NBA

Houston Rockets have firm grasp on top spot in NBA power rankings

Jay Asser 01:42 01/03/2018
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James Harden and Chris Paul have formed a strong partnership in Houston.

It’s hard to argue that the Houston Rockets haven’t been the best team all season.

No offence to the Golden State Warriors juggernaut, but while the defending champions have lacked urgency and let their foot off the gas pedal, the Rockets have pulverised opponents night after night, especially when they’ve been healthy with Chris Paul and James Harden both in the lineup.

That, in addition to the fact they beat the Warriors twice in three head-to-head meetings and hold (a slight edge on) the best record in the league, means that Houston are indisputably the top team in this week’s power rankings, with Golden State right behind them.

Of course, there’s a massive drop-off from the top tier down to number three in the rankings, where the Toronto Raptors come into the picture to lead the Eastern Conference.

Check out the full rankings below, with the order determined on a combination of outlook and recent form.

1. Houston Rockets
Record: 47-13

They’re on an absolute roll having won 13 straight to maintain their spot as the top seed in the West.

2. Golden State Warriors
Record: 47-14

The defending champions have come out of the All-Star break with more urgency and the results have shown it.

3. Toronto Raptors
Record: 42-17

Despite their seven-game winning streak being snapped this past week, they remain atop the East.

4. Boston Celtics
Record: 43-19

Marcus Smart’s return has been a major boost and they’ve started to regain their rhythm.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 36-24

Okay, so their trades weren’t a cure-all, but they still have LeBron James playing at a ridiculous level.

6. Washington Wizards
Record: 36-25

No John Wall, no problem as they’ve surged in the absence of their star point guard.

7. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 36-25

They’ve dropped six of their last eight, but just slowed down LeBron and may get Kawhi Leonard back by season’s end.

8. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 35-26

Damian Lillard is on fire and they’ve won 11 of their last 12 on their home floor.

Lillard

9. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 38-26

Jimmy Butler’s knee injury hasn’t put much of a dent in their offence, but they’ll start to feel it on the other end.

10. Indiana Pacers
Record: 34-26

Wins in eight of their last 11 have thrust them up the East standings as they battle for home-court in the first round.

11. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 33-27

They’ve run into hot teams and stumbled as of late, but are 10-5 and been better defensively since firing Jason Kidd.

12. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 32-27

Look like a clear playoff team as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have been the pillars of their success.

13. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 35-27

Their talent means they should always be taken seriously, but no denying the’ve so far fallen short of expectations.

14. Denver Nuggets
Record: 33-28

Have started to come into their own over the last month and now have Paul Millsap back in the lineup.

15. Utah Jazz
Record: 31-30

They’re much better than their record indicates and their ability to lock down on defence means they should be taken seriously.

16. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 34-26

No one has been better than Anthony Davis of late, but their winning streak hasn’t featured the best competition.

Davis

17. Los Angeles Clippers
Record: 32-27

Winners in seven of their last nine, their offence has been red hot and putting up some gaudy scores.

18. Miami Heat
Record: 32-29

They’re relying a little too much on Dwyane Wade since his return and the firepower just isn’t there right now.

19. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 28-33

Boast the longest winning streak in the East (five) as Kemba Walker shot 47.3 per cent from deep in February.

20. Detroit Pistons
Record: 28-32

Six losses in their last seven have put them in a difficult position for reaching the playoffs.

21. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 26-34

They’ve been streaky all season and just reeled off three straight, albeit against bottom-feeders.

22. New York Knicks
Record: 24-38

The Trey Burke resurgence has given the Madison Square Garden faithful something to cheer about since Kristaps Porzingis’ injury.

23. Chicago Bulls
Record: 20-41

Fully in tank-mode as five straight losses have shown, and few wins should be expected the rest of the season.

24. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 20-42

They don’t own their own pick so while others around them tank, the Nets will keep fighting night after night.

25. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 18-43

They’re 9-7 in their last 16 games at home and host six of their next eight in their building.

26. Sacramento Kings
Record: 18-43

De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic are the only reasons to watch the Kings right now.

Bogdan

27. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 18-41

Even Marc Gasol is helpless to turn around their nosedive into the basement of the league.

28. Orlando Magic
Record: 18-42

They’re an abominable 12-40 since starting the season a promising 6-2 and their fortunes aren’t changing anytime soon.

29. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 19-42

Whether or not the coaches and players like it, they’re not good enough to prove Mark Cuban’s comments that they’re tanking wrong.

30. Phoenix Suns
Record: 18-44

To give you an idea of how bad the Suns are, they didn’t manage a single win all of February.

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