NBA Power Rankings: Knicks nipping at heels of top-ranked Spurs


[Editor’s note: Air Alamo’s weekly power rankings were delayed a day to compensate for last night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.]

Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk (2): They are playing like the Spurs do every regular season. What did you expect? The one thing of note is that Tim Duncan (18.9 points and 9.7 rebounds a game) is off to a monster start this season.

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News (3): Why change starting lineup after first loss? Popovich: “It makes it look like I’m really coaching.”

John Schuhmann of (3): When Tony Parker’s out with the flu, it’s nice to have Gary Neal go off for a career-high 27. But turnovers and (surprise!) defense have been issues for the Spurs over the last few games, including Wednesday’s ugly loss to the Clips. Each of the Spurs’ next five games is a must-watch. They play the Lakers, Knicks, Nuggets, Clippers (again) and Celtics over the next 10 days.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (2):Tough stretch starts Tuesday with games against Lakers, New York, Denver, Clippers and Boston. Tim Duncan is averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Marc Stein of (1): The elite team that changed the least is supposed to start off best, right? Yet you still have to be impressed by the Spurs after the first 4-0 launch in team history — including their ABA days — and with Tim Duncan looking roughly twice as good as he did early in the lockout-shortened season.

Average Spurs ranking: 2nd


Air Alamo power rankings (last week in parenthesis)

1. San Antonio Spurs (1): Despite not ranking in the top five in either offensive or defensive efficiency — ranking 10th in both facets, respectively — the Spurs have, in their league-leading seven wins, outscored their opposition by 7.4 points.2. New York Knicks (3): Though the Knicks’ scoring differential (+15.6) is leaps and bounds better than the rest of the league, they have only played five games. Their second-ranked offense and top-ranked defense will be put to the test tomorrow against the San Antonio Spurs on the road.3. Memphis Grizzlies (8): I’m not sure the Mayans could have predicted the Grizzlies to vault into the top five in offensive efficiency (107.3 points per 100 possessions). Even more surprising is that last season’s 26th-ranked 3-point shooting team — and one of the most apathetic perimeter shooting squads in general — has made 39 percent of their 3-pointers, good for fourth.4. Miami Heat (2): Miami is excelling offensively, scoring a league-high 113.6 points per 100 possessions. Their previously stingy defense, however, needs some work: Miami has allowed the 25th highest effective field goal percentage against (.500) thus far.5. Oklahoma City Thunder (6): After a rocky 1-2 start, Oklahoma City has rattled off five consecutive victories by an average of 10.8 points.6. Los Angeles Clippers (7): Whether the Clippers’ newfound defensive prowess is legitimate will be severely tested this week with matchups against Miami, Chicago, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, each of whom are currently in the top 15 in offensive efficiency.7. Chicago Bulls (10): Five consecutive road games await the 4-3 Bulls.8. Los Angeles Lakers (9): Headed by assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the Lakers have defeated perennial division doormats (Sacramento and Golden State) while losing to a pair of playoff contenders (Utah and San Antonio).9. Milwaukee Bucks (6): The Bucks, headlined by guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, average a league-high 96.4 possessions per 48 minutes.10. Brooklyn Nets (11): Despite playing at a glacier pace — only Minnesota, Indiana and New Orleans average fewer possessions per 48 minutes — the Nets have cultivated an elite offense, ranking fourth in points per 100 possessions. Replace Joe Johnson in the lineup, however, and Brooklyn is quickly an historically bad offense, scoring a mere 86.5 points per 100 possessions.11. Utah Jazz (20)12. Philadelphia 76ers (19)13. Atlanta Hawks (13)14. Denver Nuggets (21)15. Boston Celtics (13)16. Minnesota Timberwolves (16)17. Dallas Mavericks (5)18. Houston Rockets (15)19. New Orleans Hornets (12)20. Indiana Pacers (18)21. Toronto Raptors (24)22. Golden State Warriors (22)23. Portland Trail Blazers (23)24. Phoenix Suns (26)25. Cleveland Cavaliers (25)26. Orlando Magic (17)27. Sacramento Kings (28)28. Charlotte Bobcats (27)29. Washington Wizards (29)30. Detroit Pistons (30)