Two months into the NBA season is a good time to reassess the power rankings and evaluate the teams and players once again. At the very least, it gives those of us who’ve been eliminated in our fantasy football league playoffs something else to focus on !
1. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Durant has led the team to an 11 game winning streak and the Thunder are clearly the frontrunners in the league at this early stage. Kevin Martin has been an effective three-point shooter, and so far, the team doesn’t miss James Harden all that much.
2. New York Knicks- The Knicks have been a surprise to many and are expecting Amare Stoudamire to return soon. Will he take the Knicks to an even higher level or upset the chemistry that they have managed to develop so far ? That remains to be seen, but for now Spike Lee is on cloud nine.
3. Los Angeles Clippers- The Clippers have won 10 straight games and looked very impressive so far. They have a deep bench that has came through big-time during the absences of Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups, starting with ex-Laker Matt Barnes.
4. San Antonio Spurs- The Spurs seem to forge ahead in spite of injuries and shooting slumps. Tim Duncan seems ageless, and is averaging over two blocks a game. Manu Ginobili is injured again and DeJuan Blair has struggled badly, but they find a way to win more often than not.
5. Memphis Grizzlies- Their shooting could be better and they suffered through a bad stretch on the road, but the Grizzlies are still a good team. Zach Randolph brings it every night and Rudy Gay is a tremendous talent. When things are going their way, the Grizzlies are very hard to beat.
6. Miami Heat- Like a lot of teams, players, and fans, the Heat don’t get too fired up until the games that matter the most. They’re still loaded with talent and will be a force in the playoffs. Don’t worry too much about the dismal showings against the Wizards and the Knicks. Mario Chalmers and Dwayne Wade could benefit from some extra shooting practice, though.
7. Golden State Warriors- The Warriors are coming off a 6-1 road trip and David Lee is having a stellar season. Jarrett Jack has also played well and coach Mark Jackson has them playing inspired defense.
8. Atlanta Hawks- Josh Smith, and the team in general, will throw in a clunker once in awhile, but the Hawks play good defense and have improved on their rebounding this year.
9. Brooklyn Nets- Deron Williams has yet to hit his stride, and the Nets have had to make do without Brook Lopez until recently, but the team has soldiered on and Joe Johnson is now finding his shooting touch.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves- Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are both back and the T-Wolves have won 7 of their last 10 games. The team needs to improve on it’s horrible three-point percentage if it‘s going to be a playoff team.
11. Chicago Bulls- The Bulls have managed a 13-10 record without superstar Derrick Rose, who is still a ways off from returning. They’ll win their share of games, and be a force in the playoffs, with Derrick back on the court.
12. Indiana Pacers- The Pacers were hit with a tough blow just as the season began, when Danny Granger was lost due to a knee injury. George Hill and Paul George seem to get better every night, and David West is a consistent frontcourt presence. D.J. Augustin has been a disappointment, and has been the subject of trade rumors.
13. Milwaukee Bucks- Despite being hit hard by injuries and illness, the Bucks remain in the division chase with the Bulls and Pacers. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have been standouts, so far.
14. Denver Nuggets- Since their ABA days, the Nuggets have been known for being a high-scoring, poor-defending team, and they have done nothing this year to dispel that reputation. They do seem to be gaining more of a level of consistency in their play, as the season progresses.
15. Utah Jazz- The Jazz seem to be putting things together lately, and are averaging upwards of 103 points a game.
16. Boston Celtics- The offense has struggled early on, with Paul Pierce shooting below 40 % from the field. They are also turning the ball over far too much. After two bad games in the lone star state, the team is trying to get back on track.
17. Portland Trailblazers- Nicolas Batum is having a solid season and Damian Lillard is making a good case for Rookie of the Year. LaMarcus Aldridge has sustained a sprained ankle and may miss some time.
18. Houston Rockets- Jeremy Lin and James Harden are still getting used to each other. Greg Smith has provided a spark while Patrick Patterson has been sidelined.
19. Los Angeles Lakers- The Lakers have gotten off to a dismal start, with Steve Nash out since the second game of the year and Pau Gasol still trying to find his role in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. It seems that the more Kobe scores, the worse things get. If this keeps up, Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon will sell their seats on e-bay.
20. Orlando Magic- This team has shown that they have one of the top defenses in the league and could make a real push for a playoff spot.
21. Philadelphia 76ers- The Sixers have had to make do without center Andrew Bynum all year and are now also without Jrue Holiday. The offense is sputtering, for sure.
22. Dallas Mavericks- The Mavericks upcoming schedule is very tough and they need Dirk Nowitzki back in a bad way. They are committing far too many turnovers and getting killed on the offensive boards.
23. Phoenix Suns- Jared Dudley is playing well and the Suns are getting it done most nights with tough defense.
24. Toronto Raptors- Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry are both MIA, but the team is playing it’s best defense of the season. They also have a rather easy schedule over the next couple of weeks, so maybe they can hang tough until their stars return.
25. Detroit Pistons- Brandon Knight is quietly having an impressive season . With the team in the middle of a five game losing steak, it may be time to get Andre Drummond some more minutes.
26. Sacramento Kings- When DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t been suspended, he’s played very uninspired basketball this year. The bright spot has been Isaiah Thomas, who is playing like his namesake, as of late.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers- There are only two good things about being a Cavaliers fan. You get to watch Kyrie Irving play, and after you watch them lose you can always go to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
28. New Orleans Hornets- The Hornets lost two games this season in which they held their opponents to 77 points. That’s how bad they are. They have lost 7 games in a row, culminating in a buzzer-beater by Damian Lillard of Portland on Sunday.
29. Charlotte Bobcats- The Bobcat’s appalling defense has them mired in an 11 game losing streak. To make matters worse, they now must face a parade of teams with top-ranked offenses.
30. Washington Wizards- I don’t even think John Wall’s return will make much of a difference with this bunch. Their offense is horrid and Nene has still not returned to form.
That’s my take on the current state of things. In the coming weeks, I look for the Heat, Pacers, Lakers, and Celtics to move up in the rankings. I also expect the Knicks, Timberwolves, Warriors, and Bucks to drop down some. It should get interesting !