Nov 21, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) stretches on the net in overtime against the Milwaukee Bucks at American Airlines Arena. The Heat defeated the Bucks 113-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
When ranking teams 1-30 numerous factors are taken into account including strength of schedule, point differential, quality wins and overall record. Of course it is still a very young season and there will naturally be fluctuation in these rankings as the 2012-13 season progresses but here are how things currently stand in Week 5.
1. Miami Heat (12-3) – While the Heatles are the top ranked team here at HH, they aren’t without question marks. Dwyane Wade save last night’s 34 point effort in a win over the Brooklyn Nets has been largely inconsistent to start the year, the usual staunch Heat defense is currently ranked 20th in points allowed giving up 99.5 points a night and they seem to at times sleepwalk through the early part of games.
With all that being said, the Heat’s are currently on a six-game winning streak and offense is clicking at a scary rate, Lebron James is following up his 2011-12 MVP campaign with another great start, averaging 24.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists a game and Ray Allen is showing why he was the perfect signing for the defending champs hitting huge shots at the end of games including the go-ahead three he hit to save the Heat from what could have been a disastrous loss to the Duncan, Parker and Ginobili-less San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.
2. San Antonio Spurs (14-4) – The Spurs had as much media scrutiny this past week as any team as a result of Greg Popovich’s decision to bench Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green for a TNT showdown with the Miami Heat and the power trip fine levied by David Stern as a result.
Can you blame Pop though?
The Spurs are a veteran team coming off playing four games in five nights and this is a tactic Pop has used for years to keep his guys fresh. Either way, the Spurs followed up a surprisingly competitive loss to the Heat with an impressive come from behind 99-95 overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last night.
Tim Duncan is looking as good as he has in years, the bench has gained much confidence after Thursday’s game and second year forward Kawhi Leonard is slated to come back from injury soon so the Spurs should keep rolling.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (12-3) – Though the Grizz blew a 15-point lead in their loss to San Antonio Saturday night Memphis has still raised many eyes around the league with some of their big time wins including victories over the Heat, Thunder, Knicks and Lakers.
Behind the top ranked defense in basketball and a greatly improved bench the Grizzlies have forced themselves into the discussion of serious title contenders. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have been dominant on the inside and Rudy Gay is playing some of the best all-around basketball of his career.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-4) – The Thunder had a dominant week to say the least, going 4-0 winning their games by an average of 25 points. The defending Western Conference champs have not skipped a beat after the shocking James Harden trade as Kevin Martin has filled in admirably in the sixth man role averaging 16.1 points off the bench and they currently have the best point differential in the league at +9.8 points.
Kevin Durant is in the early discussion for MVP and Russell Westbrook has been dynamite as a playmaker dishing out almost 9 assists a game. Serge Ibaka’s improved game has given the Thunder a new dimension as well as OKC is scoring 105.1 points a game which leads the league.
5. New York Knicks (12-4) – The Knicks currently have the second best point differential in the league and Knicks faithful finally have a team they can honestly say they are proud of watching.
Carmelo Anthony seems to have matured greatly from his Olympic experience scoring at a proficient level while playing more inspired defensively. Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have had a calming influence at the point guard position and J.R. Smith is playing great basketball off the bench.
How Amar’e Stoudemire fits into the teams plans is the looming question going forward but for now the Knicks have been playing excellent basketball. A game people should be very excited for next week is when the Knickerbockers fly down to South Beach for a Thursday night prime time matchup with the defending champs.
6. Brooklyn Nets (11-5)– The Nets are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now despite having their five-game win streak snapped by the Miami Heat last night. They have largely been doing it on the defensive end which is a shocker of sorts and have allowed the second fewest points in the league to this point, only allowing opponents to score 91.1 points a game.
Brook Lopez has had a strong start to the season before recently getting injured, leading Brooklyn in scoring with 18.5 points a game while adding 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks and Andray Blatche has had a rebirth of sorts playing well off the bench.
