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Week 6 NBA Power Rankings

The month of November is in the books.  There was a lot of great basketball played this month, especially by two guys with the name of James (LeBron and Harden). Unfortunately, Mr. “Take that for data”, David Fizdale, was fired from Memphis.  We then heard the news that Derrick Rose is now contemplating whether or not he should return to the NBA.  Rose is a former Rookie of the Year and MVP.  When Rose was at his peak, he was incredible.  As an NBA fan, I wish Rose nothing but the best and hope that whatever decision he makes, is best for his life.

If you haven’t done so already, checkout this week’s NBA Podcast with James Holas, our special guest (http://thegruelingtruth.net/podcast/courtroom-podcast-james-holas-aka-snottie-drippen/).  The Courtroom Podcast is hosted by myself, Alex Golden and my cohost, Mark Wahlen.  We breakdown the hottest topics in NBA with special guests each week.  Be sure to follow us on twitter for a chance to win a *free NBA uniform of your choice* by retweeting our pinned tweet. Follow us by clicking the link: (https://twitter.com/TheCourtroomPod)

1). Houston Rockets- The Rockets went an amazing 12-1 in the month of November.  James Harden is on pace to win the MVP this season averaging 31.5 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game and 9.8 assists per game. The Rockets are on a 6-game winning streak.

2). Cleveland Cavaliers- The Cavaliers have turned things around and are winners of 10-straight games.  While their strength of schedule hasn’t been the most difficult, the Cavaliers are taking care of business.  The second unit leaders Kyle Korver and Dwyane Wade have been terrific during this stretch and have joined LeBron James and Kevin Love to close out games in crunch time.  Isaiah Thomas is set to make his return sometime in January, which will be a huge help for the Cavaliers offense.

3). Boston Celtics- The Celtics 16-game winning streak ended with a loss to the Heat.  They came back and won back-to-back games against the Magic and the Pacers.  They did suffer another defeat to the Detroit Pistons on Monday evening but regardless of those two losses, the Celtics are sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 17-4 record.

4). Golden State Warriors- Per 36 minutes, Stephen Curry is averaging 28.8 points, 7.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 5.7 rebounds.  AS a team, the Warriors are shooting 51% from the field and 39% from three. This team is 16-6 and they’ve shown why they’re the defending Champions this season.  The longevity of the season can take its toll on a team, but the Warriors continue to grind out game after game.  They’re still the consensus favorites to win it all, despite the hot starts from Boston and Houston.

5). Detroit Pistons- the Pistons continue to impress people with their play of late.  Since Thanksgiving, the Pistons have won 3 in a row.  They beat a Thunder team who had just won a monster game over the Warriors.  They followed that up with a 10-point win over the Celtics.  They returned home and took care of business with a 131-107 win over the Suns.  In that 3-game stretch, Andre Drummond is averaging 18.6 points and 14.3 rebounds and Tobias Harris is averaging 21.3 points 7.3 rebounds.  Stan Van Gundy is utilizing these two players to the best of their ability and adding a player like Avery Bradley to their starting lineup helps their perimeter defense.

6). San Antonio Spurs- with Tony Parker’s return to the lineup, the Spurs are slowly but surely getting healthier.  Gregg Popovich has been ejected a few times already this season for comments made at officials for blowing calls.  To me, this Spurs team has a weird vibe to it.  Aldridge is playing well and the Spurs are playing well, but without Leonard, they’re not a great basketball team. They’re still good, just not elite.

7). Toronto Raptors- Toronto has been playing some great basketball this season.  The Raptors have been one of the most effective teams in the regular season for the past handful of seasons, but this team is playing different.  Adding OG Anunoby to the starting lineup, strengthens the bench.  CJ Miles has been terrific for their bench along with Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam.  Jonas Valanciunas continues to see limited time and it’s only a matter of time, till his time is completely gone.  The back to the basket center is fading away in the NBA, and like we saw with Roy Hibbert, the once dominate center will be on the market with no suitors.

8). Portland Trailblazers- Al-Farouq Aminu has returned to the lineup, after not playing after the first 8-games.  Lillard and Nurkic have really started clicking recently and this team is playing terrific defense.  Noah Vonleh has looked much better this season and that is huge for the success of this Blazers team.

9). Philadelphia 76ers- the city of brotherly love has to be thrilled with the current status of this team.  Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are going to carry this team for a very long time.  Amir Johnson and JJ Redick’s veteran presence has been key to the development of this team too.  Robert Covington continues to impress me with his play.  It’s nice to see Coach Brown with some actual talent on his roster.

