SCIC NBA Power Rankings: Week 2

1) San Antonio Spurs [ 3-0 ]: Three big victories over the Hornets, Thunder and Jazz vault San Antonio to the top of the NBA Power Rankings. Tim Duncan has turned back the clock and is averaging 21.0 points and 10.0 rebounds through the first week of the season. Tony Parker has ice in his veins after sinking the hearts of OKC fans at the buzzer on Thursday night. As always, never discount the San Antonio Spurs, because they will make you eat your words. (Last week: #3)


2) New York Knicks [ 2-0 ]: Considering the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the state of New York with Hurricane Sandy, the Knicks have still come out and played inspired basketball. Both the Heat (20 points) and 76ers (19 points) have felt the wrath of New Yorks strong play to start the year. Amare Stoudemire who? (Last week: #13)


3) Miami Heat [ 2-1 ]: 
The Heat opened the season with a convincing win over conference rivals the Boston Celtics, but it took a last-ditch 4 point play from Ray Allen to knock off the Nuggets. A 20 point loss to the Knicks was disheartening, but Miami still looks as dominant as ever. Stealing Allen away from Boston is already paying dividends as he averages 15.7 points and 3 three-pointers a game off the bench. (Last week: #1)


4) Los Angeles Clippers [ 2-1 ]: Jamal Crawford is finally giving the Clippers some consistency at the shooting guard position, despite beginning the year in a sixth man role. He’s leading the team with 25.7 points on 47% shooting from the field. A decisive 105-95 victory over the Lakers proved that the battle for Los Angeles is a lot closer than some may realize. (Last week: #7)


5) Brooklyn Nets [ 1-0 ]: I’m sure the Nets would have loved to open the season with a victory over their hometown rivals the New York Knicks (the game was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy), but a division win over the improved Toronto Raptors will do just fine. Brook Lopez looks like he’s slowly regaining his form after playing just 5 games last season. He led the Nets with 23 points and got to the charity stripe 15 times in a 107-100 victory over Toronto. It’s been just one game though. (Last week: #11)



6) Dallas Mavericks [ 2-1 ]: No Dirk Nowitzki? No problem. Playing without Dirk and starting center Chris Kaman, Dallas was able to waltz into Staples Center opening night and upset the Lakers on the road before losing to Utah the next night. Rookie Jae Crowder has been a pleasant surprise thus far off the bench, providing toughness, energy and solid defense while averaging 8.7 points a game. (Last week: #16)


7) Oklahoma City Thunder [ 1-2 ]: The trade with Houston involving James Harden is NOT the reason for Oklahoma City’s poor start. Russell Westbrook is shooting just 38.1% from the field and the starting unit as a whole is scoring just 90.4 points per 100 possessions. I’m still rather shocked at the lack of playing time being given to rookies Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb, who are collectively averaging just 6.1 minutes a game.  (Last week: #4)


8) Boston Celtics [ 1-2 ]: It was pretty obvious in Tuesday’s matchup with the Heat the kind of animosity this team has towards their former 3-point specialist. It was interesting to see coach Doc Rivers pull the trigger on putting rookie Jared Sullinger in the starting line-up in place of Brandon Bass so early in the year. Kevin Garnett will have his monitored minutes closely, so hopefully Sullinger can provide some offense with his time on the court to help take some pressure off of their aging star. (Last week: #5)


9) Los Angeles Lakers [ 1-3 ]: So far, no team has been a bigger disappointment than the Lakers. Steve Nash is already missing time and production from the bench has been non-existent. With the exception of last night’s blowout victory over the lowly Detrit Pistons, Los Angeles has already dropped games to the undermanned Mavericks and their rival Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center after losing just 7 at home all of last season (in a lockout shortened year). It’s still early, but expectations are so high that any lack of success by the Lakers will be scrutinized even more. (Last week: #2)


