NBA Power Rankings — Our expert panel unveils its rankings for Week 10

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The “Point God” just doesn’t lose.

The Houston Rockets are 14-0 on the season with Chris Paul in the lineup and have racked up 13 straight wins heading into Monday night’s home meeting with the Utah Jazz. It’s safe to say — despite the surging Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers — that the No. 1 spot remains comfortably in Houston’s grasp one week ahead of the NBA’s Christmas Day slate.

Every Monday throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Amin Elhassan and Ramona Shelburne, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears and FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring) will rank the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom, with research notes on each team provided by ESPN Stats & Information.

Previous rankings: Week 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

1. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 24-4

Paul is the first player to start and win his first 14 games with a new team since starters were first indicated on box scores (1970-71), according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Overall, the Rockets have outscored opponents by 16.7 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor this season. — Michael Schwartz


2. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 23-6

No Stephen Curry for the Warriors, no problem for Kevin Durant. In the past four games without Curry, Durant is averaging 33.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 54 percent from the floor. Three of Durant’s four 30-10-5 games this season have come in the past four games. Only LeBron James has more games with 30-10-5 this season. — Jose De Leon


3. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 23-8

James recorded his 59th career triple-double Thursday against the Lakers, tying Larry Bird for sixth on the all-time list. James added Nos. 60 and 61 over the weekend, and now has four triple-doubles over the past five games — all Cleveland wins. — Jose De Leon


4. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 25-7

The Celtics face the Heat on Wednesday for the first time since Miami snapped Boston’s season-long 16-game winning streak. The first quarter was the difference in that meeting as the Celtics shot 32 percent from the floor while the Heat shot 52 percent. Kyrie Irving did his part, shooting 3-for-4 from the floor, but the rest of the team was 4-for-18 to start the game. — Jose De Leon


5. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 20-10

The Spurs have played two games with Kawhi Leonard and have lost both. He had an encouraging debut Tuesday against the Mavericks as the Spurs outscored Dallas by eight points in Leonard’s 16 minutes on the floor. But on Friday, the Rockets were too much as the Spurs were outscored by nine points in Leonard’s 17 minutes of action. — Jose De Leon


6. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 20-8

The Raptors have had a different approach to their offense this season. Just 11 percent of their points are coming from midrange and 30 percent of their points are coming off 3-pointers. Last season, 16 percent of their points came from midrange and only 25 percent of their points came off 3s. — Jose De Leon


7. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 17-13

On Thursday against the Kings, Karl-Anthony Towns recorded the fourth 30-point, 10-rebound, five-assist, five-block game of the season in the NBA. There were a total of four 30-10-5-5 games in the league in the previous six seasons combined. — Jose De Leon


8. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 16-13

The Blazers have won three straight games, all on the road. They lead the league in defensive efficiency (99.0) and opponent field goal percentage (43 percent) on the road. They’ve effectively limited their opponents from the perimeter, allowing the fewest 3s (8.4) and attempts (24.4) per game away from Rip City. — Vincent Johnson


9. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 16-14

The Wizards’ five-man lineup of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and Marcin Gortat outscores opponents by 21.8 points per 100 possessions, the second-best net efficiency by any five-man lineup that has played at least 100 minutes this season. — Jose De Leon


10. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 16-13

Gary Harris didn’t score 20 points in any of his first 12 games of the season. Since then, he has eclipsed the 20-point mark in nine of his past 15 games. That includes a career-high 36 points against the Celtics on Wednesday. A Nuggets player hadn’t scored that many points in Boston since Carmelo Anthony had 42 in 2006. — Jose De Leon


11. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 15-13

The Bucks have failed to make at least 10 3s in each of their past 15 games. No other team has a double-digit streak this season. In that span, they’re shooting 32 percent from deep, worst in the league. What’s more bizarre is that their 3-point percentage drops to 28 percent on uncontested 3s, according to Second Spectrum, by far the worst in the NBA in that span. Milwaukee needs Tony Snell, who is shooting 48 percent from deep this season but has missed Milwaukee’s past five games with patellar tendinitis. — Vincent Johnson


12. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 14-15

In Friday’s triple-overtime win against the 76ers, Russell Westbrook became the fifth player to go for at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a game in the past 50 seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. He joined James Harden, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Micheal Ray Richardson. — Michael Schwartz


13. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 17-13

In Wednesday’s loss against the Pacers, Victor Oladipo missed 17 shots, tied for second most in a game in his career. He was 1-for-7 from the floor and had two turnovers with former Pacer Paul George as his primary defender. — Jose De Leon


14. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 17-13

Tobias Harris, the Pistons’ leading scorer, is in a scoring funk over the past six games. He’s averaging fewer than 13 points per game on 34 percent shooting from the floor and has missed 22 of his 33 3-point attempts. In those games, the Pistons scored six more points per 100 possessions with him on the bench than on the floor. — Jose De Leon


15. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 16-13

Carmelo Anthony‘s return to Madison Square Garden didn’t go as planned for him, as Anthony went scoreless in the second half of a 15-point Knicks win. As a member of the Knicks, Melo had a total of four scoreless halves at the Garden, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. — Michael Schwartz


16. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 15-15

The Pelicans have alternated wins and losses the entire month of December and the two biggest reasons for their inconsistent play are that they haven’t missed and they haven’t defended. They’re shooting a blistering 47 percent from 3 this month, best in the NBA, and have the worst defensive efficiency in the league in that same span (112.6). — Vincent Johnson


17. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 15-14

Erik Spoelstra won his 455th career game on Saturday to pass Pat Riley for the most coaching wins in franchise history. Since Coach Spo took over in 2008-09, the Heat are tied with the Thunder for the second-best record behind only the Spurs. — Michael Schwartz


18. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 14-16

Rudy Gobert is expected to miss three to four weeks with a PCL sprain. The Jazz have fared well without Gobert this season, going 7-5 without him and 7-11 with him. When he has been on the floor, Utah has an offensive efficiency of 96.5 with a net efficiency of minus-4.6. With him on the bench, that efficiency jumps up to 110.9 and the Jazz outscore their opponents by 7.8 points per 100 possessions. — Jose De Leon


19. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 14-14

Joel Embiid has now set a career high in minutes in three consecutive games, culminating with the 49 minutes he played in Friday’s triple-overtime loss to the Thunder. Before this stretch, Embiid had never played more than 36 minutes in a game over his short career. – Michael Schwartz


20. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 11-17

The Clippers went from being one of the best pick-and-roll teams in the NBA last season to one of the worst due to inconsistent play at point guard. They are tied for 24th in the NBA in points per chance in pick-and-roll situations (0.88), according to Second Spectrum. They were tied for second in the NBA last season in that same category (0.99). — Vincent Johnson


21. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 10-17

On Monday night, Kobe Bryant will become the first player in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team. Bryant wore No. 8 for the first 10 seasons of his career and wore No. 24 in his final 10. He scored 16,866 points wearing the No. 8 jersey and 16,777 points in the No. 24. — Jose De Leon


22. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 11-20

In October, the Magic declined the fourth-year option of Mario Hezonja, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft. On Sunday, he had the best game of his career: a career-high 28 points with 8 3-pointers, the most by a Magic player since Arron Afflalo in 2013. What’s the bigger surprise of the season so far for the Magic? This type of performance from Hezonja or the fact that the Magic were actually on top of the Eastern Conference standings near Halloween? — Vincent Johnson


23. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 10-19

On Saturday, the Hornets lost to the Blazers by two points. They have now lost 13 straight games decided by three points or fewer, tying the 2015-16 76ers for the most such losses in the 3-point era (since 1979-80). — Jose De Leon


24. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 11-18

You can look at the Nets’ 11-18 record one of two ways: They’re seven games under .500 and have the fifth-worst team in the Eastern Conference. Or you can say they have 11 wins, a total they didn’t reach last season until March. — Vincent Johnson


25. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 10-21

The Suns won their first game without Devin Booker over the past two seasons Saturday in Minnesota, improving to 1-9 in this time without their star. A 49-point edge in bench points and a plus-21 rebounding margin helped the Suns win despite Booker’s absence and a whopping 27 turnovers. — Michael Schwartz


26. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 8-20

The Bulls are the first team in NBA history to win five straight games immediately following a double-digit losing streak, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. This streak makes the Bulls 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned to the lineup after starting 3-20 without him. — Michael Schwartz


27. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 9-20

Zach Randolph has turned back the clock this month, averaging 21.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent from the floor. All four of his double-doubles this season have come this month. Entering December, he was averaging 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game on 47 percent shooting. — Jose De Leon


28. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 8-22

On Saturday against the Spurs, Dirk Nowitzki matched his season-high with 19 points and made three 3-pointers, which tied Kobe Bryant for 13th on the career 3s list. With four more, he will pass Chauncey Billups for 12th. — Jose De Leon


29. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 9-21

The Grizzlies will look to go up 2-0 on the season against the Warriors on Wednesday. Memphis has three wins against Golden State over the past two seasons, the most by any team in the league. — Jose De Leon


30. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 6-23

The Hawks continue to do a good job of distributing the ball, ranking fourth in the league in assist percentage behind the Warriors, 76ers and Pelicans. This is nothing new for the Hawks, who have ranked no worse than sixth in assist percentage each season since 2010-11. — Jose De Leon



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