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NBA Power Rankings: Heat, Thunder Jockey At Top

The first NBA Power Rankings of the 2011-12 season sorts out everything in between the obvious facts that the Miami Heat are very good and the Washington Wizards are very not.

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Two weeks into the season, there are relatively few surprises at the very top and very bottom of the NBA table. Shocker alert: the Miami Heat are really good, and the Washington Wizards are the exact opposite of that.

But every squad has gotten in 6-10 games already -- the season is 10-15 percent complete for all teams -- and we're seeing some separation between the good, bad and ugly. Our first NBA Power Rankings of the 2011-12 season attempts to sort it all out.

Rk Team Record Last Week SB Nation Blog
1. Miami Heat 8-1 W: IND, ATL, NJ; L: ATL Peninsula Is Mightier
The Heat suffered their first and, to date, only loss of the season at home against the Hawks. Miami responded by winning three straight without Dwyane Wade, and one of those -- against Atlanta -- without LeBron James, too.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 8-2 W: HOU x 2, SA; L: POR Welcome to Loud City
The Thunder were the first time to win back-to-back-to-back, taking a pair from the Rockets before running down the Spurs. The loss of Eric Maynor will force Reggie Jackson to learn on the fly, but OKC has nothing if not superior depth.
3. Chicago Bulls 7-2 W: ATL, DET, ORL; L: ATL Blog-a-Bull
The biggest surprise of the early part of the season for the Bulls is that the team's offense might be outplaying its defense. That happened roughly zero times in 2010-11.
4. Atlanta Hawks 6-3 W: MIA, CHA, CHI; L: CHI, MIA Peachtree Hoops
Wins over Miami and Chicago in the same week? Don't act like you're not impressed.
5. Portland Trail Blazers 6-2 W: OKC, LAL, CLE; L: PHX Blazer's Edge
It looks like good teams will mix in those atrocious road losses -- like Portland's 102-77 drubbing in Phoenix -- more often this season. At least that's what Blazers fans are telling themselves right now.
6. Philadelphia 76ers 5-2 W: NOH, DET, TOR Liberty Ballers
Philly's strength of schedule dropped precipitously this week, but the club is blowing out opponents (average margin of +15) and has done well on the road. This team could very well win the Atlantic.
7. Indiana Pacers 6-2 W: NJ, BOS, CHA; L: MIA Indy Cornrows
The Pacers have looked pretty solid despite sub-spectacular contributions from David West. But man, that loss to the Heat was baaaaad.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves 3-5 W: SA, WAS; L: MEM, CLE Canis Hoopus
I don't care how many times you lose to the Cavaliers. If you end two long losing streaks to the Mavericks and Spurs and punk a team -- even the Wiz -- by 20 on the road in an early Sunday game -- the definition of a "flu-like symptoms" game in most cities, you get a big ol' totally important NBA Power Rankings boost.
9. San Antonio Spurs 6-3 W: GSW, DAL, DEN; L: MIN, OKC Pounding The Rock
Cheers to the Spurs for using the D-League for a rehab start for Gary Neal. Anything that brings the D-League closer to the NBA as a true minor league is good for the future of the league.
10. Denver Nuggets 6-3 W: MIL, SAC, NO; L: SA Denver Stiffs
I refuse to believe that this version of Al Harrington is the one true version of Al Harrington. This is like The Illusionist, but with a jump-shooting big man instead of Christian Bale.
11. Phoenix Suns 4-4 W: GSW, POR, MIL; L: DAL Bright Side Of The Sun
He's back! Steve Nash is back! I was getting quite worried that we had seen the end.
12. Orlando Magic 6-3 W: WAS, SAC; L: DET, CHI Orlando Pinstriped Post
As if a loss to the Pistons wasn't bad enough, a road win over the Wizards is compulsory and the Sunday win over the Kings -- with Dwight Howard flailing and getting crushed in the box score by DeMarcus Cousins -- was uninspiring. That which plagues the Magic is that which has always plagued the Magic: not enough playmaking on the perimeter.
13. L.A. Lakers 6-4 W: HOU, GSW, MEM; L: POR Silver Screen And Roll
If you look at both sides of the ball, the Lakers have the best two big men in L.A. Andrew Bynum's defense slots him over Blake Griffin, and Pau Gasol remains the most skilled big man in the NBA. While the Clippers have the advantage in the backcourt and on the bench, it's hard to imagine too many teams having an easy time dealing with Bynum and Pau.
14. L.A. Clippers 4-2 W: HOU, MIL Clips Nation
