1a. Golden State Warriors (14-2, Last week: 1)
The Warriors hold the longest winning streak in the NBA currently (nine) and enjoy another week at the top of our power rankings. Their toughest game this week comes against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, but a nationally televised game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday is must-watch.
A final note: through the first month, the Warriors have two of the best five-man lineup in the NBA (minimum 50 minutes played):
1b. Memphis Grizzlies (15-2, Last week: 3)
But ... we couldn't decide which team should be No. 1. So, let's just say the Grizzlies and Warriors are 1a and 1b through the first month of the season. This was another strong week of Grizzlies ball, highlighted by a critical road win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
3. San Antonio Spurs (12-4, Last week: 5)
Remember that slow start from the Spurs? Good, now forget it. This is how they roll.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (13-4, Last week: 7)
The Trail Blazers had their nine-game winning streak interrupted by the ferocious Grizzlies, but they shouldn't be docked too much for that. It's worth keeping an eye on the Blazers going forward, though, because they've had a fairly soft schedule through the first portion of the season, which makes their losses -- Kings, Warriors, Clippers and Grizzlies -- stick out like sore thumbs. For now, we welcome them to the top five.
5. Dallas Mavericks (13-5, Last week: 8)
The Mavericks fell to the Pacers for their first two-game losing streak of the season, but responded by rattling off three wins to close out the week while getting a chance to rest Dirk Nowitzki against the 76ers. Dallas still isn't firing on all cylinders yet, but is still eight games over .500.
6. Houston Rockets (13-4, Last week: 6)
The Rockets are hanging in there while Dwight Howard nurses his knee injury, and their lone loss of the week was to the surging Clippers after Isaiah Canaan left the game early with an ankle sprain. The Rockets' offense isn't pretty when it's so heavily dictated by James Harden getting to the foul line, but they're getting it done and giving Dwight a chance to get his knee right.
7. Washington Wizards (10-5, Last week: 4)
The Wizards were doing so well! Then Bradley Beal came back! Then ... they lost more games (three) than they had all season while they worked things out without him. Some growing pains were due to hit Washington when they had to work Beal back in, but this will likely pass.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (11-5, Last week: 12)
The Clippers had been one of the most underwhelming teams this season, but they just went 6-1 through a seven-game road trip and might finally be getting back on track. What's been the big shift for the Clippers? How about their three-point shooting:
9. Chicago Bulls (11-6, Last week: 14)
The Bulls are healthy as can be again, but how long Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol can stick in the starting lineup will be a question mark throughout the season. This week's weird stat? The Bulls are barely squeaking in as a top-10 defensive team, allowing teams to score 102.4 points per 100 possessions. That's their worst mark since the '09-10 season, Vinny Del Negro's final one as Bulls head coach. It's fair to trust Tom Thibodeau to improve that number through the rest of the season.
10. Miami Heat (9-7, Last week: 13)
Tough week for the Heat, who had to deal with Stephen Curry dropping 40 after he grabbed one of Super Mario's invincibility stars. Seriously, Steph tore Miami apart:
Dwyane Wade is back, though, which should help Miami get back into the groove before he missed time.
11. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-7, Last week: 15)
Welcome to the Cavaliers' section, where you never know what you might find. Some weeks they'll go 0-4, other weeks they'll go 3-0. Until they find some level of consistency, there will be question marks about this team.
12. Toronto Raptors (13-4, Last week: 2)
The Raptors fell out of the top five following DeMar DeRozan's injury, which is unfortunate. The good news is DeRozan should be back in about a month, but the bad news is Toronto is probably going to be lingering outside of the top-10 of our power rankings until then.
A silver lining: they're in the East, where the team with the second-best winning percentage (Wizards, .667) would be the eighth seed in the West. Toronto will survive this. But ... maybe don't lose to the Lakers.
13. Phoenix Suns (10-8, Last week: 9)
The Suns have been up and down all year, but even if they're performing like they're on a see-saw, Phoenix is squeaking into the Western Conference playoffs right now. The battle for the eighth seed out West will be an interesting one as the season rolls on.
14. Atlanta Hawks (9-6, Last week: 16)
It was a solid week for Atlanta, as it went 3-1 while beating the teal off of the Hornets' jerseys. The Hawks are right in the middle of our power rankings, a familiar place for this franchise.