7. Golden State Warriors (10-6) – I must say one of the reasons I am happy to have bought NBA League Pass is being able to watch the Golden State Warriors. Despite losing Andrew Bogut to injuries, the Warriors are one of the hottest teams in the NBA winning seven of their last nine games.
David Lee continues to produce without anyone knowing about it putting up a great all around stat line scoring 17.1 points, grabbing 10.8 rebounds and dishing 3.9 assists a game. Stephen Curry has played every game so far and Golden State has one of the leagues better benches. Klay Thompson has played much better of late after an early season slump and this team looks to be very dangerous in the Wild Wild West.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (10-6) – The other L.A. team has slowed down a bit after a quick start going 2-4 after starting off the season winning eight of their first 10 games. Jamal Crawford leads a balanced attack scoring 17.5 points a game and four other Clippers are averaging at least 10 points a contest with Eric Bledsoe barely behind at 9.9. CP3 is dishing out 9.3 assists a game and Chauncey Billups recently returned from injury but should provide a steady veteran presence.
9. Atlanta Hawks (9-5) – The Hawks haven’t exactly missed Joe Johnson very much and are one of the league’s early surprises with their strong start. A heartbreaking loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night snapped a six-game win streak but Atlanta’s sixth ranked defense and balanced offensive attack have kept them afloat as five players are averaging 10 points a game or better.
10. Los Angeles Lakers (8-8) – As disappointing as the Lake show has been to start the year they still have plenty of time to turn their season around. Despite the team being plagued by injuries, questionable effort at times and shoddy bench play, Kobe Bryant has been phenomenal in the early going, leading the league in scoring with 26.9 points a game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field. It is impossible to assess this team without Steve Nash in action but the Lakers best basketball is ahead of them.
11. Chicago Bulls (8-7) – The Bulls fourth ranked defense keeps them in every game and Joakim Noah is playing at an All-Star level averaging a near double-double of 13.3 points and 9.9 rebounds while adding 4.3 assists and better than 2 blocks a game. Chicago has only allowed 86 points a game in winning three of their last four.
12. Boston Celtics (9-8) – The Celtics have had an up and down start to the season and Wednesday’s senseless altercation with Kris Humphries led to Rajon Rondo’s two-game suspension. Paul Pierce’s timeless game is keeping the C’s competitive and Rondo will return to action on Wednesday against the Minnesota T’Wolves. A home and home with rival Philadelphia this coming weekend will be interesting to watch.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (10-7) – The youth movement is alive and well in Philly with Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner all keeping the Sixers competitive in the highly competitive Atlantic Division despite Andrew Bynum being unable to suit up because of bowling accidents. Jason Richardson has provided the Sixers with a needed outside threat hitting 42.9 percent of his shots from downtown.
14. Houston Rockets (8-8) – The Rockets have won three of their past four games and their third ranked scoring offense is a big reason why. While the Rockets can’t stop anybody these days, James Harden is the fifth leading scorer and Chandler Parsons is enjoying a nice breakout season under the radar and filling up the stat sheet, averaging 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists a contest.
15. Utah Jazz (9-9) – The Utah Jazz are a tale of two different teams. In the friendly confines of their home in Salt Lake City they are undefeated winning all six of their games. However away from home they are 3-9. Luckily for the Jazz five of their next seven games are home. Seven Jazz players average between 9.4 and 16.7 points a game making the Jazz a squad that can hurt you in many ways.
16. Denver Nuggets (8-9) – Not a good week for the Nuggets by any means, losing all three of their games this week on the road. Tough losses to the Jazz and Warriors followed by a three point barrage at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson have struggled greatly to start the season and need to step up in order for the Nuggets to keep up in the West.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (8-7) – The Bucks are currently tied with the Bulls for the Central Division lead which looks like it could be an open race all season long. Ersan Ilyasova’s early season struggles continue to plague Milwaukee though he had a solid performance in yesterday’s win over the Celtics, scoring 15 points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists.
