The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 7

The Blazers continue their hot play to start the season. These guys are for real and Damian Lillard made sure we noticed with two game-winners in their last 2 games. LaMarcus Aldridge is playing amazing with career-highs in points and rebounds.

Over in the East, the Pacers and Heat will have Part 2 of their clash in South Florida to see if Miami can avenge their loss at Indy last week.

There's one week left before the NBA unveils their annual Christmas Day lineup of 5 games which starts at noon and ends after midnight on December 25. Can the Lakers get their act together to compete and upset the Heat? Can the Knicks prevent a blowout loss to the Thunder? How much points will see between the Clippers and Warriors?

Hero team of the week: Blazers still lead the West and the NBA thanks to their superb offense and Damian Lillard's clutch play with 2 game-winners in 2 games.

Sucky team of the week: The Grizzlies are struggling without Marc Gasol and the losses are piling up. They are 4 games out of a playoff spot in the West.

The standings are current up to December 18, 2013 and the rankings from Last Week refer to Week 6.

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Damian Lillard nailed 2 game-winners in 2 straight games to keep
the Blazers atop the West and the HoopNut Power Rankings
(Image by: USA Today)
1. Portland Trailblazers | 22-4 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Blazers lead the league on offense and in their last 2 games, Damian Lillard kept their winning streak at 5 games with his jumper at the buzzer vs the Pistons and a cold-blooded three vs the Cavaliers. LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 25 boards (career-high) vs the Rockets.

2. Indiana Pacers | 20-4 | Last Week: 2 | Same
Very impressive win by the Pacers vs the Heat but the bigger test looms when they play the Heat in Miami this week. Paul George outplayed LBJ in the first meeting and it's up to LBJ to assert his supremacy next time. Roy Hibbert continues to play like a superstar vs Miami.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder | 20-4 | Last Week: 3 | Same
The Thunder has won 12 straight at home which is tops in the league. OKC has the longest winning streak at 7 games and that could stretch to 8 (vs Chicago) before they face the Spurs on Saturday. Kevin Durant is averaging career-highs in rebounds and assists to go with his league-leading PPG.

4. San Antonio Spurs | 19-5 | Last Week: 4 | +1
The Spurs have the best winning margin (+8.8) and they are the 2nd-best road team behind the Blazers. Tim Duncan seems spry and very fresh this early with 4 straight double-doubles. The best part of this stretch was that TD played all 4 games over 5 days.

5. Miami Heat | 18-6 | Last Week: 4 | -1
The Heat Big 3 has scored a total of 148 points over 2 games. LeBron James has scored 10+ points in 519 consecutive games. Chris Bosh has disappeared as a rebounder and interior presence for most of the season but vs the Cavs, he had a season-high 12 rebounds which was his first double-digit rebound game.

6. Los Angeles Clippers | 17-9 | Last Week: 8 | +2
The Clips survived a 7-game road trip by going 4-3 then they defeated the Spurs by 23 points on their first home game back. Chris Paul had a season-low 2 assists vs the Nets then he made that up vs the Wizards by exploding for 38 points and 12 assists on 11-14 FG shooting.

7. Phoenix Suns | 14-9 | Last Week: 10 | +3
The Suns were supposed to be tanking but that has not happened, yet. They have won 5 straight games with solid wins over the Rockets, Lakers and Warriors during that span. The Suns lead the league in fastbreak points and the pairing of Dragic and Bledsoe continues to work.

8. Houston Rockets | 16-9 | Last Week: 6 | -2
Omer Aisk has missed their last 5 games with a thigh injury. He may never play for the Rockets again with the team trying to trade him ASAP. Dwight Howard has looked like his old Superman self; averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds in the last 6 games.

9. Denver Nuggets | 14-10 | Last Week: 7 | -2
Ty Lawson returned after missing 2 games but he has struggled averaging just 9 points in his last 3 games back and the Nuggets are 1-2 in that span. Wilson Chandler has played well in the past 4 games: 16 ppg and 6 rpg. The Nuggets have already lost 4 home games after losing only 3 home games last season.

10. Dallas Mavericks | 14-10 | Last Week: 9 | -1
Brandan Wright made his season debut vs the Bucks and he impressed with 19 points and 6 boards on 9 of 10 shooting. Wright's return left no minutes for Sam Dalembert who received his first DNP-CD of the season. Shawn Marion continues to work his butt off with 5 double-doubles to lead the Mavs.

11. Golden State Warriors | 14-12 | Last Week: 11 | Same
The Dubs are not playing very good defense especially in games where they surrendered an average of 110.5 points in their last 4 losses. Andre Iguodala was back and started the game after missing 12 straight. He played only 17 minutes with 2 points but he was +20 in a win vs the Pelicans.

12. Atlanta Hawks | 13-12 | Last Week: 12 | Same
Kyle Korver still has the consecutive threes in a game streak alive at 94 straight. The Hawks are 2nd in assists and with their constant ball movement, Korver often finds himself open for a drive or jumper (mostly Js). Paul Millsap is having a more productive and efficient season than Josh Smith of the Pistons.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves | 12-13 | Last Week: 19 | +6
Kevin Love is pretty much unstoppable at the moment. He poured in a career-high 42 points and 14 rebound vs the Spurs in a loss. K-Love is averaging 30 and 14 in his last 5 games with 4 double-doubles. His play has kept the T'wolves in the hunt for a playoff spot in the West.

