- Celtics (18-4)
Despite their long winning streak coming to an end over the past week against the Heat, the Celtics have continued to look really good on both ends of the floor and they are not showing any signs of slowing down, posting an 8-2 record over the past 10 games.
2. Rockets (16-4)
Houston is really the only team in the league that can go up and down with the Warriors offensively and a five-game winning streak combined with All-Star point guard Chris Paul being back in the lineup has things going really well right now in Houston.
3. Warriors (15-6)
The defending champs got beat up pretty good last Wednesday on the road at the hands of the Thunder, which had to feel really good for Russell Westbrook and those fans, but those losses happen to the Warriors just like they happen to everyone. The Warriors are kind of going through the motions at times which is something I expect to continue during the regular season and they are still a top-five team despite that.
4. Cavaliers (14-7)
All of the panic about the Cavaliers has gone by the wayside after a nine-game winning streak. Just like always a LeBron James team has figured it out and has put people at ease.
5. Pistons (13-6)
Let’s give Detroit some credit. I know it is still very early in the season, but they have played 19 games and are in second place in the East. They only have a +2.3 point differential per game, which is not great and tells you they are not likely going to win 50+ games, but with Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson the Pistons have some nice pieces to work with and they deserve some credit.
Kerr Stands and Delivers
Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr has weighed in on the idea of ending the “One-and-Done” rule instituted by the NBA. This idea has been gaining traction with forward-thinking NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lately and on Monday Kerr added another twist to the debate.
In an interview, Kerr said that he believes that players that declare for the NBA Draft, essentially leaving college early, should be allowed under NCAA rules to return to school if they were to go undrafted. Holding court during his daily session with reporters, Kerr stated, “We talk about amateurism and all this stuff, but if you’re truly trying to do what’s right for the kid, and the kid declares for the draft and doesn’t get drafted… Welcome him back. Do something good for the kids.”
Under current rules the player is allowed to declare eligibility for but not enter the draft in order to test the waters as they do not hire an agent. Kerr was not pushed on whether he meant return to school or return to school AND play basketball.
However, as is being exposed with the FBI’s investigation into “Pay-to-Play” in college basketball, even if the players do not formally sign, there could be some type of money, compensation, impermissible benefits given to players that could make them toxic if they were return to their collegiate squad. Some pundits have even suggested that the player sit out one year, a la the current transfer rule, then the player could attend class until they transfer or return to their original school’s team.
One problem with this thinking is that once a player declares for the draft (even for the NFL), the player often stops going to class in order to work-out with a professional trainer in preparation to the combine/ draft.
Some think that this also leaves the school’s basketball programs in purgatory due to the restrictions on scholarships and how many are available. To possibly combat this, National Signing Day was moved to April, before the current date to declare and come back to school, thus the issue is moot for a school that now knows the scholarship count.
The rebranded developmental G-League is one of the options being floated that would financially compensate players wanting to play professionally after their final year of high school. There is still no talk of age-limits or having to have graduate high school but those details will certainly be poured over on debate shows and sports talk radio.
Kerr likely has much more compassion than the NCAA and would it make sense for the NBA to give up its “free” farm system? The fact that Adam Silver is exploring new directions regarding this is certainly a win for the rights of athletes to pursue their professions like many of their university’s athletic colleagues (baseball, golf, track…).
Cavaliers Continue To Climb The Power Rankings
- Celtics (21-4)
Sitting at 8-2 in their last ten games the Celtics have continued to roll and are not showing signs of slowing down any time this season after a really nice home win over the Bucks last night despite 40 points from the Greek Freak.
2. Rockets (18-4)
Playing at their typical fast pace the Rockets are looking really good and haven’t lost a game since November 14th. James Harden is also putting up MVP-like numbers right now and he looks poised to get the award after finishing second in the hotly debated MVP race last season.
3. Cavaliers (17-7)
The winning streak is still going in Cleveland and the Cavaliers have pretty much been blowing out anyone that is put in front of them. Sitting at 12-straight wins the Cavs have closed the gap significantly on the Celtics in the standings at the top of the East despite the really fast start to the season for Boston.
4. Warriors (19-6)
Them sitting at number four is not an indictment on the Warriors, but gives credit to how hot the teams sitting in front of them have been. The Warriors have been playing well but not quite to the level of the top three teams.
5. Spurs (16-8)
The fact that the Spurs are sitting at third in the West right now despite the fact that Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played a single minute this season is amazing and it tells you how good this team might actually be. Now Kyle Anderson is out, but they beat a pretty good Pistons team last night and on Sunday they barely lost to the Thunder even though they sat a majority of their best players. They might be in for a really hot stretch as soon as they get healthy.
Celtics Top This Weeks Power Rankings
With the NBA season just over a month in I am going to start doing a weekly installment every Tuesday of who I view are the top-5 teams in the league.
- Celtics (16-2)
After a big offseason that saw them sign Gordon Hayward in free agency and trade for Kyrie Iriving, a lot was expected of the Celtics but then they lost Gordon Hayward for the season on opening night and many wondered how they would fare with that loss and if the loss of Avery Bradley would really come back to bite them without their priced free agent signing. Well all Brad Stevens and the Celtics have done since then is rack up 16 straight wins, thanks in large part to their very strong defense.
2. Warriors (13-4)
Nothing is wrong with the defending champions. They got off to a slightly slower start than most would have expected but I am going to blame that on their lack of interest in the early part of the season, which is not surprising at all for a team of their caliber. They have struggled more defensively so far this year than they did last year, but I see them picking that up as the season goes along and frankly it does not matter most of the time because they have the best and most efficient offense in the league without really having a close second.
3. Rockets (13-4)
Despite Chris Paul playing in only three of the teams 17 games to this point they sit tied for the second best record in the whole league and a lot of that credit should go to Eric Gordon for stepping into the starting lineup in the absence of Paul. A lot of credit also goes to James Harden of course, who is having an MVP caliber year up to this point and has kept this offense rolling without really missing a beat.
4. Raptors (11-5)
Toronto has been one of the more consistent teams in the league over the past few years and the only reason they don’t get viewed as one of the top franchises is because they haven’t had the playoff success that a lot of the other top teams have had. A couple of years ago they did push Cleveland to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but outside of that it’s been a lot of disappointment. They retained Kyle Lowry in the offseason and he and DeMar DeRozan have this team in familiar territory now it just comes down to how this season will end for them because nobody doubts that they can win in the regular season.
5. Spurs (11-6)
An 11-6 record through 17 games really isn’t all that great for what the Spurs are use to, but the fact that they have done that without Kawhi Leonard or Tony Parker even playing a minute this season is very impressive. Patty Mills has unsurprisingly done a good job for them this year and the Rudy Gay signing is turning out to be one of the better signings of this offseason even though it wasn’t one of the more talked about moves. The longer this team can hover around the top four in the West and allow Kawhi Leonard to get fully healthy the more dangerous they become.
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