We’re at the one-third pole here in the NBA season, and already, teams have begun to forge their identities. But within the overall directions of teams this season, we’ve also seen some recent trends emerge.
So, as we pull together this week’s NBA Power Rankings, we’ll focus on some of the more subtle trends that have emerged within each team.
Trend: On a nine-game winning streak since Chris Paul returned, and the offense is humming, with a league-best 62.5 true shooting percentage in that span. But they’re also tops in defensive efficiency during the streak, allowing 98.7 points per 100 possessions.
Trend: Kevin Durant has played only four games without Stephen Curry in the last two years, but his numbers have been impressive: 31.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 49.5 percent shooting.
Trend: Over their stretch of 14 wins in 15 games, the Cavaliers’ effective field-goal percentage (adjusted for 3-pointers) is 56.0, and their opponents’ is just 50.8. In their first 12 games, their eFG was 54.3 and their opponents’ was 56.1.
Trend: At 6-3, the Celtics are the only team to have a record over .500 when trailing or tied entering the fourth quarter. They’re 11-5 when behind or tied at the end of the first half, second only to Golden State (9-2).
Trend: Four wins in December have shown what Toronto’s ball-sharing offense would be like at its best. The Raptors' assist percentage in those games is 60.7, seventh in the league in that span.
Trend: Rudy Gay, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, has started the past four games, and the Spurs have gone 4-0. When Gay scores at least 11 points this season, San Antonio is 14-2.
Trend: Indiana is now 13-6 when Victor Oladipo scores 20-plus points. They had been 0-3 when Oladipo scored 30 or more, but won back-to-back games over Denver and Cleveland with Oladipo scoring 47 against the Nuggets and 33 against Cleveland.
Trend: The Bucks have gone 7-0 in their last 15 games when they have been within five points with five minutes to go. They’re a plus-5.9 in those situations over that span, best in the league.
Trend: The Timberwolves have cemented their record against mostly bad teams. Only three of their last 13 games have come against teams over .500, and they’re 1-2 in those games. They’re 6-4 in their other 10. None of their next three opponents are over .500.
Trend: The Nuggets have won nine of their last 10 at home, with a net rating of plus-8.9 in that stretch, third in the league. Unfortunately, they’re in a stretch of 10 road games out of 13 that includes Sunday’s blown 19-point lead in Indiana.
Trend: The Wizards are wrapping up their five-game trip in Brooklyn on Tuesday, their 16th road game of the year, which will tie them for the most in the league. They will then play 13 of their next 17 at Capital One Arena, but they’ve only gone 6-5 at home.
12. Trail Blazers
Trend: During their four-game losing streak, the Blazers’ tenuous defense has fallen apart, allowing 50.1 percent from the field and 115.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 29th in that span.
Trend: The Thunder have won four of their last five games, but their offensive problems remain: They’re shooting 29.8 percent from the 3-point line in that stretch (28th) and the bench is averaging 19.2 points (29th).
Trend: For just the second time this season, the Pelicans won a game on Sunday while being outrebounded, beating Philadelphia despite a 47-33 rebounding deficit. New Orleans is 2-7 when being outrebounded, and 12-6 when it has the advantage on the glass.
Trend: In their last three games, all losses, the Jazz have leaned on rookie Donovan Mitchell for 93 points. Their other four starters have scored a total of 104 points in those three games.
Trend: The Sixers have fallen behind in each of their last four games, and lost all of them. That’s been typical this season — Philadelphia is 1-10 when trailing or tied at the half, and only Atlanta (1-11) and Dallas (1-13) are worse.
Trend: When the Pistons shoot 46 percent from the field or better, they’re 11-1. They’re 3-11 in their other games, including their six-game losing streak, during which they’ve shot just 40.8 percent.
Trend: The Heat rank 21st in the NBA in pace, at 98.3 possessions per 48 minutes, according to league stats. But it might help to speed up, because the team is 6-3 when the pace is 100 or more.
Trend: The Knicks have outshot their opponents over the last nine games, 48.3 percent to 46.0 percent, yet have gone just 3-6 in those games. The chief culprit: turnovers. New York has a turnover percentage 16.6 in that span, 28th in the NBA.
Trend: In his last 11 games since he last failed to reach double-digit scoring, Brandon Ingram is averaging 19.2 points on 47.0 percent shooting, with 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Trend: December has been good for the Brooklyn defense. In four games this month, the Nets are No. 1 in the league in defensive efficiency, 99.4 points per 100 possessions. Before December, they were 26th, at 108.1 points per 100 possessions.
Trend: Not much has gone right lately for this team, but Lou Williams has been on a hot streak. He is averaging 26.8 points over the past six games, making 44.2 percent of his 3s.
Trend: The Hornets have lost seven of their last eight, and their utter lack of depth has been a big part of the problem. In those eight games, the bench has been a minus-4.5, the worst in the league in that stretch.
Trend: The Magic are 3-13 in their last 16 games, and the defense has been terrible. They’re allowing 112.5 points per 100 possessions in that time, worst in the league, after having ranked seventh (101.3) when they got off to an 8-4 start.
Trend: The Mavericks are the only team in the league that has not won a game when trailing or tied entering the fourth quarter. They’re 0-17 this year, and they’re also 1-14 in clutch situations (within five points in the final five minutes), worst in the NBA.
Trend: Suns opponents have had a field day scoring on their defense — in their last six games, which includes five losses, Phoenix has given up 49.4 percent shooting and 38.2 percent from the 3-point line.
Trend: Guard George Hill has played 20-plus minutes only twice in six games, and he missed Sunday’s game against the Raptors for personal reasons. He has averaged just 7.2 points in his past five games, and he is expected to be trade bait in the coming weeks.
Trend: The Grizzlies’ defensive rating is 111.5 since David Fizdale was fired, 25th in the league. Before that, it had been 103.1, which was 12th.
Trend: The record is poor, but second-year forward Taurean Prince continues to impress. In his last three games, he is averaging 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He’s shooting 60.7 percent in those games.
Trend: Point guard Kris Dunn has finally gotten his NBA legs under him in recent weeks. In his last seven games, Dunn has averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Better yet, he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from the 3-point line.