Nine of the greatest (aka most available) minds from around SB Nation's basketball network came together to create this season's weekly NBA Power Rankings. The rankings themselves are based on a complicated mathematical formula that makes the BCS Computer Rankings look like second grade chicken-scratch. In other words, we all cast ballots and then count the votes.
We will be bringing you NBA Power Rankings each week and have decided to present them by conference instead of all together. While fans of a few top teams want to know how they rank up with the best of the best, we feel that more people will be served if we talk about how teams are ranked within their conferences. Each week a different author will present the power rankings but the list itself is a collaborative effort. That way, you have no one to yell at.
Records and voting do not include action from Monday night.
Things have settled down in both the Eastern and Western conferences as only six teams made moves in this week's rankings, none moving up or down by more than one spot. In the East, the Miami Heat gained some ground after a 4-0 week. In the West, the ever-resilient Portland Trail Blazers edged past the Phoenix Suns to climb into the conference's eighth spot.
The Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs hold the top spots in their respective conferences again this week, and with games against clubs like New York, Indiana, Milwaukee and Memphis over the next six days, it doesn't look like either club will be vacating the throne any time soon.
1. Boston Celtics: Record - 19-4
Last Week's Ranking: 1, SB Nation Blog: Celtics Blog
Ho hum. Another perfect week (4-0) and a 10-game winning streak means the C's get top spot again in the eyes of our panel of experts. The scary thing? The club's one glaring weakness, rebounding, (25th in the league in rebounds per game) is an area that will inevitably be addressed once Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal heal and Kendrick Perkins returns.
2. Orlando Magic: Record - 16-8
Last Week's Ranking: 2, SB Nation Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post
The good news? The Magic snapped their four game losing streak on Sunday.
The bad news? The win was against the Clippers. The Magic suddenly have the Heat breathing down their collective necks and flu aside, need to start getting better performances from some of their key players. And yes I'm looking right at you Mr. "lowest scoring average since Year 2 in the league" Rashard Lewis.
3. Miami Heat: Record - 17-8
Last Week's Ranking: 4, SB Nation Blog: Peninsula is Mightier
The Heat move up a spot at the Bulls' expense thanks to a nice little nine-game winning streak. This included solid performances last week against the Hornets and Jazz, the type of clubs NBA fans had been wanting to see Miami tested against for a while.
This week it's back to dining on teams like the Cavs and Wizards before the true test the following week; matches against the Mavericks and Lakers.
4. Chicago Bulls: Record - 14-8
Last Week's Ranking: 3, SB Nation Blog: Blog-a-Bull
Boozer's back in the mix and the Bulls are really hitting their stride. Six straight wins including a statement game by Derrick Rose and Co. over the Lakers has Chicago poised to make a run for the top of the conference ... especially when you look at their remaining contests this month.
5. New York Knicks: Record - 16-9
Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Posting and Toasting
Don't get me wrong. Thirteen wins in their last 14 games is a nice feat. And Amar'e is playing out of his mind and getting some great help from the likes of Felton and Chandler. But I'd still like to see this team play some of the more elite clubs in the league. (No, the Raptors don't count.)
So let's just say I'm slightly looking forward to tomorrow night's tilt versus the Boston Celtics.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Record - 16-9
Last Week's Ranking: 5, SB Nation Blog: Peachtree Hoops
I'm not gonna lie, this stretch without Joe Johnson may get real ugly, especially with an already thin bench. But the Hawks are tough up front with Smith, Horford and Williams. They are not as great as their early start painted them to be, but they should be in the hunt all season, especially when JJ returns.
7. Indiana Pacers: Record - 11-11
Last Week's Ranking: 6, SB Nation Blog: Indy Cornrows
Indy stumbled down the stretch of a WC road trip with losses against the Jazz and the Suns, in which they committed 25 turnovers and blew a game seemingly in hand in the first half. Still, Hibbert is a beast, Granger can gun with the best of them, and the Pacers have some pieces to compete with Chicago in a fairly weak Central Division.
8. Milwaukee Bucks: Record - 9-13
Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Brew Hoop
After some dismal performances last week on the road versus the Jazz and Nuggets, the Bucks took advantage of a Dwight-less squad to edge out the Magic. Well, that's not all that impressive now is it? Jennings is hitting for 18 and 5 a game. But he's only shooting 39 percent from the field and 34% from behind the arc while averaging 16 FG attempts per game, which is only less among PG's Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, who are both shooting at least 43 percent. Has Scott Skiles pulled out his remaining hairs on his head?
9. Toronto Raptors: Record - 9-15
Last Week's Ranking: 12, SB Nation Blog: Raptors HQ
One thing is for certain about the Raptors -- they're fast. They just got faster with Jerryd Bayless added to the mix. Nevertheless, you cannot outrun all of your problems such as rebounding and defense. Wins against OKC and Washington were impressive, but slowing bigs like STAT are a different story.
10. Charlotte Bobcats: Record - 8-15
Last Week's Ranking: 11, SB Nation Blog: Rufus on Fire
Stephen Jackson thinks the Bobcats "are playing like an AAU team," and perhaps he is right. Losing to the Bucks and 76ers could understandably destroy a team's confidence. The Bobcats are near the bottom of the league in points scored and near the top of the league in turnovers. Poor Larry Brown. Wait, take that back, poor MJ. Ah, nevermind.
11. New Jersey Nets: Record - 6-18
Last Week's Ranking: 10, SB Nation Blog: Last Week's Ranking: 10, SB Nation Blog: Nets Daily
I can only imagine what it's like losing a lot of games and having to listen to Avery Johnson's voice in your sleep. Ugh.
12. Detroit Pistons: Record - 7-18
Last Week's Ranking: 13, SB Nation Blog: Detroit Bad Boys
It's kind of sad watching guys like Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince play out their prime years for an awful team. The Pistons took a 1-3 beating this week, twice at the hands of the Magic.
13. Philadelphia 76ers: Record - 8-15
Last Week's Ranking: 15, SB Nation Blog: Liberty Ballers
So Iguodola is on the block, huh? That's really not a surprise to me. Someone named Jodie Meeks scored 20 points in the first quarter vs. the Bobcats. I hear the Flyers are looking good, and how about that Michael Vick? Awesome fantasy league acquisition.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Record - 7-17
Last Week's Ranking: 8, SB Nation Blog: Fear the Sword
The Cavs tumbled big time after LeBron torched them on national TV. Are the Cavs really this much worse since that game, or are people realizing they weren't worthy of a top 8 seed to begin with? Strange how the media influences our minds. Nevertheless, the Cavs are on an awful slide in their last four, being annihilated by an average of 25 points while failing to score 100.
15. Washington Wizards: Record - 6-16
Last Week's Ranking: 14, SB Nation Blog: Bullets Forever
Ted Leonsis, the Wizards new owner. has put together a list of 101 things his fans want to change, including, among other things, returning the squad's name back to the Bullets. He's officially said this is "under consideration," but has strongly rejected such a move publicly. I like the idea. Of course it won't happen until Gilbert Arenas is long gone, right?