Week: 6 | Same
The maturation and improvement of Kevin Durant has continued this year. He had a triple-double against the Warriors and he is still averaging over 10 boards a game. His shooting percentages are excellent: 51% overall, 88% freethrow and 47% on threes. Westbrook has struggled with his jumper this early (40%) while Kevin Martin has become the 2nd most efficient player on the Thunder.

7. Milwaukee Bucks | 6-3 | Last Week: 8 | +1
The Bucks had impressive wins over the Sixers, Pacers and Hornets before choking to the Bobcats. Mike Dunleavy and Larry Sanders have been an amazing frontcourt combo off the bench. Ersan Ilyasova (MIP candidate last year) has struggled so far with 6.6 ppg and 5.1 rpg. The Bucks have a tough stretch coming with games against the Heat, Bulls (2x) and Knicks.

8. Philadelphia 76ers | 7-4 | Last Week: 11 | +3
Andrew Bynum and his knees are a joke. The last injury update said that he hurt himself more while bowling. That sucks. His current hairdo sucks more. But these Sixers dont suck at all. They have survived without Bynum with Jrue Holiday leading the way with his 19 points and 9 assists per game. He is the 3rd best PG in the East after Deron and Rondo.

9. Brooklyn Nets | 6-3 | Last Week: 12 | +3
The Nets have quietly complied a winning record since the Knicks get most of the attention for now. Gerald Wallace and MarShoon Brooks are both back from injuries which should help them with their depth. Joe Johnson continues to struggle shooting while CJ Watson and Andre Blatche have produced well off the bench. Im looking forward to the Nets-Knicks game on November 26 at the Barclays Center to find out who the king of New York is for one game.

10. Los Angeles Lakers | 6-5 | Last Week: 15 | +5
The Lakers are starting to climb the power rankings. Coach D'Antoni had a surprising debut against the Nets where his team won through defense. Steve Nash is still out with an injury but his return is imminent. Kobe has been efficient so far (53% shooting) and he even got his 18th career triple-double against the Suns. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard continues to struggle at the line (48%) and teams are starting to use Hack-a-Dwight.

11. Boston Celtics | 6-5 | Last Week: 9 | -2
Rajon Rondo is still on his streak of getting double-digit assists. Only 2 more people to pass: John Stockton and Magic Johnson. Too bad the assists streak does not translate into wins. The Celtics lost to the Pistons on a blowout but at least Rondo kept his streak alive. The Celtics have a tough stretch coming with games against the Spurs, Thunder and Nets. Let's see if the Celtics put more importance on the streak or on wins.

12. Atlanta Hawks | 5-4 | Last Week: 17 | +5
Josh Smith has had a slow start to the season when comparing his numbers from last year. His points and rebounds are significantly down from last year. His freethrows are worst than Dwight at 31% so maybe he is afraid of getting fouled, thus more long jumpers. Luckily for the Hawks, Jeff Teague has been playing well and so does Al Horford. Plus, the bench guys: Williams and Korver are both averaging over 10 points.

13. Golden State Warriors | 6-5 | Last Week: 21 | +8
No Andrew Bogut, no problem for the Warriors in the past week when they went 3-1. Harrison Barnes has started to show signs of life, averaging 15 and 8 in their last 5 games with 2 double-doubles. Steph Curry has been relatively healthy and producing while Carl Landry continues to sparkle off the bench (14 and 7).

14. Utah Jazz | 6-6 | Last Week: 13 | -1
Al Jefferson is heating up with 6 double-doubles in his past 8 games. He now leads the team in both points and rebounds. The Jazz have great depth with guys like Derrick Favors and Randy Foye providing points and defense. The Jazz are 1 of 3 teams still unbeaten at home (4-0).

15. Dallas Mavericks | 6-6 | Last Week: 16 | +1
The Mavs are just treading water while waiting for Dirk to come back around mid-December. Four of their next five games will be against playoff teams so their depth and toughness will be tested. OJ Mayo continues to shoot well while Chris Kaman has been solid as a number 2 option. Elton Brand has yet to join the offense but at this point, the Mavs will have to settle for his defense.

16. Chicago Bulls | 5-5 | Last Week: 10 | -6
The Bulls have slipped a little bit defensively from last season. The Bulls are normally in the top 5 but they now rank 10th in the NBA. Who would have thought that Omer Asik meant that much to their team defense? They play the Rockets next. The Bulls have struggled on offense without Derrick Rose providing easy baskets. Nate Robinson is viewed as one of their playmakers.

17. Denver Nuggets | 5-6 | Last Week: 14 | -3
The Nuggets had a tough week going 1-3 with losses to the Spurs and Heat. They halted the Grizzlies win streak last Monday when Gallinari started making clutch baskets. They will need more of his shooting going forward as he leads the team in scoring but his percentages are poor. The Nuggets lead the NBA in rebounding but only Kenneth Faried averages more than 10.