10) Indiana Pacers [ 2-1 ]: Nothing makes a fan base slap themselves in the face more than knowing their team just gave up a win to the Charlotte Bobcats. The offense putting up just 92.0 points a game. That all can’t be blamed on Danny Granger not being on the court. Paul George is turning into an all-star right before our eyes. He’s put up 14.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 blocks over three games.  (Last week: #8)


11) Atlanta Hawks [ 1-1 ]: The Hawks win in Oklahoma City last night sans Josh Smith was absolutely huge. Lou Williams is providing instant offense (as usual) and Al Horford is looking primed for a big season after missing all but 11 games last year. With the Pacers, Heat and Clippers on tap this week, will see what Atlanta is truly made of.  (Last week: #15)


12) New Orleans Hornets [ 2-1 ]: Defeating the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls this past week was no fluke. Before going down with a concussion, rookie Anthony Davis (14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) was playing like the franchise player everyone imagined he could be. The play of Greivis Vasquez (13.0 points, 9.7 assists) has been most welcome, especially considering the early season struggles of Austin Rivers and the injury problems of Eric Gordon. (Last week: #23)


13) Chicago Bulls [ 2-1 ]: The new “Bench Mob” of Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Taj Gibson is averaging 27.0 points a game for Chicago. The Bulls defensive efficiency rating ranks best in the league (90.0), but defense has never been an issue with this Tom Thibodeau led team. Chicago ranks fourth from the bottom in the NBA in three-point percentage (25%), so that will need to be an area of improvement moving forward. (Last week: #12)


14) Memphis Grizzlies [ 1-1 ]: I still feel down the road that losing O.J Mayo will come back to haunt Memphis, but so far scoring points hasn’t been an issue. Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol are putting up 21.5 and 20.0 points respectively. 8 of the Grizzlies next 11 games are at home. It’s a perfect opportunity for Memphis to jump up the Western Conference standings rather quickly and make some noise. (Last week: #9)


15) Portland Trail Blazers [ 2-1 ]: For those of you who doubted my early season prediction of Damian Lillard as my Rookie of the Year, all I can do is laugh in amusement. Through three games. Lillard is averaging 21.0 points and 9.3 assists a game. And no, his name is Damian LILLARD, not Willard. Right Mitch Richmond? (Last week: #19)


16) Houston Rockets [ 2-1 ]: The offensive explosion by James Harden this past week has been the talk of the NBA. Harden currently leads the NBA in scoring at 35.3 points a game. He’s also putting up 6.3 rebounds and assists. Outside of Harden and teammate Jeremy Lin, the Rockets really don’t have anyone who can put up points. Once teams figure out a way to halt Harden, Houston will begin to flounder and level out.  (Last week: #20)


17) Milwaukee Bucks [ 2-0 ]: Brandon Jennings hit one of the more fascinating game-winners you will ever see, draining a contested three-pointer with 0.7 seconds on the clock to sink the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Ersan Ilyasova has been a ghost, averaging just 5.0 points on 25% shooting. Larry Sanders will need to continue his solid start to help compensate for the starting front courts lack of scoring. (Last week: #17)


18) Utah Jazz [ 1-2 ]: Newly acquired starting point guard Mo Williams is channeling his former Cleveland Cavaliers days, averaging 22.0 points and 6.0 assists a game. The Memphis Grizzlies, Lakers and hungry Denver Nuggets await the Jazz this week. I still believe the Jazz have the pieces to make a splash in the trade market, but the franchise seems reluctant to pull the trigger.  (Last week: #10)


19) Philadelphia 76ers [ 1-1 ]: Philadelphia ranks dead-last in the league in free-throw attempts (15.5). Dorell Wright leads the team with just 3.5 attempts a game. The Sixers wings are only shooting a combined 7 for 26 from long distance. Do you think this team is missing Andrew Bynum yet? (Last week: #14)


20) Golden State Warriors [ 2-1 ]: Losing Brandon Rush to an ACL injury will significantly weaken the Warriors wing depth. Andrew Bogut is also none to pleased with having his minutes kept around the 20 minute range. It’s great to see Stephen Curry playing well and staying healthy, but the Warriors biggest problem in the past has been keeping its players on the court and off of injured reserve. I remain skeptical.  (Last week: #18)


