1. Boston Celtics (2) - And with the Lake show's loss to Indiana this week, the Celtics now have the best record in the league and the top spot in the power rankings (couldn't have come sooner for you devout Boston fans). Rajon Rondo has played like a beast this season and has an outside shot at making the all star team.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (1) - A loss at Indiana knocks them down but they're still rolling along at 17-2 (that record matches the Lakers' best 19 game start in team history). Nobody on this team is really starring, similar to Boston, even though they have the best records in the league, but Pau Gasol's play deserves recognition. He's a perfect match for that offense and even moreso now that he gets to play his more natural power forward position.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - The Cavaliers continue to win games and are currently undefeated at home. They're getting good minutes out of J.J. Hickson lately which is encouraging for what is perceived as a weak frontline. Daniel Gibson has been lights out this season, which is nice to see even though he received a new contract in the offseason.
4. Orlando Magic (5) - Even though they got blown out at Boston Friday night, this team has been steady all season long. Jameer Nelson is back now and they're rolling as steadily and as quietly as they did last season.
5. Denver Nuggets (4) - J.R. Smith and George Karl aren't even on speaking terms which is sad because this is now the second coach that has gotten fed up with Smith's antics. You hate to see that kind of talent go to waste because of an attitude and he's crucial to the team's ultimate success. It's something to keep an eye on.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (6) - Even though they're not getting the best minutes out of Greg Oden this team still continues to chug along. Brandon Roy is currently playing like a top five or ten player in the league. He's doing a little bit of everything and they're getting solid production out of a young bench as well. This team's progression should be fun to watch and whether or not the maturation continues to a level that allows them to make the playoffs is something to keep track of.
7. Houston Rockets (7) - Even without Tracy McGrady, the Rockets continue to chug along. Rafer Alston has stepped up in McGrady's absence and Yao Ming has been dominant in the post this week. They need McGrady ultimately (of course) but currently his injury won't rock this team too hard.
8. Atlanta Hawks (9) - Getting Josh Smith back was huge for this team but Al Horford's injury is something to keep an eye on. This team continues to hover around the top ten regardless of everyone waiting for them to fall off the face of the Earth. Mike Woodson has done a great job so far this season.
9. New Orleans Hornets (11) - The Hornets have quietly won six of their last seven and are starting to get production out of Peja Stojakovic. They still lack that solid chemistry they had last season but they're starting to play the same, exciting, brand of basketball they displayed last season.
10. Utah Jazz (8) - Even though Paul Millsap is playing out of his mind, this team still misses Carlos Boozer. Matt Harpring and Andrei Kirilenko are coming back from injuries and this team still needs to get fully healthy before we can critique their wildly inconsistent start to the season.
11. San Antonio Spurs (13) - Don't look now, but the Spurs are relatively healthy and the offense looks fluent. Tim Duncan is playing solid basketball but that should come as a surprise to no one. Surprisingly, this team is getting great production out of Matt Bonner and Bruce Bowen is finding himself deeper on the bench as the games go on. You have to wonder how much he may have left in the tank at his age.
12. Dallas Mavericks (16) - The Mavericks are surging and (as mentioned on last week's rankings) Jose Juan Barea is looking great with an increase in minutes. I'm not positive that the team's season long search for a starting shooting guard ends with Barea, as a lineup starting he and Jason Kidd in the backcourt is extremely small, but it's working for the moment.
13. New Jersey Nets (14) - This team is still playing a fun, inspiring brand of basketball and Devin Harris continues to play out of his mind, even with the increase in recognition lately. They are missing Eduardo Najera and when he gets back he will bring even more grit and determination to the league's hardest working team.
14. Detroit Pistons (11) - This is going to sound harsh, but Rasheed Wallace is the biggest waste of talent in recent memory. He is an incredibly gifted player but his lack of motivation and intensity holds him back and this season it's holding this Pistons squad back. Allen Iverson is doing what he can (and he's not the problem) but this team lacks a serious frontcourt and as a result they're getting taken advantage of on the defensive side of the ball, which isn't normal for a Pistons squad.
15. Phoenix Suns (10) - For the first time this season, the Suns fall out of the top ten and they do it with a thud. The team seems dysfunctional and so far, even though their record is better than it probably should be, the players have already turned on Terry Porter. Steve Kerr has disrupted this organization. They would never have won a championship with D'Antoni's gimmick offense but at least they were fun, productive and marketable. They're tough to watch, follow and get a grip on this season.
