In Defense of John Hollinger and the Bucks
But as Hollinger ceaselessly explains, there's more to it than that. And in this case, it's pretty darn easy to see why the Bucks rate so highly right now. Milwaukee has played the league's seventh most difficult schedule to date. That's important in the NBA, since by the end of the season it will all even out. Getting through those tough games with a decent record/margin implies you'll be able to do quite well against the cupcakes to come.
Further, look at the home/road split: the Bucks have played 21 games on the road and only 14 at home. That means Milwaukee has 27 home games left, and only 20 road games left. There's a substantial and real home court advantage in the NBA, and Hollinger's system accounts for odd splits like this.
Again, Milwaukee at No. 5 is a shock. But I'm glad the Bucks landed there, because otherwise I wouldn't have realized how well Milwaukee has overcome some rough scheduling circumstances. If folks like the critic at MLJ want rankings to mirror conventional wisdom or the standings, well ESPN itself has a number of other options. I'm glad we have Hollinger's system to make us question what we see and what we don't.