NBA Power Rankings: Bucks, The Lakers seem contenders to the championship; Knicks, Warriors sink to the bottom of the standings

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The 30 NBA teams have almost reached the 20 games mark in the 2019-20 season. That is not enough evidence to determine how the title chase will unfold, but it offers a good backdrop for a new edition of NBA Power Rankings of Sporting News.

The first quarter of the regular season has been predictable in some aspects (the Lakers and Clippers are surprisingly good) and surprising in others (the Suns are better than the Warriors). Races to the top of each conference must remain competitive, even when a few basement inhabitants are inclined to tank jobs.

MORE: Evaluation of the best candidates for Rookie of the Year

It is important to keep in mind that these rankings do not depend entirely on wins and losses. General records are important, of course, but other factors such as team performance, injury problems and the potential for large positive and negative changes in the next 60 games are also considered. See this list as a snapshot instead of something definitive.

Now that the disclaimer that nobody reads is there, let's dive into the rankings, starting with the power of the stars at the top. (All current statistics until December 4.)

NBA Power Rankings: the best headlines

1. Dollars (18-3)

Number to know: 11.8

Milwaukee easily has the highest net score in the league with 11.8 ahead of the Mavericks (8.4). There will be many MVP debates this year, but Giannis Antetokounmpo (30.8 points, 13.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists per game) should be the favorite at this time given its absurd production and its ability to lift the Bucks regardless of which players are available in an all the nights

2. Lakers (18-3)

Number to know: 63

This association between LeBron James and Anthony Davis is pretty good, huh? James, who leads the league with 10.8 assists per game, has thrown 63 of his 226 total assists to Davis. On top of that, the Lakers are an elite defensive team with Davis as their anchor. "Showtime,quot; is back, baby.

3. Clippers (16-6)

Number to know: 42.3

Since returning with two new robot shoulders (don't verify that), Paul George is firing a scorching 42.3 percent from a 3-point range in 9.5 attempts per game. George and Kawhi Leonard form a one-to-two menacing punch on the defensive in the wing, but the offensive also comes quickly for coach Doc Rivers.

4. Raptors (15-5)

Number to know: 8.2

Could Pascal Siakam win the Most Improved Player two years in a row? The 25-year-old striker has up to 25.1 points per game, an improvement of 8.2 points compared to the 2018-19 season. Leonard left, but these Raptors will be a real problem if Siakam can keep up.

5. Celtics (14-5)

Number to know: 6.5 and 4.2

The elimination of Kobe & # 39; ing from Jayson Tatum seems to be working. Tatum admitted that he made the game too difficult in 2018-19, often settling for disputed bridges when a drive or 3 points was available. Through 19 games, Tatum is shooting 6.5 triples (compared to 3.9) and 4.2 free throws (compared to 2.9), significant improvements for the 21-year-old forward. Tatum has a lot of talent: it's about execution for him.

6. Heat (15-5)

Number to know: 10-1

Miami has a 10-1 record against opponents of the Eastern Conference, which gives the Heat a better winning percentage in the conference than any Eastern team, including the Bucks (12-2). The Heat has also given the Bucks and Raptors their only losses at home this season. They will be a difficult time in the playoffs.

7. Mavericks (14-6)

Number to know: 116.1

Say hello to the best offensive in the NBA. Yes, the Mavericks lead the league with an offensive qualification of 116.1 behind a second-year increase by Luka Doncic, who averages 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.4 assists per game at age 20. Doncic's usage percentage (36.2) is a bit worrying because he ranks third behind James Harden (39.6) and Antetokounmpo (37.5), but he is firing on all cylinders at the moment.

8. Nuggets (13-5)

Number to know: 2.7 and 5.3

What is the deal with Nikola Jokic? The All-Star center has dropped to 15.4 points per game after averaging 20.1 last season. Even more worrisome, he has often played with lazy energy and simply floated instead of attacking. He is throwing only 2.7 free throws per game (the lowest since his rookie year) and adds 5.3 touches of paint per game (less than 6.7 last year). Someone gives Jokic a Red Bull.

9. 76ers (15-6)

Number to know: 16.5

It is likely that Philadelphia always suffers to some extent rotation problems due to its space problems. Still, the Sixers are a team of the last five in terms of turnovers per game (16.5). Brett Brown's five initials are elite, but Philly must value the possessions if he really wants to be a contender for the championship.

10. Rocket (13-7)

Number to know: 14

James Harden is on his way to becoming the first player to average more than 14 3-point attempts and 14 free throw attempts in an entire season. He has taken more triples (285) than Joel Embiid has scored total field goals (271). He's scoring 40 points as if it were easy. Of course, the lack of hunting is annoying and his style is not aesthetically pleasing to many basketball fans, but these statistics are bananas.

11. Pacers (13-7)

Number to know: 26.4

Just out of a new contract, Malcolm Brogdon is enjoying the best season of his career. Brogdon's usage percentage is currently at 26.4, much higher than its maximum use in Milwaukee (20.7 in 2018-19). The 26-year-old guard averages 19.4 points, 8.0 assists and 4.9 rebounds as the leader of the offense with Victor Oladipo out.

NBA Power Rankings: a mixed bag

12. Jazz (12-9)

13. Timberwolves (10-9)

14. Suns (9-10)

15. Networks (10-10)

16. Magic (9-11)

17. Kings (8-11)

18. Trail Blazers (8-13)

19. Thunder (8-11)

20. Hornets (8-14)

The summary: Utah really needs Mike Conley to play more like, well, Mike Conley … Karl-Anthony Towns is throwing 8.9 triples per game and with 42.1 percent of those attempts. The modern NBA … Can the Suns weather the storm? Phoenix has lost six of its last eight after a 7-4 start … Spencer Dinwiddie has become a difference marker for Brooklyn, but his situation could get complicated once Kyrie Irving returns … Leading the NBA in blocks per game: Magic forward Jonathan Isaac in 2.78, just ahead of Davis (2.70) … Can Buddy Hield catch fire? It has dropped to 36.5 percent from the 3-point range after shooting more than 42 percent from deep within each of the last two seasons … Carmelo Anthony has been decent! Give credit to the man … Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is posting 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in his 21-year season. This guy is good … Players average at least three triples and seven assists per game this season: Harden, Doncic, Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Kyle Lowry and the Hornets guard Devonte & # 39; Graham.

NBA Power Rankings: this is not going well

21. Pistons (8-13)

22. Spurs (8-14)

23. Wizards (6-13)

24. Pelicans (6-15)

25. Grizzlies (6-14)

26. Bulls (7-14)

27. Cavaliers (5-15)

28. Falcons (5-16)

29. Warriors (4-18)

30. Knicks (4-17)

The summary: Andre Drummond is a double-double machine for Detroit, but it could become a commercial target if things go wrong … The Spurs have a worse defensive rating (113.0) than the Knicks (112.0). They can't get to the playoffs in the Western Conference like that … Speaking of defense, will the Wizards try to stop someone, huh, ever? … Zion Williamson is likely to make his Pelicans debut outside the first six to eight weekly schedule for his knee injury. Bummer … Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke are a bit depressed too. Hard time to be a rookie … Jim Boylen just doesn't seem to be the best coach for this Bulls team, but good luck finding out what the main office will do … Watch for Tristan Thompson in business negotiations. It could be valuable for a contestant … Trae Young quickly rejected the idea of ​​a second-year fall with averages of 28.2 points, 8.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. I might need some help … Warrior fans should keep seeing those old championship highlights … New York is a disaster, and David Fizdale could leave any day. Other than that, it's amazing.