1) Los Angeles Lakers - The preseason favorites to win the championship look unstoppable through their first five games. That bench is about as deep as I've ever seen and Jordan Farmar has been hugh off of the bench for them. The only thing that could possibly stop this team is injury because as of right now they look great.
2) Boston Celtics - The only slip up of the season was a tough game at Indiana. The Celtics look to be rolling similar to how they were last season, though they're doing it without much fanfare so far in the young season. They seem to be more under the radar than last year and I think that's fine with them. Tony Allen's play has been very encouraging off of the bench.
3) Atlanta Hawks - By virtue of being undefeated and having impressive victories over Orlando, Philadelphia and New Orleans, the Hawks find themselves in the top 3. They probably won't hold up at this level for the rest of the season, but Joe Johnson has looked amazing and their team defense is great.
4) New Orleans Hornets - The Hornets have had a good start to their season with impressive victories over Phoenix and Cleveland but need to get up for games against the likes of Atlanta and Charlotte. Bringing it every night is a priority for this team since they have the bullseye on their backs this season.
5) Utah Jazz - A 5-1 start to any season is good, but the fact that they're doing it without Deron Williams and Matt Harpring is very impressive. Andrei Kirilenko has fit in nicely in his role off of the bench and Carlos Boozer has carried this team through their first six games. A dissapointing loss at New York isn't enough to drop them out of the top five.
6) Phoenix Suns - The Suns were an enigma of sorts coming into this season as you really couldn't predict what was going to happen with them. But they have responded well to Terry Porter so far this season and even though Steve Nash's production has dipped slightly, they're getting encouraging play out of Shaquille O'Neal and Amare Stoudemire has played out of this world. I think it's important to keep an eye on them throughout the season to see whether this team is for real or if they're playing off the emotion of a new coach right now.
7) Cleveland Cavaliers - LeBron James is playing amazing basketball right now and Anderson Varejao has been the anchor of that bench so far into the young season. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the key to whether this team will be in the finals or not, but so far they have a good team set in place and will play solid ball in the playoffs. As long as LeBron's on the team they're a contender.
8) Orlando Magic - Dwight Howard has put up good number this season but his free throw shooting needs to improve. Something about this season seems different from last year's Magic squad, but we'll see in the next few weeks whether this team has gotten off to a slow start shooting or if they're for real.
9) Detroit Pistons - The much hyped Allen Iverson trade has yet to bring results and it probably won't bring results until the offseason. At least the trade shook up the team and fan base and put a little bit of excitement back into Detroit basketball.
10) Houston Rockets - They looked great in their victory at Dallas, but aside from that the Rockets haven't played solid ball this season. They're getting by on talent and I think the team misses Shane Battier more than they let on. Tracy McGrady has played good ball this year, but Ron Artest and Yao Ming have yet to get going consistently. Of course, McGrady's health issues are going to be a problem throughout the season but they have to be happy with the play of Aaron Brooks so far this year.
11) Toronto Raptors - Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon alone have put this team as high up as they are. Jermaine O'Neal had a solid first game but has yet to really put a stamp on his new team. Chris Bosh is playing the best ball probably in the entire league (and I mean that) and Calderon has answered the challenge after being given the starting PG reigns. Depth at the guard spots will probably keep this team from contending but they play together and as long as Chris Bosh is playing at this level, they should new the 45-50 win mark.
12) New York Knicks - Yes the Knicks start the season in the top 12. I'm eating serious crow on my criticism of Mike D'Antoni as he's gotten this team (and especially Zach Randolph) to play some serious, inspired ball six games into the season. They probably still won't make the playoffs, but it's given that city hope and Knicks fans have to love what they've seen so far.
13) Miami Heat - Shawn Marion has been a dissapointment so far into the season but Dwyane Wade is playing the best ball since the 2006 finals right now. It'll be interesting to see if he holds up, but I think this team is better suited with Marion as the number two scorer instead of an unproven Michael Beasley. Spoelstra has gotten the team to play solid defense as well so far this season.
14) Portland Trail Blazers - The loss of Greg Oden early in the season put a negative energy on what was supposed to be a promising start to the season, but the Blazers have responded to their tough schedule with an impressive 3-3 record. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to blow me away and Brandon Roy is Brandon Roy. So far Rudy Fernandez has been a great find as well.
15) Denver Nuggets - They've kind of coasted but I look for their play to improve once they get true point guard Chauncey Billups acclimated into the system. Linas Kleiza, J.R. Smith and (surprisingly) Chris Andersen has solidified a solid bench and the Nuggets again look like they'll be heading to the playoffs. A first round exit still seems likely, though.
