Posted: Mon November 18, 2013 1:24PM; Updated: Tue December 10, 2013 9:38AM
Matt Dollinger
Matt Dollinger>NBA POWER RANKINGS

From bad to ugly: Knicks, Nets nearing bottom

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Carmelo Anthony
Tough to watch: Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks have fallen to 3-6, including 1-5 at home.
Maddie Meye/Getty Images

The NBA's two biggest payrolls are funding the most disappointing teams early this season.

The Nets ($102 million in salary) and Knicks ($88 million) would be on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today. Adding insult to injury, the league's two most frugal teams, the 76ers ($48 million) and Suns ($53 million), have both won more games despite paying roughly half as much.

The sluggish starts from the two New York teams are testing their stars' patience. Carmelo Anthony eviscerated the Knicks' effort after Saturday's loss to Atlanta, and Paul Pierce said the Nets weren't showing a sense of pride. With the losses mounting and the spotlight shining brighter, something has to give for the Knicks and Nets. Because if there's one thing we know, it's that New York owner James Dolan and Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov aren't exactly the understanding types. Knicks coach Mike Woodson is reportedly already on the hot seat, and the Jason Kidd Experiment is off to a disastrous start in Brooklyn.

The Knicks and Nets have plenty of time to turn things around, but right now it's hard to imagine either squad challenging Indiana, Miami or Chicago in the playoffs. Both sit in the bottom third of this week's Power Rankings, riddled with glaring holes and injured or limited stars.

With Indiana losing its first game, the ever-reliable Spurs take over No. 1 for the first time this season. The Nuggets make this week's biggest climb, jumping 13 spots to No. 15, while the Nets drop seven spots, to No. 23, in taking this week's biggest tumble.

(Note: All statistics and records through Nov. 17.)

NBA Power Rankings
 
1 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 2
Since: 3-0
There's nothing to tell you about the Spurs that you don't already know, but the fact that they've won seven straight and nine of 10 despite career-low shooting percentages from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili is numbingly good.
 
2 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 1
Since: 2-1
Roy Hibbert has dominated defensively, averaging a full block (4.6) more than anyone else in the league, but Indiana also needs the big man to assert himself on offense. The 7-foot-2 center is averaging his fewest attempts (9.1) since his second season, in 2009-10, despite hitting more than half his shots.
 
3 Miami Heat
Last Week: 5
Since: 3-0
After falling to 4-3 with a home loss to the Celtics, the Heat responded with three consecutive victories behind LeBron James. The reigning MVP averaged 34 points (on 70.2 percent shooting!) in victories over Milwaukee, Dallas and Charlotte.
 
4 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 6
Since: 3-0
No one had a better week than the Clippers, who downed the Timberwolves, Thunder and Nets at home. Doc Rivers is getting the most out of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, with both averaging more points and rebounds than they did last season. Adding Lamar Odom sure doesn't sound like a stroke of genius, but the team isn't getting anything out of Matt Barnes besides controversy.
 
5 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 8
Since: 3-0
Klay Thompson scored 25 points in Saturday's home win over Utah. The Warriors improved to 7-0 when he scores at least 14 points, giving them even more reason to feed the league's most prolific three-pointer shooter, who is hitting a league-best 3.5 per game and making 51.5 percent.
 
6 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 3
Since: 1-2
After finishing third in the NBA and leading the Thunder in shots per game last season, Russell Westbrook is already averaging more attempts (18.4) than Kevin Durant (17.1) this season, even though one player is coming off knee surgery and the other has won the scoring title in three of the last four seasons.
 
7 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 10
Since: 4-0
Offseason additions Mo Williams, Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson are lifting a Blazers bench that averaged only 18.5 points per game last season. Portland beat Toronto in overtime Sunday to record its first six-game winning streak since February 2011.
 
8 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 4
Since: 2-2
There's a lot to like about the Wolves, who lead the league in pace and have top-10 units in offensive and defensive efficiency. Kevin Love is putting up MVP-type numbers, averaging 26.8 points and 13.6 rebounds with a PER of 29.7.
 
9 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 9
Since: 3-1
A mini-spell of Linsanity broke out last week (25.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds in four games), including a 21-point performance in a win over the Knicks in the place where it all started, New York. Jeremy Lin is playing a leading role on a team with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Such is life for the Knicks.
 
10 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 17
Since: 3-0
That sound you hear? A collective sigh of relief from Bulls Nation, which saw Derrick Rose score 20 points for the first time this season, in Chicago's feel-good rout of Indiana on Saturday. The Bulls have won four straight games by double digits after starting 1-3.
 
11 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 12
Since: 2-1
Monta Ellis is playing like his pre-Bucks self, averaging a team-high 21.7 points and shooting 47.1 percent, his highest mark since 2007-08. Unfortunately for Dallas, pre-Bucks Monta Ellis wasn't much of a defender, either.
 
