NBA Power Rankings: Lakers, Cavs, and Magic Prove Cream Rises

John LorgeSenior Writer INovember 23, 2009

Every week, we of the NBA season, we see more and more who the real contenders are and who the pretenders are.

No more jibber-jabber this week, let’s get to the Power Rankings.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (3)—With Pau back, who can stop L.A.? Their next tough matchup is Phoenix on Dec. 6, then Cleveland on Christmas day. They should have a giant lead on the league by then.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (1)—Loss at our nation's capital showed this offense can get stale fast. Despite Mo Williams' poor shooting, the team has looked good as a whole.
3. Orlando Magic (5)—Rashard Lewis' return is more important for this team than the loss of Jameer Nelson. It looks like Orlando is built to beat Boston—not the other way around.

4. Dallas Mavericks (7)—They win on the road, they win at home, and if Kobe begins to pull back on the throttle now that Gasol is back, Dirk looks in-line to win the MVP.

5. Atlanta Hawks (2)—Seven game streak snapped by a Chris Paul-less Hornets?  Atlanta has plenty of time to rest before Thursday's game with Orlando, where they look to make a statement on national TV.

6. Phoenix Suns (4)—Also stung by the Hornets, teams that can shoot the ball are giving them all sorts of trouble this season.

7. Denver Nuggets (8)—The 4-4 road record is a red flag for the Nuggets after their latest loss to the Clippers.

8. Boston Celtics (6)—Almost lost in OT when they visited the Knicks in NYC. Paul Pierce is the catalyst for Celtic success.

9. Milwaukee Bucks (15)—An OT loss to Dallas followed by three easy wins, Brandon Jennings is the best rookie point guard since Chris Paul—yes, he's better than Derrick Rose.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (9)—The loss of Travis Outlaw has Rip City down two dynamic wings, they are lucky depth is one of their biggest strengths.

11. Houston Rockets (11)—No team in the NBA plays more like a team, but the lack of elite talent makes it hard for Houston to win games they aren't supposed to.

12. Utah Jazz (19)—An undefeated week has Utah back in the playoff hunt. They have five home games and a trip to Minnesota in the next two weeks—all could be wins.

13. Oklahoma City Thunder (16)—Kevin Durant is playing like an All-NBA First Teamer, it will be a travesty if he doesn't earn the fans vote at forward in the All-Star Game.

14. Toronto Raptors (13)—Team didn't compete often against a tough stretch of opponents. Jose Calderon has a nice stat sheet but I'm questioning his ability to lead this team to wins.

15. Miami Heat (10)—Injuries are derailing the train in Miami; clearly this team needs help and if Pat Riley doesn't go get it, he might lose Wade.

16. Chicago Bulls (14)—John Salmons has been one of the major disappointments of the season—all of his shooting percentages are down at least 10 points from last year.

17. San Antonio Spurs (12)—Yikes! I understand Coach Pop has to worry about his team being healthy for the playoffs but at this pace they won't make them and his players are still getting injured.

18. New Orleans Hornets (22)—Nice little three game streak without Chris Paul makes you wonder just how bad Byron Scott was.

19. Sacramento Kings (18)—Four very winnable games this week but the Kings need Tyreke Evans in the lineup or they might lose all of them.

20. Indiana Pacers (17)—Just when you think Indy is turning the corner they drop games to New York and Charlotte in the same week. Troy Murphy's return hasn't been as successful as anticipated.

21. Detroit Pistons (20)—Clearly Ben Gordon was worth the money, but this team cannot stand up to the talented rosters of the NBA.

22. Los Angeles Clippers (23)—Beating Denver saves the Clippers from a plummet in the rankings. What's crazy is they could sweep their next four.

23. Charlotte Bobcats (21)—Stephen Jackson makes them better on paper but until he starts doing things on the court it was a lateral move.

24. Washington Wizards (26)—With Jamison back this team can get on track. The playoffs are not dead but they do need to get close to .500 by the All-Star break.

25. Golden State Warriors (25)—It's hard to see the Raja Bell trade making them better, right now Vladimir Radmanovic is getting way too much PT.

26. Memphis Grizzlies (27)—A.I. is officially gone and Rudy Gay is heating up. Memphis won't win a lot of games but they are beating who they should.

27. Philadelphia 76ers (24)—Sam Dalembert has packed his bags and mentally checked out; if they can get something in a trade it will help Philly refocus.

28. New York Knicks (28)—Had they lost to Jersey I would have cemented them at the bottom of the Association, 2010 better be worth it.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (29)—Back-to-back double-doubles for Al Jefferson in back-to-back double-digit loses, ouch.

30. New Jersey Nets (30)
—On the bright side Devin Harris is back, just in time for their Western Conference road trip.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnLorge .

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