NBA Power Rankings: Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Association
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Slightly over one-third of the NBA season is now in the books.
There are a couple mainstays atop the league—the Miami Heat appear to be better than ever following their NBA Championship a season ago, and the San Antonio Spurs are the consistent, veteran team they always seem to be.
The New York Knicks have emerged as a contender behind Carmelo Anthony, as Amar'e Stoudemire has yet to play this season but is set to return in about a week. Some teams have been good all season, while others have been hard on the eyes.
Let's take a closer look at who's hot and who's not at this point of the NBA season.
The Clippers have won 14 games in a row. They're the hottest team in the league.
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1. Miami Heat (20-6)
Miami doesn't have the best record in basketball. But right now, it's hard to find a better team around the NBA. LeBron James is LeBron James, and the supporting cast is stronger than it's ever been.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (22-6)
The team with the best record in the NBA is in Los Angeles. Only this time, it's the Clippers and not the Lakers. Chris Paul has this team playing together, and the Clippers may have the deepest bench in the league. This is the hottest team in basketball.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6)
Up to this point of the season, Oklahoma City has fared pretty well following following the James Harden trade. The Thunder have won eight of their last 10 and appear poised for another deep postseason run.
4. New York Knicks (21-8)
5. San Antonio Spurs (22-8)
They're the same ol' Spurs. And no, that's not an old age joke. San Antonio has been as consistent as any team in the Western Conference this season.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (18-8)
Memphis is on the fence of being hot or not—the Grizzlies are 18-8 on the season but they're just 5-5 in their last 10. We'll call this team "lukewarm," but the Grizzlies are still dominant against teams without established post players.
7. Golden State Warriors (19-10)
The Warriors have been a pleasant surprise this season. They've won seven of their last 10 games, and this team has a handful of capable scorers on the roster. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, but the Warriors have been great early in the 2012 season.
9. Los Angeles Lakers (14-15)
The Lakers' early season struggles have been well-documented. But lately, the Lakers have started to turn things around. They're finally healthy and the team is playing well. The arrow is pointing up.
10. Indiana Pacers (16-12)
Despite playing without Danny Granger, the Pacers have held their own so far in 2012. They've been steady all season and remain a contender to win the Central Division.
11. Houston Rockets (16-12)
These new-look Rockets have been the cause for some newfound success in Houston. The Jeremy Lin to James Harden connection is working, and the Rockets could be poised for a playoff run.
12. Milwaukee Bucks (15-12)
The Bucks are a hard team to predict. They beat the Celtics, then lose to the Cavaliers. But through it all, the Bucks remain a dangerous team in the Central. They're not "hot," but they're not "not."
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-13)
The Timberwolves are keeping their head above water as the team continues to mesh together and get healthy. But when Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are at their best, the Wolves are dangerous.
17. Denver Nuggets (16-14)
These Denver Nuggets are the typical Denver Nuggets. They're a fast-paced, talented team that struggles on the defensive end. It's a tough road ahead because the Northwest Division is one of the deepest in basketball.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (14-13)
Portland is just above the .500-mark in the Northwest Division. They have the pieces in place to crack the postseason in the Western Conference, but the Blazers will need to get hot sooner rather than later.
19. Utah Jazz (15-15)
Denver, Portland and Utah are all in the same boat right now. They're borderline playoff teams playing in the same division.
26. Toronto Raptors (9-20)
The Toronto Raptors aren't a very good team, but they're actually pretty hot right now. Sure, the Spurs beat them by 20 on Wednesday night, but prior to that, the Raptors had won their previous five games.
Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats have lost 15 straight.
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8. Atlanta Hawks (17-9)
The Hawks are a very good, underrated team. They're a bit overshadowed playing in the same division as the Miami Heat. They need to stay well above .500, but they're just 6-4 in their last 10.
13. Boston Celtics (14-13)
The Celtics haven't gotten out to a very good start this season. As was the case last year, the aging Celtics don't look like a serious championship contender early on. But things could change.
15. Chicago Bulls (15-12)
Without Derrick Rose in the lineup, the Bulls have done exactly what they needed to do—keep their head above water and stay in the playoff race. The Bulls are still one of the better teams in the Central, but they were embarrassed by the Rockets on Christmas and average just 92.9 points per night.
16. Brooklyn Nets (14-14)
Brooklyn is just 3-7 in its last 10 games, and the Nets now face an uphill battle into the middle part of the season. This team has the pieces in place to be a tough-out in the playoffs, but meshing those pieces together is another thing. They're struggling.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (14-15)
The 76ers took the Boston Celtics to a seven-game series last year in the playoffs, so you know the talent is there. But in the early goings of this season, Philadelphia has yet to put its pieces together and they sit below .500 at 14-15.
21. Orlando Magic (12-16)
The Dwight Howard trade has worked out pretty well for the Orlando Magic. They're a below-average team right now, but at least there aren't daily reminders about what Howard is angry about. Finding positives, right?
22. Dallas Mavericks (12-16)
Without their best player, Dirk Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo has carried this team so far. It will be interesting to see how the team gels once it's at full strength, as they're just 4-6 in their last 10 games.
23. Phoenix Suns (11-18)
They are the Suns, but they are not hot. What more needs to be said? This team lacks a true identity.
24. Sacramento Kings (9-19)
This team is a mess right now. They don't have an identity, and in the words of Charles Barkley, DeMarcus Cousins is an absolute "knucklehead." Changes need to be made.
25. Detroit Pistons (9-22)
Detroit is still a young team, still at least another year away from competing at a high level. They have some pieces in place, but this team is still getting its feet wet.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-23)
Kyrie Irving has been sensational for the Cavaliers, but the rest of the team has been just okay. And that's why they've won just seven of 30 games this season. Stay patient, Cavs fans.
28. Charlotte Bobcats (7-21)
The Bobcats are the Bobcats, but not quite last year's Bobcats. They're by no means a good basketball team right now. But Charlotte is an improved team from last year.
29. New Orleans Hornets (6-22)
Anthony Davis has played well as a rookie, but this team isn't even close to being a playoff-caliber team right now. They just aren't.
30. Washington Wizards (3-23)
Between John Wall and Bradley Beal, this young backcourt is built for long-term success in Washington. But unfortunately for the Wizards, any type of success could be a couple years down the road yet.