16. Miami Heat (18) - They finally turn out a consistent week and they get a nice rise up in the rankings this week. I like the move of Michael Beasley to the bench and I'm surprised Mario Chalmers is every bit as productive in his rookie season as Beasley has been this season.
17. New York Knicks (15) - Al Harrington has put up good numbers since coming over but this team still will take a couple of weeks before they hit the stride that's going to carry them the rest of this season. Chris Duhon hasn't been all that bad of an acquisition, even though the signing was widely ridiculed (even by myself).
18. Chicago Bulls (19) - Larry Hughes has been amazing off of the bench this season since returning from his injury, but he's always been wildly inconsistent with his jump shot (that he loves more than he should) and I look for his production to dip slightly in the coming weeks. As long as Ben Gordon is playing as well as he is, I look for him to stay in the starter's role but, ultimately, he should wind up back as the team's 6th man.
19. Toronto Raptors (17) - Teams are starting to swarm and hound Chris Bosh and as a result his numbers were down this week. Jermaine O'Neal's return from injury may help but he's not the player he once was, and ultimately this team looks like a mismatch of players. I don't think Sam Mitchell, as incompetent as he may have seemed, was the reason for this team's failures and I believe he was a scapegoat by the team and the fans who didn't want to blame Bryan Colangelo and the players for the team underacheiving. We'll see if Triano does any better.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (20) - The team got a solid victory at Detroit without Elton Brand and have to be happy with the Lou Williams sightings we've had this week. Andre Iguodala played more like Andre Iguodala without Elton Brand in the lineup and you have to wonder if the catering to Brand is keeping this team from running the offense they're better suited to.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (21) - Michael Redd returned today after missing the final 14 games against the Lakers and it will take some time for him to get reacclimated to the team's flow. I'm not sure what his return brings as this team's chemsitry has been off this season. Overall, they may be better without Redd in the lineup.
22. Indiana Pacers (22) - This Pacers team boasts victories now over both the Lakers and Celtics but still lack the consistency that should keep them in the playoff race. The loss of Mike Dunleavy keeps this team from being fairly judged but I'm surprised they've waited around this long for his arrival this season.
23. Charlotte Bobcats (24) - The Bobcats were burried in these very rankings two weeks ago but they've played a very fun brand of basketball here lately. This team should look for a center around the deadline which would allow Emeka Okafor to play at a more productive power forward position.
24. Golden State Warriors (25) - The Warriors continue to find new ways to lose but they've been competitive in a majority of the games they've played this season. Stephen Jackson has been tremendous this season but you have to wonder how long he's going to maintain his composure even as the losses pile up. Brandan Wright has responded well with the increase in minutes here as of late.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (23) - Kevin Love has played encouraging ball this week and has shown some of the promise that prompted Kevin McHale to trade O.J. Mayo for him. Overall, the trade probably won't work in their favor but that doesn't mean Love won't be a productive player. I just don't see how he and Jefferson are going to work together.
26. Memphis Grizzlies (27) - O.J. Mayo has been tremendous this season and Rudy Gay hasn't lost a step from his breakout season last year, but this team still lacks a great player that could put them into contention for a low seed in the western confrence. The money they've spent on players like Darko Milicic and that is being wasted on Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker could be put to better use and I think that's reason enough to have high hopes for the future in Memphis.
27. Los Angeles Clippers (28) - Don't look now but the Clippers got a victory with Zach Randolph in the lineup. Baron Davis's return home has been extremely underwhelming and honestly this team lacks any sort of identity; other than that of a team that loses each and every year regardless of talent on the team, people running the show or whatever personnel changes that are being made.
28. Sacramento Kings (26) - This team has been dreadful to watch lately and rumor has it that Reggie Theus' job is on the line. I don't see how he could be the one to blame because, after all, this team isn't very talented. He got the most out of a bad squad this season and with the injuries and whatnot this season he's done what he can with a lackluster bunch. I'd like to see him stay but coaches being made into scapegoats is a prominent theme in sports at the moment.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - The offense looks more fluent under Ed Tapscott and lately they've gotten good production out of the inconsistent Andray Blatche. There's still not much worth getting excited in our nation's capital, despite the insane amount of money that's going to show up on that payroll.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - Russell Westbrook took the starting job and put in a very good week for the Thunder. Players like Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox will most likely be moved but neither of those is worth a lot in return, so the Thunder may be looking at more mediocrity for the foreseeable future as well.