1. Spurs .815
It must be hard for a Texas team to be heard above the din of New York and LA. How else can you explain the anonymity of a team that’s five and a half games up on everyone else?
2. Lakers .697
Phil Jackson has never coached a championship team that had a four-game losing streak before. But it’s Kobe.
3. Mavs .723
Just like the Spurs, they don’t get a lot of respect. Tough at home, tough on the road...they’ll make some noise.
4. Celtics .730
A shock trade has left the Celtics clinging to bona-fide contender status. Can the Big 3 get back to the finals again?
5. Bulls .719
The Bulls have made people stand up and take notice in the playoffs before. No one wants to see the MVP standing in their way.
6. Heat .677
Has there ever been a more dramatic team in history? Wild swings of emotion seem to carry the Heat’s season from explosive highs and desperate lows.
7. Magic .621
They probably think that they belong at the top table. They’ll need to show it in the playoffs to get there.
8. Thunder .641
They’re a very good, but still very young team.
9. Blazers .569
How good would the Blazers be if they could keep everyone healthy? They’re pretty good anyway and no one wants to see the Blazers in the first round.
10. Nuggets .585
It’s hard to know what the Nuggets are so soon after a big trade. What they look like is a well coached team that is legitimately 11-deep and has all the swagger with none of the ego.
11. Hawks .569
I don’t really like having the Hawks this high, since it doesn’t really seem like they’re going anywhere. They might never be great, but they’re still good and we’ve seen them stand up to a bully in the playoffs before.
12. Knicks .531
They might be a year or two away from being where they want to be, the NBA Finals, but STAT and Melo have shown more chemistry in 3 weeks than Miami’s mustered in an entire season.
13. Grizzlies .545
I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that the Grizzlies are just the new Hawks.
14. Hornets .567
I can’t help but feel like the fact that the Hornets are so high is a testament to how good Chris Paul is. That does a disservice to David West and Emeka Okafor, but despite injuries, Paul has this team punching above its weight.
15. 76ers .523
They may have started out slowly, but have steadily improved to get back into the playoffs. I don’t think we really know how good they are yet, they might not either.
16. Suns .524
The Sun may be setting on this Phoenix team. It’s a veteran team and this could be their last chance to make something happen together.
17. Jazz .515
They lost their coach of 20+ years and their franchise player in the same week. Anything this reeling club does will be done on guts.
18. Rockets .500
This team always feels like they’re playing uphill, but they play well.
UP AND COMING
19. Warriors .446
Nelly’s gone, but they can still score. They can’t do a lot else, but they can sure put some points up and look good doing it.
20. Pacers .415
Larry Bird has a little something cooking in Indiana. They have a lot of under the radar guys just waiting to break out.
21. Clippers .379
There’s nothing under the radar about the Clippers, thanks to Blake Griffin. There’s some substance behind the style too and it seems the Clippers won’t be bad forever after all.
22. Bobcats .415
They just traded away their best player in Gerald Wallace. Even before that I didn’t see a lot of point in watching a Bobcats game.
23. Bucks .397
At this time last year, Bucks fans were wondering if Brandon Jennings was the next Iverson. This time this year, I’m wondering if we’ll ever care what the Bucks are doing.
24. Nets .328
They have Deron, they’re moving to Brooklyn, they have a Russian billionaire owner. That’s a lot of good things; are they good now; no…will they be good soon? Why wouldn’t they be?
25. Pistons .348
Detroit…Basketball…is kinda weak right now. They have a few guys who can play, but they need to figure out what’s going on with the old guard before they move forward.
26. Timberwolves .254
Love’s a beast. The Wolves need to do a lot of work to convince him to he’s not wasting time in Minnesota.
27. Raptors .277
The Raptors have half a great team. Unfortunately, it’s the bottom half.
29. Kings .238
DeMarcus Cousins might turn out to be the best player in his draft class and is already the best player on the Kings. No one’s told Tyreke yet though.
28. Wizards .254
If it wasn’t for Blake Griffin, we might care more about the Wizards, if only to watch John Wall play for Rookie of the Year. But Blake Griffin exists, so the Wizards might as well not.
30. Cavs .188
Historically bad…what else is there to say?