Attack Of The Titans: Power Ranking Round-Up

Attack Of The Titans: Power Ranking Round-Up

Yin and Yang. Football and beer. Ben & Jerry. In all things, there must be balance. I dropped the the Eastern Conference power rankings last week, and since I haven’t had my Hoops Critic login revoked for it, I figure that I better get hot on the rankings for Western Conference. While the East is in turmoil, the Western juggernauts just churn along, devouring lesser eastern foes like handfuls of sweaty, sneaker wearing peanut M&Ms. Just how big is the disparity between the conferences? As of Sunday morning, the 9th place squad in the west, the Sacramento Kings, would be 5th in  the East at 9-7. The 10-5 Wizards, 2nd in the east, would be scrabbling for 8th in the West. With 20% of the season behind us, only 4.5 games separate the league leading Grizzlies and the current 8th seed Phoenix Suns. To make your life easier, allow me to detangle the gnarly Western Conference power structure. Remember, this isn’t strictly about team record or points scored; I formulated these rankings based on a complex algorithm utilizing intricate tools such as “watching games” and “how I feel”. Oh, and team record. I balanced out how the team has fared so far with how the team seems to be trending to give you my Western Conference Power rankings. Let’s dig in: (All stats via Basketball-Reference.com) The West 1 – Golden State Warriors (13-2, 5-1 Home, 8-1 Road, 8-2 vs West) 5-0 last 5 games Offensive Rating: 108.7 Defensive Rating: 98.0 Key Wins: 3 game stretch where they upended the now 12-3 Blazers, smacked the Clippers by 17, then outlasted...
A Number’s Game: Power Ranking Round-Up

A Number’s Game: Power Ranking Round-Up

“The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” Dan Gilbert, probably Back in August, I thought I had it all figured out. The new-look Cleveland Cavaliers and Derrick Rose-led Chicago Bulls would strut through the East, the eternal Spurs and high octane Thunder would rule over the loaded West, teams like Sacramento and the Bucks would stink, and all would be copacetic in the NBA world. Then the season started. I’m not sure where to turn or who to trust anymore. The ridiculous rash of  largely unforeseen play, both good and not-so-good, of several teams has done a number on the NBA power structure as we know it. Never fear, with top notch analytic skills and the ability to Google stuff, allow me to present my 1st annual Extremely Early Subject-To-Change Power rankings (I don’t think EESTC Power Rankings will stick, but too bad). Without further ado, let’s dive in to a world where Brandon Knight’s Bucks have a better record than LeBron James/Kyrie Irving/Kevin Love’s Cavaliers. Bear in mind, I’m not only ranking by how well (or crappy) a team has played recently, but with an eye on how I feel they’ll perform in the near future. *Note: all records and stats are accurate as of noon on 25 November, 2014 The East 1 -Toronto Raptors (12-2, 9-1 Home, 3-1 Road, 8-2 vs East) 5-0 last 5 games Offensive Rating: 113.7 Defensive Rating: 101.3 Key wins: came back to maul the West leading Grizzlies. Went from down 18 to winning by 17 in demolition of the Cavs Bad losses: Error 404 Not Found Pros: Kyle Lowry and DeMar...
MVP Candidates, Buying, Selling or Waiting and The Main Problem With The Cavaliers

MVP Candidates, Buying, Selling or Waiting and The Main Problem With The Cavaliers

Cleveland’s Biggest Problem Big names and bright lights often times distracts us from being able to really see what is in front of us. This could not be any truer for this season’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Most believed the Cavaliers would struggle to start off as they learned to play with each other but I don’t think many believed they would struggle to this degree. Cleveland currently sits third in their division with less wins than the Milwaukee Bucks (To Milwaukee’s credit, they have been playing very well for their roster). Clearly, something isn’t working for Lebron and friends. It starts on the defensive end. The Cavs are allowing 106.8 points per 100 possessions, 7th worse in the league. They are snuggled around losing teams like Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Minnesota and the Lakers. Another interesting stat for Cleveland is their league best, Opponent Free Throw Attempt Rate (the number of free throws a team takes to the number of shots they take) of .222. This tells you that teams are shooting very well against Cleveland. Let’s take a look at how well opponents shoot against Cleveland. They allow a league worse, 65.9% field goal percentage for shots within 5 feet, which doesn’t look as bad considering they allow the 9th fewest attempts per game within this range with 27.2. However, they allow the 8th most made baskets in this range per game with 17.9. Although teams aren’t taking many shots within the restricted area, they are making them at an efficient rate. Here is where we point our fingers at Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao, two players who have...
Surprise Party: 4 Players To Watch

Surprise Party: 4 Players To Watch

With the season finally moving out of that  small sample size Bizarro zone where bad teams can catch wanna-be contenders slipping up and little known fringe guys inexplicably sit atop various leaderboards, we can begin to see the  true complexion of the season taking form. After 10 or so games, the summer rust is by and large shaken off, rotations are set, and those statistical anomalies from the 1st week (like Klay Thompson looking like some sort of Ray Allen-Kobe hybrid for the 1st 5 games, pumping in 27 ppg on almost 54%) are now have settled out, looking more like what we’ll see by season’s end (Thompson’s down to a still-fantastic-but-less-superhuman 23.6 ppg). Some things are playing out just like we figured they would; LeBron James is *gasp* still a statistically dominant monster (he’s almost at 26-7-7), Dwight Howard  and DeAndre Jordan will inhale rebounds, Chris Paul will run offense masterfully without turning it over: these truths are self-evident. However, quite a few players still sit in uncharted territory, putting up numbers and shouldering responsibility that they’ve never sniffed before in their careers. One game would be a fluke, 3 a hot streak, but for my All-Surprise Big 4, the numbers aren’t lying: they’re looking more and more like they’re the real deal. C- Nikola Vucevic, 7’0″, 260 lbs 18.8 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 53.8 fg% From Switzerland, to Southern California to unheralded NBA rookie in 2011 to throw-in to the Magic in the blockbuster 3 way Dwight Howard to Los Angeles trade to top flight center. What a wild ride it’s been for the young behemoth. Vucevic is scoring...