Because of the NBA’s compressed schedule (profits>product), almost every team has been dealing with at least one pretty significant injury recently. This makes the Power Rankings very fluid, especially the "Looking Good" teams.
1. Miami Heat (15-5): The best team - no doubt about it. LeBron is the only elite scorer of his generation who can help his team win just as much no matter if he scores 15 or 35 – is clearly the MVP so far, especially now that he’s willing to post up.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (16-3): Playing well since the Wizards disaster. Now they face 5 winning clubs in a row, including 4 on the road (@LAC, @Dal, Mem, @SA, @Por). Westbrook has 14 turnovers in the last two games.
3. Chicago Bulls (17-5): The loss of Luol Deng has manifested itself in losses faster than the loss of Rose did last week. Chicago hasn’t beaten a winning team since the first week of January.
4. Philadelphia 76ers (14-6): Desperately need centers Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic back if they want to return to very elite status.
5. Denver Nuggets (14-6): Lost to LAC on an overly generous whistle for native son Billups, but have a chance for revenge on Thursday which starts what could be a killer back-to-back-to-back: at Clippers, Lakers (in Denver, where LAL will have been for 3 days), and Portland.
6. Dallas Mavericks (13-8): Look who’s 13-8 after starting 1-4. Jason Terry is surging; Odom is getting back into the swing of things.
7. San Antonio Spurs (12-9): If you’re wondering why they’re not doing better, remember that their 3 best players are averaging 33, 31, and 27 minutes per game (Parker, Jefferson, Duncan), and Ginobili has been out since Jan. 2. The entire West should be scared of this team at the end of the season if they’re healthy.
8. Houston Rockets (12-8): Have won 10 of their last 12. 7 of next 9 are on the road (where they’re 3-6), then they get 6 in a row at home (where they’re 9-2). Center Samuel Dalembert is averaging 9 ppg, 9 rpg,and 2.2 bpg, all in only 25 minutes a night.
9. Atlanta Hawks (15-6): Crushing crappy teams – getting crushed by good teams. That should mean something with Toronto (Tue) and Philly (Sat) on the docket this week, but we also know that the Hawks are too streaky for patterns to mean much with them.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (12-8): Challenging the Hawks for title of “Winning Team Fans Can Least Predict Future Success Of.”
11. Utah Jazz (11-7): Have only lost to two teams all month: the last two champions. Need some defensive help if they want to really make a statement in the Northwest Division.
12. Indiana Pacers (13-6): Beat Lakers, Bulls, and Magic with great D over the past week. After NJ on Tuesday, get the following in a row: @Min, @Dal, Orl, Uta, @Atl, @Mem, Denv, Mia. More will be revealed.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (11-6): Hard to beat the Lakers when they shoot only 2 less 4th quarter free throws than you do all game. Overall, the Clips are looking good and got some proving to do with OKC, Utah, Denver, and Orlando all on deck this week.
14. Los Angeles Lakers (12-9): At least they can still beat the Clippers and Timberwolves. Bynum and Gasol shooting 57% over last 3 games; steady dose of them can get Lakers over Denver-Utah-Philly hump this weekend.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-11): Are 6 games into an 8-game stretch against winning clubs – 3-3 so far, Houston and Indy to go.
16. Orlando Magic (12-8): Dwight Howard must think we're all idiots if we're supposed to believe his two-year PR push to make himself look like a victim; show some heart and be a leader for once.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (8-11): Somehow came out of a 5-game stretch with Mia, Atl, Hou, Chi, LAL with 3 wins, but now Bogut’s down again.
18. Memphis Grizzlies (10-9): Offense is getting bad (very little consistency outside of Gay), and just in time for a 2-week stretch that includes SA, Denv, Atl, OKC, SA, Min, Ind, Uta.
19. Boston Celtics (9-10): Moving on up – not like Dallas, but they certainly caught Orlando twice in a row at the perfect time. Should be over .500 shortly with Cleveland, Toronto, NY, Memphis, and Charlotte on deck.
20. New Orleans Hornets (4-16): I know their record is bad, but it truly is amazing how close they’re keeping the scores against an unbelievably tough schedule (17 games in a row against winning clubs or Minnesota, who’s close) with Eric Gordon sidelined.
21. Phoenix Suns (7-12): How many bumps and bruises can Steve Nash take before this party is over?
22. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-11): Convincingly beat the Knicks, consistently outhustling them the entire second half. Who saw this coming 13 months ago?
23. Golden State Warriors (6-12): Beat the mercurial Blazers, about as good as the Warriors can expect at this point.
24. Toronto Raptors (7-14): After going 0-6 without Bargnani, he came back for two big wins (including at Utah), and is out again.
25. New Jersey Nets (7-14): Deron Williams and Kris Humphries are doing quite a bit for this never-done-being-injured club.
26. New York Knicks (7-13): Their only win over the last 10 games was against Charlotte.
27. Sacramento Kings (6-14): Keith Smart's honeymoon is over.
28. Detroit Pistons (4-17): Injuries and losses piling up, still almost beat Miami.
29. Washington Wizards (4-16): It’s been longer since MJ was screwing them up (plus far less injuries right now), so I guess that makes them better than Charlotte. Two upcoming match-ups with Toronto give them another shot at victory.
30. Charlotte Bobcats (3-18): We all knew MJ was going to make this club terrible, but this terrible this fast? Rookie Bismack Biyombo is very raw, but the dude can block shots and grab boards with ferocity (recently had 5 blocks in 12 minutes against Detroit).