NBA Power Rankings: Week 8

Another week of outstanding NBA action is in the books, so it is time to jump into this week’s NBA Power Rankings.

There has been a lot of movement this week, but the top teams look pretty similar to the way they did one week ago.

Dec. 19, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker (15) reacts in the first half against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Where does your favorite team land?

Let’s waste no time and find out as here are my Week 8 NBA Power Rankings.

30. Charlotte Bobcats (7-18): Michael Jordan’s squad is back where they spent all of last season- in the basement. The ‘cats have lost 13 in a  row and it is not going to get any better. Charlotte finishes the year with the Golden State, Denver, Miami, Brooklyn and Chicago. If they don’t beat New Orleans on December 29, there is a good chance the Bobcats won’t win again in 2012. Last Week’s Ranking-28

29. New Orleans Hornets (5-20): The Hornets got Anthony Davis back but it hasn’t helped them win games. They have won only one out of their past 10 and have lost nine in a row. They are also only 2-18 over their past 20. That name change can’t happen quickly enough. Last Week’s Ranking-27

28. Washington Wizards (3-20): This is the second straight week the Wizards have moved up a spot, but it isn’t because anything they have done, but the Bobcats and Hornets have been that much worse. On a good note, Bradley Beal is starting to improve, but that’s about it in D.C. Last Week’s Ranking-29

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (5-22): The Cavs lone win during their past 11 games came against the Lakers. Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao are sensational, but there is little else to get excited about right now. That could change if rookies Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters keep progressing slowly. Last Week’s Ranking- 26

26. Detroit Pistons (7-21): The Pistons have lost six in a row and have won only once in their past nine- to a Cavs team without Kyrie Irving. Last Week’s Ranking-24

25.  Sacramento Kings (8-17): They did beat the Warriors and have gone 4-6 in their past 10, but when they lose they often get drilled. Keep an eye on Jimmer Fredette, whose play has picked up as of late. Last Week’s Ranking- 23

Dec 14 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young (21) dunks during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

24. Toronto Raptors (8-19): Last week they were in the basement and looked like the worst team in the NBA but have since won 4-of-5 even though Kyle Lowry has been injured. In his place Jose Calderon has been brilliant at times. Last Week’s Ranking-30

23. Philadelphia 76ers (12-14): Huge drop for the Sixers as they have won only two of their past 10. They are getting decent contributions from the likes of Nick Young, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, but this team needs Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday healthy and at least in the case of Bynum, that may never happen. Last Week’s Ranking-14

22. Portland Trail Blazers (11-12): They have split their last 10 and have gone 3-2 in their past five. The problem in Portland is depth, which prevents them from turning in consistent efforts on a nightly basis. They have a very good starting five, but very little behind it. Last Week’s Ranking- 21

21. Los Angeles Lakers (12-14): The Lakers have won 3-of-5 and are showing some signs of turning things around, but they  have lost to Orlando and Cleveland in the past 10 games and beat Charlotte by only one after trailing by double digits in the second half. We will know more about Mike D’Antoni’s team once Steve Nash returns, but right now it’s hard to take them seriously. Last Week’s Ranking-22

20. Brooklyn Nets (13-12): It’s been an ugly couple of weeks for the Nets, who learned on Wednesday that New York still belongs to the Knicks. Overall the Nets have won only two of their past 10 and those were against Detroit and Toronto. Deron Williams is struggling and if he doesn’t figure things out soon, the Nets will continue to struggle. Last Week’s  Ranking-12

19. Dallas Mavericks (12-13): The Mavs got good news in the fact that Dirk Nowitzki could be back soon and they have hung around the .500 mark without him. O.J. Mayo has been great and if Dirk can play like he is capable of,  then the Mavs could go on a little run. Last Week’s Ranking-16

18. Phoenix Suns (11-15): Last week I said the Suns had too much talent to lose the way they have been losing and they responded by winning 4-of-5.  They are tough to beat at home, posting a 9-5  record, too bad they have only won twice on the road. Last Week’s Ranking-25

Dec 19, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (right) drives to the hoop against Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Alonzo Gee (33) and power forward Tristan Thompson (13) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

17. Orlando Magic (12-13): The Magic have won 4-of-5 and have gone 7-3 during their past 10 games. They are doing it with solid team defense as Orlando has allowed the sixth fewest points in the league (94.2). Last Week’s Ranking-20

16. Boston Celtics (13-12): Paul Pierce’s huge 40-point night on Wednesday hopefully is a sign of things to come for this Celtics team, who through 25 games have been nothing short of mediocre. Last Week’s Ranking-11

15. Houston Rockets (13-12): The Rockets backcourt of James Harden and Jeremy Lin are sharing the ball more now and it shows in the results. The youngest team in the NBA has won 4-of-5 and have swept the Knicks on the season. Now they just have to figure out how to do it more consistently. Last Week’s Ranking-18

