NBA Power Rankings: Good News/Bad News Edition (December 12, 2012)

The new NBA power rankings have a familiar feel, with the top two teams remaining unchanged. We can’t penalize Oklahoma City for playing just two games this week. The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers continue to stay hot. Where does your team rank?

We update the rankings every Wednesday, so bookmark the power rankings page and check back each week!

Last week’s ranking in parentheses.

1. (1) Oklahoma City Thunder (17-4)Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin are playing at a high level, but…Kendrick Perkins is a starting center that averages 5.19 rebounds per game.

2. (2) San Antonio Spurs (18-4) – The offense behind Tim Duncan and Tony Parker is rated No. 2 in the NBA, but…Gary Neal is outplaying Manu Ginobili.

3. (5) New York Knicks (16-5)Carmelo Anthony wants that MVP trophy badly and the comeback in Brooklyn was a masterpiece, but…the defense continues to slide and is giving up 50.2% eFG shooting.

4. (3) Memphis Grizzlies (14-4) – The No. 1 defense in the league is led by Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but…three-point shooting continues to be a sore spot, as they are No. 28 in makes.

5. (7) Los Angeles Clippers (15-6)Blake Griffin continues to improve and is averaging 3.5 assists in his last 10 games. The team isn’t playing many minutes, with Chris Paul leading at 33.5, but…DeAndre Jordan has come back to earth.

6. (11) Golden State Warriors (14-7)Stephen Curry wants to be a star and if he can be healthy, he will be, but…his ankle is made of cardboard and can’t be fully trusted (just like Andrew Bogut‘s health).

7. (4) Miami Heat (14-5)LeBron James continues to be the most efficient player in the NBA and Dwyane Wade is showing signs of his youth, but…they still don’t have any urgency and are playing poorly defensively.

8. (8) Atlanta Hawks (12-6) – A great win in Memphis showed how tough Josh Smith and Al Horford can be in the front court, but…they’re dead last in rebounding and free-throw makes.

9. (9) Denver Nuggets (11-11) – They could be the most talented team top-to-bottom in the NBA. Ty Lawson is starting to heat up, but…it’s a process and he’s still a far cry from his 2011-12 form.

10. (10) Chicago Bulls (11-9)Joakim Noah is playing terrific basketball without elite athletic gifts and is holding down the fort until Derrick Rose returns, but…wasn’t this supposed to be Taj Gibson‘s coming-out year?

11. (6) Brooklyn Nets (11-9)Deron Williams and Andray Blatche are playing hard-nosed basketball right now and are asserting their dominance, but…they haven’t won a game in December.

12. (14) Boston Celtics (11-9)Rajon Rondo is a stud with a mean streak and Kevin Garnett will play until his legs fall off, but…they have no interior presence and Paul Pierce is done as an elite player.

13. (15) Philadelphia 76ers (12-9)Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner deserve some recognition with their excellent play without Andrew Bynum out there, but…does anyone really think this team is good enough to go deep in the playoffs?

14. (17) Milwaukee Bucks (10-9) – Two guards in contract years means Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis continue to give 100% effort, but…Ersan Ilyasova got his money – then disappeared.

15. (19) Utah Jazz (12-10)Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are among the best 1-2 punches in the paint in the NBA, but…neither are a go-to player and it’s causing problems late in games.

16. (12) Minnesota Timberwolves (9-9)Kevin Love is back to being a double-double machine and Alexey Shved is looking like a rookie steal, but…Derrick Williams is buried on the bench and Ricky Rubio still isn’t back.

17. (21) Dallas Mavericks (11-10) – An All-Star appearance could await O.J. Mayo and he’s doing everything in his power to earn it, but…the defense is poor and without Dirk Nowitzki, they’re a one-man offense.

18. (18) Indiana Pacers (10-11) – A great defense is always helpful, but they have to score. Paul George has done his part, but…Roy Hibbert needs to get more involved offensively.

19. (13) Houston Rockets (9-11) – To say that they’re in trouble would be an understatement with James Harden and Jeremy Lin having ankle injuries, but…Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson are stepping up.

20. (16) Los Angeles Lakers (9-13)Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are playing at a tremendous level and can’t be expected to do more, but…Pau Gasol and Steve Nash can’t help while injured.

21. (20) Orlando Magic (8-12)J.J. Redick is earning himself a lot of money right now and Arron Afflalo is proving he could be a terrific No. 2 option, but…Glen Davis isn’t a starting NBA center.

22. (22) Portland Trail Blazers (9-12)Damian Lillard is one of the more fun players in the league to watch and LaMarcus Aldridge is a top-five power forward, but…the bench is so bad and injuries have bit them so hard.

23. (29) Sacramento Kings (7-13) – Surprise! The Kings are just one game behind the Lakers, but…Sleep Train Arena is appropriate, because DeMarcus Cousins‘ effort and their team puts us to sleep.

24. (25) Detroit Pistons (7-17)Greg Monroe continues to impress and Andre Drummond deserves more playing time, but…they need to stop turning the ball over and improve upon their No. 24 FT percentage.

25. (23) Charlotte Bobcats (7-13) – They’ve gone from surprise story to more of what we all expected. Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been solid, but…Nobody on this team is a star, and that’s a problem.

26. (24) Phoenix Suns (7-15)Goran Dragic and Luis Scola have been very good, but…Michael Beasley is horrid and Marcin Gortat‘s feud with Alvin Gentry means he’s got one foot out the door.

27. (28) Cleveland Cavaliers (5-17) – The return of Kyrie Irving was what they needed, as a victory over the Lakers is still something to be happy about, but…next to Anderson Varejao in the middle is…who?

28. (26) New Orleans Hornets (5-15) – Any team would struggle without two starters and the Hornets are no exception. Anthony Davis scored 13 points with 3 steals and 3 blocks in his return, but…they scored 70 total points.

29. (27) Toronto Raptors (4-18)DeMar DeRozan has quieted critics with a solid offensive showing so far this season, but…the rest of the team has been a massive disappointment, and Andrea Bargnani could be moved.

30. (30) Washington Wizards (3-15) – We picked the Wizards to sneak into the playoffs this year, but…that was before John Wall and Nene missed extended time.

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Monday – NBA Awards Watch
Wednesday – NBA Power Rankings
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