Sample sizes grow larger and larger as we move through the season. The third week of the season is still too early for any definitive conclusions, but the landscape has begun to take shape. Sure, subtle details will still change, and there will be jockeying for position as the year goes on. Barring major personnel changes, our power rankings for the power rankings should be fairly stable for the rest of the season. Then again, we could introduce a new set of completely arbitrary criteria at any time. Stay tuned, but until then, enjoy week two of Power Ranking the Power Rankings.
1. Hal Brown – Nylon Calculus (Last Week, NR): From out of nowhere, Nylon Calculus takes the top spot, in large part by owning up to the fact that his “power rankings are built on the premise that power rankings are – at their heart – silly, and meant entirely for fun.” That is uncharacteristically playful for Nylon Calculus, or any stats-driven site for that matter. The early tone he sets carries through his rankings, which are annoyingly difficult to dispute due to their statistical grounding.
2. Kelly Dwyer – Ball Don’t Lie (Last Week, 1): I was unaware when last week’s piece ran that the BDL staff would be rotating through Ranking duties, but it adds an unconsidered benefit to the entire project. The teams Dwyer finds interesting clearly vary drastically from the one’s Dan Devine focused on last week. They’re being knocked out of first place this week solely due to the decision to rank all 30 teams. There was something deliciously insulting about simply leaving 10 teams off the list, and the loss of that ignominy hurts the piece.
3. John Schumann – NBA.com (Last Week, 2): Schumann falls this week through no fault of his own; his rankings are still well considered, excellently formatted, and thoroughly explained. Unfortunately for him, despite lavishing us with small details like Blake Griffin’s Nowitzkian 47% shooting from midrange, Nylon Calculus sort of beat him at his own game. Add to that a cruel reminder of the beautiful illusion that was the Sacramento Kings start to last season, and he just doesn’t fit in the top three.
4. Matt Moore – CBS Sports (Last Week, 5): Matt Moore loves the Memphis Grizzlies, so much so that his Twitter avatar is their mascot and he’s been described as “one of the Internet’s most famous Griz fans not named Timberlake.” Imagine then, how it must have felt for him to slot Memphis in at 26, to describe them as “a flaming trash can rolling down a hill.” You can feel his pain in the dry, hopeless description that accompanies their 10-spot drop in the rankings. Ranking a man already suffering so much any lower would be intolerably cruel.
5. Marc Stein – ESPN.com (Last Week, 6): For the most part, the pro-Pistons bias that defined last week’s rankings has been left by the wayside. The lone exception is Stein’s ranking at 5, up one from last week on the strength of an early All-Star prediction for Andre Drummond. It’s early in the season, and the East’s bigs look better overall this year, but come on. Which would you rather see in an All-Star game; Drummond dunking lobs from John Wall, or another Nic Vucevic post up? It’s gonna be great.
6. Gerald Bourguet – Hoops Habit (Last Week, 7): It’s not a huge step up for Hoops Habit, but they’re hanging in there with the real bad boys of power rankings, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. The technical issues from last week are gone, replaced by a surprisingly easy to navigate and thorough rankings. It still runs a bit long, and the “this week/last week” record is weirdly hard to parse, but the vines, jokes, and external links more than make up for it.
7. Zach Harper – Sports Line (Last Week, 2): This precipitous decline is unfair to the quality of work Harper is doing with these rankings. The lengthy intro to set up a joke about the Warriors dominance is like Basketball Internet catnip, and his ability to add dimension to rankings he had no control over is deserving of commendation. But noticing the site’s connection to CBS Sports makes it feel like Pepsi introducing Caleb’s Kola, an attempt to tap into a current trend for purely financial reasons. Since the current trend is already purely commercial, and I have seen or heard 500+ Draft Kings commercials in the last 48 hours, it’s hard to support the endeavor.
8. Kurt Helin – Pro Basketball Talk (Last Week, 3): With the blinkers of last week’s rabid affection for Detroit Basketball removed, the PBT rankings are a lot less appealing. There’s nothing wrong with them, per se: Helin is a good writer, the placements all seem fair, and the site is pleasant both to navigate and read. However, there’s just nothing here that really pops. That lack of a gimmick, extra details, or commanding personality hurts them in comparison to some of the more engaging rankings.
9. Michael Saenz – Sir Charles In Charge (Last Week, 9): The Nets have found their place in Saenz’s rankings, resting comfortably at the very bottom of the league. There are enough big leaps to keep the rankings exciting – including a 12-place jump that brought the Blazers from 16 to 28 – and the slide show is less annoying in its second week. But can anyone explain why the FanSided sites insist on starting their rankings at 30 and counting up? It creates some tension, but it flies so firmly in the face of convention as to be jarring.
10. Jeremy Woo – Sports Illustrated (Last Week, 8): The Power Rankings game is at its most dangerous early in the season, when an improperly weighted win or loss can throw off the whole list. Woo gets hit with that here, criticizing the Bulls for a loss to the Timberwolves the day before Minnesota handled the red-hot Hawks at home. If that were his list’s only sin, however, Woo would have ranked much higher. Unfortunately, his work is published on SI.com, far and away one of the least navigable sites you’ll find this side of a geocities archive. It is hard to eat even the most delicious meal when it is served on the lid of a garbage can.