NBA Basketball

NBA Power Rankings: Four teams shake up top 10 with major leap

Make it a dozen for the seemingly unstoppable Boston Celtics. Despite losing Kyrie Irving to a facial fracture suffered Friday, Boston managed to eke out a close win Sunday over the Toronto Raptors to run their win streak to 12 games.

Was it enough to unseat the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets — each winners of six straight games — for one of the top two spots in our rankings?

At the other end of the spectrum, the falling LA Clippers have lost five straight and, after a string of injuries, aren’t looking like the team that raced out to a 4-0 start in October.

Every Monday throughout the regular season, our panel — ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Amin Elhassan and Ramona Shelburne, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears and FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring — will rank the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom, with research notes on each team provided by ESPN Stats & Information.

Previous rankings:Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

1. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 10-3

Golden State has won each of its past six games by 17 points or more. Only one other team in NBA history has done that: the 1989-90 Suns. The Stephen CurryKlay Thompson connection has been unmatched so far. According to Second Spectrum, Thompson has an 82 percent effective field goal percentage off passes from Curry, best among all passer-shooter combos (minimum 30 passes). — Vincent Johnson


2. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 11-3

None of the greatest shooters in the history of basketball — Curry, Thompson, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, to name a few — have done what James Harden has done this season. He’s the first player to make at least six 3-pointers in five straight games. No other player had ever done that in more than three straight. Harden is making or assisting on more than nine 3-pointers per game this season, by far the most in the NBA. — Vincent Johnson


3. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 12-2

The Celtics haven’t lost a game since their 0-2 start to the season. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, their 12-game winning streak is tied with the 2006-07 Mavericks for the longest win streak immediately following an 0-2 or worse start to the season. That Mavericks team went on to win a franchise-best 67 games. — Jose De Leon


4. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 8-5

Through their first eight games, the Spurs had the third-worst offensive efficiency in the NBA (98.4) and were getting outscored by four points per 100 possessions. In their past five games, San Antonio has the fourth-best offensive efficiency (114.8) and only the Warriors and Rockets have a better net efficiency. — Jose De Leon


5. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 10-3

Andre Drummond has grabbed at least 12 rebounds in all 13 games this season. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Drummond joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone as the only players to grab at least 12 rebounds in each of his first 13 games of a season in the post-Wilt Chamberlain era (since 1973-74). — ESPN Stats & Information


6. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 7-5

The Raptors beat the Pelicans on Thursday and had the most success of any team limiting the dynamic duo that is Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins this season. The two combined for 38 points on 37 percent shooting against the Raptors, their season lows in both. They play for the second and final time this season on Wednesday. — Jose De Leon


7. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 8-5

Nikola Jokic helped kick off the Nuggets’ three-game winning streak with a huge game against the Nets on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 41 points and adding 12 rebounds and 5 assists. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, he joined Alex English, George McGinnis and Michael Adams as the the fourth player with 40 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a game in Nuggets history. — ESPN Stats & Information


8. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 7-5

One month into the season, and perhaps the most involved player in any team’s offensive system isn’t Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden or even Ben Simmons. No, that would be Marc Gasol, who, according to player tracking by Second Spectrum, is averaging a league-high 144 offensive touches per 100 possessions. — Micah Adams


9. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 6-7

Just how bad has the Cavs’ last-place defense been? They allow nearly as many points per 100 possessions as the 2015-16 73-win Warriorsscored and are on pace to allow the most 3-pointers per game in a single season. Yet they maintain their top-10 spot due to the greatness of King James. — Michael Schwartz


10. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 7-5

The Wizards have a home-and-home this week against the Heat and have lost five straight against Miami. Losing both games would give Washington its first seven-game losing streak against Miami since losing 12 straight from November 2003 to April 2006. — Jose De Leon


11. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 8-5

Aaron Gordon, who gave us one of the best performances in dunk contest history, leads the league in 3-point percentage this season (55.3). Entering this season, the only player 6-foot-9 or taller to connect on 50 percent of his 3s for a season was Detlef Schrempf in 1994-95 (51.4). — ESPN Stats & Information


12. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 7-5

There’s perhaps no play more indicative of hustle and hard work than sprinting back on defense in transition. It’s an area where Jimmy Butler shines. According to player tracking data from Second Spectrum, Butler averages 7.7 mph getting back in transition, first in the NBA among the 79 qualified players. On the other end is James Harden, who rates the slowest in getting back in transition among our qualified players. — Micah Adams


13. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 6-7

Last season the Thunder outperformed their record by outscoring their opponents by 20 points per 100 possessions in clutch time (the last five minutes of a game with the score within five). Though they finally finished off a close game last week after losing their first six, the Thunder are still very much a work in progress when things get tight, as they are 1-6 in games that have gone to clutch time while being outscored by 50 points per 100 possessions, last in the NBA. — Michael Schwartz


14. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 6-6

The Bucks acquired point guard Eric Bledsoe last week to provide playmaking help for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bledsoe is one of nine players since the start of the 2015-16 season to average 20 points and and six assists per game, but he’s the only one of that group not to make an All-NBA team in that time. — Michael Schwartz


15. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 6-6

Clutch time in Portland is Damian Lillard time. Lillard leads the league with 13 unassisted field goals in clutch time this season, nine more than any other Trail Blazers player. As a team, Portland leads the league with 16 unassisted field goals in clutch time. — Jose De Leon


16. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 7-6

DeMarcus Cousins is doing everything this season, as he’s the only player to rank among the top five in PPG and RPG while also averaging 5.7 APG, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals. He also has flashed an impressive perimeter game for a guy his size, as he’s on pace to average the most 3-point attempts by a player 6-foot-11 or taller in NBA history. — Michael Schwartz


17. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 6-6

Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball enter Wednesday’s matchup on ESPN having already recorded a triple-double this season. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, it’s the first time a pair of opposing rookies enter their matchup having already recorded a triple-double since March 2014 (Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo). — Jose De Leon


18. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 5-7

The Clippers got off to a 4-0 start and were the last undefeated team in the NBA. Since then, they have gone 1-7, losing five straight. In Chris Paul‘s six seasons in Los Angeles, the Clippers’ longest losing streak was six games. — Jose De Leon


19. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 7-5

LeBron James recently suggested the Knicks should have taken Dennis Smith Jr. over Frank Ntilikina in this year’s draft. Knicks fans will be happy to know Ntilikina and Kristaps Porzingis have the best point differential by any Knicks two-man combo this season (plus-54). — Jose De Leon


20. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 6-7

Rudy Gobert‘s injury could spell doom for the Jazz, who already faced somewhat of an uphill battle. Prior to the injury, BPI gave Utah just a 13 percent chance to make the playoffs thanks in part to the NBA’s second-hardest remaining schedule. The timing of Gobert’s injury couldn’t be much worse either as Utah’s December schedule is the hardest any team will face in any month this season, according to BPI. — Micah Adams


21. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 6-7

Dion Waiters scored 12 points in the final five minutes of the Heat’s win against the Jazz on Friday, the second time he has scored at least 10 points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook is the only other player with at least 10 points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter of two games this season. — Jose De Leon


22. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 5-7

The Hornets squandered a 12-point fourth-quarter lead against the Celtics on Friday after scoring 11 points in the period, their fewest in a quarter this season. Charlotte has lost its past two games in which it had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. The Wizards are the only other team with two losses despite leading by 10-plus points in the fourth quarter this season. — Jose De Leon


23. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 6-8

Since Reggie Miller retired, Danny Granger and Paul George are the only Pacers players to average 23 points per game for a season. In his first year with the team, Victor Oladipo is on pace to become the third player to do so. — Jose De Leon


24. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 5-8

At 20 years, 15 days, Lonzo Ball became the youngest player to record a triple-double in NBA history, breaking LeBron’s record by five days, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Elias also notes Ball is the fourth Lakers rookie to record a triple-double, joining Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Magic Johnson. — ESPN Stats & Information


25. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 5-8

D’Angelo Russell has scored 251 points this season. He is the first Nets player with at least 250 points in his first 12 games of a season since Vince Carter had 291 points through his first 12 games in 2008-09. — Jose De Leon


26. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 5-9

After getting back a protected first-round pick in the Bledsoe trade, the Suns have seven first-round picks in their asset chest over the next four seasons, tied for the most of any NBA team. That’s on top of the league’s youngest roster in the Valley of the Sun. — Michael Schwartz


27. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 3-9

De’Aaron Fox became the second rookie with a go-ahead shot in the final 24 seconds of the game this season following his pull-up jumper with 14.1 seconds remaining in the game against the 76ers on Thursday. Mike James also made a go-ahead shot with 14.1 seconds left in the Suns’ win over the Kings on Oct. 23. — Jose De Leon


28. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 2-12

Dennis Smith Jr. has had several highlight-reel dunks this season. He is one of seven rookies with at least 10 dunks this season and is the only rookie shorter than 6-foot-9 with double-digit dunks. He leads all players 6-foot-3 or shorter with 10 dunks this season. — Jose De Leon


29. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 2-9

After serving an eight-game suspension, Bobby Portis made his season debut last Tuesday. He recorded back-to-back 20-point, 10-rebound games; he had a total of two 20-and-10 games in his first two seasons in the NBA. — Jose De Leon


30. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 2-11

John Collins has been a bright spot for the Hawks this season. Among rookies, he is third in player efficiency rating (18.6) and tied for third in double-doubles (three). –– Jose De Leon

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