FD Power Rankings Week 1

The latest Outside the NBA/FD joint venture.

I can't promise we'll keep these up regularly, or that they will even change that much. But it seemed like an idea whose time had come, so Eric and I spent about twenty minutes putting this list together, straight from the gut. Leave your suggestions in the comments section!

1. Monta Ellis: Longtime FD favorite makes good, and how. All it took was Nellie's retirement for Monta to trust his teammates, play nice with Steph Curry, and mature into one of the league's prime offensive weapons without sacrificing a bit of his life force. If anything, grown-ass Monta -- in the preseason, he blamed his new outlook on marriage -- is a more sublime figure than before. His crossover is nearly effortless; the writhing drives and hopped-up floaters now look anything but forced. This is style, and other than Blake Griffin, there's no player in the NBA right now as regularly rewarding to watch. That it feels like it could end any day only makes the whole thing more beautiful.

2. Blake Griffin: At this point, the only surprise from Griffin is that he continues to amaze more and more every game. His all-out attack philosophy would grow stale if not for the fact that he plays with an insatiable need to devour the oppposition. If he doesn't sit at the top of this list, it's only because you know about him already.

3. Hating the Cavs
: A few months ago, the Cavs were the world's most pitiable losers, shamed by their former star and ready to face the new season with moral superiority. But the actions of Dan Gilbert and his roving band of immature sign-carrying fans have turned the entire franchise into a group of sore losers who think anger alone can bring others to their side. They're the NBA's version of the Tea Party crowd, just with slightly fewer guns.

4. Timberwolves: As one Minny broadcaster put it, "we may not always be happy with the outcome, but the fans love to watch this team and they sure do give you a lot to get excited about." Kevin Love is simply phenomenal, and early returns suggest that Al Jefferson really did need to go. Michael Beasley can't quite flex his muscle like he did at K-State, but he's quicker and probably in better shape. Darko is a legit presence in the middle. Corey Brewer is really long. Wesley Johnson is a nice guy's J.R. Smith. If they're not getting blown out, the Wolves are definitely a team that will force a shoot-out and make you love every minute of it.

5. Black Swan
: Darren Aronofsky's latest deals largely with an old FD standby -- the struggle between cool professionalism and messy romanticism -- but its best virtue is the director's ability to forget about what's respectable and engage in the kind of risky mindfuckery that's missing from too much art-house fare. The last 45 minutes of this movie piles craziness on top of craziness -- it will leave you either in a state of shock or cackling in a mixture of delight and terror.

6. Raymond Felton
: Any son of UNC is a friend of this blog, but Felton -- who looked so good at Carolina, and was very briefly lumped in with Chris Paul and Deron Williams -- had the added burden of real promise. The Knicks looked sensible when they signed him over the summer; if Chris Duhon could put up numbers in D'Antoni's system, then certainly Felton could manage something. But little did we realize that, one month into the season, Felton might turn out to be the steal of the summer. His numbers are top-flight, and every game we watch him, he looks more and more in synch with Amar'e and Gallo. To wit: Stoudemire's own explosive week, which suggests that the "can he live without Nash?" question just might be moot.

7. Manu Ginobili
: The Spurs have never been much of an NBA favorite, yet they have become a commendable lot in their increasingly successful dotage. With Duncan near the end of the line, Ginobili has become their on-court leader, molding the team's system in his eccentric image while maintaining the club's impressive attention to detail and regal air.

8. Larry Sanders
: He has arrived. Well, actually, he's getting minutes because Gooden is dinged up. But Sanders is pretty much as advertised -- a shot-blocking demon who can pressure the ball and make athletic plays on offense. When Jennings tossed him a prime alley-oop against Miami, it was like watching a dating show where everything goes right and everyone ends up happy forever. Bonus point for the totally FD tandem he and Ersan Ilyasova make for.

9. Chris Paul is too nice to blame
: No matter what happens with the Hornets, and what part Paul's plans (or lack thereof) play in the outcome, there's no way dude takes a LeBron-like hit. He's too good a guy, and has done too much for the city. Plus, he was a refugee from Katrina, too, exiled to OKC for two seasons and never once flinching in his commitment to return. It's simply unreasonable to expect him to agree to stick around just to make the franchise more sale-able -- and thus more likely to remain in New Orleans.

10. Shoals loves Derrick Rose, pass it on
: Russell Westbrook is a monster. Yes, like the song. Unlike Monta, who streamlined his act, Westbrook somehow got even more unpredictable and incendiary -- and popped out on the other side a bonafide All-Star. Anecdotally, or spiritually, he turns the ball over at least 400 times a game, and still makes a play almost every time he decides he wants to. What prompted this transformation? He spent all summer working out with Derrick Rose, and in Istanbul, competed against him in practice. Now, their destinies are inextricably linked. Rose helped make Westbrook what he is this seasons, and vice-versa; they learned from each other, and on this very rock they started a mutant point guard tradition that may be carried on for decades. So yeah, I like Derrick Rose now. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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At 12/08/2010 11:04 AM, Blogger Patrick Elder said...

Wait, it's THAT popular to hate the Cavs? I thought that we just stayed in a state of flux in the eyes of the league because we actually didn't do anything drastic when Lebron came to town. If you hate a fanbase for making shitty signs then you are not on any higher of moral ground than them.

At 12/08/2010 11:05 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Don't worry, I'm sure the Cavs will disappear from the list by next week.

At 12/08/2010 11:20 AM, Blogger Lincoln Base said...

Shoals loves Derrick Rose (by association to Westbrook?). Still seems like you're trying to find the beauty in his game, which is understandable.

At 12/08/2010 11:22 AM, Blogger Devin S C said...

