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 mathematic formula that makes the BCS Computer Rankings look like second grade chicken-scratch. In other words, we all vote 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.
The big movers this week were the Cavs who plummeted to 14th in the East after getting abused by their ex-lover, He Who Shall Not Ever Hopefully Return Again To Steal The Soul From Our Dying City. In the West, the Lakers struggles continue to be ignored by our voters and the Hornets drop from 1st to 7th thanks to having their team sold to David Stern (and losing many games).
Meanwhile at the top, the Spurs and Celtics are doing what they do, which is to say they are rolling through the league and putting people to sleep in the process.
1. Boston Celtics: Record - 16-4
Last Week's Ranking: 1, SB Nation Blog: Celtics Blog
KG and the boys capped a perfect week, going 4-0 with W's over some weak opponents like the Raptors, Cavs, and Nets. Joakim Noah was looking for a little love from his boyhood idol Garnett in Boston but instead, all he got was abuse as the Celts won 104-92. Noah lamented: "Just where is the love, know what I'm saying? None at all." Indeed Joakim, y'all ain't dating, so you best get used to it.
2. Orlando Magic: Record - 15-6
Last Week's Ranking: 2, SB Nation Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post
The bad news for the Magic last week was the loss in Milwaukee to Bogut and the Bucks due to a bout of plague that ripped through the squad's locker room. The good news was that Dwight and Jameer didn't play and the plague is evidently curable. So, asterisk this one, Andrew, it may not be so pretty the next time through.
3. Chicago Bulls: Record - 10-8
Last Week's Ranking: 3, SB Nation Blog: Blog-a-Bull
The Bulls faced a tough schedule in games against Boston, Orlando, and Denver. The only real awful performance was a 107-78 route at the hands of the Magic. Still, the Bulls lead the Central and have a pretty easy go of it after upcoming matchups against WC contenders, the Thunder, and the reeling Lakers, which are winnable games for Derrick Rose and Co.
4. Miami Heat: Record - 13-8
Last Week's Ranking: 5, SB Nation Blog: Peninsula is Mightier
LeBron's return to the CLE was more about the ratings than an actual competitive NBA game, and James responded with 38 while only playing 3 quarters.
The Heat beat up on the dregs of the Eastern Conference last week, and topped the Joe Johnson-less Hawks who may soon be among the bottom tier. Let's not get too high on these guys yet, they are winning games they are supposed to be winning. Let's see what happens on the upcoming road trip to the West Coast before we or they (ESPN) call them title contenders again.
And remember, there's no "I" in team according to the Hoopster-in-Chief:
5. New York Knicks: Record - 12-9
Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Posting and Toasting
I suppose I can accept that the Knicks maybe legitimite Eastern Conference playoff contenders. But last week's victories over the Pistons, Nets, Hornets, and Raptors don't impress me all that much. Amar'e is playing like he should, and Felton has been a pleasant surprise. Still, this team is going to need to D it up against the big boys of the EC in order to keep it up, and well, we all know a D'Antoni squad can't do that.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Record - 13-8
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 out to be, but they should be in the hunt all season, especially when JJ returns.
7. Indiana Pacers: Record - 10-9
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 - 7-12
Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Brew Hoop
After some dysmal 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% 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%. Has Scott Skiles pulled out his remaining hairs on his head?
9. Toronto Raptors: Record - 8-12
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 - 7-13
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 - 6-15
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 - 7-14
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 - 6-14
Last Week's Ranking: 15, SB Nation Blog: Liberty Ballers
So Iguodola is on the block, huh? That's really not that big of 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 - 7-13
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 4, being annihilated by an average of 25 points while failing to score 100.
15. Washington Wizards: Record - 6-13
Last Week's Ranking: 14, SB Nation Blog: Bullets Forever
The Wizards new owner has put together a list of over 100 things he wants to change about the franchise, including, among other things, changing the squad's name back to the Bullets. Personally I like the idea. Of course it won't happen until Gilbert Arenas is long gone, right?
1. San Antonio Spurs: Record - 17-3
Last Week's Ranking - 1, SB Nation Blog: Pounding the Rock
It's hard to argue with 17-3. The Spurs capped a nice 3-1 week by destroying the New Orleans Hornets in the "Who's Mas Macho" of the Southwest matchup.
Strangely, the Spurs didn't exactly reload in the offseason, unless you want to call Gary Neal reloading. Statistically, the Spurs aren't doing anything particularly great, but they aren't exactly doing anything real awful either. They're taking care of business on the road at 8-1 and they're handling their WC opponents, 11-3.
2. Dallas Mavericks: Record - 16-4
Last Week's Ranking - 3, SB Nation Blog: Mavs Moneyball
The Mavs are on a 9 game winning streak which was certainly aided by matchups last week against the T-Wolves, Rockets, and Kings, who are a combined 13-37. Of course they also dispatched the Jazz with relative ease. Dirk is being Dirk, Tyson Chandler is healthy for a change, and the Mavs should have no problem cruising through the regular season as usual. Let's see what happens come Spring time though.
