After just the second full week in the NBA, the cream is rising to the top. No longer are the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder looking weak. No longer are the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors looking promising.
The power rankings are updated every Wednesday, so make sure to continue checking back.
Last week’s rankings is in parentheses. Teams in green are risers, teams in red have fallen.
1. (2) San Antonio Spurs (7-1) – Three consecutive road wins with a less-than-healthy Tony Parker has the Spurs flying high. Tim Duncan is playing like its 2005 and Danny Green is making shots. Where’s Manu Ginobili been?
2. (3) New York Knicks (5-0) - Knicks had a rather uneventful week, with a home win over the Mavericks and a road win over the Magic. We’ll find out a lot about Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and company this week, with back-to-backs at the Spurs and Grizzlies.
3. (1) Miami Heat (6-2) – LeBron James is shooting 55%, Chris Bosh 56.9% and Ray Allen 52.3%. That can’t keep up, which means the defense needs to improve. A loss at the Grizzlies is nothing to be upset about, but a tough game at Houston is.
4. (5) Oklahoma City Thunder (6-2) – Good teams take care of business. Two wins over the Pistons, one over the Cavs and a good win at the Bulls made a good week. Kevin Durant is playing MVP basketball and Russell Westbrook is at his polarizing-best.
5. (7) Memphis Grizzlies (5-1) - Marc Gasol is just the second center in 17 years to average 5.2 assists per game and shoot 89.3% from the free-throw line. Grizz travel to OKC and have a home game against the Knicks this week. We’ll see if this is just smoke and mirrors.
6. (9) Los Angeles Clippers (5-2) – Their next five games are against the Heat, Bulls, Spurs, Thunder and Nets. Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are balling right now and are the best team in Los Angeles.
7. (4) Chicago Bulls (4-3) - Home losses to the Thunder and Celtics don’t help when a five-game road trip is on deck. Joakim Noah is playing out of his mind right now and Luol Deng is doing the same. 40.4 minutes per game for Deng and 39.3 for Noah are concerns.
8. (19) Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2) – The Wolves are playing terrific defense behind Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic. A nice win at Dallas and at home against Indiana overshadowed a road loss to the Bulls. A light week, with home games against the Bobcats and Warriors are what this team needs to heal. Kevin Love is just a few weeks away from his return.
9. (13) Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) - A new coach on the way and a good week under Bernie Bickerstaff. They still haven’t beat a good team, yet. Five consecutive games holding their opponent under 100 points is a good sign. Kobe Bryant is tremendous and Dwight Howard is finally looking healthy. How long will Pau Gasol shoot 40.4%?
10. (10) Milwaukee Bucks (4-2) – They’re a confusing bunch in Milwaukee. Two road wins, including a quality win at Philadelphia, combined with a tough home loss against the Celtics. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings need to improve their 39.3% and 41.8% field goal shooting quickly.
11. (12) Denver Nuggets (4-4) – Just as they were getting going, with a four-game winning streak over the Pistons, Rockets, Jazz and Warriors, they have a bad loss at Phoenix. This week will be brutal, with a home game against the Heat, then a road trip to the Spurs, Grizzlies and Timberwolves. Danilo Gallinari is still shooting 31.1% and Ty Lawson is at just 40.7%.
12. (11) Boston Celtics (4-3) - They’re finally waking up, but aren’t clicking on the defensive end. Wins at the Bucks and Bulls are important in the Eastern Conference, but where’s the defense? Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are doing their part, but Paul Pierce needs to shoot better than 38.3%.
13. (15) New Orleans Hornets (3-2) - A strange scheduling week, as the Hornets played just one game in six days, a win over the Bobcats. Anthony Davis has stepped up huge with 17.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG and 2.7 BPG. The Rookie of the Year award is firmly in his grasp. Greivis Vasquez deserves more attention with his 8.8 assists per game for this surprising team.
14. (16) Brooklyn Nets (4-2) - Their two losses are to the Wolves (5-2) and the Heat (6-2). This Nets team is starting to get their legs beneath them, although Brook Lopez allowing Varejao to go for 35 and 18 is a big issue. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are still learning to play together, and they really miss Gerald Wallace out there.
15. (21) Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) – New reports have Andrew Bynum out another six weeks. That’s terrible news for a team without an offensive identity. Evan Turner has a great game, then disappears. Jrue Holiday is awesome in the box score, but also turns it over way too much. By the time Bynum gets back and in shape, it’s going to be 2013.