18. Indiana Pacers (8-9) – Much like the Denver Nuggets, the Pacers are a young team struggling. While savvy veteran David West has looked great early on, up and coming players Paul George and Roy Hibbert have not been able to build on the momentum from last year. Indiana is ranked 29th in scoring averaging 90.9 points a game so the offense must improve.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8) – The T’Wolves received some encouraging news when Ricky Rubio was cleared to practice fully for the first time today. Kevin Love is rounding into form averaging 21.7 points and 15.3 rebounds a game and I expect this beat up team to finally get some good fortune coming their way soon.
20. Dallas Mavericks (8-9) – After a strong start out of the gate winning four of their first five games, the Mavs have regressed and gone 4-8 in their last 12 games. O.J. Mayo has been a revelation offensively averaging 20.2 points a game and Dirk Nowitzki should be coming back in the next couple weeks which should help matters in Dallas.
21. Portland Trail Blazers (7-10) – A rough week for the Blazers, losing back to back games to the lowly Detroit Pistons and previously winless Washington Wizards before winning a thriller in overtime last night in Cleveland. Damian Lillard has had the typical rookie growing pains of late but is still the early favorite for Rookie of the Year while Wes Matthews and Nic Batum continue to play solid basketball for Portland.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (7-8) – The Bobcats were down 54 points in their embarrassing loss Monday night to the Thunder and are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. I guess it’s not all bad in the Queen City though since Charlotte has already matched their win total from last year. Mike Dunlap has done a commendable job as first year coach of this young team.
23. Phoenix Suns (7-11) – I must say the Suns have performed above expectations despite losing four of their last five including a 40 point beatdown at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. A strong bench has kept Phoenix competitive for the most part and Jermaine O’Neal is looking as healthy as he has in years, hopefully he can keep it up.
24. Orlando Magic (5-10) – I guess that 2-0 start was an abberation after all and there is no Ewing Theory here with this Orlando Magic team. J.J Redick has played quite well for the Magic and is a candidate to be traded to a contender as his outside shooting could certainly help many squads.
25. Detroit Pistons (5-13) – After starting the season 0-8, the Pistons have played much better basketball of late going 5-5 in their last 10 games. Greg Monroe is looking more and more like a franchise cornerstone, leading the team in points (16.1), rebounds (9.7) and steals (1.7) while doing a nice job creating for teammates with 3.4 assists a night.
26. Toronto Raptors (4-13) – The Raptors have been a mild disappointment to start the season. Kyle Lowry has been plagued by injuries after a hot start and Dwane Casey’s guys have reverted to their typical struggling defensive ways. The Raptors are currently allowing 101.2 points a night which is the fifth most points in the league. Jonas Valanciunas has certainly had his moments as a rookie and should post even better numbers provided he stays out of foul trouble.
27. New Orleans Hornets (4-11) – It’s a shame we haven’t seen what this Hornets team could do when they are healthy. Rookie cornerstone Anthony Davis has only played in 6 games and Eric Gordon hasn’t played at all. Greivis Vasquez has turned into a quality point guard though, he is tied for fifth in assists with Russell Westbrook with 8.7 a game.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-13) – Kyrie Irving’s fractured finger has tempered expectations for the Cavs as he was playing great prior to his injury. Anderson Varejao is the consummate professional and could conceivably be an Eastern Conference All-Star this year, he leads the league in rebounding averaging 15.3 a contest and has scored 15.1 points a game as well. Dion Waiters must improve his shot selection as he is shooting a brutal 36.3 percent from the field.
29. Sacramento Kings (4-12) – The Kings are a mess, they are the most selfish team in basketball ranking last as a team in assists with only 18.4 a game. Demarcus Cousins appears to have regressed as well, shooting an awful 41.7 percent from the field for a big man and has already let his temper get the best of him with his post-game confrontation with Spurs announcer Sean Elliott a few weeks ago.
30. Washington Wizards (1-13) – Bradley Beal guarantees playoffs? Let’s be real fellas you JUST got your first win.