NBA: Power Ranking

November 18th, 2008
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by: Eric Pincus

11/17/08 - For the past few years the Western Conference has been the stronger half of the NBA.  The early signs suggest that power may have shifted Eastward.  Four of the six top ranked top six teams are in the East.  In the standings, the Eastern Conference has 10 teams at .500 or better - the West has just seven.   While only eight teams in the West can boast a winning percentage of 44.4% or better, 13 of the East's 15 can make that claim.  Is this an early season aberration or has the Eastern Conference finally overtaken the West?  The NBA three weeks in.


Los Angeles Lakers Logo 1 (1) Los Angeles Lakers 7 - 1 The Lakers finally take a loss. Was it just a bad night or have the Pistons revealed a crack or two in the Lakers' armor? Back-to-back games in Phoenix and at home against the Nuggets should be revealing.
Boston Celtics Logo 2 (2) Boston Celtics 9 - 2 The Celtics shouldn't have let the short-handed Bucks give them a scare like that. Boston needs to reduce turnovers and personal fouls.
Phoenix Suns Logo 3 (4) Phoenix Suns 8 - 3 Center Shaquille O'Neal has been strong and the Suns are 5-1 on the road. A win against the Lakers on Thursday could make a Phoenix run at the division a little more realistic.
Detroit Pistons Logo 4 (7) Detroit Pistons 7 - 3 They ran out of gas in Phoenix but the Pistons were very pleased with their recent West Coast road swing. They beat the Lakers handily and are getting comfortable playing with guard Allen Iverson. This week they host the Cavaliers before flying to Boston on the second night of a back-to-back.
Cleveland Cavaliers Logo 5 (9) Cleveland Cavaliers 8 - 2 Last year the Cavaliers averaged 96.4 points a night while actually giving up slightly more defensively (96.7). Through ten games the numbers are better on both ends with Cleveland scoring 101.1 a night while yielding just 93.6.
Orlando Magic Logo 6 (8) Orlando Magic 7 - 3 After losing two straight to start the season, the Magic have won seven of eight. One note of caution - their ranking may be inflated by a light schedule.
Utah Jazz Logo 7 (3) Utah Jazz 6 - 4 Certainly playing without point guard Deron Williams has been a problem but last year the Jazz were an unimpressive away team. So far this year they're a perfect 4-0 at home but have only won two of six on the road.
New Orleans Hornets Logo 8 (6) New Orleans Hornets 5 - 4 New Orleans has lost four of their last six after winning three straight to start the year. They lost games to playoff teams like the Rockets, Lakers and Hawks but also let one slip away in Charlotte. This week they'll look to get back on track against the Kings and Thunder (twice).
Atlanta Hawks Logo 9 (5) Atlanta Hawks 6 - 3 The Hawks are wearing down without forward Josh Smith who is still out at least two weeks with an ankle sprain.
Houston Rockets Logo 10 (11) Houston Rockets 6 - 4 The Rockets are on track for 52 - which is three wins out of every four home games (31) and a near even split on the road (21). Last year they win the 31 in Houston but were able to hit 55 by winning 24 away.
Denver Nuggets Logo 11 (13) Denver Nuggets 6 - 4 Denver has won five of six since trading for guard Chauncey Billups - including a split on back-to-back nights in Cleveland and Boston (the Nuggets beat the Celtics). The Lakers have been a dead end for Denver the past year or so - a win on Friday in LA would be big.
Portland Trail Blazers Logo 12 (14) Portland Trail Blazers 6 - 4 The Blazers have survived a road-heavy schedule. Center Greg Oden is back from his opening night foot injury. He's raw but through four games played he has 10 blocked shots.
Toronto Raptors Logo 13 (10) Toronto Raptors 5 - 4 The Raptors are just 2-2 at home and barely over .500 on the road (3-2). They seem like they should be better than their record but their four losses come at the hands of the Pistons, Hawks, Celtics and Sixers. Other than beating Philadelphia on opening night, Toronto doesn't really have an impressive win to point at.
New York Knicks Logo 14 (12) New York Knicks 6 - 4 The Knicks should have closed out the Mavericks on Sunday and had a few shots late in the game to do just that - but New York couldn't close it out and lost in overtime. Still, they're 6-4 and looking a lot more impressive than the team they fielded just a season ago (despite relatively the same roster).