12 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 7
Since: 0-2
The Suns were three points away from a 7-2 start, but suffered two heartbreaking losses last week. In fact, all of their four losses have been by seven points or fewer, a painful rite of passage for a young NBA team.
 
13 Atlanta Hawks
Last Week: 14
Since: 3-1
We are officially throwing Jeff Teague's name into the hat for Most Improved Player. He's upped his PER from 16.8 to 21.3 and he's pacing a balanced attack by leading Atlanta in scoring (19.4) and assists (9.0).
 
14 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 13
Since: 2-2
Zach Randolph is coming to life, posting back-to-back 20-and-10 games after registering just two in the previous eight games. Road wins over the Lakers and Kings gave the Grizzlies consecutive victories for the first time this season.
 
15 Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 28
Since: 3-1
The Nuggets are scoring again, hitting the century mark in six straight after falling short in their first three. The return of Wilson Chandler (15.0 points in three games) has been big and should help Denver stay afloat until Danilo Gallinari returns from knee surgery.
 
16 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 20
Since: 2-2
The Bobcats should welcome .500 basketball with open arms, especially considering that the starting backcourt of Kemba Walker (34 percent) and Gerald Henderson (36.6 percent) is struggling from the field and Al Jefferson has been in and out of the lineup.
 
17 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 11
Since: 1-3
Philadelphia went 1-3 for the second straight week and is coming off its worst defeat of the season, a 37-point walloping from the Pelicans. Here's a sentence I didn't think I would type this season: Michael Carter-Williams' absence has loomed large.
 
18 Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 23
Since: 2-2
This might be Mike D'Antoni's worst offense ever (25th in points per possession), but the coach is finding a way to keep the Lakers afloat. Kobe Bryant is moving closer to returning from Achilles surgery.
 
19 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 15
Since: 1-3
Rudy Gay has the lowest field-goal percentage (38.2) of any player shooting more than 16 times per game, making him the least efficient No. 1 option in the league. In last Monday's overtime loss at Houston, Gay became only the second player in history to shoot at least 37 times and not score 30 points. (He finished with 29.) In his defense, the other was Michael Jordan.
 
20 New Orleans Pelicans
Last Week: 19
Since: 1-2
In his first game of the season, Ryan Anderson scored 26 points in 26 minutes off the bench to spark New Orleans' blowout of the 76ers. Another key reserve, Tyreke Evans, has produced back-to-back solid games after a rocky start with his new team.
 
21 Orlando Magic
Last Week: 22
Since: 1-2
The Magic have a special player in Victor Oladipo, but just not a point guard. If his nine turnovers against Dallas weren't compelling enough, his league-worst assist-to-turnover ratio (0.83 to 1) should serve as a red flag to Orlando.
 
22 Boston Celtics
Last Week: 21
Since: 1-3
The Celtics have followed a four-game winning streak with a three-game losing skid. That slide could continue with games against the Rockets, Spurs, Pacers and Hawks this week.
 
23 Brooklyn Nets
Last Week: 16
Since: 1-2
The injury woes are starting to pile up, with Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko all missing Saturday's game against the Clippers. Brooklyn's lone remaining star, Joe Johnson, went 5-of-17 from the field in the loss, which dropped the Nets to 1-5 on the road.
 
24 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 18
Since: 1-3
The Pistons have lost six of seven, own the league's worst defense and are giving up a stunning 1.15 points per possession when the trio of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith is on the floor. Things could be better.
 
25 Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: 24
Since: 1-3
No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett has been terrible (twice as many fouls as baskets), Dion Waiters reportedly got into a confrontation in a players-only meeting and the Cavaliers are getting very little from the big man trio of Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller. Luckily for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving can do things like this.
 
26 New York Knicks
Last Week: 26
Since: 1-2
Moving J.R. Smith into the starting lineup has produced more of the same for the struggling Knicks. Coach Mike Woodson would be wise to give more minutes to Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin, two veterans who could help shore up the third-worst defense in the league.
 
27 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 25
Since: 0-3
Bradley Beal has scored at least 28 points in three of his last five games, only for the Wizards to go 1-4. One problem? Backcourt mate John Wall is shooting 28.9 percent over that same span.
 
28 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 29
Since: 1-2
Coach Michael Malone sat his starters the final 19½ minutes of Sunday's loss to Memphis, sending a message that his team's recent futility won't be tolerated. Sacramento's starters have the second-to-worst net rating in the league and haven't shown much of a pulse outside of DeMarcus Cousins.
 
29 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 27
Since: 0-4
The Bucks won't give up on this season just because of an ugly start, but it's going to be harder to justify leaving John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo on the bench if the losses keep piling up as older, more expensive players struggle in front of them.
 
30 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 30
Since: 1-3
Utah Jazz (1-10)
The Jazz's youngsters finally got their first win and have been playing decently, with the exception of Alec Burks, who has lost his early touch and is shooting just 30.8 percent over his last six games. Burks moved into the starting lineup last week for the first time in his three-year career.
 
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