The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 9

Happy New Year! Does 2013 bring a new number 1 to the rankings? A couple of 17-game streaks have ended in the last couple of days. The Clippers lost their first game in January after being undefeated in December while the Bobcats have finally found that elusive 8th win after only winning 7 last season. The Hornets also snapped their double-digit losing streak last week.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are both under .500 and IF the playoffs started today, both teams dont make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Golden State, Atlanta and New York continue to play very well even without some key players.

The Miami Heat struggled during the weekend after their impressive Christmas Day win while the OKC Thunder have been spectacular in their last 3 games after that loss versus the Heat.

The NBA also welcomed the return of notable players like Amare Stoudemire and Eric Gordon who made their debuts last week. There are whispers that Derrick Rose is ahead of his schedule.

The standings are current up to January 2, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 8.

JaVale McGee and the Denver Nuggets had a great week against teams from Los Angeles.
They beat the Lakers then the Clippers which snapped winning streaks for both
(Image by: ESPN)

1. Los Angeles Clippers | 25-7 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Clippers lost their first game in January and the winning streak was stopped at 17. They were still very impressive in compiling that streak and they now sit in the Top 5 in defense, assists and Top 10 in offense. The next 3 games will show us if they still belong in the top spot (@Warriors, Lakers & Warriors).

2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 24-6 | Last Week: 3 | +1
The Thunder have recovered nicely after their loss to the Heat. They went on a 3-game win streak including a dismantling of James Harden and the Rockets by 30 points. Russell Westbrook has averaged 23 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists during that stretch.

3. San Antonio Spurs | 25-8 | Last Week: 4 | +1
The Spurs quietly have the longest winning streak right now at 6 games, 4 of the wins in blowouts. They are 1st in points scored and 1st in assists. They have the most road wins (12-6) and remain unbeaten in their division. The Spurs are among 2 other teams with winning margins over 9 points (Clippers and Thunder).

4. Miami Heat | 21-8 | Last Week: 2 | -2
The Heat struggled over the weekend losing back-to-back games then barely survived a Magic team missing  Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson. The Heat got pounded on the boards against the Magic where Nikola Vucevic grabbed 29 rebounds to the Heat's 33 as a team.

5. Golden State Warriors | 20-10 | Last Week: 7 | +2
The Warriors continue to show that they are for real and ready for the playoffs. They had good wins over the Jazz, Sixers and Celtics where they held their opponents to an average of 85 points. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry continue to lead their second unit.

6. New York Knicks | 21-10 | Last Week: 5 | -1
The Knicks got Amare back but they also lost Raymond Felton to a month. Carmelo has had some minor injuries that forced him to miss games. The Knicks are not healthy right now and can they get 100% healthy? JR Smith has been magnificent in his last 5 games: 25 points and 7 boards including a buzzer-beater in Phoenix.

7. Atlanta Hawks | 20-10 | Last Week: 8 | +1
The Hawks have won 5 of their last 6 including a nice win over the Pacers without Josh Smith. Lou Williams has started the last 6 games and his points and assists have gone up with the boost in minutes. Kyle Korver has been hot with threes in the last 5 games: 14-30, 47% shooting.

8. Memphis Grizzlies | 19-9 | Last Week: 6 | -2
The Grizzlies have been pedestrian in December going 7-7 after starting hot at 12-2. Rudy Gay has struggled shooting and is now at 41% for the season. Rotation player, Quincy Pondexter has a knee sprain that could keep him away for a month. A weak bench has become weaker.

9. Denver Nuggets | 18-15 | Last Week: 15 | +6
Awesome week for the Nuggets as they defeated the Lakers and Clippers and won 3 of 4 games. They have played the least amount of home games (10-1) and the upcoming balance in their schedule should allow the Nuggets to increase their wins and move up the standings.

10. Houston Rockets | 17-14 | Last Week: 9 | -1
The Rockets are 2nd in scoring but last in team defense. James Harden continues to be efficient (23.4 PER) and has a valid argument of being the 2nd best SG in the league. Harden leads the NBA in free throw attempts at 10.3 and he makes about 86% of them.

11. Indiana Pacers | 18-13 | Last Week: 10 | -1
The Pacers are 2nd in team defense and they held the Grizzlies to 83 points in a 5-point win. Roy Hibbert averaged 13 and 9 with Danny Granger playing last year and that was before Hibbert got a new contract. This year, Hibbert is at 9.5 points and 8 rebounds without Granger.

12. Milwaukee Bucks | 16-13 | Last Week: 11 | -1
Impressive wins by the Bucks vs the Nets and Heat but they followed those up with a tough loss to the Pistons after rallying from a 14-point deficit. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are among the most explosive back court tandems in the NBA but they are shooting in the low 40s.

13. Chicago Bulls | 16-13 | Last Week: 12 | -1
The Bulls played an awful game vs the Bobcats as they lost at home. Richard Hamilton is back on the court but has played under 20 mins in his first 2 games. There has been talk that Derrick Rose is ahead of his recovery time but the realistic return date should be around mid-February.

