1. Los Angeles Lakers (1) - I really thought about dropping them behind Boston but I can't if they don't lose. They continue to get production out of a ton of players. Kobe Bryant may be having the quitest 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists start to any season.
2. Boston Celtics (2) - The Celtics would probably be 1a but since 1a isn't a number I'm going to put them here at number two. They're getting tremendous production out of their bench with Leon Powe, Tony Allen, Eddie House and even Brian Scalabrine putting in quality minutes. They not only boast one of the best starting fives in the league, they're incredibly deep as well.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - Even though they lost at Detroit the team continues to chug along and has looked good so far this season. Mo Williams is starting to bring his offensive production up and he's looked like a solid acquisition so far in the young season. This team is actually fun to watch and I think they're going to be a tough out for anybody in the postseason. By the way, what's all this talk about LeBron James leaving? You have all these teams gearing up to get him, when the team he's on will probably be in the best position to win. I don't see him going anywhere.
4. Denver Nuggets (7) - Nene has quietly had a great season and although this may seem high to some, this team has been absolutely lights out with Chauncey Billups on board. If they continue to get production of Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith, that gives them two dynamic options off the bench and with Kenyon Martin playing as he is this team should be in good shape. I still think they could use frontcourt help if they're to advance deep into the postseason.
5. Houston Rockets (8) - The Rockets turned out a solid week. Aaron Brooks continues to play amazing ball and Tracy McGrady just quietly hits big shots. In the regular season at least. Yao Ming missing a game is cause for concern and is something to keep an eye on.
6. Orlando Magic (5) - There's been a J.J. Reddick sighting. I don't know how this team wins but they do. Dwight Howard had a tough week and Rashard Lewis is struggling shooting the ball but they still churn out victories. That's impressive enough to keep them as high as they are.
7. Phoenix Suns (4) - They drop by virtue of the two tough losses they suffered this week. Shaquille O'Neal continues to have a productive season and they're getting good minutes out of Grant Hill lately. They need Leandro Barbosa back and when he returns their bench will greatly compliment the production the starters have given.
8. Utah Jazz (9) - Andrei Kirilenko is playing some really good ball off the bench and C.J. Miles has looked great this week. They're going to get Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer back this week, and that alone keeps the team in the top ten. They need to get a solid, set rotation and start to gel and when they do they'll return to top Jazz form.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (12) - Portland is playing some great ball. Brandon Roy has picked up his all star form and even though Greg Oden's production has slipped the past couple of games, he's looked great off of the bench since returning from his injury. They're doing all this while LaMarcus Aldridge is in a shooting slump and when he returns to form it will only make them better.
10. Atlanta Hawks (10) - Marvin Williams has slowly showed why the Hawks chose him 2nd overall over both Chris Paul and Deron Williams. It may still be a bad move, but the guy's talented and he's playing some good ball. Joe Johnson continues to perform and they're even getting good minutes out of Acie Law. They have a solid, if inconsistent, bench.
11. Detroit Pistons (6) - That whoopin' they took at Boston ruined all momentum they had gained after the Allen Iverson trade. They followed that up by getting thrashed at home by Minnesota and the Pistons are back to square one. I don't doubt they'll climb out the hole, I just wish they wouldn't keep falling back in it. At least Rasheed Wallace has come to play, but Tayshaun Prince has cooled after his hot start and Richard Hamilton looks out of sync. It's still early, though, and this team is still the Pistons. You never can count them out.
12. New Orleans Hornets (11) - Peja Stojakovic can't make a shot and Tyson Chandler looks sluggish. This team looked to be set at the guard position, but Devin Brown is playing point guard and I'm not too sure if the combination of Morris Peterson and Rasual Butler is going to get it done. We'll see.
13. Miami Heat (17) - Dwyane Wade is playing like a mad man and there's been a Shawn Marion sighting this week. If they continue to get great production out of those two the other stuff should fall into place. They're recommitting themselves to the defensive end, as well, and you like to see Wade performing at the level that he is.
14. New York Knicks (13) - I'm not too sure what to make out of the moves that they made, other than they've given up on this season. Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas all fit into D'Antoni's system but I don't think they're as good as the players they let go. I thought there was an outside shot they'd make the postseason, but why fight to make the playoffs when you can build for a championship? That looks to be Donnie Walsh's approach. Things are at least interesting again (for all the right reasons) in New York.
15. Philadelphia 76ers (18) - Well Kareem Rush isn't going to single handedly make the Sixers a three point threat and they still can't shoot the long ball. There may not be a better rebounding team in the NBA, but with those jump shooters they get plent of opportunities. Elton Brand hasn't produced as he was expected to so far this season but he hit a big shot against his old team this week. He followed that up with a solid game today and we'll see if he builds off of that.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (19) - Andrew Bogut and Ramon Sessions are playing great basketball. They've played solid ball this season and all of it without Michael Redd for a majority of the season. Maybe he could be used as trade bait as I'm sure his value is still relatively high. They could get some nice building blocks for now and for the future in return for Redd, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (I spelled that without clarifying and I hope it's right) has been the most surprising rookie this season. What a find in the 2nd round!