10). Indiana Pacers- the Pacers have been one of the biggest surprises of the NBA this season.  They have won 7 of their last 10, and those losses came to Houston (twice) and Boston.  Losing to three of the top four teams in the Power Rankings is understandable.  Indiana finishes their short road stent with Toronto on Friday night before playing 6-games in a row at home.  It will be fun to watch this team continue to grow and see what they can do during this home stretch.

11). Minnesota Timberwolves- the last 8-games this team has gone 4-4.  Surprisingly, the Wolves have struggled against the Eastern Conference going 3-7 in games against them this season.  The good news for Minnesota though, they’re 4-0 in their own division.  The Northwest Division might be the tightest division race in the entire NBA come March/April.

12). New Orleans Pelicans- The Pelicans have become one of the most intriguing teams to watch.  The big man duo of Cousins and Davis is all sorts of fun to watch.  They have a weird backcourt of Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holliday.  Demarcus Cousins is having an All-NBA 1st team type of season and I can’t see the Pelicans trading him at any point in this season.  If the Pelicans can stay healthy, they will be a playoff team.  So far, the injuries haven’t hurt them to bad like they have in years past.

13). Milwaukee Bucks- the Bucks are struggling but they’re still too talented to overlook.  While the Giannis MVP talks have cooled off a bit, he has still played well. The Bucks dominate win over the Kings could be a spark that starts a fire.  Every Buck’s fan on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is screaming for the firing of Jason Kidd, and while I can see why they want change, I think the Bucks should ride this out unless things get really sour in the middle of the season.  The biggest question going forward though shouldn’t be about Jason Kidd.  It should be about DeAndre Jordan.  Are the Bucks going to make a play for the Clippers big man?  If I am Milwaukee, I would.

14). Denver Nuggets- without Paul Millsap I still have concerns.  I like the way he was starting to jell with Nikola Jokic and hate that their chemistry had to be put on hold.  The worse news, Chandler and Millsap were already out before the game against Chicago.  During the 2nd quarter, Jokic hurt his ankle and did not return to the game.  If the Nuggets starting front court is out for a significant amount of time, this is bad news for Denver.  Keep an eye on this situation closely.  It will be good for Faried and Barton to get more playing time though.

15). Washington Wizards- Wall’s knee injury is a real concern for the Wizards.  It’s a good thing Otto Porter Jr. and Brad Beal have been playing lights out this season.  In Wall’s absence, Oubre Jr. and Frazier will get more playing time and this could be a blessing in disguise.  If these two players can grow and add depth to their game, when Wall returns, it will make the Wizards a stronger team in the long haul.  It still blows my mind that they paid Mahinmi $17M last season.

16). New York Knicks- Unfortunately the Knicks All-Star Porzingis suffered an injury Wednesday night and will be day-to-day.  The good news, the x-rays came back negative.  New York has been playing much better this season and whether it’s a lack of Phil, a lack of Melo or a combination of both, Hardaway Jr., Jack, Kanter and McDermott have been huge for this teams’ success.  Joakim Noah is rehabbing in the G-League as well.

17). Utah Jazz- the Jazz have impressed me recently.  They are still without Gobert, but Favors and Mitchell have played well in their 3-game winning streak.  Utah has a lot to be excited about when it comes to Donovan Mitchell who continues to impress.  I could say the same thing about the Jazz every week, and I am sure it would get old to many readers, but Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert (when healthy) will help this team reach goals beyond expectations.  They are still a few players away from getting back into the top of the West, but they have a core that they can build around.

18). Miami Heat- the Heat have been so Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all year this year.  After a big win against the Celtics to end the winning streak, they go out and defeat Minnesota.  Then they take care of business and beat the Bulls.  Looking to have flipped the switch, the Heat then fall to the Cavaliers and the Knicks. They are one of the most interesting teams in the league and they have the assets to make a trade.  With Whiteside battling injuires, the Heat should really look to make a move with some of their midlevel talent.

19). Oklahoma City Thunder- Yikes.  After an impressive win over the Golden State Warriors, the Thunder have been abysmal on both ends of the floor.  Have you ever had so much to eat for dinner, but dessert still sounds good?  So, you decide to get yourself a dessert to top off the meal and as soon as your finished with that dessert, you immediately regret that decision to have added any extra food into your stomach.  That same scenario, is applicable for the Thunder adding Carmelo Anthony.  This team is clearly having issues because of Russell Westbrook’s inability to mesh with Carmelo Anthony.  Anthony will help this team in the playoffs, but I think they would’ve been better with Kanter and George instead.  Regardless, the season is still young and the Thunder can right this ship, but will they?

