NBA power rankings
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
First Stephen Jackson threatened Serge Ibaka on Twitter. Now, this.
Jackson’s San Antonio Spurs and Ibaka’s Oklahoma City Thunder were tied for second place last week in USA TODAY Sports’ NBA power rankings, but when the Miami Heat slipped, someone needed to take the top spot. The Thunder prevailed.
Oklahoma City beat the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers — potential playoff teams, all — this week to extend an eight-game winning streak. And the NBA’s hottest team also may be its best.
The Thunder and Spurs were first or second on every ballot. Here are the top five teams in USA TODAY Sports’ NBA team-by-team power rankings:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder: They received four out of six first-place votes.
2. San Antonio Spurs: Two first-place votes.
3. Memphis Grizzlies
4. New York Knicks
5. Miami Heat
The battle for the top spot wasn’t the only hard-fought affair involving the Thunder, though. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant has made great progress on his all-around game this season, but he faces the epitome of well-rounded basketball in the MVP race.
And for now, the voters side with LeBron James. Here’s the MVP frontrunner voting (points on a 7-5-3-2-1 scale):
1. LeBron James, Heat: He received three out of six first-place votes and 36 points.
2. Kevin Durant, Thunder: Three first-place votes and 33 points.
3. Tim Duncan, Spurs: 17 points.
4. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks: 11 points.
5. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, and Zach Randolph, Grizzlies: four points.
Also receiving votes were Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (two points) and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (one point).
The top rookie voting was more lopsided, as it has been since No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis went down.
Here’s the no-surprise voting (points on a 5-3-1 scale):
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: He received all six first-place votes at 30 points.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats: 13 points.
3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers: five points.
Also receiving votes were Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (three points), Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (two points) and Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Alexey Shved (one point).
So how did we do? Let us know in the comments.