After another month of NBA basketball teams have sifted through my NBA power rankings significantly. For the most part, the best teams of October (view here), have fallen off this month. These power rankings only include stats from November, and due to the number of talented teams in the NBA, teams that struggled with injuries missed the list. The Warriors and Pacers have been good, but their ailing stars have hurt their record and caused them to miss a spot. It was extremely hard to make this list, so feel free to comment if you think something should be changed.
1. Raptors (12-3)
Team MVP: Kawhi Leonard (23.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.5 SPG)
Points Per Game: 117.7 (3rd of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 109.0 (9th of 30)
This month the Raptors proved no team in the East can compete with them. They finished off November on a 7 game win streak that included wins over Orlando, Memphis, and Golden State. Even though they lost 3 straight this month, none of those games were bad or embarrassing losses. Also, outside of the three losses, the Raptors only had two wins by less than nine points. They have been dominating almost every game, not giving the other team any chance.
Their dominant month has been influenced by a couple of improvements. First of all, the decision to play Serge Ibaka primarily at the Center position has helped this team tremendously. Additionally, Pascal Siakam has finally come into his own. In November he averaged 17 PPG on 66/43/82 splits, including a career-high 26 points against the Warriors. The dominance and depth this team has displayed throughout this month have earned them the #1 spot on my November power rankings.
2. Clippers (11-3)
Team MVP: Tobias Harris (22.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 48% 3PT)
Points Per Game: 118.5 (2nd of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 112.2 (22nd of 30)
After being a predicted bottom-dweller in the West, the Clippers have risen to the first seed in the conference. Despite a lack of a star player, the Clippers have had a great November. They have a plethora of quality wins over teams such as the Bucks, Kings, Timberwolves, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Blazers. They have not shied away from anybody and have been dynamic on offense. Not only have they scored the second most points per game, but they led the league in 3-point percentage for November at 38.6%. While they may not be the most talented on paper, they have outplayed almost every team on the court.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (12-4)
Team MVP: Joel Embiid (27.8 PPG, 14.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG)
Points Per Game: 115.7 (5th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 112.5 (23rd of 30)
With the biggest move of the season so far, the 76ers acquired Jimmy Butler for Robert Covington and Dario Saric. I already gave my take on the trade so I won’t repeat it here, but it pushed this team to the next level. Besides a somewhat embarrassing loss to Cleveland, the Sixers finished the month extremely strong. They won 7 of their last 8, a streak that pushed them to the third seed and only half a game behind Milwaukee for the second seed in the East. As a team, they continued to look better as a team once Butler got more comfortable in the offense. Philidelphia wasn’t the best team in the November power rankings because of their relatively easy schedule and a couple of bad losses, but the Sixers could end up at the top very soon.
4. Thunder (12-3)
Team MVP: Paul George (22.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 15 GP)
Points Per Game: 111.9 (T-9th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 104.6 (5th of 30)
One of the most overlooked teams so far this season, the Thunder have continued to win games. They didn’t have a terribly difficult schedule, but beat the teams they were supposed to, something every good team needs to do. Additionally, they gave the Steph Curry-less Warriors an absolute beatdown this month. The defensive play, spearheaded by Paul George, has made them one of the elite teams in the NBA. After a slow start in October, this red-hot November has pushed the Thunder within one game of the first seed in the West. The team has looked completely different after the return of Russell Westbrook. Obviously, since the system is built around him, this should be expected. Nonetheless, they have played so well with him this month there is no doubt they deserve to be top 5 in the November Power Rankings.
5. Detroit (8-4)
Team MVP: Blake Griffin (23.3 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 5.6 APG)
Points Per Game: 111.9 (T-9th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 109.5 (10th of 30)
After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the Pistons look much-improved. Having a new coach in Dwayne Casey and getting a full offseason to integrate Griffin into the team certainly helps. They have finished off November on a hot streak, winning 4 straight and 8 of their last 10. Also, Detroit managed to be one of only 3 teams this month to take down the Raptors. Their play down the stretch has made them one of the best teams of November and should carry on throughout the season,
6. Milwaukee (8-6)
Team MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.3 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 1.8 SPG)
Points Per Game: 121.1 (1st of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 110.1 (11th of 30)
Despite cooling off in November the Bucks have remained one of the best teams in the NBA. They held the best offense in the NBA this month behind Khris Middleton‘s 17.9 PPG and Giannis’ 28.3 PPG. They have continued to rely on Giannis as their primary source of offense and he has delivered. He has increased his scoring and assists per game while lowering turnovers and being a more efficient shooter. Giannis has also done everything on the defensive end averaging over 1 block and 1 steal while grabbing over 12 rebounds a game. He has played so well the Milwaukee has remained as a top team not only in the East but in the NBA.
7. Lakers (10-4)
Team MVP: LeBron James (28.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5.8 APG)
Points Per Game: 107.5 (20th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 111.7 (19th of 30)
Plenty of people jumped to conclusions after their slow start in October, but, in November, the Lakers proved they’re a really good team. It’s hard to rank them as high as I want to because of their lackluster offense and defense despite having a soft schedule. They only managed to narrowly beat bad teams such as Cleveland and Atlanta. Also, two losses to the Orlando Magic in one month is not a good look. Still, they won 10 games in one month and still beat some respectable teams such as Dallas, Portland, Indiana, and Minnesota. The team doesn’t look completely on the same page as of right now, but perhaps they’ll land a top 5 spot in one of my upcoming power rankings.
8. Dallas (8-4)
Team MVP: Luka Doncic (17.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.2 APG)
Points Per Game: 110.2 (16th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 108.8 (8th of 30)
Even though many fans projected Dallas to be a lottery team this season, they have played like a playoff team this November. Doncic has been a catalyst for this overall subpar offensive team, he scored 20+ points in 6 different games in this month alone. Additionally, JJ Barea deserves recognition for his 12.9 PPG and 5.7 APG off the bench this month. They finished the month winning 7 of their last 9, with their only losses coming to the Grizzlies and Lakers, two teams that are also playing very well. Wins over the Thunder, Warriors, and the 20-point blowout of the Rockets all solidify Dallas’ spot in the November power rankings.
9. Memphis (9-6)
Team MVP: Mike Conley (21.9 PPG, 6.9 APG, 1.0 SPG)
Points Per Game: 105.3 (25th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 103.1 (3rd of 30)
To put it simply, the Grizzlies have been really good on defense. This should be expected, it is the team’s identity after all, but the play from Jaren Jackson Jr, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley have been inspiring. They may not have the most talent, but they have done a great job finding out how to win games. Having one of the tougher November schedules, a 9-6 record is very respectable. The “grit and grind” identity has returned and landed this team wins over the more talented Bucks, Sixers, and Nuggets. I wrote a more in-depth coverage of their great start to the season here, feel free to check it out.
10. Denver Nuggets (9-6)
Team MVP: Paul Millsap (14.1 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 1.0 BPG)
Points Per Game: 109.3 (17th of 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 102.7 (2nd of 30)
Although they slid down the rankings this month, the Nuggets have still been very good. They hold the 2nd best defense, primarily because of Paul Millsap. Also, unlike the majority of NBA teams, the Nuggets have relied on every player on offense. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Millsap have all been responsible for some part of the offensive load. This may not create crazy stats for any individual player, but has allowed them to win 5 straight. They have been extremely streaky this month, losing 6 out of 7 at one point, but their late surge makes it seem as if they have figured it out. In their late November win streak, they beat the Lakers convincingly as well as Portland, Minnesota, and Oklahoma City. This great finish to the month is why they made it into the November power rankings ahead of Houston, Portland, Indiana, and others.
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