14. Portland Trailblazers | 16-14 | Last Week: 19 | +5
Damian Lillard will surely win ROY if he keeps up his pace and the Blazers remain above .500 and in playoff contention. LaMarcus Aldridge and his 21 points and 8 rebounds deserves to be among the all-stars. JJ Hickson has 18 double-doubles, tied for 3rd in the league.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves | 14-13 | Last Week: 13 | -2
Ricky Rubio is not at 100% yet so he will miss another 2 games. Brandon Roy had another setback with his knees and retirement talk was floated yet again. Kevin Love isnt healthy also with shooting numbers at 36% and 23% from downtown. But he is rebounding as usual.

16. Los Angeles Lakers | 15-16 | Last Week: 14 | -2
The Lakers need to win around 48 games to make sure they make the playoffs and they need to start winning now. They have a tough stretch coming up with games vs the Clippers, Nuggets, Spurs and Thunder. Kobe still leads the NBA in scoring but he needs more help from Gasol and Howard to save their season.

17. Brooklyn Nets | 16-15 | Last Week: 18 | +1
The Nets fired Avery Johnson then interim coach PJ Carlesimo won 2 easy games against the Bobcats and Cavs. The next 2 were versus the Spurs (lost) and Thunder which could probably be a lose especially if Deron Williams keeps playing like a rotational player: 13 points and 4 assists in the last 4  games.

18. Philadelphia 76ers | 15-17 | Last Week: 21 | +3
The Sixers beat the Lakers without Bynum due to marvelous games by Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. The Sixers have a killer back-to-back on Friday (Thunder) and Saturday (Spurs) both on the road. They are 2-3 on their current 8-game road trip.

19. Utah Jazz | 15-14 | Last Week: 16 | -3
Tough break for the Jazz losing 3 straight against playoff teams including 2 to the Clippers. Gordon Hayward no longer starts for them (Randy Foye took that spot) but his numbers have been solid off the bench: 15 points on 47% shooting. Paul Millsap also has lower stats this year compared to last season.

20. Boston Celtics | 14-16 | Last Week: 17 | -3
The Celtics have lost 3 straight by an average of 23 points. They are currently out of the top 8 in the East. Rajon Rondo is hurting although Avery Bradley is scheduled to make his debut in their next game. Things dont get any easier with their next 4 all against playoff teams (Grizzlies, Hawks, Pacers & Knicks).

21. Dallas Mavericks | 13-19 | Last Week: 20 | -1
The Mavs snapped their 6-game losing streak with a win versus the hapless Wizards. Dirk has been progressing slowly on the court with 20 mins and 8 points and 4 rebounds.OJ Mayo is still in a slump (10 ppg in the last 5) while Collison has been their best player lately.

22. Orlando Magic | 12-19 | Last Week: 22 | Same
The Magic has lost 6 straight and they almost beat the Heat with a superb game from Nik Vucevic who had 20 points and 29 rebounds (franchise-record). Glen Davis is still out while Jameer Nelson could be back soon. Hedo Turkoglu has played the last 3 games: 8 points and 4 assists.

23. Toronto Raptors | 11-20 | Last Week: 24 | +1
The Raptors won 2 straight after the loss to the Spurs. They have played only 12 home games and they are opening a 6-game home stretch with no back-to-backs. Their toughest opponent will be the Thunder and all other games being very winnable. Going 5-1 is not impossible.

24. Detroit Pistons | 12-22 | Last Week: 26 | +2 
The Pistons won 3 straight and their bench has produced absurd numbers in 2 of their wins. Their bench scored more points than their starters. Will Bynum, Austin Daye, Andre Drummond and Charlie Villanueva have provided a huge boost but can they keep that going?

25. Sacramento Kings | 11- 20 | Last Week: 25 | Same
The suspension only lasted 1 game. Cousins was back playing and also in the starting lineup. In his 3 games back, he averaged 16 and 11 plus got his first career triple-double. More importantly, the Kings went 2-1 in that stretch with impressive wins over the Knicks and Celtics.

26. Phoenix Suns | 11-21 | Last Week: 23 | -3
The Suns have lost 6 straight playing heavy minutes to their starters while Telfair and Beasley have seen their minutes drop. Wesley Johnson has not seen the court in their last 5 games. The Suns need help and the experiments with Beasley and Johnson have failed miserably.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers | 7-25 | Last Week: 27 | Same
Anderson Varejao has missed their last 6 games and the Cavs went 2-4. He could miss another week or more. Tristan Thompson has been pretty good during that time with averages of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Kyrie Irving is playing like an all-star but will he be selected if the Cavs continue to suck?

28. New Orleans Hornets | 7-24 | Last Week: 28 | Same
Eric Gordon made his debut and the Hornets immdeiately won that game with his 24 points and 7 assists. Then they lost their next game when Gordon struggled with 11 points on 5-17 shooting. Anthony Davis is playing  better but his overall stats: 14 points and 9 rebounds are not that impressive.

29. Charlotte Bobcats | 8-23 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The 17-game losing streak is over and they have finally more wins this year than last year. Still, that does not remove the fact that the Bobcats are not very good. Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions have played admirably but they need more help especially from their rookie MKG.

30. Washington Wizards | 4-25 | Last Week: 30 | Same
Once the Wizards get back John Wall and a couple of their injured players (Ariza, Price), they could make a run at improving their position on the standings and Power Rankings. Jordan Crawford has quietly become their best player but his shot selection needs more improvement.

Biggest Rise: Nuggets + 6
Biggest Fall: Jazz, Celtics, Suns -3

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