14. Milwaukee Bucks (13-11): The Bucks have only two players (Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis)averaging over 11 points this season and have only three in double-figures. In addition they have allowed more points than they have scored, but their defense is pretty good, especially the interior defense where Larry Sanders deserves some early Defensive Player of the Year recognition. If they find some more offense they could be dangerous. Last Week’s Ranking-13

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-11): They got Ricky Rubio back to pair with Kevin Love so now we will see if this Minnesota tem is for real. They have won 6-of-9, but also have lost two in a row. Despite all of the injuries, the ‘Wolves have stayed above .500 in a very tough Western Conference. Last Week’s Ranking- 15

12. Denver Nuggets (14-12): The up-and-down roller coaster ride of a season for the Nuggets continues, as this week Denver is red hot. Denver has won 4-of-5 to get back over .500 and if Andre Iguodala ever figures thins out, this team will be scary. Also as I mentioned a week ago, they have played only 8-of-26 games at home. They are 7-1 at the Pepsi Center this year, so once the schedule evens out, the Nuggets should take off. Last Week’s Ranking-19

Dec 15, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) drives during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Pacers won 88-77. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

11. Indiana Pacers (14-12): The Pacers have been on a tear, winning four of their past five and 11-of-15 overall. They finally found some offense to go along with David West, as Paul George has averaged 20.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game in the month of December. Throw in George Hill’s impressive play and you can see why Indiana has been winning. If Roy Hibbert ever decides to contribute, this Pacers team could be a contender again in the Eastern Conference. Last Week’s Ranking- 17

10. Utah Jazz (14-13): Utah remains a hard team to figure out, but they stay in the Top 10 this week. They have gone 5-3  in their past eight, and are 9-2 at home, but have to put together more consistent wins. If they don’t, this could be their last week in the Top 10. Having said that, I still like their talent. Last Week’s Ranking- 9

9. Chicago Bulls (14-10): The Bulls are putting themselves in good shape in the Eastern Conference. Even without Derrick Rose, Chicago has won 8-of-11. A lot of credit has to go to Joakim Noah, who is playing great basketball, averaging 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Last Week’s Ranking- 10

8. Atlanta Hawks (15-8): The Hawks have cooled off some, but remain one of the better teams in the east. That is thanks to great team defense and guys like Al Horford, Josh Smith and Lou Williams playing great basketball. Also note that all but two of the Hawks losses have come to teams ranked ahead of them. Other than losses to the Cavs and Rockets this season, they have beaten every team they are supposed to beat. Last Week’s Ranking- 8

7. Golden State Warriors (17-9): Despite allowing 131 points in a loss to the Kings, the surprising Warriors have been getting it done on the defensive end. Almost everyone on the team not named David Lee has improved defensively, but Lee is carving out an All-Star season at the offensive end of the floor, averaging 19.8 points and 11.2 rebounds.  Last Week’s Ranking-6

6. San Antonio Spurs (19-8): The Spurs have lost 4-of-5, including a statement game to the Thunder on Monday. Having said that it was a tough and long road trip and Tony Parker and Time Duncan have been outstanding. You just don’t see a Gregg Popovich team lose 4-of-5 very often. Last Week’s Ranking-2

5. Memphis Grizzlies (17-6): Memphis has cooled off a bit, going only 6-4 during their past 10, but as long as they have  healthy Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph to go along with the likes of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, then this team will pretty much be around this spot all season. Memphis has great depth and are still very dangerous in the Western Conference. Last Week’s Ranking-5

Dec. 17, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) reacts after being called for a flagrant foul on Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (not pictured) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

4. Miami Heat (16-6): Are the Heat just coasting through the regular season with their eyes on the playoffs? It’s likely. The only troublesome thing with this team is they lack focus and intensity on the defensive end at times, something that is likely contributed to simply looking forward to the postseason already.  Last Week’s Ranking-7

3. New York Knicks (19-6): The Knicks just keep getting it done and are a team that will be in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Since their loss in late November to the Brooklyn Nets, the nicks have lost only twice since- to the Bulls and Rockets, both without the services of Carmelo Anthony. With Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert coming back soon, this Knicks team will be scary good. Last Week’s Ranking-3

2. Los Angeles Clippers (19-6): The Clippers are on quite the roll, winners of 11 in a row after an odd four-game skid in late November. Before that they had won six in a row, so this is a team on a serious roll. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are dominating and this is one of the deeper teams in the NBA. Paul has been so good at running the Clippers’ offense, he hasn’t needed to score, having  not scored over 20 points in the last 10 games. That speaks volumes for how well this team is playing. Last Week’s Ranking-4

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-4): Back-to-back weeks in the top spot for the Thunder, who are riding a 12-game winning streak. They have won 15 of their past 16 and quite honestly I have run out of good things to say about Scott Brooks’ team. They are simply that good right now. Last Week’s Ranking-1

Biggest Climbers- Denver and Phoenix (+7)

Biggest Faller- Philadelphia (-9)

Topics: Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, NBA Power Rankings, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder

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