1. Indiana (27-6): The Pacers are still good, you guys.
2. Miami (26-8): The Heat are 3-1 since are last power rankings and they would be 4-0 if not for running into the Buzzsaw that is Golden State. Recently the Heat have taken care of the opponents they should beat, which shows they are focused despite being back to back champs.
3. Portland (26-8): Most of the Blazers’ games this season have been interesting/entertaining. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but as long as they keep beating the good teams and avoid losing to the bad teams (cough, 76ers, cough), they will be fine.
4. Oklahoma City (27-7): KD put up a very, very smooth and efficient 48 the other night and Reggie Jackson scored a career high 27. Mr. Westbrook can take his time getting healthy if need be.
5. San Antonio (26-8): The Spurs lost to the New York Knicks this week and if you ask Greg Popovich it is because they are soft. After the loss to NY Popovich was his old negative self when discussing his team (per Jeff McDonald) :
“Most of the time physical, aggressive teams are going to win in the NBA…That’s just the way it is. I thought we were very poor in that area. We should be embarrassed about how soft we played tonight.”
6. Golden State (23-13): 9 straight wins have this squad flying upwards and my preseason pick to come out of the west is looking good. The crazy part is, they rarely all put it together for a full night, but when you have the scoring punch this team does, you really only need a couple people to show up to put up huge points. I can see this team continuing there run and making separation from the Clippers and Rockets while closing the gap on the top of the conference.
7. Houston (22-13): Apparently the Rockets are likely to keep Omer Asik past the deadline, due to a lack of trade value. To me this has to be posturing, since the Rockets are not currently the title contender they fancied themselves to be before the season. They need to add pieces or they are not jumping any of the teams ahead of them.
“Teams that are tanking don’t want him to make them better and winning teams want to steal him,” one rival GM said (per Ken Berger)
8. LAC (23-13): The loss of Chris Paul will set this team back, but regardless they will be a playoff squad and a dangerous one at that. Hey, in good news, or at least entertaining news, Jamal Crawford will have the biggest green light of his career.
9. Phoenix (20-12): I hate to repeat myself here, but there isn’t one player wowing in Phoenix. It’s a total team effort and one of the most entertaining brands of basketball in the league. Besides the Warriors, this is my runner up for most entertaining team so far.
10. Toronto (16-16): Rise of the Raptor will be hitting this blog sometime tomorrow so check in for more information and analysis, but for the meantime i will live you with this: they have won 7 of 9, with the only losses coming to Miami and San Antonio. They have only lost 4 of 14 since trading away Rudy Gay and the play of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan has the Raptors looking like a tough opponent night in and night out.
11. Dallas (19-15): The Mavs have now lost two in a row, the most recent being a 12 point loss to the New York Knicks (who could suddenly be deemed hot after their 2-1 Texas roadtrip). Will Dallas be willing to cut into their financial flexibility in order to guarantee their playoff spot? Or will they roll with what they have and hope for the best in free agency next year?
12. Minnesota (16-17): In the battle of Kevins, Love got out-dueled by Durant the other night. That was a telling performance and indicative of Love-related criticisms. Gaudy numbers, but can he be a leader and clutch at the end of games.
13. Atlanta (18-16): The Hawks are reeling, losing 3 of their last four (their only win was against lowly Boston). Can they stay in the playoff picture? Or will they take their cap space, their probable lottery pick (from Brooklyn) and move towards the future?
14. New Orleans (15-17): The Pelicans are a young exciting team, and if they were in the Eastern Conference they would be a contender. In the crowded West they are still a year or two away from competing. With some young attractive pieces and a glut at shooting guard don’t count out NO until after the trade deadline. On a side note I want to wish Ryan Anderson a speedy recovery after his scary injury at Boston on Friday.
15. Memphis (15-18): The Grizzlies should be finalizing a deal for Courtney Lee, in which they ship out Jerryd Bayless. In the reported deal, Memphis seems to be taking on long term salary, were they just in a huge rush to rid themselves of Bayless or do they believe Lee is an important bench piece going forward?
16. Denver (16-17): We can stop digging their grave. They are actually alive, despite what we thought a week ago. This team was flat-lining, but with how inconsistent Minnesota is, they are likely going to be in the thick of things.
17. Washington (14-17): The Wizards are losers of three in a row and in the midst of a five game stretch in which they would be lucky to win two games. Even if they lose all five en route to an 8 game losing streak they will still be in the thick of the playoff race, because you know the East.
18. Chicago (14-18): This is the Bulls’ season:
You really hope that they can make it to that next rock, but they just aren’t talented enough to do it.
19. Charlotte (15-20): The Bobcats finally got off the snide against Sacramento following a five game losing streak beforehand. During this losing streak their trademark defense has evaporated, leaving a team that brought a sharpened stick to shoot outs against some solid offensive teams.
20. Detroit (14-20): Detroit is playing a game called “How big can this losing streak get before we are forced to trade either Greg Monroe or Josh Smith?” and I don’t know if they’re winning.
21. Philadelphia (12-21): Just as i counted this team out, they run off 4 straight wins including the game against a dominant Portland squad. What a job they did taking a risk on Tony Wrotten, cause that dude, can ball.
22. Brooklyn (12-21): “Brooklyn, we go hard”. This team needs to keep showing its fight and its my opinion that Paul Pierce needs to make this his team. Someone needs to step up and be the leader and Pierce can do that. It doesn’t mean 20 shots a game, but it does mean putting the team on his back when needed. I still believe in the TRUTH. Kidd moving him to power forward is not only fun, but highly effective.
23. Boston (13-21): This team just can’t close tight games in the 4th. Jeff Green is the most infuriating player to root for. He has all the talent in the world, some nights looks like a Pippen clone, but most nights, just puts up a sub-par effort. I love and hate him.
24. LA Lakers (14-20): This team really needs to start over. Pau needs to be traded and they need to start building for the future. The Lakers will always draw star power, but they need to clear the cap space to do so first. Their only win in their last 8 was against Utah. Yikes.
25. New York (11-22): A nice win against Dallas stopped the bleeding, but the biggest worry for me is the continued awful play of JR Smith. Carmelo gets, and deserves a lot of the blame, but JR Smith deserves more. I can’t think of a player playing worse for their team right now, and yes I mean that.
26. Cleveland (11-23) – Kyrie’s hurt for who knows how long, they won 1 out of their last 9 and they are actively shopping the corpse of Andrew Bynum. Cleveland Rocks!
27. Sacramento (11-25): This version of the Sacramento Queens looks a lot like the last few.
28 Utah (11-25) – No update here. They are trying, but they literally aren’t making any progress. Can’t score/defend/pass/rebound well.
29. Orlando (10-23): The Magic just aren’t very good and they haven’t even started to sell off their veteran pieces yet. This team has a lot further to fall and has a good chance to get a great prospect in the draft.
30. Milwaukee (7-26): I think they’re content with being last. They are owning it and seeing themselves as the current winners of Tank Watch. If last night’s Packers game was any indication, -25 degree temperatures must make Parker/Wiggins/Randle thrilled about the possibility of playing there.