1. Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets keep winning, in the West. Carmelo looks like he’s playing with more determination than ever, second in the league in scoring, the team is winning on the road, and J.R. Smith has had a hot return off of his seven game suspension, possibly due to his desire to be called by his real first name: Earl. The Nuggets’ ascent is surely helped by the Lakers’ current slump, but for now the Nuggets are enjoying their time as the Western Conference’s best team.
2. Atlanta Hawks: The Ivy Leaguer is a prophet, the Hawks have raced to an early 8-2 record. They have beaten both the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic, does a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers earn them a spot in the Eastern Conference elite?
3. Phoenix Suns: The Suns sit at the three position this week. With a very respectable record of 9-2, with losses coming to the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers (last year’s NBA Finals) both played on the second game of back-to-back series, the Suns still impress the Champ.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: My power rankings are all about who is playing best at the moment. Since their ugly 0-2 start, the Cavaliers have become a different team. Successful games against the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic on the road as well as a win over the Utah Jazz with Golden State coming into the Quicken Loans Arena bode further success for the Cavs. Not to mention the development of JJ Hickson, who scored 20 points in his third consecutive start.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: Good teams have problems, Pau Gasol’s injury being a 7 foot problem for the Lakers. Luckily, Andrew Bynum looks to be a All Star this season and is picking up some of the slack. But talk of a Kobe Bryant groin injury hurts what I think is the best team in the league.
6. Boston Celtics: No major injuries: check. No players awaiting return from suspension: check. Just some bad basketball for the Celtics, who gave up 113 points in an embarrassing loss to the Indiana Pacers. Like their rivals in LA, the Celtics are in a slump.
7. Dallas Mavericks: Last week I talked about the return of Josh Howard, this week I talk about the departure of Josh Howard. The Mavericks’ swingman is out indefinitely while the team failed to close out against the short-handed San Antonio Spurs.
8. Orlando Magic: OK, Rashard Lewis is coming back, Vince Carter is recovering from injury. Now lets play some defense and we will see if that translates into wins for “the deepest team in the league.”
9. Milwaukee Bucks: yes, the Bucks are a hot team right now, Brandon Jennings says “you’re welcome” to all six Bucks fans out there.
10. Miami Heat: couldn’t handle LeBron James and the Cavs at home and barely beat the winless Nets? Whatever it takes I suppose.
Missing from Last Week
Portland Trailblazers: Blazers fans can thank Brandon Jennings and Dwyane Wade’s last second heroics for their ommission from the list this week. However, the Blazers turned in four consecutive wins on the road, and continue to impress.