NBA Playoffs 2012: Power Rankings Part VI


June 4, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guards James Harden (13) and Russell Westbrook (center) and forward Kevin Durant (35) react against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at the AT

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

In their three victories over the Spurs, Oklahoma City averaged 50.4% shooting and 106.3 points per game. Most impressively, though, was their assist totals. The Thunder averaged 24 assists, with 58.1% of their baskets assisted, a rate that is a tick lower than San Antonio’s regular season mark.

2. San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan accounted for nearly 70% of San Antonio’s offense without factoring assists in Game 5. If you factor assists, that percentage rises to 97% at least. Their lack of bench production is rather disheartening. Oklahoma City’s bench, by comparison, is considerably weaker but they nearly doubled the Spurs’ bench numbers. For the last three games, the Thunder have kept pace with one of the best benches in the league, neutralizing a key advantage going into the series.

3. Miami Heat

I’m not a basketball genius or anything, but even I think that relying on a career 29.1% 3-point shooter (ie: Dwyane Wade) to convert on a 3-pointer isn’t exactly a solid play, especially when utilizing his athleticism would be much preferable in a two-point game.

4. Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo is putting together one of the best individual playoff resumes in awhile. In 16 games, Rondo logged 681 minutes (42.6 minutes per game) while maintaining elite per-game averages of 17.4 points, 11.9 assists and 6.8 rebounds.

5. Indiana Pacers

When George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert shared the court (229.4 minutes) they outscored the opposition by 15.3 points per 100 possessions.

6. Los Angeles Lakers

Brandon Roy might make a comeback for the Lakers. Interesting.

7. Los Angeles Clippers

Free Eric Bledsoe: His one-year adjusted plus/minus (+17.78) led the team. With Bledsoe on the floor, Los Angeles’ defense allowed 95.5 points per 100 possessions.

8. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis’ defense allowed 0.86 points per possession, good for ninth in the league. Their transition defense, a possession type they faced 947 times during the season, allowed 1.08 PPP, putting them third.

9. Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia allowed 95.3 points per 100 possessions with Andre Iguodala on the court. And, naturally, he wasn’t selected to an All-NBA Defensive Team.

10. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are in an envious position. They have 11 players under contract for the 2012-13 season and they will probably enter free agency with a lot of cap space as well (even if they re-sign Javale McGee for an exorbitant price) and without any significant flaws.

11. Chicago Bulls

With Derrick Rose likely out for the majority of the 2012-13 season, Chicago has looked at a couple of interesting point guard possibilities, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.

12. Dallas Mavericks

Dallas’ pick-and-roll defense without Tyson Chandler — Chandler limited the roll man in the pick-and-roll to 1.00 PPP this season — actually improved. They allowed 1.10 PPP last year, a number they improved to 1.02.

13. Atlanta Hawks

Chad Ford had the Hawks selecting point guard Tony Wroten Jr with the 23rd pick in the 2012 NBA Draft in his most recent mock draft. An incredibly good value if they were to get him here because “if his shot wasn’t broken, and if he had a better rep as a teammate, he’d be a top-10 pick.”

14. New York Knicks

Here’s even more incentive to play Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position next year. Anthony averaged 0.94 PPP on 188 post-ups this season, putting him in the top 100 in the league.

15. Utah Jazz

Utah struggles tremendously against defending the pick-and-roll and executing it successfully. Considering the league relies extensively on the pick-and-roll, this is defintely something they need to address in the offseason.

16. Orlando Magic

I have serious doubts that an organization with a new general manager, new coach and a disgruntled superstar can successful maintain the necessary reciprocity that Dwight Howard craves. But that’s just me.