The upper half of this week’s power rankings feature one of the hottest team’s appearance in the top ten, while one of the most touted teams in the league after their summer have had a weak first month and have fallen out of the top ten. Come see where teams stand as the second month of the 2012-2013 season begins.
15. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls continue to put all the weight on the shoulders of their two most consistent players—Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Each are playing at least 39 minutes on average, for Noah is attempting almost eleven shots right now, and Deng is putting up fifteen shots a night for Chicago. As they await the return of Derrick Rose, the Bulls will continue to ride Deng and Noah as far as they can.
Last Week: 16
14. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets continue to play lower than their expectations, but the wins have been there for them. A tough loss to the Warriors followed up by a loss to the Lakers who were rested and motivated by Kobe Bryant to win that night. The Nuggets really need to find their guy who will close out games for them and then they will be able these close losses.
Last Week: 13
13. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have been great thus far, but truly only four players have played great for this team—Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, and Larry Sanders. After that there is a steep drop-off in talent on this team in all categories. Ersan Ilyasova has been a total bust after signing a large contract in the summer, and neither have many of their several role players. The Bucks great start will be forgotten soon enough if players do not get going after their slow first month.
Last Week: 12
12. Los Angeles Lakers
What has happened in LA—better yet what has not happened in LA? The acquisition of Dwight Howard clearly has not done anything for this club as his play has been overshadowed by Pau Gasol’s poor play and Steve Nash’s injury. The Lakers fell to the Pacers in the waning moments despite Kobe Byrant’s 40 points. On Sunday, they lost to the Dwight Howard-less Magic at home on Sunday by ten.
Last Week: 8
11. Boston Celtics
It is clear the Celtics are frustrated with their opening month performance. Boston lost to newly relevant divisional foes the Nets but also lost Rajon Rondo for two games as he shoved Kris Humphries into the stands. Rondo’s show of immaturity exploits Boston for their lack of a viable leader anymore now that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are on the back nine of their career.
Last Week: 10
10. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers continue to shock many that they have remained apart of the top fifteen teams weekly. After dealing their star, Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum basically, Bynum has not seen the floor in an Sixers uniform. Although, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner have matured much faster than anyone could have thought and have kept this team afloat. Despite the great play of their role players, the absence of Bynum will get to the Sixers down the road.
Last Week: 11
9. Golden State Warriors
It is crazy how good a young talented team can be when they are healthy. The Warriors have finally begun to reach the potential that this roster gives. Sixth man Carl Landry and rookie Festus Ezelli have helped out David Lee in the frontcourt, and Harrison Barnes has been giving them enough to remain in the starting lineup. As the team awaits the return of Andrew Bogut, who continues to have his return pushed back, they are going to try and keep this great play with a relatively easy schedule ahead.
Last Week: 15
8. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks had a quiet week with only two games, but they still remain among the best in the league in the opening month. Devin Harris has been a great mentor to Jeff Teague as Teague has a similar style of play that Harris had back in New Jersey for the Nets. With Josh Smith getting better every game, this young Hawks squad is not due for a down year like many first thought.
Last Week: 9
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers remain one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch with Chris Paul running the team and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan giving highlights after highlights. Although this team is no longer just about making Sport Centers Top 10—the Clippers are a legitimate contender with one of the most balanced rosters in the league. Eric Bledsoe has been great off the bench, and now Chauncey Billups has made his return to the club and will give veteran leadership the Clippers have missed.
Last Week: 7
6. New York Knicks
The Knicks clearly were not fazed by their loss to Brooklyn last week as they responded to their tough loss with an undefeated week. Carmelo Anthony continues his tear that has led the Knicks to be in the top five in points scored. Now that Amar’e Stoudemire is shooting for a Christmas Day return, the Knicks will be one of the more interesting to watch to see how they use Amar’e with their much improved squad.
Last Week: 6
5. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets continue to rise after taking down the Celtics on the road, and add some toughness to themselves after the mini-brawl between Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries. The Nets lost to the Heat again, which makes it hard to see if the Nets can compete with the top team in the East, but Brooklyn is still playing at a higher level than the majority of the teams in the league.
Last Week: 5
4. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies have lost their throne as the top team in the power rankings after losing to a refreshed Spurs squad, but they still have made the jump into the elite category with their first month of play. If any team looks primed to take down the elderly Spurs, or the young Thunder, its this team right here who is a mix of both those teams.
Last Week: 1
3. San Antonio Spurs
What would have been a possible finals preview, Greg Popovich elected to bench his key players as they approached the end of their six-game road trip. Popovich faced a controversial fine with that decision despite his role players nearly knocking off the defending champions. The Spurs followed that up with a big win over the Grizzlies and continue to debunk the thought that this team is too old to compete.
Last Week: 3
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been on a five-game winning streak that’s average margin of victory is 21 points. Russell Westbrook has made people forget about his tough Finals performance by becoming more of a passer and taking a back seat to Kevin Durant. Kevin Martin is coming into his James Harden-like role scoring 16 points a game off the bench.
Last Week: 2
1. Miami Heat
The Heat have taken back their number one ranking after another great week. Lebron James continued to mature late in games against the Spurs were he took over the game in the final minutes—even if it was against their bench players, Lebron stepped up and carried this team. Then, Dwayne Wade poured in one of his best performances of the year against the Nets, with two signature victories the Heat have reassured fans that they are the number one team in the league.
Last Week: 4
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