NBA Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (01/03/17)

By Mark Dankenbring
NBA Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers

The beginning of a new year brings us fresh NBA Power Rankings for the start of 2017. Our Power Rankings are developed using players on the active depth chart, which causes fluctuation week-to-week based on injuries and who is in and out of the lineup. To see a full description of how our Power Rankings are created, as well as this week's full list of rankings, please visit Power Rankings 1/3/2017.

Within our rankings every week, there are noticeable risers and fallers throughout. The goal of this article is to identify who has gained or lost the most ground in the Association, whether it be due to injury or just a decline in team performance. Each article will include to Top 3 risers and fallers in the rankings, no matter where they started or finished.

Our first official rankings of 2017 indicate that the top six spots are comprised of the same six teams from the week before with just a few shifts in position. The majority of the movement occurs from teams lower on the list, but there are still some significant changes to cover. Let's start off by taking a look at the three teams who jumped most in our rankings this week.

Top 3 Risers

Milwaukee Bucks – Position #15 up to #8

The Bucks enjoyed an end of the year surge by Jabari Parker, who has averaged 24.3 points per game in their last four, in which they boast a 3-1 record. All three wins came against teams in the Top 15 of our rankings, with two of them coming by 20 points or more. The Bucks have really played well offensively over the past week, moving seven spots up in Offensive Efficiency from 20th to 13th in the league. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 27.3/7.8/6.3 (pts/rebs/ast) splits over that four game stretch, the Bucks find themselves one game out of the fourth spot in the East. Also, rookie Malcolm Brogdon has done well in his expanded role with Matthew Dellavedova injured, including posting a triple-double on New Year's Eve against the Bulls. Look for the Bucks to continue their hot streak this week, as they face the scuffling Knicks twice, as well as the Wizards at home.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Position #18 up to #12

The Thunder receive a big boost in rankings this week with the return of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo helps solidify the perimeter defense of the Thunder, which is indicated by their rise to 5th in Defensive efficiency rankings this week. After allowing 100 points to opponents in seven straight games, the Thunder have held opponents to 100 points or less in four of their last five games, including both with Oladipo on the court. The big men for the Thunder have played well over their last four, averaging 28.8 points and 15.5 rebounds between Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. With Russell Westbrook doing Russell Westbrook things and averaging 25.3/12/10.3 in three games (excluding his game against Memphis where he was ejected), the Thunder find themselves just outside the Top 10 to start 2017.

Orlando Magic – Position #28 up to #23
The Magic have won three of their last five, good enough to move them up five spots in our rankings this week. The frontcourt of the Magic has been very successful in their three games this week, with Serge Ibaka averaging 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks and Nikola Vucevic averaging 17.7 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals. The Magic will get another boost this week with the return of Evan Fournier, who is averaging 17.8/3.0/3.5 on 45.5% shooting on the season. The Magic face the Hawks and Rockets at home this week, and then will start a west coast road trip in LA starting on Sunday, so we'll see where they stand after this tough stretch.

Top 3 Fallers

Los Angeles Clippers – Position #7 down to #22

The Clippers hold our biggest move of any team in the NBA this past week, as they dropped 15 spots from the Top 10 all the way down to 22nd. With injuries to their two best players in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers had lost six in a row before their win against the Suns last night. Los Angeles has seen huge drops in both their offensive and defensive efficiency, going from 10th to 19th and 9th to 20th in the NBA over the past week, respectively. Also, the Clips have dropped games to what we thought were inferior opponents in the Pelicans, Lakers, Nuggets, and Mavericks, which is why the Clippers now find themselves in the bottom 10 teams in the league. Hopefully Chris Paul can return soon to help right the ship, but as of now the Clippers are struggling big time.

Sacramento Kings – Position #9 down to #13

Sacramento drops four spots in our rankings this week after losing their only two games in the past week while failing to score 100 points in either game. The Kings have struggled offensively in their last three games, only shooting 42.4% from the field and have dropped from 1st to 11th overall in offensive efficiency. Rudy Gay has missed eight of the last nine games for the Kings, which obviously hurts the offensive side of the ball. The Kings are also currently without Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson, who are questionable to return tonight against the Nuggets, but will likely be back on the floor before next week's rankings are released. With the rotation out of whack and two straight losses, the Kings find themselves outside our Top 10.

New York Knicks – Position #20 down to #25

The Knicks enter our first Power Rankings of 2017 having lost five in a row and eight of their last 10 games. In their five game losing streak, the Knicks have allowed 112.4 points per game to their opponents, which results in them dropping nearly 10 spots in our defensive efficiency rankings from 18th to 27th. Carmelo Anthony has been struggling in the past few as well, as he's only averaging 15.5 points over his last four on just 35.6% shooting. The Knicks have been without Kristaps Porzingis in their last two due to achilles soreness for the big man, and might be without him again tomorrow against the Bucks. This hurts them on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, as Porzingis averages 20.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game on the season. With their injuries and struggles from Carmelo, it's no surprise to see the Knicks drop even more in our rankings this week.