I have slacked immensely the past few weeks and that has led to us not having power rankings the past two Mondays. Well, there will not be one this week either! I'm changing it up, dear Tuesday morning coffee cup reader. Every Monday you can get your power rankings from numerous other websites- including some that are extremely well done on SB Nation and our sister sites. As Brian has told me in the past, "the world doesn't need another power ranking."
He's right, and I want to carve out a bit of our own niche here at Sonics Rising.
With that I welcome you to The Power 16.
The Portland Trail Blazers are easily the number one team in the NBA right now. They have victories this year over the Spurs, Pacers and Thunder. How some in the national media are claiming this is a fluke amazes me. Damian Lillard gets better every single game and LaMarcus Aldridge is a legitimate MVP candidate. I can't wait for C.J. McCollum to get back to add some more punch to this already lethal Blazers bench. Even with his small contributions the team is better.
The Indiana Pacers' loss to the Thunder was a fluke (they had a tough game against the Spurs the night before). Not sure exactly why the NBA schedule makers set the Pacers up like that. You'd ideally want a game of Pacers-Thunder to be primed a bit. Give the Pacers a night off as the Thunder had. I could understand if it were the Raptors or the Jazz, not an Eastern Conference Finalist and championship contender.
I hate to say the San Antonio Spurs are like a fine wine that gets better with age because that is extremely cliché. It's true though. Tony Parker plays point guard like a surgeon. The way he slices through a defense now to get to the spots he wants is amazing. Tim Duncan doesn't age, and if anything he's getting younger. He's going out to clubs, having various girlfriends, etc. I say good for him. It has not affected his play at all and he's actually been much better. Remember when I said Manu Ginobili was done? Yeah, I was wrong. I'll admit it, the old man has some game left.
The record doesn't show it, but the Miami Heat are playing some of their best basketball ever. I am getting a bit tired of hearing people say that Chris Bosh is hurting the Heat and it's time for him to be moved. Watch a Heat game and tell me he's not doing all the little things to make this team better. He's officially found his roll on this squad and it's working.
These four players are where your MVP discussion should start and end.
LeBron James has a chance to shoot 60% from the field. He's currently shooting 59% from the floor, 42% from three and then throw in 25-7-6-1.5 every night and you have your front runner for MVP.
In Portland you have to look at LaMarcus Aldridge and be blown away. He's currently averaging career highs in both points (23.4) and rebounds (10.8). His defense is vastly improved, posting a 102 in defensive rating.
If you haven't seen Paul George play yet you are missing out on one of the best two-way players to enter the game recently. He's averaging just over 24 points a game to go with 5.6 boards, almost four assists and two steals a game. His defensive rating is an amazing 91.5. For those who don't follow advanced stats the lower the defensive rating, the better. George would be First Team All NBA if not for that Durant guy in OKC, but he'll be First Team All Defense this year.
Then you have Chris Paul who is just putting up a pedestrian 20 points a game, pushing out 11.5 assists, to go with just about five boards and almost 2.5 steals a night. Paul was my pick to win MVP this season because I frankly thought voters would be sick of voting for LeBron for MVP, like they did with the whole Jordan/Malone situation 15 years ago.
1. The big story this week was Kobe Bryant coming back from his Achilles surgery. The Lakers dropped the first three games with him, Steve Blake got hurt, Kobe then had to play point guard and hey, the Lakers beat those pesky Charlotte Bobcats. The real story isn't when Kobe isn't going to become Kobe again, but what type of player is Kobe going to be when he finally becomes healthy?
2. This one is a bit older (I'm playing catch up here). Kevin Durant says he's tired of being labeled the second best player in the NBA. Good, because Mr. Durant you are not the second best player in the NBA right now. You are at least third. Both LeBron and Paul George are better overall players than you are. All you do is score points, but give nothing else. Both LeBron and George are leaders. You even admitted last post season that Russell Westbrook was the vocal leader on the team. Could be safe to say that you actually might be the second best player on your team. I'm not ready to make that call yet though, you're safe until I have a chance to break down your numbers vs. other players not named LeBron or George.
3. Adam Silver is thinking about getting rid of divisions. You can actually read my thoughts on that right here.
4. I love Charles Barkley; he's probably the
best most entertaining NBA analyst on television. He once again this week made it known that he would love a shot to be a general manager of an NBA franchise. Mark Cuban sums up my feelings on this subject rather nicely:
"Charles is a great talent evaluator. I think he should be a GM, preferably for one of the teams in our division. But on the one hand, he's right, if teams are positioning for the draft."
This was from last Sunday and now that Kobe is back... well just watch.
Oh Swaggy P (Nick Young to the unhip) panicked and hit all the buttons on the controller after playing with the highlight stick way too much.
Damian Lillard might be my favorite player to watch in all of the NBA right now. Dude is just clutch and a half.
Let's check out this beautiful outlet pass from Kevin Love.
Let's go out on this alley-oop by DeAndre Jordan.
Sorry, Chris, no Brandon Jennings for you this week.