This week has seen the slaying of a number of streaks: The winning streaks of the Bucks and Lakers. The losing streak of the Pelicans. The sucking streak of the Knicks. But with death, comes new life.
Who will go on the next big winning streak? Will the Timberwolves – losers of 9 straight – ever win again? Will the Hawks or Warriors take New York's traditional last place in our Power Rankings?
Throughout the season, Inside Sport will be bringing you our NBA Power Rankings. These are not necessarily ranking based on records. This is a purely subjective assessment of how a team is progressing, projected and playing.
All records are as of Thursday night Australian time/Thursday morning American time.
30. Golden State (Down 1)
(5-21 Record) Last week: 1-2
The Warriors are playing solid defense on most nights, but continue to struggle with the ball. Their 103.8 points per 100 possessions is 29th in the league. It turns out that losing three of the greatest shooters in the history of the sport is tough to overcome. Who knew!
D'Angelo Russell is now eligible to be traded, but reports indicate that Golden State will wait until the off season before exploring trade opportunities. That may be a smokescreen to see what the likes of Minnesota or Miami might cough up.
29. Atlanta Hawks (Down 3)
(6-22) Last week: 0-3
John Collins' suspension is up this week and oh boy do the Hawks need him.
His nightly 17 and 9 with a couple of blocks speak for itself, but it's Collins' activity and range on defense that this team is missing. For all that Jabari Parker gives the Hawks on offense, he's balky knee (and general apathy) means he's just not mobile at the other end.
De'Andre Hunter is showing signs of life – he's averaging 15.2 points on a much improved 53.7% true shooting through December.
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28. New Orleans Pelicans (Down1)
(7-22) Last week: 1-3
A win over a similarly struggling Wolves squad finally broke New Orleans 13 game losing streak. With the Warriors up next, they have a legitimate chance to put together back to back wins. Not that it's going to make a difference. Unless Zion returns sooner rather than later, and is a fully actualised hybrid of Karl Malone and Dominique Wilkins, the Pels are toast for this season.
Which begs the question: Do they trade away some of the veterans? The front office are apparently a hard keep on JJ Redick, and are saying that Jrue Holiday is off the market. That may be posturing, as Holiday would surely be a valuable addition to any team contending for the crown. David Griffin knows the game. He'll get value, if it's out there.
27. New York Knicks (Up 3)
(7-21) Last week: 2-1
Well, well. Looky here. We have a New York Knicks winning streak.
Winners of 3 of their last 4, the Knicks suddenly look somewhat competent. Admittedly, wins over the Warriors, Kings and Hawks isn't exactly a murderers row (the loss was to Denver), but it's exciting news for a side as adrift as this one was. The Hawks game was a real eye opener, with the Knicks hanging 143 on Atlanta's 'defense'.
The Knicks are back! Keep an eye out in local guides for parade dates.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (Up 2)
(7-21) Last week: 2-2
Kevin Love wants out, folks. He's given up caring. Even to the point of just standing in the key for as long as it takes to get the whistle against him.
There are some positives for the young Cavs. Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr have both shown out this week with strong performances against the Spurs and Rockets respectively. The win in San Antonio halted an eight game skid.
25. Washington Wizards (Down 2)
(8-18) Last week: 1-2
The Wizards are struggling, losing 8 of their lat 10 contests, despite their laser light show of an offense. It turns out that in a basketball game the other team are allowed to score, too. It's probably been suggested to them, but maybe put some effort in to trying to stop your opponent from scoring once in a while? Washington are giving up 121.8 points for game – last in the NBA by a full 3 points!
Still, it's hard not to enjoy watching this team. In particular Davis Bertans, who continues to shoot with a level of accuracy that would make Deadshot jealous. In a weak free agent market, Bertans is getting his money.
Things don't get easier for the Wiz– Toronto awaits.
24. Chicago Bulls (Up 1)
(11-19) Last week: 2-2
A couple of great victories for Chicago this week. Firstly – and most notably – their 109-106 win over the Clips was a breath of fresh air. Sure, the Clips were shorthanded, but even so, they remain formidable. Very quietly, their win over Washington was just about as impressive. The Bulls trailed the Wizards by 18 points in the 4th quarter before rallying back to force OT and eventually get the win. I hear you. It's only the Wiz! Well, you try outscoring Washington by close to 20 points in 8 minutes. The Wiz can hang 20 in 3 minutes, so the Bulls clamping down and making buckets of their own, showed a resilience that they haven't always had.
23. Memphis Grizzlies (Up 1)
(10-18) Last week: 2-2
An impressive run for the Grizz over the past week and a bit, with 4 wins in 6. They played the Bucks and Thunder fairly close in the losses. Their win over Miami featured 15 points from Jaren Jackson Jr – all from 3 pointers. He's been red hot through December, hitting 3.8 shots from deep per game, at 40.5%. In the loss to Milwaukee, the big man and his unusual release hit 9 (!) trey's in a career high 43 point performance.
22. San Antonio Spurs (Down 2)
(10-16) Last week: 1-2
The Spurs must be sporting some tired legs this week.
After playing five OT periods in 4 consecutive matches, they found themselves in a nip and tuck contest with the Rockets. The Spurs have some old legs that wouldn't appreciate that run.
The youth is starting to come through, though. Lonnie Walker IV is putting up 11.5 points in December – he averaged 1.0 and 1.8 points in October/November. Dejounte Murray is back in the swing after being in and out of the lineup with injuries. Derrick White is wildly inconsistent, but his good games are very encouraging. Throw in veteran Patty Mills – still doing things like this – and the guard rotation isn't a problem for coach Pop.
21. Detroit Pistons (Steady)
(11-17) Last week: 1-3
If I told you the Pistons went 1-3 in a 4 game stretch against, Dallas, Houston, Washington and Toronto, you'd probably say that's fair enough. What if I told you the win was against the Rockets in Houston and they lost to Washington at home?
The Pistons were switched on in houston. They threw a constant stream of extra defenders at Harden and dared his teammates to beat them. With Russell Westbrook sitting, no other Rocket was able to take the game on. Derrick Rose did just that, for Detroit.