1. Boston Celtics (18-2) (2)
In winning the redemption game against the Pacers and do so in such convincing fashion, the Celtics revealed a new offensive dimension with Rajon Rondo dominating in triple-double fashion.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (15-2) (1)
This is why winning 70 games is so tough. When you have a 15-point fourth quarter lead, you can NOT take your foot off the accelerator. The '96 Bulls never did.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (15-3) (3)
This start Cleveland is having is just too good to believe. I still think they're a trade away from being taken seriously as a championship team.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (14-6) (5)
Their depth is unbelievable. It's like you bring in the second unit, and you never lack a quality scorer, ball handler, or distributor.
5. Orlando Magic (14-5) (4)
They'll have to tread water until their back court heals, but the schedule gets a lot tougher in the next month when they face a bulk of West teams.
6. Denver Nuggets (13-6) (12)
Did I mention Billups was making a difference? He really does bring balance to a roster that had talented players who weren't getting the ball enough (I wonder why?)
7. Houston Rockets (12-7) (8)
Not a bad record considering their nucleus hasn't played one full game together all season.
8. New Orleans Hornets (10-6) (10)
He's a decent scorer when he's on, but when he's not, like right now, MoPete goes completely AWOL. Just ask Raptor fans.
9. Detroit Pistons (11-6) (6)
The reality is, this is a second-tier team and Dumars is taking a huge risk banking on LeBron to come into Detroit and save everything.
10. Utah Jazz (12-8) (9)
When your best three players are missing time with injury, you're going to struggle. Meanwhile, Millsap's trade value has never been higher.
11. Atlanta Hawks (11-6) (13)
The Hawks' patience with Marvin Williams is starting to pay off as he's rewarding them with terrific three-point marksmanship. Although he's still no Chris Paul...
12. Phoenix Suns (11-8) (11)
Amare needs to step up! Shaq's too old to carry this team.
13. San Antonio Spurs (9-8) (7)
Ugly losses to Houston and Detroit unmask the team's true offensive flaws. They just can't score when you rough up Ginobili and Parker and clog Duncan's movement in the paint.
14. Dallas Mavericks (9-8) (14)
There's no way Howard and Terry can keep this up. If they're on your fantasy team, trade 'em now!
15. Miami Heat (10-9) (16)
If Beasley looks like an average rookie, it's because the two guys he got picked between are way ahead in the Rookie of the Year race.
16. New Jersey Nets (9-8) (17)
So there you have it. That is exactly why you don't trade a young talent like Devin Harris for a past-his-prime PG like Jason Kidd.
17. Indiana Pacers (7-11) (21)
They've played a grueling schedule and already have wins over Boston, LA and Houston. Watch for them to be a playoff sleeper as the schedule gets easier.
18. New York Knicks (8-10) (20)
Duhon and Harrington are reborn in the Big Apple, the former finally proving his worth as a defender and game-manager and the latter taking over as the No. 1 scorer when finally getting the ball in his hands consistently.
19. Toronto Raptors (8-9) (15)
Firing Sam Mitchell now seems a bit premature, don't you think? He must have said something wrong to Colangelo after his team surrendered 132 points to Denver.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (8-11) (18)
They're still underachieving badly after barely looking competitive against the Lakers and Celtics and losing to the Bulls at home.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (8-12) (22)
Keep in mind, Bogut, Redd and Jefferson have yet to play together. It's not like this team doesn't have talent.
22. Chicago Bulls (8-11) (19)
Losing to a Bogut-less Bucks team should tell you the Bulls have no inside presence.
23. Charlotte Bobcats (7-11) (24)
Let me just say that you couldn't be given a bigger gift than getting Minnesota and OKC on back-to-back nights. I know they beat the Pacers and hung tough with Boston, and I know Larry Brown teams traditionally start slow and then pick it up but I'm still not sold on the 'Cats. Indy (same record) beat three teams in this week's top 10 this year. The Bobcats? One, an injury-depleted Jazz team.
24. Golden State Warriors (5-13) (23)
Does defense exist in northern California? Hard to believe, but trading Harrington actually made them worse on defense and that's hard to do.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-13) (25)
Kevin Ollie found his way into the starting lineup? Great rebuilding plan McHale, but your ship is sinking and as bad as the job market is, you're definitely at risk for unemployment.
I fully anticipate the Randy Wittman firing cop-out in the next three weeks, followed by the 50-something loss season, followed by the owner doing a serious job evaluation...if you even last to the end of the year.
26. Sacramento Kings (5-15) (26)
Holy whiteness! Have we ever had the white twin towers before? Theus might employ the only two good American Caucasian centers in the entire league.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (4-14) (27)
Conley for Outlaw? I hope the Grizz aren't serious with dumb deals like that.
28. Washington Wizards (3-13) (28)
It truly hurts to watch Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, two of the NBA's true good guys, have to suffer on this abortion of a roster.
29. Los Angeles Clippers (3-15) (29)
Thornton looks good, as most players who took six years to get through college should.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-17) (30)
Was this year's strategy to fool the fans into thinking they were putting an expansion team on the floor? At least Presti knows how to draft and trade for expiring contracts.
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