NBA Power Rankings week 14: OKC Thunder among the ‘road warriors’

JANUARY 20: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 20: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder were among four unbeaten squads setting up some big shifts in week 14 of the NBA power rankings.

Strong performances by four teams including the OKC Thunder highlighted week 14 and subsequently affected T.I’s NBA power rankings.

While several storylines occupied the news none was more jarring than the news Sunday that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others. Around the association, teams took to the court with heavy hearts as basketball became secondary to the thoughts on everyone’s minds.

As a player, Bryant was known for his obvious skills but his competitive spirit and “mamba mentality” resonated most with fans and players alike Sunday. It’s still incredibly difficult to digest the news Kobe is gone, but as the competitor he was while alive, it will be cathartic to watch games with virtually every player having been impacted by him in one way or another to help begin the healing process.

All-Star starters were announced in week 14 without many surprises although one shift occurred with Kemba Walker knocking out Kyrie Irving in the East.

Four teams delivered unbeaten weeks while four others were winless. The OKC Thunder and Raptors were 4-0, Jazz 3-0 and Bucks 2-0 posted unbeaten records. Alternatively, the Wolves were 0-4, Warriors/Cavaliers 0-3 and Hornets 0-2 suffered winless weeks.

.Injuries were another running narrative this week as many of the top teams are either dealing with nagging injuries or players were lost for the season such as Dwight Powell in Dallas when he tore his Achilles tendon.

Looking at the leader board there are a few items that jump off the page. Specifically, only 13 teams possess positive net differential and coincidentally those clubs are also the only ones who possess winning records. It’s unusual for three teams to hold playoff seeds with a losing record but such is the case for the Grizzlies (22-24), Magic (21-26) and Nets (19-26).

The Bucks became the first team to reach 40 wins and with the Lakers losing twice they joined the other 28 teams who’ve all registered double-digit losses. Nine clubs have 30 or more wins while three have 28 wins. The West has a few battles within the playoff seeds with three teams separated by a half game for the second, third and fourth seeds (Jazz, Clippers, Nuggets).  The other battle being waged is for the fifth seed with the Rockets, Mavericks and Thunder all possessing 28 wins.

The two through sixth seeds in the East are separated by 2.5 games with the Raptors moving up another spot to claim the second seed in week 14.

The other key factor is performance on the road and the teams who have shifted upward (or appear poised to take another step) all have strong records away from home.

Only eleven teams have winning road records and of those five have yet to hit double-digit road losses (Bucks, Lakers, Mavericks, Raptors, and Nuggets).  The ‘Road Warriors’ feature seven West squads and four from the East.

West Teams:

  • Lakers: 20-5 (80 percent)
  • Mavericks:15-6 (71.4 percent)
  • Nuggets: 14-8 (63.6 percent)
  • Jazz/Clippers: 14-10 (58.3 percent)
  • Thunder/Rockets: 13-10 (56.5 percent)

East Teams:

  • Bucks: 19-4 (82.6 percent)
  • Raptors: 16-7 (69.5 percent)
  • Celtics: 12-10 (54.5 percent)
  • Pacers: 13-12 (52.0 percent)

The 76ers and Heat both possess losing road records while each of the Pacers and Celtics has struggled occasionally on the road. This could become the deciding factor in the extremely competitive battle for who claims the second through sixth seeds in the East. That second seed is highly appealing given the bottom two seeds in the East both own sub .500 records and should present easier first rounds in the playoffs.

The West battle for the second through seventh seeds is tight but the most compelling battle entering week 15 is for the fifth, sixth and seventh seeds given each of the Mavericks, Rockets and Thunder have 28 wins. With Dallas in OKC on Monday, it adds extra relevance to the match.

This week’s power ranking reflects the above factors.

For those who prefer to keep track on a week by week basis each is linked below:

And with that I give you my NBA Power Rankings for week 14 of action: