1. Los Angeles Lakers (1) - They've been number one all season long, and even though a part of me really wants to move them behind Boston, I simply can't. They've been winning, they've been winning consistently and they've been winning with a new player stepping up every night (ironically, the same can be said about Boston). They, though, have been great since the start of the season and I can't move them behind Boston. Not yet.
2. Boston Celtics (2) - Kevin Garnett is having probably his quitest season. Paul Pierce has been wildly inconsistent and Ray Allen's been a steady version of last year's diminished Ray Allen, yet this team continues to win. Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo, the two unheralded starters, are giving this team quality starts and they compliment what the big three do so well. Perkins' game has really improved this season.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - I hear people asking "who have they beat", well they've only lost 3 times this season-all on the road. A mark of a good team is winning games that you're supposed to win and that's what the Cavaliers are doing. Charles Barkley is right in saying that LeBron James needs to shut it and start diverting all of his attention to the game and to his team, but a part of me believes that LeBron is more infatuated with the money and stardom than he is actual results on the court, which is why he'll always be a notch behind Kobe Bryant.
4. Denver Nuggets (4) - Even though they had a dissapointing loss at home to New Orleans on Thursday, this team continues to chug along with Chauncey Billups in the lineup. This past week J.R. Smith really heated up and if he regains the form he had for much of last season then this team can only get better. Chris Andersen coming back helps, but he can't be a savior for this frontcourt.
5. Orlando Magic (6) - Rashard Lewis is starting to play really good ball (even if you would like to see better rebounding numbers out of someone his size) and Dwight Howard is improving on his free throw shooting. Losing Mickael Pietrus for three weeks will hurt but this team continues to do what they did last year, quietly win ball games.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (9) - I got some criticism putting them as high as I have the past couple of weeks but they proved me right this week. Brandon Roy is one of the hottest players in the league and they're getting great production out of players like Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla. They're deep and they're talented.
7. Houston Rockets (5) - They get Shane Battier back and now Tracy McGrady is having problems with his knee (he's looked dinged up all season, what with his shoulder and whatnot). They are still winning, though, and they're doing it without any of their players playing consistently great ball. Luther Head has stepped up the past couple of games, but Adelman's system allows this team to make up for whoever is struggling on that given night. That's the sign of a good team.
8. Utah Jazz (8) - They had a bad loss to New Jersey but Deron Williams is slowly regaining some of the form he showed last season. It's slow, but steady, progress. Meanwhile, Paul Millsap has been outstanding in Carlos Boozer's absence and you have to believe he's going to see an amazing increase in minutes even when Boozer comes back.
9. Atlanta Hawks (10) - They're getting better play out of Mike Bibby (which is good because teams are starting to double Joe Johnson consistently) and they're surprisingly getting great contribution from Maurice Evans lately. This team just continues to stay around.
10. Phoenix Suns (7) - I've had this team high all season but the intensity and execution they showed the first couple of games has worn off and the honeymoon period has already ended in Phoenix. Amare Stoudemire is now complaining about coach Terry Porter's system and the team is searching for an identity all over again. A tailspin may be in this team's future.
11. Detroit Pistons (11) - Allen Iverson is already missing practice and Rasheed Wallace continues to jack up three pointers. Michael Curry was supposed to bring needed change in attitudes in Detroit but the players and player styles and attitudes continue to hold this talented team back. They should be in better shape than they currently in.
12. New Orleans Hornets (12) - A good win at Denver and a quiet four game winning streak have gotten the Hornets back on track, but they still need some consistent ball out of anyone not named Chris Paul.
13. San Antonio Spurs (19) - Despite the loss to Houston, this team is above .500, they're getting good production out of their young players, and both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are back. Those pesky Spurs just never go away.
14. New Jersey Nets (17) - People said I had them too high last week, I probably have them too high this week, but they're playing tremendous basketball. Devin Harris has played tremendous basketball so far this season and he and Vince Carter have consistently been there every night. They're supporting cast is hit and miss but they're getting a different person to contribute each and every night.
15. New York Knicks (14) - They need to get this Stephon Marbury situation over and done with, because it's clouding what's been a good season so far for the Knicks. David Lee has played great and Tim Thomas has been lights out since coming over from Clipper land. His best season came with D'Antoni in Phoenix, though, and his increase in production doesn't surprise me, and it won't surprise me when his production dips.
