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NBAHawks Power Rankings: Season Start-11/13

Our weekly look at Jayhawks in the NBA. Impressions of the season so far in my own Power Rank order.

Markieff has had the look of a man ready to turn it up a notch so far this season.
Markieff has had the look of a man ready to turn it up a notch so far this season.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the last preview should have gone out weeks ago, but the posting schedule is a cruel mistress sometimes... and I'm not going to wait for her to come around. Anyway, I linked to some videos of notable happenings, sadly won't allow embedding, so you'll have to catch them on their site. These are a work in progress, so let me know what you'd like to see in future editions in the comments.

1. Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns):

Markieff may have just flipped the switch. The NBA named MkMorris the Western Conference Player of the week after he exploded in three consecutive games off the bench, he averaged 24.7 points in those three games while shooting 79% from the field. Since '89 only three players have had three games in a row in which they shot better than 75% on 12 or more attempts: Charles Barkley, Dwight Howard, and now Markieff Morris. Markieff is also currently ranked second in Win Shares per-48 minutes in the NBA, just behind Kevin Love with some daylight between the two and Curry/Durant/Paul George, and he is second in the NBA in Offensive Rating as well with a rating of 130.7, just behind Andre Drummond. Congratulations to Keef on the big award, and he definitely deserves this spot on top of our power rankings as an increasingly important piece of the surprising Suns. Even on a night when things weren't going his way, like last night, he still managed 8 points on 8 shots, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in his 26 minutes.

2. Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat):

Mario has had a great season so far after an offseason in which he was praised by his coach for adding some muscle and cutting some fat. He has been unsustainably hot from 3, shooting 58% on 26 attempts, and has a steal% better than Chris Paul that's good enough for 4th in the league. He's on pace for the best assist % of his career and is sitting at 17th in the NBA in offensive rating. The Heat may not be all the way turned on as a unit, but it has nothing to do with Chalmers' contributions.

3. Paul Pierce (Brooklyn Nets):

The Nets have struggled so far this year; it's been far from the juggernaut many imagined with 5 All-Star players in the starting lineup, but as we all saw with the Heat, there are some teething issues whenever a team's complexion changes completely. Regardless, the scoring problems haven't been Paul's fault, he's shooting a great percentage from two, and is at about his career average from 3, though he is being more selective with his shot, and as a result is scoring less. At 36 years of age, that might not be a bad role for the 82 game slog, though something has got to give with the Nets currently sitting at 2-5...

4. Marcus Morris (Phoenix Suns):

Marcus has been featuring more heavily this year than last and has been an important part of Markieff's improvement as their twin savvy has gotten each of them some easy buckets while composing the Suns second unit. Marcus hasn't been nearly as efficient as his brother, but flashed the same sort of ability last week in going for 16 points on 8 shots while corralling 9 rebounds in 26.5 minutes. Marcus is sporting the 15th best steal% in the league as well as the 14th best defensive rating, 10 spots better than the nearest Sun (who coincidentally is his twin).

5. Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings):

Ben had his first career start last night for the Kings. He had been coming off the bench and been a ton of fun to watch, obviously he's still acclimating to the NBA game, but at least a couple times each game he has made a play or two that makes the entire crowd gasp. The jumper is as beautiful as ever and Ben is shooting 40+% from three for the season so far, but he has and will continue to struggle with consistency. You can clearly see that he wants to be aggressive in-game, and at times that means he charges into hopeless situations or puts up a three that may not be the best look. However, with the Kings setup, especially with Ben playing with Isaiah Thomas as his PG, the ball doesn't necessarily head his way too often, which might be the impetus for that impatience. Here's a link to a play that'll ring a bell or two:

6. Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls):

Kirk was in the building for the Champions Classic on Tuesday and it was nice to see some pictures of him interacting with the young guys a bit after the game. His year for the Bulls has been very ho-hum, not great and not terrible, he isn't going to be the reason Chicago wins or loses a game, as he plays the facilitator role as an auxiliary ballhandler and spaces the floor when possible while wearing as many elbow pads, shin-guards, glasses, and sleeves as possible. It's like watching that kid whose mom is terrified of sun exposure play outdoor soccer, and I'm pulling rank for the simple joys of seeing him play NBA ball while dressed that way.

