NBA Power Rankings Update: Wish List for Santa
Each week, I'll be translating numberFire's NBA power rankings into words. The rankings are driven by our nERD metric, which is a predictive statistic to help define what the team's winning percentage ultimately will be.
Aaahh, but this week we have a special treat. We'll be unwrapping every team's perfect holiday gift. Let's take a look at this week's rankings.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (nERD: 14.4, Record: 4-23, last week: 30)
Gift: A time machine. The Sixers have been tanking for two years now, and there's light at the end of the tunnel. For Christmas, let's fast forward this fanbase to 2017 when the Sixers will be contenders again.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (nERD: 19.4, Record: 5-22, last week: 29)
Gift: A new training staff. Preferably the Phoenix Suns famous staff! Every year, the Timberwolves suffer a ton of injuries. Last year it was Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic. This year, it's Ricky Rubio and Pekovic yet again. We want to see the athletic kids run with some talented vets!
28. New York Knicks (nERD: 27.0, Record: 5-25, last week: 28)
Gift: A time machine. I know we already gave one to the Sixers, but NYC and Philly are close -- they hey can share -- and besides, the Knicks could use it to go backwards eight months and un-re-sign superstar Carmelo Anthony, who ranks 64th in individual nERD.
27. Detroit Pistons (nERD: 30.2, Record: 5-23, last week: 27)
Gift: A new shooting coach. The Pistons currently rank 28th in the league in points per game. It's due mostly to 29th-ranked free throw percentage and last ranked overall shooting percentage. The departure of percentage-destroying forward Josh Smith should help.
26. Orlando Magic (nERD: 32.3, Record: 11-20, last week: 24)
Gift: More calls. The Magic drive to the hoop more than 25 teams and they have a back-to-the-basket scorer in center Nikola Vucevic. So why is it that they only shoot the 27th-most free throws in the league? Give this team the benefit of the doubt once in a while, zebras.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (nERD: 32.0, Record: 9-19, last week: 28)
Gift: A retirement celebration for Kobe Bryant. Kobe is leading the league in field goal attempts, yet he's shooting 37% from the floor. Gross. The Lakers are competent without Kobe. They score six more points per 100 possessions with Kobe off the floor and they just crushed the Warriors at home without the future Hall-of-Famer.
24. Utah Jazz (nERD: 34.1, Record: 9-20, last week: 26)
Gift: RUDY. As in... more Rudy Gobert. The French center is currently leading the Jazz in offensive and defensive rating yet averages just 18.5 minutes per game. More minutes for Rudy!
23. Indiana Pacers (nERD: 36.9, Record: 10-19, last week: 22)
Gift: Paul George. C'mon. This one's easy. The two time All-Star takes heat (pun intended) off the bigs on both ends of the floor.
22. Miami Heat (nERD: 38.9, Record: 13-16, last week: 21)
Gift: Size. The Heat currently rank dead last in both blocks and rebounds per game. Last year, they could make up for it with stellar offense and timely help defense. Last year, they had LeBron James.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (nERD: 40.4, Record: 14-15, last week: 20)
Gift: A disciplinary system. The Bambis are bottom-four in the league in both turnovers and fouls committed per game.
20. Denver Nuggets (nERD: 40.5, Record: 12-17, last week: 18)
Gift: Longer games. The Nuggets have a mountain (see what I did there?) of relatively talented players. 14 of their 15 guys are playing double-digit minutes. The solution? 60-minute games in Denver. Imagine what coach Brian Shaw could do with 60 more minutes to dole out to Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris.
19. Brooklyn Nets (nERD: 41.9, Record: 12-15, last week: 19)
Gift: A buyer. After losing a reported $140 million last season and starting this year under .500, the Nets are desperately trying to sell off their commodities. Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams are all said to be on the trade block.
18. Charlotte Hornets (nERD: 42.0, Record: 10-19, last week: 23)
Gift: Active hands. The Hornets rank dead last in steals this season. They thought notable defensive addition Lance Stephenson would help them climb out of last season's 29th place finish in the steal category. Thus far, that hasn't been the case. Stephenson, whose nERD (-10.7) ranks 143rd (basically dead last) in the league, and his 2.3 turnovers to 0.8 steals per game is a big reason why.
17. Sacramento Kings (nERD: 47.9, Record: 12-16, last week: 16)
Gift: A chill pill. Specifically for owner Vivek Ranadive, who just fired the head coach partially because he wouldn't try playing four-on-five with a cherry-picker on every possession.
