Kings Blog

Jason Jones, Sacramento Kings beat writer

Jason Jones' NBA rankings: Thunder take the top spot this week

12/21/2013 10:42 AM

12/21/2013 10:52 AM

In case you forgot, Oklahoma City is pretty good. If not for Russell Westbrook’s knee injury during the playoffs, the Thunder might have been in the NBA Finals.

Westbrook is healthy and Kevin Durant is still an elite scorer and the Thunder has surged to the top of the rankings.

Here are this week’s rankings with all records through Friday’s games.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-4, Last week 3): Riding an eight-game winning streak to the top of the rankings.

2. Portland Trail Blazers (22-5, LW 1): Blazers avoided road losses thanks to Damian Lillard game-winning shots.

3. Miami Heat (20-6, LW 5): Big win over Indiana part of current four-game winning streak.

4. Indiana Pacers (21-5, LW 2): The return of Danny Granger could be another piece to eventually winning the Eastern Conference.

5. San Antonio Spurs (21-5, LW 4): The Spurs’ system works. They rested key players and still beat the Warriors on the road.

6. Los Angeles Clippers (18-9, LW 7): DeAndre Jordan is embracing his role as the defensive anchor, something the Clippers need.

7. Houston Rockets (17-10, LW 6): Omer Asik trade rumors dominate the talk about the Rockets, but he’s still in Houston.

8. Phoenix Suns (15-10, LW 9): The surprising Suns haven’t fallen off as most expected at this point in the season.

9. Dallas Mavericks (15-11, LW 10): Dirk Nowitzki has been consistent this season, even as “father time” creeps up on him.

1o. Atlanta Hawks (15-12, LW 12): Jeff Teague’s play could earn him a spot in his first All-Star Game.

11. Denver Nuggets (14-11, LW 8): Denver has already lost five home games, two more than all of last season.

12. Golden State Warriors (14-13, LW 11): Andre Iguodala’s return from a hamstring injury should spark the Warriors.

13. Los Angeles Lakers (13-13, LW 16): No Kobe for six weeks, top-3 point guards all out, but the Lakers are still hanging around.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-14, LW 14): Next step toward being a playoff team is winning on the road, where Minnesota is 5-10.

15. Charlotte Bobcats: (13-14, LW 21): Coach Steve Clifford could be a Coach of the Year candidate if the Bobcats continue to improve.

16. Detroit Pistons (13-15, LW 17): Andre Drummond can dominate a game without scoring because of his rebounding ability.

17. Boston Celtics (12-15, LW 19): Celtics still the only team with a losing record that’s a division leader.

18. New Orleans Pelicans (11-13, LW 13): Anthony Davis is back from injury, but Pelicans are on a three-game losing streak.

19. Washington Wizards (11-13, LW 20): Return of leading scorer Bradley Beal from injury can only help a team that should make playoffs this season.

20. Toronto Raptors (10-14, LW 23): This record is good enough for eighth in the Eastern Conference.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-15, LW 22): The better Kyrie Irving plays, the better the Cavs will be. And Irving has been very good lately.

22. Memphis Grizzlies (10-15, LW 15): Memphis has dropped five in a row as injuries continue to take away key players.

23. Chicago Bulls (9-16, LW 18): Playing without Derrick Rose isn’t going nearly as well this season after the Bulls played above .500 without Rose last season.

24. Brooklyn Nets: (9-17, LW 24): Bad news keeps coming for Nets now that center Brook Lopez is out for the season with broken foot.

25. New York Knicks (8-17, LW 27): Tyson Chandler’s return might be the first step in turning the season around.

26. Orlando Magic (8-18, LW 25): Jameer Nelson remains from Orlando’s better years when Dwight Howard ruled the paint for the Magic.

27. Philadelphia 76ers (8-19, LW 26): Evan Turner is playing like many thought he would when he was the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

28. Sacramento Kings (7-18, LW 28): The Kings have plenty of players that can score, but they give up a lot of points, too.

29. Utah Jazz (7-22, LW 29): Rookie point guard Trey Burke scored 30 points in a road win at Orlando.

30. Milwaukee Bucks (5-21, LW 30): Bucks have lost five in a row and will rely on young players to try to make strides this season.

About This Blog

Jason Jones, who joined The Sacramento Bee in 2002, has covered the Kings since 2008. Jones, a UC Berkeley graduate, also has covered high school sports, the Oakland Raiders and the Sacramento Monarchs for The Bee. Contact him at jejones@sacbee.com. Twitter: @mr_jasonjones

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