Frankly shocked JaVale didn't make the cut.

At 12/08/2010 11:23 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

LB-It's like something in the Bible, but I don't know what. Moses and Aaron, if people realized Aaron was the cooler one?

Devin--we had to save something for next week.

At 12/08/2010 11:27 AM, Blogger Jason Crane said...

I love the cymbal crash/rim hit at 0:53.

At 12/08/2010 11:30 AM, Blogger Lincoln Base said...

Thats actually makes total sense, as long as Rose=Moses and Westbrook=Aaron.


At 12/08/2010 1:03 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

A state of shock or cackling in a mixture of delight and terror are mutually exclusive? #Lorca

At 12/08/2010 4:38 PM, Blogger Emile Avanessian said...

Has Blake Griffin shattered the record for most "scream out loud" highlights through 20 games of a career? I don't think LeBron roared out of the gate like this.

Who else would be up there? Shawn Kemp? J-Will? I'm guessing Jordan, though I was only 4 when he began his career.

At 12/08/2010 6:52 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Been trying to figure out who blake griffin reminded me of and then it hit me...randy from pee wee's playhouse!


At 12/08/2010 8:14 PM, Blogger Tables Hansen said...

Thanks for repping the T-Wolves.

At 12/08/2010 9:16 PM, Blogger Teach said...

feel like the Jazz somehow deserved to be on here, but i'm glad to see felton represented

At 12/08/2010 9:48 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Is Blake Griffin = Shawn Kemp + Charles Barkley accurate? And where's Mr. Gordon on this list? And why do I want very badly to compare Mr. Westbrook to Mayor Former Phoenix PG?

At 12/09/2010 7:18 AM, Blogger Steve said...

For all of the KG haters in previous posts:

"He just came over and we talked, man to man, I appreciated that," Karl said. "I thought it was a classy gesture."

At 12/09/2010 9:56 AM, Blogger Henry Bemis said...

IN light oft he recent post of the player "pict-o-graphs of style", I was listening to my wife talk about how Monta always looks like a fish out of water. As in an actual fish jerking and contorting itself above the waves.
Then I think I got as close to hippie (while still bathing) and began seeing all the other players' "animal-spirits". Ugg.

Another of my favorite quotes of hers everytime she sees a Bulls game -"Did that Rose guy just dismount from a horse?"
She calls him "Rootin-Tootin Rose" (to be read aloud with an sarcastic Texas accent).

As far as above, great rankings... but I think my Knicks are both one of the most inproved teams (may Isiaih die a dejected and lonely man), but unfortunately they are also leading the league in "number of highlights by the opposing team" catagory. If I see one more "30-30!!!" night or another "Holy Shit did you see that dunk" I think I will....

I won't do shit but bitch and moan so whatever.

But as much as I have been loving on Blake Griffin (and I am still a lover of the Clips, Baron and Kaman) - I have to say, what I saw last night was disturbing. Maybe it was attributable to late game rookie jitters, but he kept half-assing his screens and then cuttin the far lane in expectation.
Like I said, maybe it was jitters or inexperience, but it looked shockingly close to the actions of ego and arrogance annoyed with being on a loosing team.

I like being wrong about bad feelings. Let's hope.

(Speaking of hope... Mayor Hope 7 = Westbrook? No. Westbrook seems to have a perma-grudge against the rim. It's like he has some blood vendetta with the rim the way he snarls at it.)

At 12/09/2010 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Benjamin....gotta say that if Andre Miller body blocked a young Chuck all hell may have broken loose. I love what Griffin is doing, but to me he actually lacks swagger if that is possible for someone who is tearing down rims and humiliating defenders.

I can't help but want him to be even better, or meaner, or bearded, or uglier. More KG. Less GQ. This is no doubt unfair and altogether weird.

At 12/09/2010 10:30 AM, Blogger Mel Terrapin said...

I don't get the hostility towards the Cavs. I thought you got it, Shoals. I guess you don't. Cavs fans are not the Tea Party.

I suppose it's moot, but unless you're a Cleveland sports fan, you can't understand. But jeez, at least respect our recovery process.

At 12/09/2010 4:09 PM, Blogger Jason said...

It is one thing to disparage a billionaire sports team owner. It is another to insult the team's passionate fans.

Sometimes, liberated fandom is just snobbery.

At 12/09/2010 6:00 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Word on Monta.

At 12/10/2010 5:40 PM, Blogger Mouth said...

{watches YouTube vid}

Well, I'm convinced.

At 12/10/2010 5:46 PM, Blogger Tom Deal said...

griffin does crazy things, but definitely lacks swag. when he looks excited he looks stupid excited, like a golden retriever who can't tell the difference between going for a walk and going to vet. otherwise he just looks dumb and vacant. his fire ain't that fiery. his energy leaves me cold.

his size/appearance/body language is confusing and not particularly interesting. similar to drose, he's talented and sweet and stuff, but i'm bored to death by his personality and thus totally uninterested in his accomplishments. there's no drama behind them eyes.

At 12/10/2010 5:49 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

With all due respect, I have no idea how you think someone could play that way without swagger. Also watch him in the split second after every play. He knows it.

At 12/10/2010 6:00 PM, Blogger Mouth said...

Tom, Blake G is too young, or at least too focused on dominating above the rim, to have deliberately developed any persona. Back off the young un.

At 12/10/2010 8:59 PM, Blogger Deckfight said...

that vid is rad. didn't know he could drive like that.

At 12/11/2010 8:07 AM, Blogger Codysseus said...

I just don't understand being bored with Rose. I mean he's much more vocal than he used to be and definitely seems far more comfortable on the court. Plus he's winning games in the 4th quarter for his team on a pretty regular basis with shots like these:




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