16. Boston Celtics (nERD: 48.5, Record: 10-16, last week: 17)
Gift: More communication. Doesn't head coach Brad Stevens talk to general manager Danny Ainge? The Celtics are trying to be terrible, but Stevens has them in the hunt for the eighth-seed. Maybe trading longtime point guard Rajon Rondo will help clue Stevens in to the long-term plan here.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (nERD: 50.9, Record: 14-14, last week: 13)
Gift: Conference re-alignment. The Pelicans would be a natural addition to the Eastern Conference. New Orleans is due south of Chicago and Milwaukee, so if (or when) Seattle gets a new team, New Orleans would likely move to the East. Bully for them. They'd jump right into the middle of the playoff picture.
Gift: Um... Kevin Durant. The Thunder went 7-1 with Durant and Westbrook in the lineup. Durant had 30 in the first half when he went down with a sprained ankle against the Warriors. They're everybody's worst nightmare when healthy.
13. Phoenix Suns (nERD: 52.2, Record: 16-14, last week: 15)
Gift: Name tags. The Suns currently employ a set of twins (Marcus and Markieff Morris) and brothers (Zoran and Goran Dragic.) They need identifiers on the front of their jerseys as well as the back.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers (nERD: 59.3, Record: 17-10, last week: 11)
Gift: A 5-Hour-Energy. Cleveland sports the league's fourth-most efficient offense, but they currently move at the 25th-fastest pace. We fans want to see this high-powered machine at full speed.
11. Houston Rockets (nERD: 61.5, Record: 20-7, last week: 9)
Gift: Welp... Christmas came early -- Josh Smith. This is already the league's second-best defense. Imagine the possibilities with newly acquired J-Smoove -- if he focuses on his defense rather than his offense -- taking over at power forward and hounding opposing fours next to lay-up eraser Dwight Howard. Jeez.
10. Chicago Bulls (nERD: 62.5, Record: 19-9, last week: 12)
Gift: Six more months of healthy knees. The Bulls are clicking. Jimmy Butler is a star, Pau Gasol found the fountain of youth, and if Derrick Rose can just stay healthy (gasp), they will make a serious run in the playoffs.
9. San Antonio Spurs (nERD: 64.1, Record: 18-11, last week: 6)
Gift: A hand. Specifically, the Spurs need Kawhi Leonard's massive right hand to heal. They could very well struggle in the playoffs without the reigning Finals MVP.
8. Washington Wizards (nERD: 64.8, Record: 19-8, last week: 8)
Gift: More attempts from deep. The Wizards lead the league in three-point percentage (39%) but take the 28th-most attempts per game from beyond the arc. With three-point assist wizard John Wall always finding guys for open threes, it should be bombs away in the nation's capital... That came out wrong.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (nERD: 64.9, Record: 21-7, last week: 5)
Gift: A campaign manager... For Marc Gasol, who is firmly entrenched in the MVP debate and who ranks 11th in nERD. This season he's coupled extraordinary offensive production with his patented world class defense. Get this man some more hardware.
6. Atlanta Hawks (nERD: 65.2, Record: 21-7, last week: 10)
Gift: A bull horn. The Hawks just want to be noticed. They quietly own the second-best record in the East thanks to a 13-1 stretch, but nobody seems to care.
5. Portland Trailblazers (nERD: 67.5, Record: 23-7, last week: 7)
Gift: More doubters. The Blazers weren't picked to make the playoffs last season. They were the fifth seed. This year they were the sexy pick to fall out of the hunt. They're 23-7 and holding down the second seed. Keep hating on Portland. They thrive on it.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (nERD: 69.0, Record: 19-10, last week: 4)
Gift: An Oscar. Because they act so much on the court. Watch a Clippers game and you'll see more head jerks and leg kicks than at a Slipknot concert. Like it or not, though, they have three players ranked inside the top 23 in nERD, so they're doing something right.
3. Dallas Mavericks (nERD: 72.8, Record: 20-10, last week: 2)
Gift: 2012-playoff Rondo. Rajon Rondo was ridiculous in the 2012 playoffs. He carried a decrepit Celtics roster to a Game 7 against the Miami Heat with virtually no help. The Mavs better hope they didn't just give away two picks and a capable backup center for the worst starting point guard in the Western Conference Playoffs. Right now, Rondo's nERD (-4.7) is ranked 123rd in the league.
2. Toronto Raptors (nERD: 73.0, Record: 22-7, last week: 3)
Gift: A new slogan. "We the North" is just misinformed. Portland and Minnesota both play at higher latitudes than Toronto. A healthy DeMar DeRozan would also be a nice stocking stuffer.
1. Golden State Warriors (nERD: 78.5, Record: 23-4, last week: 1)
Gift: A healthy Andrew Bogut. For now, he's out indefinitely. He'll definitely have to play if the Warriors want to bring a championship to Oakland. The Warriors sport the league's best defense when their big man plays.