Old School Power Rankings 2017-18: Weeks 9 and 10

NBA.com Global on Dec 31, 2017 08:16 AM
Old School Power Rankings 2017-18: Weeks 9 and 10
FILE - CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes for a dunk during the game against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2017 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Scott Wraight, NBA.com

We're starting to see a separation of powers with three distinct branches: The King, the fearsome foursome just behind him and the rest of the field.

As for the past two-week period, there weren't many performances that stood out, hence little movement.

For the new year, we're predicting one from the fearsome foursome makes a substantial leap toward the summit, one from the 'Just missed' category ascends into the top half of the list and one from the bottom three slips out of the race and never returns.

Notes:
- Season statistics are through games of Nov. 2 (Nov. 3, PHL time)
- Any player who turns 32 during the regular season can be added to the rankings.

1. LeBron James (33), Cleveland Cavaliers

Previous rank: 1
Last weeks' stats: 6 games, 26.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 10.2 apg
Season stats: 27.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 9.3 apg

Stop the presses! Wait, that doesn't really apply these days, so stop publishing that article to the internet! For the first time in 19 games (Nov. 21, PHL time), James scored less than 20 points, going for 16 on 6-for-17 shooting in 38 minutes. Of course he still managed a triple-double (also adding five steals) in an ugly loss to the Kings.

2. LaMarcus Aldridge (32), San Antonio Spurs

Previous rank: 2
Last weeks' stats: 8 games, 20.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.6 apg
Season stats: 22.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 apg

For the fifth time this season, Aldridge has strung together three straight games with 20 or more points. The secret seems to be the amount of rest. In two games with no rest, Aldridge went for 16.5 points, 10 rebounds and 44.8 FG%. In four games with one day of rest, he averaged 23.8, 7.8 and 53.5 FG%. In two games with two days of rest, he averaged 18.0, 7.5 and 41.7 FG%.

3. Marc Gasol (32), Memphis Grizzlies

Previous rank: 3
Last weeks' stats: 6 games, 18.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 3.5 apg
Season stats: 18.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 4.0 apg

If rest is the key for Aldridge, then location is the key for Gasol, at least over the last two weeks. In two home games, he averaged 23.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 51.4 FG%. In four road games, Gasol went for 15.8, 8.8 and 31.7 FG%. We've been more impressed with the defense, as Gasol has blocked three or more shots in three of the last four.

4. Chris Paul (32), Houston Rockets

Previous rank: 4
Last weeks' stats: 4 games, 19.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 7.3 apg
Season stats: 17.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 9.0 apg

The injury bug has struck Paul once again, this time a left adductor strain that has kept him on the shelf for the last three games. Before going down, Paul managed two games of 25 or more points as well as a triple-double -- his first of the season. In fact, Paul had just one triple-double all of last season and none the year before that.

5. Dwight Howard (32), Charlotte Hornets

Previous rank: 5
Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 12.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 1.9 apg
Season stats: 15.5 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 1.3 apg

If not for last Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) game in which Howard played just five minutes before leaving with a dislocated finger, it would have been another solid two-week stint for Howard. If you toss out that game, the big man managed four double-doubles with four games of 15 or more rebounds. For good measure, he even shot 64.7 from the free-throw line (53.8 for the season).

6. Carmelo Anthony (33), Oklahoma City Thunder

Previous rank: 9
Last weeks' stats: 8 games, 17.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 apg
Season stats: 17.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.6 apg

Off-the-ball Anthony seems to be doing just fine. A new role in the Thunder's offense has seen the veteran forward go for 16 or more points in five straight games while connecting on two or more three-pointers in four of the last five. Oh, and it's probably no coincidence that Oklahoma City has won six straight.

7.  Zach Randolph (36), Sacramento Kings

Previous rank: 6
Last weeks' stats: 5 games, 16.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.4 apg
Season stats: 15.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.3 apg

For just the second time this season, Randolph had back-to-back 20-plus games, going for 27 on Dec. 19 (Dec. 20, PHL time) and 21 on Dec. 20 (Dec. 21, PHL time). Z-Bo now has seven games this season of 20 or more points. He had 10 such games all of last season. The big man continues to shoot at his best mark (50.8 FG%) since 2002-03 when he shot 51.3.

8.  Taj Gibson (32), Minnesota Timberwolves

Previous rank: 8
Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 14.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.6 apg
Season stats: 11.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 apg

After securing double-doubles in three straight and seven in his previous 11 games, Gibson has gone six straight without one. That has the worry meter teetering a tad. Of course he's still scoring, pouring in 20 or more in two of his last three while shooting a blistering 68.6 from the field over the last seven. But something has been off at the line (58.3 FT%).

9.  Dirk Nowitzki (39), Dallas Mavericks

Previous rank: Just missed
Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 15.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.3 apg
Season stats: 12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 apg

Look who makes a return to the chase. That'll happen when you score in double figures in five straight, with three of those being 18 or more points. Nowitzki also has nailed at least one trey in eight straight, including an impressive 6-for-15 in last Friday's game against Miami. He continues to connect from long range at a career-best 42.4.

10.  J.J. Barea (33), Dallas Mavericks

Previous rank: Just missed
Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 7.1 apg
Season stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.8 apg

For the fourth time this season and first since Dec. 2 (Dec. 3, PHL time), Barea turned in a game with 10 or more assists, finishing with 12 (and 15 points) in Saturday's (last Sunday, PHL time) loss to Atlanta. The point guard continues to put up solid numbers (career-best 12.0 points and 5.8 assists) despite averaging just 22.9 minutes per game.

Just missed the cut: Courtney Lee, Trevor Ariza, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Pau Gasol

Will turn 32 this season: Gerald Green (Jan. 26), Rajon Rondo (Feb. 22), Corey Brewer (March 5), Kyle Lowry (March 25), Marco Belinelli (March 25).

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