18. Charlotte Bobcats | 5-4 | Last Week: 22 | +4
The Bobcats had only 7 wins in 66 games last year. They have 5 wins in 9 games. This is definitely a dfferent team this year. Kemba Walker is on a hot streak averaging 19 a game. He had a game-winner versus the T'wolves. Ramon Sessions and Byron Mullens are playing great basketball right now. MKG is starting to build momentum and is slightly ahead of Anthony Davis as the #2 rookie after Lillard.

19. Portland Trailblazers | 5-5 | Last Week: 24 | +5
The Blazers have won 3 straight after losing the previous 4 games. Damian Lillard continues to sizzle and he is the best rookie so far. Aldridge and Batum are both over 20 points a game. That Blazers trio is among the league leaders in Big 3s (Lakers, Thunder, Heat). Again, it's the bench that continues to be a problem for the Blazers. The starters are all playing heavy minutes.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves | 5-4 | Last Week: 7 | -13
More injury bad news for the T'wolves: Brandon Roy will be out for a month or more. But wait, there are also good news: JJ Barea and Nikola Pekovic are expected to be back in action on Wednesday night. Can they contribute immediately as the T'wolves embark on a 4-game road trip after their tilt with the Nuggets?

21. Indiana Pacers | 5-7 | Last Week: 23 | +2
Disappointing start for the Pacers so far. They have an excuse since Granger is injured but more was expected from them. Their defense is great, being 2nd in the league but their offense is pretty bad at 28th. Roy Hibbert has not proven yet that he deserved that max contract over the summer.

22. Houston Rockets | 4-7 | Last Week: 20 | -2
Crucial games for the Rockets this week. The Knicks are coming as Jeremy Lin and his replacement Raymond Felton go head-to-head on Friday. Omer Asik will meet the Bulls on Wednesday night. Kyle Lowry and the Raptors are also visiting on Tuesday. I guess it's a homecoming of sorts for the Rockets and their opponents. Then a week from today, the Thunder will face James Harden for the first time.

23. Phoenix Suns | 4-7 | Last Week: 18 | -5
The Suns have dropped 3 straight. They are last in the NBA on points allowed. Not a surprising stat given that the Suns have a lot of players not known for their defense (Beasley, Dragic, Scola). The offensive fire power is still not there with the Suns being in the middle of the pack and not even averaging 100 a game.

24. Orlando Magic | 3-7 | Last Week: 25 | +1
Jameer Nelson is back but he is still starting to get back into game condition. Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo have been solid offensively yet the Magic are 29th in team scoring. The Magic has won 1 game in their last 8. They have a chance to improve their record with games versus the Cavs and Pistons who are all below them in the standings.

25. New Orleans Hornets | 3-6 | Last Week: 19 | -6
Anthony Davis has continued to miss some games due to minor injuries. The Hornets are 1-2 without him. Grievis Vasquez has been playing well averaging 12 points and 9 assists while his back court mate, Austin Rivers has somewhat picked up the scoring a little bit.

26. Toronto Raptors | 3-8 | Last Week: 26 | Same

Kyle Lowry is back on the court but the Raptors keep on losing. They probably lead the league in tough losses: games which they should have won but gave away. They could have won at least 4 games where the Raps collapsed in the 4th quarter or last few minutes of the game. Jose Calderon and DeRozan are playing their best ball but wins have not come in bunches.

27. Sacramento Kings | 2-8 | Last Week: 27 | +1
The Kings lost all their games last week yet they improved by one slot higher. That tells you that the bottom of the league is doing pretty bad. The Kings have the worst point differential margin but they play in a tougher Western Conference so they get a pass on that one. They are also last in the league in assists with 17 a game.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers | 2-8 | Last Week: 27 | -1
The Cavs have lost 6 in a row. To make things worse, they also lost Kyrie Irving to a finger injury which will sideline him for a month. It's up to Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao to try and keep the Cavs afloat. Good luck to them since they will play the Sixers, Magic, Heat and Grizzlies next. A win against the Magic can happen, not so sure about the others.

29. Detroit Pistons | 2-9 | Last Week: 30 | +1
Good win against the Celtics. They will need a couple more of those games to move up in the standings. Games against the Magic and Raptors provide the best chance of moving up. Greg Monroe has started to heat up with 17 and 10 numbers.

30. Washington Wizards | 0-9 | Last Week: 29 | -1
The only winless team in the league. No John Wall and still no Nene result into more losses for the Wizards.  They are 2nd to last in the league in points scored as a team and they are led by Jordan Crawford at 12 ppg. They have started two consecutive seasons with losing records of 0-7 or worse before their first win. Help is coming soon with Nene reportedly making his debut on Wednesday versus the Hawks.

Biggest Rise: Golden State Warriors +8
Biggest Fall: Minnesota Timberwolves -13

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