16. (17) Utah Jazz (4-4) - The Jazz are proving that they’re not a bad team, just one that’s flawed. Between Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams, who is the go-to guy? Games on the road against the Celtics and 76ers this week means they’ll need to find out soon.
17. (22) Atlanta Hawks (3-3) – The Hawks are painfully mediocre and they continue to show it. They win and lose where they should with a close win over the Pacers, followed by losses to the Heat and Clippers, finishing with a win over the Blazers. Al Horford, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and Louis Williams are who we thought they were.
18. (6) Dallas Mavericks (4-4) – A freefall in Dallas is showing how much they miss Dirk Nowitzki. Losses to the Knicks, Bobcats and Wolves have the Mavericks holding on for dear life. O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Chris Kaman are impressing, but then it falls off.
19. (27) Phoenix Suns (4-4) – One thing’s for sure, the Suns are feisty. They came back from a huge deficit to beat the Cavs and then had a nice win against the Nuggets. They’ve got a tough three games in four nights against the Bulls, Lakers and Heat this week. Can Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola keep it up?
20. (8) Indiana Pacers (3-5) - A tough week for Pacers’ fans. After learning Danny Granger would be out three months, they lose three games by a combined seven points. Nobody can make a basket right now, as no regular is shooting over 50%. George Hill averaging 4.8 assists as the starting point guard is trouble, and Paul George turning it over 3.4 times per game as a forward is worse.
21. (14) Houston Rockets (3-4) - They’re beginning to show signs of weakness and teams are taking notice. If James Harden doesn’t go off, the team can’t win. Jeremy Lin can’t create his own offense and Omer Asik averaging 3.6 turnovers as a center is remarkable.
22. (18) Portland Trail Blazers (3-5) - The Damian Lillard bandwagon is thinning out fast. After starting hot, Lillard is cooling considerably, as are the Blazers. A win at the Kings ended a four-game losing streak. Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge deserve some credit too, as this team’s bench is horrid and they have to pick up the slack.
23. (20) Golden State Warriors (3-4) - The one thing that the Warriors didn’t want was a part-time center in Andrew Bogut, but that’s what they’ve got. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both averaging five rebounds per game, which is strange. At some point, Mark Jackson has to share in his team’s failures.
24. (28) Charlotte Bobcats (3-3) - Look at the Bobcats, with a .500 record under Mike Dunlap. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is working hard and the loss of Gerald Henderson to a foot injury hasn’t hurt that much. Kemba Walker could be a Most Improved Player candidate and Ramon Sessions has been a solid pickup.
25. (25) Orlando Magic (2-5) – They got beat up twice by the Nets, scoring only 68 and 74 points. Their other two losses this week saw them score 75 and 89. Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick are playing well, but Glen Davis is complaining already and they miss Jameer Nelson a lot.
26. (24) Cleveland Cavaliers (2-6) – Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao combined for 69 points, 22 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals against the Nets on Tuesday, but they lost. The bench scored just six points. Dion Waiters has been better than expected, minus his 3-for-16 shooting performance in his last game.
27. (23) Toronto Raptors (2-6) - They were expected to play great defense, and they haven’t. They clamped down against the Pacers on Tuesday night, but also set a record for fewest points scored (5) in the fourth quarter in a win. DeMar DeRozan has been pretty good and Jose Calderon got his first triple double. Kyle Lowry and his constant injuries have to be disappointing for Raps’ fans.
28. (26) Sacramento Kings (2-6) - They’re dysfunctional, they take bad shots and they turn the ball over. If they were lovable, that would be great. Instead, DeMarcus Cousins gets suspended for his verbal assault on a commentator and Thomas Robinson gets suspended for elbowing Jonas Jerebko in the face. Jimmer Fredette is averaging eight points in 10.4 minutes and is shooting 56.8% from the field.
29. (29) Washington Wizards (0-6) – Horrible, terrible, horrific, ghastly. Those are words to describe the Wizards offense right now. Bradley Beal leads the team with just 12.2 per game and A.J. Price is the only other player in double figures, with 10. They’re shooting 34.4% and 30.6%. It’s sad, because John Wall and Nene would make this team so much better.
30. (30) Detroit Pistons (0-8) – A six-game road trip (all losses) followed by a home loss to the Thunder means the Pistons remain at the bottom. Rodney Stuckey has raised (lol) his field goal percentage to 28.2. Greg Monroe is the lone bright spot, averaging 15.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.9 SPG and 1.3 BPG. If they don’t win, should we even care?
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