San Antonio Spurs Logo 15 (20) San Antonio Spurs 4 - 5 Playing without guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili has been rough but the Spurs are starting to figure it out. Including the game against the HEAT in which Parker went down, the Spurs were 1-4. Since then they've won three of four.
Philadelphia 76ers Logo 16 (16) Philadelphia 76ers 5 - 5 Winners of three straight, the Sixers may be able to stretch that to seven with the next four against the Timberwolves, Clippers, Warriors and Bobcats.
Miami Heat Logo 17 (17) Miami Heat 5 - 5 Guard Dwyane Wade is nursing a mildly sprained ankle. The HEAT are a house of cards without Wade (see last year).
Chicago Bulls Logo 18 (21) Chicago Bulls 5 - 5 The Bulls won three of their last five to reach .500 but here's the scary part - they're 0-3 on the road and won't play at home again until December (seven straight road games against teams like the Lakers, Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz, etc).
Indiana Pacers Logo 19 (18) Indiana Pacers 4 - 5 It looks like guard Marquis Daniels is finally over the knee problems that derailed his career after leaving the Mavericks in 2006. Daniels is averaging career highs in minutes (35.3), points (15.0) and rebounds (6.3).
Milwaukee Bucks Logo 20 (22) Milwaukee Bucks 5 - 6 The Bucks nearly knocked off the Celtics despite playing without guard Michael Redd and forward Charlie Villanueva. Their upside is somewhat limited this year but it appears Coach Scott Skiles is already making a difference.
Golden State Warriors Logo 21 (23) Golden State Warriors 4 - 6 Guard Anthony Morrow must have set a new record in fantasy league pickups on Saturday after scoring 37 against the Clippers in his first career start.
Dallas Mavericks Logo 22 (15) Dallas Mavericks 3 - 7 It's time to drop the Mavericks who are a surprising 3-7 on the season. This should be as low as they go since they're a solid 3-3 on the road. While they were once among the league's best at home, the Mavericks have lost all four tries in Dallas this season.
Sacramento Kings Logo 23 (19) Sacramento Kings 4 - 7 Guard/forward Francisco Garcia (calf) has yet to play and their leading scorer, guard Kevin Martin (ankle), could be out another week. The Kings have some upside but need to get healthy quickly to take advantage of it.
New Jersey Nets Logo 24 (25) New Jersey Nets 4 - 5 In his first career start, center Brook Lopez puts up 25 points, grabs nine boards and blocks four shots. Unfortunately in his second he contributed just five points - although he did pull seven boards and block three. Can he keep his spot in the rotation when Josh Boone gets over his sprained ankle?
Memphis Grizzlies Logo 25 (24) Memphis Grizzlies 3 - 7 After splitting their first six games, the Grizzlies have dropped four straight. Of the seven teams currently slotted outside of the top eight, Memphis is the only squad holding opponents to under 100 points (98.5 a game).
Charlotte Bobcats Logo 26 (28) Charlotte Bobcats 3 - 6 The Bobcats have beaten two serious Western Conference contenders in the Hornets and Jazz. Unfortunately for their fans, they're 1-6 against the rest of the league.
Washington Wizards Logo 27 (29) Washington Wizards 1 - 6 Just when it looked like the Wizards were turning a corner (after beating the Jazz), they get spanked in Miami by 20. Washington is the only team to have played in just seven games so far - considering their 1-6 record is that a good or bad thing?
Los Angeles Clippers Logo 28 (26) Los Angeles Clippers 1 - 8 It was easy to write off the Clippers' first six losses but now that they're healthy and still losing to lottery teams - what now? Will their slow start be too much to overcome? They've only played two on the road . . .
Minnesota Timberwolves Logo 29 (27) Minnesota Timberwolves 1 - 8 The Wolves are in freefall, dropping eight straight after winning their season opener. It's all about finishing ball games - Minnesota has lost all but two of their games by single digits.
Oklahoma City Thunder Logo 30 (30) Oklahoma City Thunder 1 - 9 Ouch, their one win was over the Timberwolves (29th). Before December they face the Rockets, Suns, Cavaliers and Hornets twice (among others).