14. Los Angeles Lakers | 12-13 | Last Week: 13 | -1
The Lakers are 2-4 in the 6 games since Kobe got back. The Lakers were a middling playoff team without Kobe and it appears that they are still an average team with him. Pau Gasol has grumbled about his current role and he might get traded soon. Nick Young leads them in scoring.

15. Boston Celtics | 12-14 | Last Week: 16 | +1
The Celtics still lead the Atlantic division with a sub-500 record and it seems that Rajon Rondo wont be back until January at the earliest. They were supposed to tank but Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford have played much better than expected, thus the Celtics are winning more than expected.

16. Detroit Pistons | 12-14 | Last Week: 17 | +1
Detroit is the only team to beat both Indiana and Miami on the road. Against the Pacers, they limited Roy Hibbert to 6 points and 4 boards while out-rebounding Indy by 15. Josh Smith had back-to-back games of 31 and 30 points with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.

17. New Orleans Pelicans | 11-12 | Last Week: 18 | +1
Anthony Davis might be back in practice soon and that's great news for the Pelicans who have managed to stay afloat (3-3) without him. The bad news: Tyreke Evans is hobbled by a gimpy ankle and he could miss a week or two. Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers will get more minutes to replace Evans' production.

18. Charlotte Bobcats | 11-14 | Last Week: 15 | -3
The Bobcats are a pitiful 29th in scoring but their 3rd best defense is trying to make up for their weakness. They struggle passing the ball and getting assists with nobody averaging more than 5 assists per game. Kemba Walker leads them with 4.6 apg and Josh McRoberts is second at 4.1 apg.

19. Washington Wizards | 10-13 | Last Week: 20 | +1
The Wizards have lost 4 of 5 games after finally being even at 9-9. Good for them that sophomore Bradley Beal came back from a leg injury after missing 9 games where the Wiz went 4-5 without him. Beal promptly scored 21 points and hit the winning shot vs the Knicks.

20. Memphis Grizzlies | 10-14 | Last Week: 14 | -6
The Grizzlies are 2-8 since Marc Gasol got hurt and have lost 4 straight games. Mike Conley missed their last game with a thigh injury then Mike Miller sprained his ankle vs the Lakers. No timetable for Gasol's return was given and the Grizz need him back ASAP if they want to compete for a playoff spot.

21. Toronto Raptors | 9-13 | Last Week: 22 | +1
The Raptors won 2 straight right after they got production from new acquisitions: Grievis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and John Salmons. The trio combined for 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 2 games. Jonas Valanciunas is starting to play better: 3 double-doubles in his last 5 games.

22. Chicago Bulls | 9-14 | Last Week: 21 | -1
The Bulls are getting ravaged by injuries again this season. They failed to score more than 82 points in 5 of their last 6 games and naturally went 1-5. Their lone win coming against the Bucks. Mike Dunleavy has played well with the increased minutes while Jimmy Butler is still not up to game shape.

23. Brooklyn Nets | 9-15 | Last Week: 26 | +3
The Nets are showing signs of life in December where they are 4-3 after going 5-12 last month. Joe Johnson was in beast mode vs the Sixers when he exploded with 8 threes and 29 points in just the 3rd quarter. Deron Williams is playing better: 19 points and 8 assists in his past 4 games.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers | 9-15 | Last Week: 23 | -1
Kyrie Irving has picked up his scoring in the last 5 games: 26 points and 7 assists. The Cavs are 3-2 in that span and could have a chance to improve their record with the next 5 games against winnable teams. Sophomore Dion Waiters is back on the hot seat with reports that he asked for a trade.

25. Sacramento Kings | 7-16 | Last Week: 25 | Same
The Kings are 1-2 with Rudy Gay in the lineup who is averaging 18 points on 50% shooting. Gay's presence has helped DeMarcus Cousins get more open looks. DMC is still their best player and he has 5 straight double-doubles including 2 games with at least 30 and 15.

26. Orlando Magic | 8-17 | Last Week: 28 | +2
Nic Vucevic has played the last 4 games and quickly got 3 double-doubles. The Magic is 2-2 after losing 6 straight games. Arron Afflalo continues to play well and is arguably the best SG in the East right now (21-4-4) but he is not even in the top 10 in the East for guards.

27. New York Knicks | 7-17 | Last Week: 27 | Same
The Knicks are 4-5 in December and that's already an improvement from last month. Tyson Chandler is expected to be back soon, maybe as early as the weekend. Meanwhile, Amare Stoudemire could miss some games due to injury but Amare disputes that he is healthy.

28. Philadelphia 76ers | 7-15 | Last Week: 24 | -4
MCW is still not cleared to return and has missed 7 straight games and 11 overall. That's all and well for the Sixers whose goal was to tank the season to get a very high draft pick for 2014. Rookie Nerlens Noel has not played this season but there are reports that he might see some action very soon.

29. Utah Jazz | 6-21 | Last Week: 29 | Same
Alec Burks burned the Heat with 31 points and 7 assists on 12-17 shooting but the Jazz still lost by 23 points. His production was the most points that Miami has given up to a single player. Enes Kanter has lost his starting job with the return of Marvin Williams.

30. Milwaukee Bucks | 5-19 | Last Week: 30 | Same
OJ Mayo has been a disappointment for the Bucks. He's only averaging 14 a game and shooting below 40% but leads the Bucks on scoring which shows you how horrible the Bucks have been this season. The Bucks are definitely tanking so expect more minutes for rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo to get more minutes.

Biggest Jump of the Week: T'wolves +6

Biggest Drop of the Week: Grizzlies -6

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