An NBA Power Ranking Shake-Up

Staff Writer: Ramon Elortondo 

 

1. Toronto Raptors (23-7): The Raptors own the best record in the NBA, and just beat the Golden State Warriors convincingly without their greatest player, Kawhi Leonard. What was once thought to be just a year where Kawhi was going to play out the season and then leave for Los Angeles in free agency, the Toronto Raptors are having such a good year that it might be tough for the former Spur to leave. Another thing going for the team of the north is they also own one of the best home records in the NBA at 11-4. Kawhi might be falling in love with those rowdy Canadian fans.  

raptors

2. Golden State Warriors (19-10): The Warriors leader Steph Curry returned to the lineup last week after missing some time due to an ankle injury. Although he was missing, Kevin Durant and the rest of the team still managed to win some games. At 19-10, the Dubs have the fourth best record in the league without Curry and Draymond Green for some time. For all the drama that has been going through that team, the Warriors deserve the respect to be put at the top of the NBA power rankings.  

“They are still winning regardless of not having two of the players that have won them championships, so that right there shows you how good they are. They are not as deep as they have been in the past, but that it because they have five all-stars on their starting lineup. Once they are all healthy and playing together, I think they will be unbeatable.” Will Callahan, a Woodstock senior said about his favorite team. 

3. Milwaukee Bucks (18-9): Giannis Antetokounmpo has been an absolute beast this season and is the leading candidate in the MVP race. He is averaging 25.9 points per game, 13.1 rebounds per game, and 6 assists. It seems like no one in the league has been able to guard him, therefor I have the team with this year’s best player at the third spot in the rankings.  

“Giannis has to be the one player in the NBA where you have to go him when he comes to town. His ability to score without a respectable jumper is so different. He is in attack mode every possession. He’s my early season MVP.” Said Will Callahan, a Woodstock senior and Giannis fan.  

bucks

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (17-9): Oklahoma City has won five of the last six. They look like they are starting to figure things out and are one of the best defensive teams in the league that can stay in any game because of it. The last couple of games the Thunder have played against weaker competition, but things are about to pick up for them and well see how they do against better rivals.  

5. Los Angeles Lakers (17-10): Like the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers have an insane defense that can keep them in any game. Ever since acquiring Tyson Chandler off waivers, their defense has sky rocketed. He was the defensive anchor that they needed and they team is without Brandon Ingram as well. Lebron has led this team with Kyle Kuzma as his unlikely sidekick. Kuzma has been a great asset that fits in perfectly to Lebron’s game. He can shoot the three effectively as well as putting the ball on the floor and create offense on his own. Lebron teams have been known to slack off in the regular season and put the heat on after the all-star break so I expect them to be even better later in the year.  

lakers

6. Denver Nuggets (18-9): The Nuggets can score on opposing teams in a variety of ways. The reason they are not higher in the rankings is because of the amount of injuries that has derailed this team. Paul Millsap will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken toe, then there’s Gary Harris (groin), Will Barton, and Isaiah Thomas (hip), and we haven’t even seen first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. (nor will we this season most likely). Things got so bad Denver signed Nick Young as an injury replacement. All the missing bodies led to losses in Charlotte and Atlanta last week, but this team has banked enough wins to stay afloat in the West, plus they still have Nikola Jokic. Expect the Nuggets record to rack up some losses in the weeks to come.  

7. Philadelphia 76ers (19-10): Joel Embiid has had to get used to the addition of Jimmy Butler, another ball handler that has taken the ball away from Embiid. This team has been dangerous in the fourth quarter with a closer like Jimmy Butler. They have won six of their last seven games and will continue to get better as the season goes on, and chemistry builds between the big three of Simmons, Embiid and Butler.  

“After losing to the Celtics in the playoffs this year, Embiid has put it on himself to carry the team and it is showing. He has played a scary number of minutes considering his injury history.’ said Kyrsten Brader, a Woodstock senior.  

8. Boston Celtics (17-10): Winners of six in a row and they have outscored opponents by 25.6 per 100 in that stretch. Granted, a lot of that is against a soft part of the schedule (which continues for the next week) but it’s still confidence-boosting wins for a team that needs it. At the heart of Boston’s run is they are shooting the ball much better from three, 42.7% in those six games (the Celtics struggled to start the season from deep, shooting 32.8% from beyond the arc in October). This team was the early season favorite to be the best team in the eastern conference. It looks like they are starting to put it together. ell 

I asked Woodstock alum Mitchell Hynes how he thought his team was playing together, “I don’t know how well my team fits together. It’s almost like we have to many good players and they don’t know how to play together yet. Gordon Hayward is not the same player he was on the Jazz, so I think he plays too many minutes. 

celtics

9. Los Angeles Clippers (17-10): The Clippers got off to a hot start and were at the top of the western conference for the first two weeks of the season. Due to them being in the western conference and having a tougher schedule than the Pacers, I put them ahead. Teams are beginning to not underestimate the Clippers and are coming ready to play now so it has gotten tougher for them. I think the Clippers have a good team that will bounce back from the losing skid.  

clippers

10. Indiana Pacers (18-10): The Pacers are now 7-4 without their best player Victor Oladipo. That is scary to even think about considering how well Oladipo has been playing. They have the third best defensive rating in the league and are a really deep team.  

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