17. New Jersey Nets (20) - Don't look now but Vince Carter is having a tremendous season so far. Devin Harris has been perfect in the sidekick role as well, and even though the rest of the team is so inconsistent, they find themselves at .500 for the season. Impressive job by Lawrence Frank.
18. Dallas Mavericks (25) - The Mavericks went undefeated this week so I probably should move them up higher, but I'm still relatively unimpressed after looking at their competition. Still, Dirk Nowitzki is playing tremendous basketball (what else is new) and Rick Carlisle finally has the team clicking on offense. They just are so bland as a franchise and organization, though. I doubt the Mark Cuban fiasco will be a distraction, but it has the potential to be.
19. San Antonio Spurs (15) - It was a quiet week for the Spurs, but they looked impressive against a depleted Utah team and received word that Manu Ginobili may be coming back earlier than expected. I'm not sure what to make of that news, as I thought he was supposed to be waiting until he was fully healthy, that way he'd be in top form for the stretch run. They're playing admirably without him, I see no need to rush him. George Hill looks like another one of those Spurs finds in the draft.
20. Chicago Bulls (16) - Luol Deng is the latest to bite the injury bug in Chicago. Although Ben Gordon had a slow week, Derrick Rose continues to perform beyond his experience. History tells us he'll tail off but I don't see it. Larry Hughes came back this week as well, adding some depth to a backcourt that was so depleted it signed Lindsey Hunter for insurance.
21. Toronto Raptors (14) - Even with tremendous weeks from Anthony Parker and Andrea Bargnani this team is continuing to struggle. Bargnani is out of place starting at the 3 spot and although Chris Bosh continues to flourish, I question the direction and overall makeup of this team. I'm not sure what to make of them as a squad as I've thought of them highly and at the moment think of them poorly. They need to develop consistency and find a way to build that team around Chris Bosh and do it quickly, or else he may be out the door.
22. Indiana Pacers (22) - They're losing tough games and they're missing Mike Dunleavy. Right now Danny Granger and Marquis Daniels are playing strong basketball but everyone else is a little inconsistent. Why is Jamaal Tinsley still on this payroll?
23. Sacramento Kings (21) - John Salmons has looked terrific in Kevin Martin's absence. A win at New Orleans this week is the only thing that keeps me from pointing at their slow decline, but injuries have hit hard in Sac-town. Mikkie Moore and Kevin Martin will come back soon and when they do I look for this team to continue to be a thorn in the opposition's side.
24. Golden State Warriors (23) - Now that Al Harrington is gone and Jamaal Crawford is coming in, this team improved both the clubhouse and the talent level on the squad. Anthony Morrow cooled considerably after a great two game stretch early in the week, but if he brings half of that production backing up Crawford then this team will be in good position to make some sort of run around mid to late December.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (29) - A good week for Minnesota as they pick up two wins and get a good game from Randy Foye. Al Jefferson is as steady as they come and they looked impressive in that game at Detroit. I'm not too sure what to make of their last two first round draft picks (Kevin Love and Corey Brewer) but maybe I'm being too harsh when I say they look like good players who were taken too high in the lottery.
26. Memphis Grizzlies (26) - Well the hot start to the season that the Grizzlies had is the only thing saving their season. O.J. Mayo is this year's Kevin Durant (as far as putting up good rookie numbers on a bad team) and Rudy Gay hasn't been as commanding as he was last season. They're not getting much production past Marc Gasol in the front court but we didn't expect them to get much either.
27. Charlotte Bobcats (24) - Larry Brown has to be kicking himself in the head. This organization has been badly mishandled, from the placement (why you would give a town that failed it's previous franchise another franchise befuddles me, especially when you see them failing this team as well) to the operation of the franchise (Michael Jordan being in any executive position disallows us from taking them serious), to the production of the players (D.J. Augustin is the only reason to get excited in Charlotte) and you have all the makings of another, dissapointing season in Charlotte. You have to wonder when the Bobcats will make the turn.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (28) - Chris Kaman has played just as strongly as he did last season but he and Zach Randolph have similar games. Both are good low post, back to the basket type players (although Kaman is much better) and I'm not sure how they'll fit together. I also don't know where this puts Marcus Camby in the rotation as well but I guess we'll have to watch it all unfold. I don't think there's any chance of Mike Dunleavy finishing this season.
29. Washington Wizards (27) - So irrelevant I almost forgot them. There's not much to be said about this team and there's not much of a chance Eddie Jordan sticks around. Not when Gilbert Arenas is already calling for a tank job and with the rest of the squad being worthy of a last place finish. They are awful to watch.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - They become the first team this season to fire a head coach and although I like P.J., he outstayed his welcome. The team looked uninspired under him and they played with a little fire under new coach Scott Brooks. Russell Westbrook is too much of a "me" player to learn the point guard position and I would try and move him to shooting guard. Kevin Durant needs to add some muscle and start playing more down in the post, but haven't we said that for two years? He may lack the work ethic to make him a great player in this league.