The Los Angeles Clippers continued its hot streak, completing an unblemished and undefeated month of December. The Clips have now won seventeen straight games and own the NBA’s best record, at 25-6. As a result of the team’s red-hot play, Los Angeles remained in first place in KP’s latest edition of NBA Power Rankings at The Wife Hates Sports.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder held onto second place, while the San Antonio Spurs moved up one spot to third. Rounding out the top five are the New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
The Toronto Raptors move up three spots and earn the honor of being this week’s big winners, while the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats each fall three spots and have the distinction of being this edition’s biggest losers.
The full set of rankings is as follows, featuring some quick stats and thoughts for all thirty teams.
KP’s NBA Power Rankings: December 31, 2012
* Games and statistics include results up to 12pm on December 31, 2012
1. Los Angeles Clippers (118 points) – Last Week: #1
The Clippers – nearing a twenty-game win streak – have a tough road ahead in order to reach that mark, with road games at Denver and Golden State, followed by a matchup with the Lakers Friday January 4.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (103 points) – Last Week: #2
Russell Westbrook had 28 points and 8 assists in OKC’s impressive thirty-point road victory against the Rockets on Saturday December 29.
3. San Antonio Spurs (92 points) – Last Week: #4
Veteran Tim Duncan remains a major defensive presence for the Spurs, and his 2.52 blocks per game is good for fifth in the NBA.
4. New York Knicks (78 points) – Last Week: #3
The Knicks haven’t won back-to-back games since the middle of December.
5. Miami Heat (75 points) – Last Week: #5
LeBron James currently leads the Heat in points (25.9 ppg), rebounds (8.5 rpg), assists (6.9 apg) and steals (1.6 spg).
6. Atlanta Hawks (75 points) – Last Week: #7
The Hawks are currently on a four-game win streak and hit the road for three straight games against the Rockets, Hornets and Pistons.
7. Golden State Warriors (69 points) – Last Week: #8
The Warriors currently have two 20-point scorers on its roster, with David Lee averaging 20.1 per game and Stephen Curry averaging 20.0 per game.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (65 points) – Last Week: #6
Former Ohio State product Mike Conley currently leads the Grizzlies in both assists (6.3 per game) and steals (2.5 per game).
9. Chicago Bulls (54 points) – Last Week: #9
Three of Chicago’s next four games are against weak, struggling Eastern Conference foes in the Bobcats (see Charlotte below for update), Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers.
10. Indiana Pacers (47 points) – Last Week: #10
The Pacers only have three players averaging in double figures: David West (17.7 ppg), Paul George (16.3 ppg) and George Hill (15.2 ppg).
11. Milwaukee Bucks (46 points) – Last Week: #13
Last week, the Bucks posted two key double-digit victories at home, defeating the Nets by 15 on December 26 and the Heat by 19 on December 29.
12. Minnesota Timberwolves (42 points) – Last Week: #11
In 16 games this season, Kevin Love is averaging 19.1 points and 14.1 rebounds per game.
13. Houston Rockets (41 points) – Last Week: #12
In three straight games (all wins) dating between December 17 and Christmas Day, the Rockets scored 120 points or more.
14. Brooklyn Nets (40 points) – Last Week: #15
Andray Blatche has only started seven games and is averaging just 20.4 minutes per game, yet is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points per contest.
15. Denver Nuggets (34 points) – Last Week: #14
He may be listed as a small forward, but Kenneth Faried is averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, which is, on average, four and a half more than any of his teammates.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (32 points) – Last Week: #16
The Lakers have won six of seven and have a huge game coming up against the Clippers this Friday night (January 4th).
17. Portland Trail Blazers (27 points) – Last Week: #19
LaMarcus Aldridge (21.1 ppg) is not just a scorer, but also solid defensively, leading the team in blocks (1.3 per game), while also managing 5.7 defensive rebounds per game.
18. Boston Celtics (17 points) – Last Week: #18
The struggling Celtics have now lost seven of nine and have a tough stretch coming (vs. Memphis, vs. Indiana, at Atlanta, at New York).
19. Utah Jazz (11 points) – Last Week: #17
Al Jefferson continues to average a double-double on the year (17 ppg, 10 rpg).
20. Orlando Magic (9 points) – Last Week: #20
The Magic have lost five straight and face the Heat, Bulls and Knicks over its next three games.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (8 points) – Last Week: #21
Jrue Holiday leads the team in both points per game (18.6) and assists (8.9 per game).
22. Toronto Raptors (1 point) – Last Week: #25
The Raptors have won seven of eight, with the only defeat during that stretch being a 20-point road loss at the hands of the Spurs.
23. Detroit Pistons (-7 points) – Last Week: #24
Greg Monroe leads the team in points (15.1 ppg), rebounds (8.8 rpg) and steals (1.3 spg).
24. Phoenix Suns (-9 points) – Last Week: #23
The Suns have six players averaging in double figures, with Goran Dragic leading the way (14.2 ppg).
25. Dallas Mavericks (-12 points) – Last Week: #22
The struggling Mavericks have now lost six in a row and nine out of ten.
26. Sacramento Kings (-12 points) – Last Week: #26
DeMarcus Cousins posted a triple-double against the Celtics on Sunday, with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on the night.
27. New Orleans Hornets (-28 points) – Last Week: #29
In his somewhat injury plagued rookie season, former top pick Anthony Davis is averaging 14.7 points and 8.5 rebounds over 17 games.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (-36 points) – Last Week: #28
Last week marked the first time the Cavs have won back-to-back games this season, after posting road victories over the Bucks and the Wizards.
29. Washington Wizards (-40 points) – Last Week: #30
The Wizards have had 15 different players start a game this season.
30. Charlotte Bobcats (-43 points) – Last Week: #27
Even though it won’t count as a part of the statistics in this week’s rankings, the Bobcats finally ended its 18-game losing streak with a win over the Bulls.
* All stats per NBA.com
Note: RED = Falling 3+ spots from last week, GREEN = Rising 3+ spots from last week
The Wife Hates Sports NBA Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of six completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed recently, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and defense.