Our weekly NBA Power Rankings, or, how Laker fans shouldn’t panic unless they get up by 18 against the Jazz.
1. Hornets (8-0). They are not going to win 82, or 72, or even 62. But what this kind of start does is make it very likely they are playoff bound. And after watching them and CP3 the first couple weeks, you think anyone wants them in the first round?
2. Celtics (8-2). A bunch of old guys who are supposed to start slow, all their centers are banged up, and yet is there any question they are the best team in the East right now?
3. Lakers (8-2). Two losses in one week will cause some Lakers fans to reach for the panic button, because they can be a bunch of nervous poodles. But as Suns coach Alvin Gentry said, Phoenix hit 22 threes and still had to hang on to win. The Lakers are fine, just entering their disinterested part of the season.
4. Spurs (8-1). Seven straight wins for the Spurs. Tony Parker is dealing, Manu is Manu again, and when Matt Bonner is hitting 80 percent from three you know they have it going. It all comes down to health with these guys.
5. Jazz (7-3). I dare you to take a big lead on them. Just dare you. They head out on a tough road trip to the Southwest and find themselves, come back as real threats in the West.
6. Mavericks (6-3). The Mavs are doing it on defense — they are fourth in the league in defensive efficiency, giving up 100.1 points per 100 possessions. That should scare teams because you know the offense will come around.
7. Heat (6-4). Dwyane Wade is right, they are the best 6-4 (now) team in the league. But they are still a 6-4 team, and like the rest of them they have flaws.
8. Magic (6-3). They have hit 34.7 percent of their threes, jus 19th best in the league. Down from 37.5 percent last season. That’s a big drop for a team that relies heavily on the deep ball.
9. Hawks (7-4). They’re good on offense, not that good on defense. In fact, 11 games in they are giving up 1.1 more points per 100 possessions than last season. Remember, Larry Drew, movement in the offense is meaningless without some defense.
10. Bulls (5-3). Three straight wins, including one over Denver. If the goal was just to be good until Boozer gets back, mission accomplished.
11. Nuggets (5-4). You saw what they are capable of — they beat the Lakers. You saw what they are capable of — they gave up 54 points to the Indiana Pacers in a quarter. You want to predict this team night to night?
12. Thunder (5-4). They have not blown our doors off yet — as we all hoped and expected — and this week they get the Jazz, the Celtics then the Bucks on a back-to-back after Boston. Tough week for anyone.
13. Warriors (6-4). They are 4-0 at home, 2-4 on the road. Love the new owners for offering steep discounts to tonight’s game as a thank you. And apology for much of the last decade.
14. Bucks (5-5). Three straight wins this week, not giving up more than 91 points to anyone. They are giving up just 96.9 points per 100 possessions, best in the Association.
15. Suns (5-4). Second in the league in offensive efficiency, 29th in defense. Those Suns are back. But when they are knocking down 22 threes a game — and they can do that a lot more often than you think — they can beat anyone.
16. Blazers (6-5). The news that this Brandon Roy, the hobbled one, is the one we will see from now on makes me feel robbed of what could have been.
17. Pacers (4-4). The Pacers offense looked better this week and, it should be noted, they have slowed the pace a little. They are currently 10th in the league in possessions per game. That might work for them.
18. Grizzlies (4-6). Interesting stat of the day — the Grizzlies create more turnovers than any team in the league (per possession). One if five trips down the court the other team turns it over.
19. Pistons (4-6). They are 4-3 over the last two weeks, which is better than we expected of them. But the question remains: Do you keep this roster together to fight for the 8 seed?
20. Cavaliers (4-5). Antawn Jamison has been solid since his return, and that kind of sums up where the Cavaliers are at — their veteran leader is solid. Still, the eight seed if the playoffs start today.
21. Rockets (3-6). Still not good, but a couple nice wins over the Pacers and Knicks this week. This is a good offensive team, despite everything.
22. Nets (3-6). Is Avery Johnson completely hoarse yet yelling about the defense?
23. Bobcats (3-7). The team in the bottom 10 we expect to move up. They are not this bad and it looks like Gerald Wallace may have found himself.
24. Raptors (2-8). Hedo Turkoglu hits a game winner for the Suns and the entire city of Toronto cringes.
25. Timberwolves (3-8). Kevin Love and Michael Beasley actually make this team a threat on any given night. Not every night, but there will be some. The roster has some talent on it, it remains a question of fit and usage.
26. Wizards (2-6). Every day without John Wall just feels like waiting around for the real part of the season to start again.
27. Knicks (3-7). Losses to Minnesota and Houston because they can’t knock down an outside shot to save their lives. Is that D’Antoni’s fault?
28. Kings (3-6). The worst defense in the NBA right now. Bar none.
29. Sixers (2-8). When you watch a lot of League Pass, when you watch a lot of games, there become teams that just bore you, the ones you don’t get excited to see. Meet your Sixers.
30. Clippers (1-9). No Baron Davis is a good thing for this team long term, but it doesn’t mean wins now. Still, a highlight reel every night from these guys.