Rankings (Last weeks rankings) - NR = Not ranked
1. (6) San Antonio Spurs (9-1) - The Spurs are off to their best start in team history and are looking like the dominant Spurs of old. Although Tim Duncan hasn't been averaging as many points as usual, he's still rebounding and San Antonio is getting big numbers from Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker (which is expected). A surprise thus far for the Spurs has been Richard Jefferson. The small forward seems rejuvenated and is playing at a high level, averaging 17 points per game. The Spurs once again find themselves at the top of the West.
2. (2) New Orleans Hornets (9-1) - The Hornets continue to impress everyone with their high level of play. They've taken every challenge thrown at them and are excelling way passed expectations. It will be interesting to see if New Orleans can keep it going and grab a top seed in the West.
3. (1) Los Angeles Lakers (10-2) - The Lakers dropped their first 2 games to Denver and Phoenix which are both very good teams. But if they want to repeat, it's crucial for them to be able to beat other top Western Conference teams on a consistent basis. Kobe's scoring is starting to go up and the Lakers are playing at a pretty high level. Don't expect them to stay below the 2 spot for too long.
4. (4) Boston Celtics (9-2) - The Celtics have established themselves as being the top team in the East thus far. They've beaten the Heat twice and have showed us that age is no matter. The "Big Three" are all playing at high levels and Rondo continues to mesmerize opponents. Ray Allen is shooting the 3 at about 45% and Paul Pierce is shooting them at about 48%. These are career highs for both the veterans and if this keeps up, watch out for the C's.
5. (NR) Utah Jazz (8-4) - The Utah Jazz are straight up just playing very good basketball. Deron Williams is leading this team through the tough Northwest division and are proving themselves in inter conference play. Look for this team to continue moving up the rankings.
6. (3) Orlando Magic (7-3) - The Magic haven't really done anything wrong to move down the rankings (except lose to the Raptors). Other teams are just stepping it up. Although we know the Magic have proven in the past that they can be a top Eastern Conference team, the only winning team they've beaten thus far this season is Atlanta.
7. (10) Dallas Mavericks (7-3) - Dallas is another one of those teams who could emerge with a top Western Conference seed. Dirk is playing at a high level once again and Jason Kidd is still averaging around 10 assists per game. The biggest change is probably the improved play of Tyson Chandler. He is second on the team is rebounds and leads the team in blocked shots. After the departure of Erick Dampier, the Mavs have struggled finding an inside presence. Now with Chandler, they may have found their answer.
8. (7) Atlanta Hawks (8-4) - Three out of the Hawks four losses have come at home. In order for this team to excel in the East, they need to protect home court. Despite this, Atlanta continues to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Josh Smith leads them in nearly every defensive category and is the league leader in blocks per game.
9. (5) Miami Heat (7-4) - Last night, Chris Bosh answered his critics and proved that he, in fact, is a star player on this Heat squad. His 35 points helped Miami dismantle Phoenix completely. The reason Miami has dropped once again in the rankings is because they have not beaten a top Eastern Conference team other than Orlando. They already have 2 losses to the Celtics which is a bad sign for the Heat. Miami needs to find a way to play on a consistent basis each night.
10. (NR) Oklahoma City Thunder (7-4) - OKC has been playing well as of late, beating top Western Conference teams. Kevin Durant leads the league in scoring and is making a case for him to win MVP this year. Despite their success, the team still has faults in rebounds, assists and points allowed per game. They find themselves in the bottom third of the league in each category. In order for this team to grab a top Western Conference seed, they will need to improve in each of these categories. Kevin Durant can't do it all on his own.
Outside looking in: The Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls (8) and Phoenix Suns
Dropped from rankings: The Chicago Bulls (8) and the Portland Trailblazers (9).
(Hey Greg Oden, from now on let's try and pick someone other than Sam Bowie to model your career after. Thanks.)