We are over a month into the 2013-14 NBA season, making this an ideal time to take a look at the updated power rankings.
The first 30 or so days of the new campaign were some of the wildest in recent memory, with a number of unexpected teams putting together a string of quality wins and a few franchises expected to contend stumbling out of the gate.
Let’s take a look at where each franchise stands with just over three-fourths of the season left to play.
1. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are still the league’s best team, even though they finally lost a second game. This group fought hard in that matchup with the Blazers, as evidenced by Paul George’s 43 points in the 106-102 loss.
2. San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan’s production may be waning, but he can still rise to the occasion. He became the oldest player to put up 20 points and 20 rebounds in league history, and he hit a game-winner with time expiring against the Hawks.
3. Miami Heat
After a rather lazy start to the season, the Heat are finally rolling and look poised to contend for a third straight championship. Unfortunately, Miami had its 10-game winning streak snapped by Detroit, which shows the roster is still prone to off nights.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers' thin bench hasn’t been as big of an issue this year, which was evident when they went toe-to-toe against both the deep Pacers and Thunder and won. Hopefully, they can stay healthy and make a playoff appearance, as this is a dark-horse team in the West.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC has flaws, but with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant playing at a high level, most of those flaws will be masked. The Thunder can beat anyone during the regular season, but a seven-game series may be suspect unless this team adds a little more firepower to the frontcourt this season.
6. Houston Rockets
Speaking of firepower, the Rockets are not lacking in that department. Once this squad finds a taker for Omer Asik and adds either some draft picks or another talented player, it will be in a good position to make a run not only this year but also for seasons to come.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Everyone knew Minnesota had playoff-caliber talent, but it was never healthy enough to realize it. Perhaps the injury bug will finally leave the T-Wolves and allow them to become a top-eight team in the West.
8. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are another squad for which health will be extremely important. This team’s regular starting five is elite but extremely prone to injury. Keeping the starters on the floor and out of the training room is imperative this spring.
9. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are climbing up the power rankings after a tough start to the year and recently ripped off a seven-game winning streak before being derailed by the Cavs. That setback shouldn’t last long, as they look to rebound against Boston.
10. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers certainly miss J.J. Redick, but they’ll be able to contend without him. Once he’s back in the lineup, expect this L.A. team to make a run to the top of the Western Conference standings.
11. Phoenix Suns
Phoenix has been one of the best surprises of the season. The young roster has adopted a team-first mentality and has the capability to stretch the floor, put up big points and run opponents out of the building.
12. New Orleans Pelicans
It’s hard to imagine this team competing for long without Anthony Davis in the lineup, so hopefully the emerging superstar can get his hand healthy and back in the lineup soon. The Pelicans have unlimited potential with the second-year big man as the focal point.
13. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs are an intriguing team that has been playing well for stretches and mediocre for stretches of the young season. If Dallas can find some consistency and add a big by the deadline, it will be in contention for a title.
14. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers continue to be relevant and fun to watch without Kobe Bryant in the lineup and with Dwight Howard out of the picture. It’s a major change from last year, but there is some concern about the Black Mamba messing with the chemistry when he returns. It’s doubtful he'll do anything but catapult this group from a fringe playoff squad to a tough group to knock out in seven games this spring.
15. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose’s injury almost ensures the Bulls are once again nothing more than a speed bump on the way to the Finals for an Eastern Conference rival. The Bulls just don’t have what it takes to get to the next level without him.
16. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are surprisingly .500 despite being outscored this season. That has to change, or this group will slink toward the bottom of the power rankings.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
This is another team over .500 that has been allowing opponents to put up more points than it has been scoring. The Griz traditionally pride themselves on the ability to lock down the opposition, but that is a far cry from the 2013-14 team’s identity.
18. Washington Wizards
The Wiz finally busted out of their early-season slump and have started kicking it up a notch to make a playoff push. Even without stars Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza in the lineup, Washington looks decent enough to contend for a top-eight spot in the East.
19. Detroit Pistons
Detroit is a middle-of-the-road organization right now that is still not ready to contend. The Pistons can be exciting on a nightly basis, but it’s hard to see them making any noise come playoff time.
20. Toronto Raptors
Toronto could legitimately win the Atlantic finishing under .500. The division is that bad, which is a good thing for basketball fans in Canada.
21. Boston Celtics
Surprisingly, the Celtics are also in the running for the Atlantic during a year in which the team’s best player has yet to step on the court and its former best players are on the roster of a divisional rival. It’s a weird time for basketball in the northeastern United States, to say the least.
22. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats aren’t going to be the train wreck they have been the past two years and should finally leave the league’s basement, but they have a long way to go. If the team can nail the deep, upcoming draft, it will have a shot at the playoffs sooner than later.
23. Philadelphia 76ers
The upstart 76ers finally tailed off and have won just two of their last eight games after a blazing start. Expect that trend to continue until the season ends, although Evan Turner and Michael Carter-Williams make up an immensely promising backcourt.
24. Orlando Magic
The Magic are just a season or two away from completing an amazing rebuilding effort. There is so much young talent on this roster, and it will be exciting to see it all realized in the near future.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs aren’t living up to expectations this year, to say the least. Perhaps this team needs to find a new home for Dion Waiters or get Andrew Bynum playing at an All-Star level in order to turn things around.
26. Brooklyn Nets
Which team is more disappointing?
The Nets are one of the more disappointing clubs of the year, as they have the sheer talent to win a championship and the record of a lottery team. Injuries, poor coaching and chemistry issues may wreck whatever chance this squad has of turning it around.
27. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are starting to put together a decent core around Derrick Favors, recently adding Derrick Williams to the equation in a trade with the Timberwolves. If the former No. 2 overall pick can resurrect his career in Sacramento, the rebuilding effort will be expedited greatly.
28. New York Knicks
The Knicks are an absolute mess and need to figure out a way to right the ship before it is too late. It’s hard to imagine Carmelo Anthony sticking around in free agency this coming summer after such a tumultuous start to the year.
29. Utah Jazz
The Jazz are in a battle with the Bucks to secure the highest chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Now, they have to decide who they will take if they get it.
30. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee is simply terrible this year and could very likely end up with the worst record in the league. This squad needs all the help it can get in the draft.