7. Nick Collison (OKC Thunder):

Nick has missed some games due to injury this season, and been limited a bit in his minutes, but he continues to provide his hallmark heady play, setting good screens, taking charges, and converting high-percentage shots from the midrange and in. Here might be the most Collisonian play of the season so-far:

8. Thomas Robinson (Portland Trailblazers):

Thomas has been playing behind a real early-season MVP-candidate in LaMarcus Aldridge, and as a result he hasn't had all that much time on the floor for the surprisingly good Blazers. Last night, however he went to work, tying his career high with 15 points in just 17 minutes on 9 shots with 8 rebounds, a block, and a steal. He needs to become something other than a liability at the charity stripe though, he was 3-9 against Phoenix, and Suns coach Jeff Hornacek actually implemented Hack-a-Robinson for a bit due to his ineptitude there. Regardless, Portland got the 1-point win and Thomas will look to build off of this game going forward. If he makes a leap in production, and is given more minutes, the Blazers will be a very dangerous second-tier team in the West.

9. Xavier Henry (LA Lakers):

X hasn't been terribly consistent lately, part of that has stemmed from not getting to the line quite as much earlier this week, which really limits his game, but on Tuesday night he put together a solid game against New Orleans, 15 points while going 6-8 from the field, 3-3 from three, and had 3 steals. He'll have to work on keeping the TOs down, but it comes with the territory when you're aggressively driving all game but don't have that superstar clout with the officials.

Here's a link to that KU on KU violence that you'll want to watch over and over...

10. Darrell Arthur (Denver Nuggets):

Darrell has clearly not found his niche yet in Denver, he's getting around 16 minutes per game right now, but he just hasn't had the efficiency around the hoop, or anywhere for that matter, shooting 38% from the field for his 4 points per game.

11. Brandon Rush (Utah Jazz):

Brandon's Jazz got their first win of the season last night, but he is clearly still not fully back from his knee injury at the beginning of last season, he played a few minutes early in the year, but was ineffective, and hasn't gotten much game-time since. Despite all that, I'm placing Brandon above the next few guys simply because... well, I guess just because it seems right and these are completely subjective. You'll survive.

12. Jeff Withey (New Orleans Pelicans):

Jeff shockingly has been in the last two games for the Pelicans, in his first NBA game against the Lakers he was very solid, going 2-2 in 18 minutes as well as 5-6 from the line with 5 rebounds, a block, a steal, and public humiliation by Xavier Henry. In his second game last night he was 1-2 from both the floor and the line with 3 rebounds in 9 minutes... All-in-all, it looks like he may be carving out a role down in New Orleans, but as evidenced by his decision making on that Henry posterization, he'll need a little bit of adjustment time for the NBA game.

13. Cole Aldrich (New York Knicks):

He's not getting time, even with the Tyson Chandler injury. However, in 8 minutes of garbage time earlier this week he managed to score 2 points, grab 7 rebounds, and drop 3 dimes... So his per-36s are comical: 7 points, 11 assists, and 25 rebounds per 36 minutes.

14. Tyshawn Taylor (Brooklyn Nets):

Tyshawn may eventually have a role with this Nets team once their ancient players decide to take some rest days or pick up nagging injuries, but Tyshawn had been working with the Nets' D-League affiliate rather than warming the bench for the senior squad (pun intended) early in the season. The development league doesn't have games until a week and a half from now, but they were guaranteed to be having more practice time than their NBA counterparts, so it was probably good for Ty to get where he needs to be to play minutes for Kidd in the future. He got his first minutes in a lopsided loss to the Kings, going 0-3 with an assist in two meaningless minutes at the end. That's the sort of thing that leaves you on the bottom of the rankings.