Written By: Spike
Before the season started, there were many people, including myself, who thought that the Miami Heat would win the NBA Championship this year. I still think that’s possible, but the Lakers are going to have quite a bit to say about that.
Not only are they two-time defending champions, but they’re playing the best basketball I’ve seen from this group. Pau Gasol’s taken it to another level, and Steve Blake and Matt Barnes were great additions.
Rank Record Team
30. (1-6) Minnesota Timberwolves – Everyone knew the Timberwolves weren’t going to be good this year, but I don’t think anyone thought it would get this ugly, this quickly. Last in points allowed in the NBA, a point differential of almost 18 a game as well. When Kevin Love leads the team in rebounds with fewer than six, and Sebasitan Telfair leads the team in assists with three a game, it adds up to bad.
29. (1-6) Los Angeles Clippers – Is it possible they’re a better team without Baron Davis? It’s a small sample size, but that’s what it appears. You thought Blake Griffin was unlucky missing his first season because of an injury. It turns out, he’d be more lucky if he missed this one too.
28. (1-5) Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan had some nice moments during their game at the Lakers, albeit during a loss. This team just doesn’t have many weapons. The good news? They get to play the Bobcats this week.
27. (1-5) Charlotte Bobcats – Allowing 95 points a game means that the Bobcats play great defense. Scoring 89 points a game means it doesn’t much matter. How long before Stephen Jackson starts trying to get himself out of there?
26. (1-4) Detroit Pistons – A bad season looked like it was taking a turn for the worse with an uncessary Charlie Villanueva Twitter controversy, and a Rodney Stuckey vs. the head coach controversy. Rip Hamilton is the life raft for now though, leading them to two straight wins.
25. (1-4) Washington Wizards – The Wizards are one of those teams that are fun to watch, just as long as you don’t care if they’re going to win or not. A John Wall / Gilbert Arenas backcourt is an exciting backcourt, but that’s about all that’s going on here so far.
24. (2-4) New Jersey Nets – Clearly 2-0 was a better start than the Nets could have ever dreamed, and it looks less impressive when they follow it with four straight losses. When three of those losses are to Miami and Orlando though, you should grant them a pass.
23. (2-5) Philadelphia 76ers – The Sixers have won two of three, including a win at the Knicks. In Evan Turner’s first start, he finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Sixers are playing hard under Doug Collins, and have been in all but one game this season.
22. (2-5) Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks are staying in games because they’re playing good defense, but they need more out of Brandon Jennings and John Salmons scoring if they’re going to get themselves into playoff contention. The two are shooting a combined 35%. Ouch.
21. (2-3) Indiana Pacers – Danny Granger is doing what Danny Granger does, score. Darren Collison has to do a better job of getting easy baskets for the other guys on the team though, he’s turning the ball over almost as much as he’s creating right now.
20. (3-3) New York Knicks – An impressive win on the road in Chicago and a home win against the Wizards was followed up by an equally unimpressive loss at home to the Sixers. The Knicks take a lot of jump shots, and when they’re not making them, they’re not a very good team. Amare Stoudemire has never been a good rebounder, but the Knicks need more than the seven per game they’re getting from him.
19. (1-5) Houston Rockets – The relief of their first win this season against the lowly Timberwolves was followed up quickly with the bad news that they’ll be without point guard Aaron Brooks for six weeks.
18. (3-3) Sacramento Kings – I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I think having Dalembert start in the middle should help the Kings. This is until he remembers that he thinks he’s a 20 point a game scorer.
17. (3-3) Cleveland Cavaliers – I wrote before the season that this would be Byron Scott’s greatest challenge as a coach, and you’d have to say so far that he’s been up to it. Surprising most to me is that it doesn’t seem like Mo Williams has missed a beat without Lebron James in the lineup.
16. (2-3) Chicago Bulls – Carlos Boozer is one of the best pick and roll players in the NBA, and he can’t come back a minute to soon to the Bulls, who are relying far too much on Derrick Rose the scorer, and not enough on Derrick Rose the creator. The usual Luol Deng trade rumors are circulating.
15. (3-3) Phoenix Suns – The Suns can score, and that will win them some games. The Suns don’t play defense, which will lose them some games. The Suns play Hedo Turkoglu at power forward, which is a scary (not good scary) thought.
14. (4-2) Golden State Warriors – This may be the first time in my life that I’ve seen a Warriors team even attempt to defend the other team. Keith Smart has the Warriors playing defense, and winning. The backcourt duo of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis may be the most difficult to guard in the NBA.
13. (3-3) Utah Jazz – After opening up with two losses, the Jazz seem to be back on track, winning three of four. It’s good to win games, even when it takes overtime to be the Clippers. The Jazz face their most difficult task tomorrow night against the Miami Heat.
12. (3-3) Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder are finding out there’s a big difference between being a young, upstart, surprise and a team that people expect to challenge the Lakers. Last in the league in assists, Westbrook needs to do a better job of getting shots for teammates, and less to look for his own offense.
11. (3-4) Memphis Grizzlies – People wondered if Rudy Gay would be able to translate his experience for the US team into turning up his play a notch this season, and he has. Gay is scoring 27 points a game, shooting better than 50% from the field, getting getting almost seven rebounds a game. The Grizzlies are a thin group though.
10. (6-1) Atlanta Hawks – The best start (record wise) in the Eastern Conference still hasn’t sold me on the Hawks being more than an also ran. The teams they’ve beaten to get to the six wins; Memphis, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, Minnesota and Detroit.
9. (3-2) Dallas Mavericks – Just your average season for Dirk, averaging 26 points and 10 boards a game, and shooting 58% from the field.
8. (4-2) Denver Nuggets – With as many injuries as the Nuggets have had, they should be happy to be at 4-2. Even though Carmelo Anthony thinks it’s time to move on, he hasn’t let it stop him from having a great start.
7. (5-2) Portland Trail Blazers – There were a lot of doubters when the Blazers signed Andre Miller. He was old, and he’d have trouble playing the same back court with Brandon Roy. The ageless Miller continues to get the job done, even with Roy.
6. (4-1) San Antonio Spurs – Is it too early to start the campaign for comeback player of the year for Richard Jefferson? Keeping all of the old guys under 33 minutes a game will pay off late in the season.
5. (4-1) Orlando Magic – Aside from the beatdown they received at the hands of the Heat, the Magic have been their normal, impressive selves. No one ever doubted they could do it in the regular season. The question will always be, “who will take over and win games in the playoffs?”
4. (6-0) New Orleans Hornets – The Hornets survived a furious rally from the Heat to stay the only other undefeated team in the NBA (Lakers). If they get games like Emeka Okafor gave them against Miami, they could find a way to break the top three.
3. (5-2) Miami Heat – The Heat make up for a lack of size inside with swarming, suffocating, help defense. The offensive continuity isn’t there yet, but once it does get there, they will be the most difficult to beat team in the league.
2. (6-1) Boston Celtics – Is it possible that the best player on the Celtics isn’t a member of the big 3? Rajon Rondo is certainly making his case for it. Can you imagine how unstoppable he’d be if he could shoot? Just a little?
1. (7-0) Los Angeles Lakers – Forget about the numbers. Watching this team, you see a group of guys that quietly expect to win every game. If they stay interested, this could be the team pushing 70 regular season wins.