16) Chicago Bulls - It's been a season of ups and downs so far for the Baby Bulls, and Kirk Hinrich's injury doesn't help matters but Derrick Rose has been playing some really good basketball so far this season. They still lack good front court and I think that's going to hurt them in the future but so far they've been responding well to Vinny Del Negro and I think once Larry Hughes and Hinrich return they're going to make a serious push for the postseason.
17) Sacramento Kings - The Kings are 0-4 away from Arco and 3-0 at home in Sacramento. That looks, roughly, like how the team will play all year. They looked awful four games into the season but have calmed since returning home. The return of Brad Miller allows them to play Spencer Hawes off of the bench and gives them incredible front court depth. They're not great in any one category but they're solid in a bunch of them. The playoffs don't seem likely but so far Reggie Theus has continued to get the most out of this squad.
18) Memphis Grizzlies - I'm surprised they've gone 3-4 so far this season but they've played good basketball together. Rudy Gay has been playing great and O.J. Mayo will put up good numbers since he's going to get the minutes to give him those opportunities. They may not have much of a front court but they still should frustrate teams all season long.
19) Milwaukee Bucks - Richard Jefferson has played solid to start the season. They've responded well to Scott Skiles' style and now that Ramon Sessions is getting regular minutes I wouldn't be surprised to see him wind up as a candidate for Most Improved Player of the year. They need to get more out of Andrew Bogut, though. Especially after giving him that contract.
20) Indiana Pacers - A win at home against Boston puts them in the top 20 but they need to get Mike Dunleavy back healthy to be seen at full strength. Marquis Daniels has played really well this year and T.J. Ford has responded to coach Jim O'Brien's system. They'll be in the playoff hunt all year long.
21) Dallas Mavericks - It looks like firing Avery Johnson wasn't the right move. There's not a more bland team in the league than the Mavericks. The brightest spot so far has been the surprising play of Gerald Green, but they can't get a lineup set, Jason Kidd looks 50 out there and Dirk Nowitzki is all by himself out on the court. That doesn't bode well for Dallas.
22) Philadelphia 76ers - So far the acquisition of Elton Brand has done nothing for this team. Thaddeus Young has kept them respectable while Andre Iguodala has been atrocious and Andre Miller has yet to find a groove so far into the season. Maurice Cheeks has to be feeling the pressure and I don't want to see him lose his job as he's one of the best guys in the league.
23) New Jersey Nets - For the lack of top tier talent on this team they sure have played solid basketball. Devin Harris looks like a stud in New Jersey while Vince Carter has to love being the only go to option on a team again (like he was back in Toronto). They won't last but it's nice to see them trying hard early in the season.
24) Charlotte Bobcats - A win against the Hornets last Friday has hid what's been a dissapointing start to the season for Larry Brown and company. Sean May is healthy but overweight, Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson still look awkward playing together and rookie D.J. Augustin has been the most consistent player on the team. It looks like another year of being on the outside looking in for Charlotte.
25) Golden State Warriors - This team is in total dissaray. You have star players leaving, budding stars wrecking their mopeds, players asking for trades and players being hurt. Don Nelson has to shake his head at this train wreck of an organization and the window has officially shut on the promise that was two seasons ago. Andris Biedrins has looked like an all star so far this season.
26) San Antonio Spurs - No bones about it, they look awful. A super hero-like performance from Tony Parker got the Spurs their only championship against lowly Minnesota and now that he's out, Tim Duncan is left on an island all alone. Roger Mason's been a nice acquistion but you have to wonder if San Antonio will be too far out when Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker return.
27) Los Angeles Clippers - They've looked awful so far this year and have no gelled as a squad but they still may take 30-35 wins this year. They need to get some continuity amongst the squad and they need to stay healthy. But those are two tall tasks in Clipper nation and all the preseason hope has already evaporated for this squad.
28) Washington Wizards - Caron Butler has tried to do it all by himself by simply can't. They have no point guard, no center, no flare, no Gilbert Arenas. It's time for Eddie Jordan to leave and it's time for this team to do something. Problem is that they can't since they invested so much into Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. You're looking at this type of play from this team for years to come.
29) Minnesota Timberwolves - Same old Timberwolves. Al Jefferson's been solid but that's about it. The Kevin Love addition, though he has played good ball, still makes you scratch your head as he looks out of place playing alongside Jefferson. This team is just a transaction nightmare and Kevin McHale has to go.
30) Oklahoma City Thunder - I didn't expect them to be worth a darn this year but I still expected better play than this. Everyone minus Kevin Durant and (surprisingly) Joe Smith didn't get the memo that the season started already. I thought they'd play better in front of the Oklahoma City crowd but I suppose if you don't have it, you just don't have it. They played tough against Atlanta last night, though.