15. Sacramento Kings (9-8, Last week: 11)
Sacramento took a few losses this week while DeMarcus Cousins missed time, but it's hard to win without one of the top performers of the season. Get over this sickness soon, Boogie.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (10-8, Last week: 17)
The Bucks are climbing the power rankings ladder rung by rung. Their ascent is best exemplified by using Giannis Antetokounmpo's insane Eurostep:
Yes, this team is making strides.
17. Denver Nuggets (8-8, Last week: 23)
The Nuggets regained control of their season over the last two weeks, hitting the .500 mark while going 7-3 over their last 10 games. Denver has a very tough stretch of games beginning this week, though. Look at this gauntlet:
Here's a tip, Denver: beat Utah.
18. New Orleans Pelicans (7-8, Last week: 10)
New Orleans hit a rough patch, losing all three of its games last week. DeMarcus Cousins won the Kentucky big man rematch on Tuesday. Then, the Hawks held Anthony Davis to 14 points (5-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds on Friday. Finally, Tyreke Evans shot them out of their game against the Wizards on Saturday. All this team can do is lick its wounds and get back to the grindstone.
19. Indiana Pacers (7-10, Last week: 21)
Few teams are more fascinating than the Pacers, who somehow are just a half game out of the Eastern Conference playoffs. That this team gave LeBron James and the Cavaliers a run for their money without Roy Hibbert deserves a gold star on the wall.
20. Brooklyn Nets (6-9, Last week: 22)
The Brooklyn Nets are the little Eastern Conference engine that could. They aren't a bad team, but they aren't a good team, either. Their current status reminds me of the Atlanta Hawks over the last bajillion years. Joe Johnson's quotes following their loss to the Bulls sum it up well enough:
Joe Johnson reacts to another loss pic.twitter.com/J0i8zoyKmN— Stefan Bondy (@nydninternets) November 30, 2014
21. Orlando Magic (7-12, Last week: 18)
The Magic had a very tough schedule last week and it played out as such. They snapped a four-game losing streak before heading into a four-game West Coast road trip. Victor Oladipo's return hasn't been all daisies, as he's barely breaking 40 percent shooting and is averaging just 0.5 more assists (3.2) than turnovers (2.7).
22. Boston Celtics (4-10, Last week: 20)
The Eastern Conference, where the 4-10 Celtics are just two games out from the eighth seed. Four straight losses for Boston means a dip in the power rankings.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-12, Last week: 29)
Russell Westbrook is back and he didn't waste any time putting the Thunder on his shoulders. The star guard scored 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting in just 23 minutes on the floor. The NBA is better when Bestbrook is playing:
It's time for Westbrook to start making up lost ground, which should be a fun journey. Let's just ease them into an incline through the power rankings, though.
24. New York Knicks (4-14, Last week: 25)
The change in culture in New York has amounted to four wins through November, which ... is one more win than they had at this point last season. In good news: Carmelo Anthony is shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc.
25. Utah Jazz (5-12, Last week: 19)
The Jazz started off the season well, but have won just two of their last eight games and are on a five-game losing streak. Utah has the third-worst defensive rating in the NBA and a middle-of-the-pack offense. Trey Burke is struggling through his sophomore season, averaging 11.3 field goal attempts per game while shooting 36 percent from the field and under 29 percent from deep.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-11, Last week: 26)
The Timberwolves have the second-worst defense in the NBA, only beating the Lakers in that category. When they faced off on Friday, it certainly looked like a battle between two teams that had no idea how to stop each other. The Timberwolves prevailed, but is that really good news? That game had big Tanksgiving implications.
28. Detroit Pistons (3-14, Last week: 27)
The bottom of our power rankings is littered with bad teams that are marginally less terrible than the others, but the Pistons have a big week coming up with games against the Lakers, 76ers and Celtics. Power tanking changes are on the way.
28. Charlotte Hornets (4-14, Last week: 24)
The Hornets have the second-longest losing streak in the NBA, up to nine. Get it together, Charlotte. This was supposed to be a fresh new start, not a return to Bobcat horror.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (4-13, Last week: 28)
Things aren't all bad for the Lakers! They have a little-used five-man lineup that scores the most points per 100 possessions in the NBA (minimum 20 minutes). Ed Davis, Kobe Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer -- i.e. the starters with Davis instead of Jordan Hill -- are putting up an offensive rating of 147.8.
No, that's not a sustainable number, but it does point to some level of success. Why hasn't Byron Scott played Davis with the starters for more than 22 minutes? The world may never know.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-16, Last week: 30)
In case you were curious, the 76ers are not favored in any of the next 66 games that are left in their season. So ... there's that.
*All statistical data courtesy of NBA.com