16. Dallas Mavericks (18) - There's not a hotter player in the NBA, currently, than Jason Terry and he's keeping this team afloat lately. They still can't get consistent production out of the small forward position and aside from Terry they can't really get an answer at shooting guard either, but Jose Juan Barrera looks like a solid backup at the point guard position.
17. Toronto Raptors (21) - They turned a horrible last week into a solid week this week until they ran into the Lake show. Chris Bosh has been outstanding this season and currently there's not a better big man in the league. They're getting great play out of Andrea Bargnani lately which is very encouraging, though the injury to Jermaine O'Neal isn't.
18. Miami Heat (13) - The Heat have been wildly inconsistent this season and it has to be frustrating for any Heat fan to watch this team win one, and then lose the very next game but at the same time they have to be happy with Dwyane Wade's production. This team is still relatively young and still has room to improve and should probably be around the playoff picture all season long.
19. Chicago Bulls (20) - All things considered, I believe Vinny Del Negro has done a solid job with this team. They're slowly starting to get healthier (and will be better when Kirk Hinrich returns) but they still are an inconsistent bunch. Drew Gooden has played well lately and Luol Deng is slowly returning to form as well.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (15) - Andre Iguodala has played like a guy with a fat new contract, in other words he's definitely underperformed but I think with the offense having to adjust to the half court offense that Elton Brand flourishes in takes away from the strengths of both Iguodala and Andre Miller. Maurice Cheeks needs to succeed this season if he wants to keep his job and it looks increasingly difficult for him to do.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (16) - They're struggling without Andrew Bogut but Richard Jefferson is quietly having a solid season. Charlie Villanueva has put up good number this season but still hasn't brought it consistently like he should in a contract year. He needs to develop a solid game and put that tremendous talent to use but he plays like a small forward and is too slow to play that position. He should look at a player like David West and try to emulate a version of his game and then he can fully reach his potential.
22. Indiana Pacers (22) - The Pacers are puzzling because they just can't seem to get over that hump and win basketball games. Danny Granger has been great, proving last year was no fluke, and Marquis Daniels has continued to play encouraging ball but they can't seem to get going as a unit. Early in the season it was T.J. Ford playing while everyone else was struggling and now Ford has lot a step lately. They need to get it together and I believe they will in the coming month.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (25) - It feels weird putting them this high but I believe they're the best out of all of the lower tier teams. Sebastian Telfair has been a steady force at point guard with Randy Foye and Mike Miller has had a couple of good games lately. They won't make the playoffs, but winning nearly 30 games this season would be a huge step in the right direction for this squad.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (27) - Jason Richardson has returned and rumors are circling whether or not he will be shopped around. Gerald Wallace has also been rumored to be out the door lately as well and this team looks to be in questionable shape. D.J. Augustin has continued to play great and looks to be the best draft pick the team has made, which is ironic because he was not drafted at a position that needed filling and therefore his selection was criticized.
25. Golden State Warriors (24) - This team has been stuck in reverse all season long and they have to be hoping that when Monta Ellis returns they will make some progress this season because this team is young and in need of a step in the right dirction. Andris Biedrins has cooled off lately and Jamal Crawford, though a need at guard, can't run the offense like they need someone to.
26. Sacramento Kings (23) - This team is reeling and is doing so in a hurry. Even with Mikki Moore's return, this team still needs Kevin Martin as he's not only their best player, he's the team's leader. John Salmons will be a great running mate when Martin returns and if Beno Udrih plays as well as he has without Martin in the lineup then this team can take off. Until then they will continue to struggle.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (26) - The team is slowly reaching irrelevance again and they're really struggling to find ways to win basketball games. I don't think coach Marc Iavaroni has any chance to retain his job which is sad as he was once a promising candidate around the league.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (28) - Zach Randolph was a good acquisition and Al Thornton has played as well as he did last season but this team is missing something. I don't know what it is, but I think this team would be making a horrible mistake in ridding themselves of Chris Kaman. Even though he and Randolph don't mesh well, Kaman is a better player than Randolph and is a much better player than Marcus Camby. They should find a way to keep him on this roster even though they could get a lot for him. Eric Gordon has played great this week.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - As predicted last week, Eddie Jordan was fired but nothing has changed with this team. They have Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and not much past those two players. Because of the guaranteed contracts, this team is in such a deep hole that they're going to be stuck in this position for the next few seasons and may lose their best player (Butler) soon.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - The 14 game losing streak is over and Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have played great ball this week. The offense looks a lot more fluid with Scott Brooks running the show. Why is Earl Waton still starting and how many chances is this team going to give themselves to draft a productive center in the lottery?