There were a lot of small moves in the NBA Power Rankings as we head into Week 10, with the Boston Celtics making a strong move near the top of the pile.
Even with a thumping at home on Saturday, the Boston Celtics are solidly performing above expectations this season, with young prospects in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown making notable leaps in their third and fourth seasons, respectively, and that has moved the Celtics up another two positions in the NBA Power Rankings .
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Before the season, conventional wisdom (and the Vegas oddsmakers) worked under the assumption that losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and bringing in Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter would leave the Celtics just about where they were last season — around 49 victories and somewhere in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
But as 2019 is about to morph into 2020, Boston is 22-8 and on pace for a 60-win season, a level the Celtics haven’t reached since winning 62 games as defending NBA champions in 2008-09, when the big three in Boston was Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
This new version that leads the club into the 2020s isn’t bad, either. Walker leads the team in scoring at 22.5 points per game, with Tatum checking in at 21.2 and Brown knocking down 20.6 a night.
Since 1990, only seven teams have had three players average at least 20 points per game in the same season and three of those were the Golden State Warriors of 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 (a.k.a. the Kevin Durant era). The others were the 1990-91 Warriors, the 2007-08 Warriors, the 2013-14 Sacramento Kings and the 2018-19 New Orleans Pelicans.
The results from all that scoring was mixed — the Warriors missed the playoffs in 2008, as did the Kings and Pelicans in their seasons qualifying for this group. The 1991 Warriors reached the conference semifinals. The latest Warriors teams went to the NBA Finals all three seasons they pulled off the 20×3 trick, winning titles in 2017 and 2018.
In a week where the movements were small, the Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and the Pelicans shared the upward mobility lead with Boston last week, moving two spots each. The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves each dropped a couple of places.
And with that, let’s dive into the countdown.
Atlanta Hawks 6-27
Last rank: 30th
Last week: Lost at Cleveland 121-118, lost to Milwaukee 112-86, lost at Chicago 116-81
This week: Monday at Orlando, Friday at Boston, Saturday vs. Indiana
It just got worse as the week went on for the Atlanta Hawks, who are now firmly in possession of the NBA’s worst record with three fewer wins than any other team in the league. A narrow loss at Cleveland in John Collins‘ return from a 25-game suspension was followed by a 26-point thumping at home from the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Bucks and a 35-point loss at Chicago.
As for Collins, he was up-and-down — very good against the Cavs and Bulls, not so much against Milwaukee. But in his first action since Oct. 31, Collins averaged 23.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.0 steals in 31.3 minutes per game, shooting 50.0 percent overall and going 5-for-17 from 3-point range. Red-flag warning: Trae Young didn’t play Saturday with a right ankle injury.