3. Los Angeles Lakers: Record - 14-6
Last Week's Ranking: 2, SB Nation Blog: Silver Screen and Roll
OUCH!!! A 1-2 week featuring losses to Memphis and Houston. Kobe said the Lakes were looking as though they were "running in quicksand." Is that like a conditioning issue? No matter, the Lakers have some defensive issues and all, but they'll be there come crunch time. I say that knowing full well that most Lakers fans are ignoring power rankings right about now. Bynum is gearing up to give it another shot, and if that doesn't work out, this team will make a deal that works out perfectly like most they make.
4. Utah Jazz: Record - 15-6
Last Week's Ranking: 4, SB Nation Blog: SLC Dunk
The Jazz nearly finished off an undefeated week before hitting the Dallas Mavericks buzz saw. D Will is now averaging a double-double while Milsap is performing at an All-Star level. The Jazz have beaten virtually every quality squad in the league despite the obvious handicap that is Andrei Kirilenko's hair.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: Record - 14-7
Last Week's Ranking: 6, SB Nation Blog: Welcome to Loud City
Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have endured injuries of late, but the Thunder finished off a 3-1 week, withstanding a late Golden State rally on Sunday. Still, the Thunder are struggling with their shot, offering up a -2.5 FG% differential and an even zero (0) point differential. The Thunder will be fine though, there's too much talent on this team for OKC to surrender to mediocrity.
6. Denver Nuggets: Record - 13-6
Last Week's Ranking: 7, SB Nation Blog: Denver Stiffs
Denver has reeled off seven in a row including beat downs on the Grizzlies, Bucks, and Clips this past week. Of course, Nuggets fans must be having a difficult time with the lack of focus the team sometimes exhibits. The Nuggets squandered double digit leads to the Suns and Grizzlies before hanging on to win both games last week.
7. New Orleans Hornets: Record - 13-7
Last Week's Ranking: 5, SB Nation Blog: At The Hive
Are the Hornets cursed or what? First they get moved from Charlotte to New Orleans, then Katrina moves them to Oklahoma City, and now the NBA has taken over the franchise from George Shinn and there is no guarantee they are staying in The Big Easy. On the court, the Hornets are attempting to recover from a 25 point annihilation at the hands of the Spurs. After starting the season 11-1, the Hornets have plummeted, going 2-6. I don't see this season ending well for the boys in pinstripes.
8. Phoenix Suns: Record - 11-9
Last Week's Ranking: 10, SB Nation Blog: Bright Side of the Sun
9. Portland Trail Blazers: Record - 9-11
Last Week's Ranking: 8, SB Nation Blog: Blazers Edge
Oden's injured again, Roy is gimpy, Nate McMillan says his players are tuning him out, and Sean Marks was just signed. Signs of the apocalypse in PTL? Maybe. The East Coast trip was abysmal, although the Blazers managed to return home and drop the Clippers (but doesn't everyone do that?). It will be interesting to see how the Blazers perform from here on out.
10. Houston Rockets: Record - 7-13
Last Week's Ranking: 12, SB Nation Blog: The Dream Shake
The Rockets are capable of beating anyone on any given night in the WC as evidenced by victories over the Lakers, Thunder, and Grizzlies last week, but without Yao and Brooks back at full strength, they're outside the fun playoff party looking in. Scola is a beast and Kevin Martin can flat ball, but how many basketballs will be needed on the court at once when Aaron Brooks returns? Already 10 games back of San Antonio, it's going to be difficult to dig out of the cellar of the Southwest Conference.
11. Memphis Grizzlies: Record - 8-13
Last Week's Ranking: 11, SB Nation Blog: Straight Outta Vancouver
12. Golden State Warriors: Record - 8-12
Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Golden State of Mind
In 3 losses to the Spurs, Suns, and Thunder, the Warriors gave up an average of 113 ppg. That is not good. Monta Ellis is an All Star offensive player and Stephen Curry is a future All-Star. But the combination of Lee, Biedrins, and Wright does little for me, and the bench featuring Jeremy Lin and Dan Gadzuric does even less for me. Gonna be a long season in the Bay Area.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Record - 5-15
Last Week's Ranking: 13, SB Nation Blog: Canis Hoopus
Beasley and Love are two good pieces (hey that sounds like some prime time cop show on network TV), but the rest...Hell if Telfair was going to get it, wouldn't it have happened by now?
As much as we love Kevin, he can't have our coats because we need them to protect us from his cool.
14. Sacramento Kings: Record - 4-14
Last week's ranking: 14, SB Nation Blog: Sactown Royalty
Paul Westphal is a good man but the natives are getting restless. Jason Thompson's on the block, and Tyreke is battling injuries. This team has too much talent to be playing so crappy. Something has to give.
15. Los Angeles Clippers: Record - 4-17
Last Week's Ranking: 15, SB Nation Blog: Clips Nation