21) Toronto Raptors [ 1-2 ]: Toronto has certainly been competitive, owning double-digit leads in each of their three games. The problem is that closing out wins has never come easy to this team. Kyle Lowry (23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists) could be the biggest steal of the offseason when it’s all said and done. Andrea Bargnani must improve his shooting (32%) big time.  (Last week: #21)


22) Denver Nuggets [ 0-3 ]: Could Denver be too deep for its own good? There may not be enough shots to go around for the teams talented wings, and that could explain why the offense has been so lackluster thus far (Offensive Efficiency: 93.7, 23rd). It also doesn’t help when Corey Brewer is attempting almost seven three-pointers a game. The year is still young though. They’re too good to continue to be this bad.  (Last week: #6)


23) Orlando Magic [ 2-0 ]:  In two games, Glen Davis has taken 47 shots! I realize Dwight Howard is gone, but I never truly believed that the Magics offense would now be coming from “Big Baby”. Orlando is ranked second in the league for offensive efficiency at 111.7, but how long can that really last? (Last week: #29)


24) Minnesota Timberwolves [ 1-1 ]: Brandon Roy definitely looks like a man whose knees are not agreeing with him. He’s been slow and lethargic on the court and his shooting has been dreadful (23% from the field. On top of losing Kevin Love and Ricky RubioJ.J Barea has now suffered concussion-like symptoms after a kick to the head from teammate Dante Cunningham.   (Last week: #22)


25) Phoenix Suns [ 1-2 ]: Barely sneaking out a win against the Pistons and dropping games to the Warriors and Magic will not instil confidence in any Suns fan. Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat have been stellar thus far in the front court, combining for 21.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocks a game. Games against Charlotte and Cleveland this week are extremely winnable. (Last week: #24)


26) Cleveland Cavaliers [ 1-2 ]: Through the first week of the season, Anderson Varejao is tied for the league lead in rebounds at 15.0 per game. C.J Miles and the rest of the Cavaliers second-unit has been complete anemic up to this point. Kyrie Irving (23.7 points, 4.0 assists) is still producing at a high level, but he’s going to need more help from his wings for Cleveland to stay productive offensively as the team currently ranks just 23rd in the league at points per game (94.0)  (Last week: #27)


27) Charlotte Bobcats [ 1-1 ]: So much for my early season prediction where I said Charlotte wouldn’t win until halfway through the month of November. There one point win over the Indiana Pacers (Kemba Walker scored a career-high 30 points) to open the year was a huge boost for morale, but losing by 27 the next night to Dallas brought them right back down to Earth. Games against the Timberwolves, Suns, Hornets and Wizards could bring more W’s to Charlotte over the next 10 days.(Last week: #30)


28) Sacramento Kings [ 0-3 ]: Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins are shooting a combined 39% from the field. Perhaps it’s time to give more minutes to rookie Thomas Robinson. The Kings have yet to play at home, but both the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons come to town this week (winnable). 12 of their next 15 are at Sleep Train Arena after starting the year with 3 straight on the road. (Last week: #28)


29) Washington Wizards [ 0-2 ]: Losing John Wall is killing the Wizards so far. This team has no facilitator. Not a single starter is averaging more than 7.5 points through 2 games. Bradley Beal, the #3 pick in this summers draft, can’t seem to find his shooting stroke. He’s averaged just 5.0 points on 15% shooting. (Last week: #25)


30) Detroit Pistons [ 0-3 ]: Rodney Stuckey is 1 for 23 from the field through the teams first 3 games. That’s a whopping 4%! A 29 point loss to the struggling Lakers was the tipping point. The backcourt looks terrible and Greg Monroe has yet to get into a rhythm offensively. It’s going to be a lonnggg year in the Motor City. (Last week: #26)


Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

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