20). Charlotte Hornets- Dwight Howard has revived his career and the Hornets could become a threat in the Eastern Conference.  Their overall play of late isn’t spectacular, but I still believe this team will make the playoffs.  With Batum returning to the rotation recently, the chemistry will just take time to mesh.  I would like to see the Hornets make a trade centered around MKG, William and/or Zeller.  They could use a boost off the bench and these 3 guys are all serviceable players that could get them a nice return.

21). Los Angeles Lakers- lets stop trying to attack Lonzo Ball for everything he does this season.  In fact, lets quit talking about Lonzo.  The guy that should be getting recognition here is Brandon Ingram.  Ingram is showing that he is a legitimate threat and that he belongs in this league.  The Lakers should build around Ingram and #LakerNation should be thrilled about the competitor they have in Ingram as the teams’ best player.

22). Phoenix Suns- the Suns are just a team that is growing during the struggle.  The season couldn’t have started off any worse for the Suns, but I guess it was better to get that over with earlier in the season than later.  I just find it insulting to Suns’ fans, that it took management that long to make a decision on Bledsoe/Watson.  With that being said, Devin Booker is the only sure thing the Suns have for the future.  I want to believe in Chriss, Bender and Jackson but I am not sold on any of them.  If I am Phoenix, I might try and find a trade partner.

23). Orlando Magic- after losing nine straight, the Magic flipped the script with a dominate win over the Thunder.  Aaron Gordon had 40-points and 13-rebounds much to the chagrin of Antonio Daniels for the Oklahoma City Thunder pre/post game analyst panel.  I am not sure what the Magic do going forward, but with Terrance Ross injured, Jonathan Simmons will be getting more playing time.  Which isn’t a bad thing.

24). Brooklyn Nets- the Nets aren’t the worst team in the league, but it is hard to believe in a team that’s two best players of late are Spencer Dinwiddie and Trevor Booker.  Kenny Atkinson is an underappreciated coached that is highly regarded by several members of the media.  I think teams would know more about the terrific coaching job Kenny has done if the Nets were any good.  I like that this team is still competing on a nightly basis despite their injuries.

25). Sacramento Kings- Adding WCS to the bench was a good thing for the Kings.  The Kings had a great win over the Warriors but they lost to the Bucks the following night by 25-points. While this young team continues to grow, they will see a significant amount of ups and downs.  Buddy Hield has been extremely disappointing this season as well.

26). Los Angeles Clippers- with injuries to Blake, Danilo, Beverly and Teodosic this team is in trouble.  Doc Rivers needs to go, sooner rather than later.  DeAndre Jordan is still the question fans want answers on though.  Are the Clippers going to tank, and trade DJ, or do they ride it out with DJ, Austin and Lou.  I think the former sounds better than the latter as an outsider look in.  DJ is still a good player in this league, but I am not the biggest fan.  I would not trade him to the Cavaliers for Tristian Thompson unless the Brooklyn pick or Isaiah Thomas was involved.

27). Dallas Mavericks- the Mavericks are 27th in points per game and are 14th in opponents points per game.  The Mavericks rank 17th in defense but also rank 27th in offensive rating.  When your offense has you in the bottom four of the league, with your defense not in the top-10, that’s not a good thing.  The Mavs are still coached by one of the best coaches and they have a future star in Dennis Smith Jr., so don’t write them off yet.  I don’t like seeing coaches fired, but I think Carlisle’s time in Dallas might be coming to an end.  It’s time for a change.

28). Memphis Grizzlies- The Grizzlies have the worst active losing streak in the NBA with 9-straight losses.  They fired their head coach after just one season and nineteen games in.  Their starting point guard and franchise leader, Mike Conley Jr. is out with injury as well.  There is not a lot to be excited about here in Memphis.

29). Atlanta Hawks- the Hawks are 2-8 in their last 10 games, and they have the 2nd worst record in the entire NBA.  They rank 28th in total defense which is their biggest problem.  They are 12th in pace which means they’re moving the ball up and down the court at a good rate.  But if you can’t stop a nose bleed, you’re going to be in trouble.

30). Chicago Bulls- the Bulls have the worst offense in the NBA.  They only average 94.6 points per game and their offensive rating is 97.0.  They give up a 106.7 points per game to opponents so that’s a +/- of -9.7.  While Zach LaVine is still out with an injury, I don’t believe LaVine will make that drastic of a difference for the Bulls who are bound for a Top-3 pick.
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