Our weekly NBA Power Rankings, where we are starting to believe in the Hornets but not the Hawks. Oh, and just bench Baron Davis.
1. Lakers (7-0). Best offense in the NBA so far, defense is solid (10th in league in defensive points given up per possession) and all that without Andrew Bynum. The schedule is pretty soft, but the Lakers are destroying it.
2. Celtics (6-1). Wins this week against the Thunder, Bulls and Bucks — good week for old men.
3. Hornets (7-0). Sure, Chris Paul is a god and all but the Hornets are doing it with defense. How? David West is really playing hard on that end of the floor, meaning Emeka Okafor doesn’t have to help as much, and everything keeps its form.
4. Heat (4-2). Losses came to the Celtics — a very big, long front line — and the Hornets, who got a huge night out of Okafor. Sensing a pattern here? Are big front lines going to be an issue for the Heat?
5. Hawks (6-1). Pardon us if we are not terribly impressed with this record — the six wins come against the Grizzlies, Sixers, Wizards, Cavs, Pistons and T-Wolves. This week the Magic, Jazz and Bucks are better tests.
6. Magic (4-1). The defense is getting it done, but they are going to have to shoot better than 35.7 from three to keep winning games. They are a little banged up with Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter sore but likely to play.
7. Spurs (4-1). Richard Jefferson has been the best player on the team. Didn’t think we’d be typing that sentence.
8. Nuggets (4-2). Thing to watch: How the Bulls fans welcome Carmelo Anthony to the United Center Monday night. The Nuggets look pretty good considering how Chauncey Billups has not shot the ball well at all.
9. Mavericks (3-2). Dirk Nowitzki is playing his best basketball in a few years. The rest of the Mavericks are off their offensive game (Brendan Haywood, two points of fewer in four of the last five), and the team is 20th in offensive efficiency. Expect that to improve.
10. Blazers (5-3). Don’t read much into the blowout at the hands of the Lakers, second night of a back-to-back, sixth game in nine days. Still, they have got start rebounding the ball better — they are grabbing just 66.8 percent of opponent missed shots, third worst in the league.
11. Warriors (4-2). We’re not convinced they are really better than the next few teams below them, but they are playing better right now so they get the love. Best thing Keith Smart is done? The Warriors are 11th in defensive efficiency right now. The Jazz scored just 78 points on them.
12. Thunder (3-3). Turnovers killed them against Boston. The offense is stagnant and relies too much on isolation. The defense isn’t creating turnovers that lead to fast break points. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are good enough to win them some games, but the Thunder are not yet right.
13. Jazz (3-3). They have not found their footing and this week head out on the road to Miami, Orlando and Atlanta. Tough spot.
14. Suns (3-3). Steve Nash’s assist percentage — percent of team field goal he assists on when he is on the floor — is down to 40 percent, lowest it has been since he came to Phoenix. You get the feeling that is more about his teammates than Nash.
15. Bulls (2-3). Chicago is 18th in defensive efficiency in the league, not what we expected from a Tom Thibodeau coached team. The return of Carlos Boozer is not going to help at that end of the floor, either.
16. Grizzlies (3-4). Rudy Gay is on fire and the Grizzlies are about to start a home stand. Things could be looking up in Memphis. Whether or not that brings people to the gate is another issue.
17. Knicks (3-3). We told you Knicks fans, you were going to love Ronny Turiaf.
18. Kings (3-3). DeMarcus Cousins, welcome to the NBA. You have the skills, but it is not going to be easy.
19. Cavaliers (3-3). If the playoffs started today, they would be the four seed in the East because they lead the division.
20. Bucks (2-5). Their offense is just terrible (29th in league in offensive efficiency) and while their defense can keep them close they’ve got to put the ball in the peach basket to win.
21. Sixers (2-5). After a terrible first week they had a decent second one, winning two and hanging in two others. Maybe they aren’t as bad as we thought.
22. Pacers (2-3). Thought Darren Collison was going to fix this, but he hasn’t — the Pacers are 28th in the league in offensive efficiency. Not good.
23. Nets (2-4). Paging the real Brook Lopez, please report to Newark. Whoever is filling in for the real Lopez is not nearly as good.
24. Pistons (2-5). A 2-2 week despite benching Rodney Stuckey and starting Tracy McGrady for a game. The problems here are deep and systemic, but Rip Hamilton can still win you some games.
25. Bobcats (1-5). It seems like every year we write about the Bobcats slow start. Why is that?
26. Rockets (1-5). You can be glass half full — all five losses are to quality teams. But this team has struggled when Yao is in the game, and now for the next month they will be without Aaron Brooks.
27. Raptors (1-5). Remember when last week we said the Raptors were playing good defense. Scratch that.
28. Wizards (1-4). Gilbert Arenas is back and with John Wall this team should get better. Have yet to see it on the court, but they should.
29. Clippers (1-6). Put me in the “keep Baron Davis on the bench, play Bledsoe and Gordon more” camp. It may mean more losses short term but Baron is not the future. And more Eric Gordon is good for everyone.
30. Timberwolves (1-6). Yes Orlando and Miami are good, but to lose by a combined 74? Wolves fans, not sure how much your team will move out of this spot this season.