1. LAL (20-4)-The only difference between the Lakers and the Celtics is that the Lakers are the defending champions and that they have that Kobe Bryant guy.
2. BOS (20-4)-They have not lost in almost a month. All 5 starters are averaging double-digits and Rasheed Wallace, Eddie House, and Marquis Daniels all provide key minutes off the bench. I can't wait until the Christmas day showdown in Orlando.
3. ORL (19-7)-Blowout loss at Miami shows the Magic are the best of the second tier NBA teams and not in the same group as LA and Boston. They are as deep as any team in the league though.
4. DEN (19-7)-Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are league's best duo. Melo is playing like the MVP, while Chauncey is one of the best PG's in the NBA.
5. ATL (18-6)-I know I am looking far ahead, but the Hawks need to win the Southeast Division. Second place will likely mean a playoff destiny vs. the Heat in the 1st round and the Celtics in the 2nd round. If they win the division they will play a sub .500 team in the 1st round then the Cavs in the 2nd round. They really need that division title.
6. DAL (19-7)-The Mavs have won 5 straight including wins vs. Phoenix, @Miami, and @OKC. Dirk is looking like a MVP candidate once again.
7. CLV (19-7)-They are once again looking unstoppable at home but they need to beat good teams on the road as well. We all know LeBron is nasty, but it's time for the supporting cast step it up.
8. Utah (15-10)-Last week was huge for the Jazz as they beat the Spurs, Magic and Lakers while their only loss was a blowout at the Lakers. This week they split with the two worst teams in the NBA, the TWolves and Nets. Tonight they start a 4 game road trip in the southeast against the Hawks.
9. PHO (17-9)-The Suns are undefeated at home (9-0) while (8-9) on the road, that needs to stop if they want to be considered an elite team. Plus they are in the same division as the Lakers so their playoff destiny will be on the road in the Western Conference.
10. POR (16-11)-They had a good win against the Suns but losses @NY and @MIL won't cut it. On the bright side we have had many Juwan Howard sightings off the bench for the Blazers. Who would have thought Howard would have the longest career out of any player in the Fab 5?
11. MIA (13-11)-They had a huge win over the Magic. DWade is proving that he might be the best player on the planet not named Kobe. When Michael Beasley plays well the Heat have been successful.
12. SA (13-10)-The Spurs beat the bad teams, (11-1) vs. teams with a losing record, but lose to the good teams, (2-9) vs. teams that are .500 or better. If they get to the playoffs it will only be against good teams. I'm sensing a 1st round sweep and the end of a dynasty in San Antonio.
13. HOU (14-11)-Aaron Brooks gets my vote for the NBA's Most Improved Player. He's averaging 17.7 ppg and 5.6 apg. for the surprisingly good Rockets. Last year he averaged 11 and 3.
14. OKC (12-12)-They have a solid young trio with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green but they need to get rookie James Harden more minutes. He's clearly a better player than Thabo Sefolosha.
15. DET (11-14)-Rip and Tayshaun have played a combined 6 games, yet if the playoffs were to start today the Pistons would still be the 7th seed in the East. This is more of a testament of how bad the East is than how good the Pistons are.
16. SAC (11-13)
17. MIL (11-12)-So who is the Rookie of the Year so far? It's between the Kings' Tyreke Evans and the Bucks' Brandon Jennings. Both are 20 year old PG's. Their records are almost identical. Their numbers are pretty similar too: Tyreke (20.3 ppg, 5 apg and 5.1 rpg), Brandon (20.7 ppg, 6 apg 3.8 rpg). Their size is very different Tyreke is (6-6/220) while Brandon is (6-1/170). But I would give it to Tyreke right now because of how he has put the Kings on his back since their top scorer Kevin Martin got hurt. Tyreke is also silencing the critics that said he wasn't a true PG at the NBA level.
18. MEM (10-15)-The Grizzlies are 4-3 in December with wins over Cleveland, Dallas and @Miami. Zach Randolph has been a very pleasant surprise.
19. LAC (11-13)-Chris Kaman in putting up 19.1 ppg and 8.8 rpg and should find himself in the All-Star game this year. The Clippers also have the thickest backcourt duo in the league with Barron Davis (6-3/225) and Eric Gordon (6-3/222) which cause many match up problems.
20. NO (11-13)-It is me or is their just something missing. Okafor is decent but he isn't the answer at Center. CP3 is is nasty while rookie Marcus Thorton has been a pleasant surprise off the bench with 10.6 ppg.
21. CHR (10-14)-If the Bobcats finally make the playoffs this year then Larry Brown clearly deserves to be Coach of the Year once again.
22. TOR (11-17)-It seems like the Raptors only win when they have a huge frontcourt advantage on a team and Chris Bosh then proceeds to just have his way. But when they play and team with a decent frontcourt the result is usually a loss and their have been way too many losses for a team that came into the this year with high playoff hopes.
23. CHI (9-15)-They have been terrible on the road (2-10). The emergence of Joakim Noah has been a bright spot but Derrick Rose needs to average more than 5.5 apg if he wants to be considered one of the best PG's in the NBA.
24. IND (9-14)-It pains me to see Danny Granger have to try to do everything. He is such a good player that gets very little credit and even less help. Put Danny Granger on the Heat, Jazz or Thunder and I guarantee you they are either in the conference finals.
25. NY (8-17)-It is very sad to think that the very sorry Knicks might finish 3rd, maybe even 2nd in the Atlantic Division.
26. WAS (7-16)-I thought that having Gilbert Arenas back and healthy would put the Wizards right back in the playoff hunt. I guess I though wrong.
27. PHL (6-19)-I think it's great the 76ers brought Allen Iverson out of retirement, however even AI can't bring this franchise back to prominence. The 76ers would love to trade Elton Brand or Samuel Dalembert but good luck moving either of their contracts.
28. GS (7-18)-I ranked the 76ers ahead of the Warriors 1) because they beat them head to head on Monday night and 2) AI is still better than Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry who are both AI wannabes.
29. MIN (4-22)-I really don't think Ricky Rubio would help that much. At least Corey Brewer is back and healthy and had one of the best dunks of the year on Derrick Fisher.
30. NJ (2-24)-Is it to early to start thinking about John Wall and Brook Lopez together.