Good lord are the Clippers lazy. Two games last week? Pfft. The defense is not yet remotely convincing.
15. Boston Celtics 4-4 W: WAS, NJ; L: IND CelticsBlog
Pardon me for being unimpressed by wins over the Wizards and Nets. The Celtics can't rely on Ray Allen scoring 20 points per game on nearly 60 percent shooting all season ... can they? (I'm starting to believe they can.)
16. Dallas Mavericks 4-5 W: OKC, PHX, NO; L: SA Mavs Moneyball
Few question whether the Mavericks will make the playoffs, but I can't find a scenario where they actually scare someone ... unless Ian Mahinmi figures out where he needs to be on defense soon and Lamar Odom rounds all the way into form.
17. Utah Jazz 5-3 W: NO, MIL, MEM, GSW SLC Dunk
Twas a great week for the Jazz! Derrick Favors is slowly getting there, and Al Jefferson is back into shape. We know the frontcourt is crowded ... but why is Devin Harris getting only 25 minutes a game? What happened to this guy?
18. New York Knicks 4-4 W: WAS, DET; L: TOR, CHA Posting And Toasting
So inconsistent on offense that they couldn't rack up points on the Raptors; so putrid on defense that they allowed the Bobcats to drop 118 in a regulation game. But hey, they are better than the Wizards and Pistons!
19. Memphis Grizzlies 3-5 W: SAC, MIN; L: UTA, LAL Straight Outta Vancouver
The Grizzlies have started the season 1-4 on the road; losing Zach Randolph for the next couple months is a crushing loss simply because there isn't enough scoring punch beyond him and Rudy Gay. This team is going to need to grind out some close games to stay afloat in a Western Conference where the eighth seed is there for the taking.
20. Milwaukee Bucks 2-6 L: DEN, UTA, SAC, LAC, PHX BrewHoop
Well, that was a dispiriting road trip. I'm allowing leeway because the Bucks' five-game losing streak was entirely a road affair (Milwaukee is 2-0 at home, 0-6 on the road) and because Andrew Bogut has been absent so much. He's the key to that team, obviously, and as he wasn't off dealing with an injury, he should be in action for the long haul. I hope.
21. Sacramento Kings 3-6 W: MIL; L: MEM, DEN, ORL Sactown Royalty
The Kings won the all-important Marie Antoinette award for quickest team to the guillotine. DeMarcus Cousins has been great of late.
22. Toronto Raptors 3-5 W: NYK, CLE; L: NJ, PHI Raptors HQ
How do you, as a young team, forget all about a bad loss to the awful Nets? You lose by 35 to the Sixers, of course! I was prepared to land this club up on top of the scrapyard of mediocre teams, but yikes.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers 4-4 W: CHA, MIN; L: TOR, PR Fear The Sword
An unusually decent record early in the season against abnormally bad competition? Where have I seen this before? Oh yes, the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers! The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers who finished with the league's second worst record!, I mean.
24. Golden State Warriors 2-6 L: PHX, SA, LAL, UTA Golden State Of Mind
The only saving grace of the Warriors having the West's worst record: they've played the league's toughest schedule to date.
25. Houston Rockets 2-6 L: LAL, LAC, OKC x 2 The Dream Shake
Next to the Knicks, the Rockets have been the league's biggest disappointment. Houston has faced the No. 3 toughest schedule, but a playoff contender needs to peel off one game against the slate the Rockets faced last week.
26. Charlotte Bobcats 2-6 W: NY; L: CLE, ATL, IND Rufus On Fire
For the first time since 2006, a team is actually disappointed that Corey Maggette will miss four weeks of action. BOBCATS! BASKETBALL!
27. New Orleans Hornets 2-6 L: UTA, PHI, DEN, DAL At The Hive
It's bad enough that the Hornets are, as expected, awful. But as our Hornets blogger Rohan Cruyff has noted, now the team has to make a decision on what to offer Eric Gordon in an early Bird extension ... having seen him play for two games. (He'll be out through the January 25 deadline for early Bird deals.)
28. Detroit Pistons 2-6 W: ORL; L: CHI, PHI, NY Detroit Bad Boys
For the rest of the season, Pistons fans should wake up, look at themselves in the mirror and say: "At least we have Greg Monroe."
29. New Jersey Nets 2-7 W: TOR; L: IND, BOS, MIA NetsDaily
Without Deron Williams, the Nets are worse than even the Wizards. They are worse than the 2009-10 Nets. But with D-Will, the Nets are merely crummy. Here's to hoping Williams stays healthy!
30. Washington Wizards 0-8 L: BOS, ORL, NY, MIN Bullets Forever
Flip Saunders is trying desperately to fall on his own sword. But it ... just ... won't ... stick!