We're just a week into the season, so don't get mad if your team isn't where you might have expected. It's just that if we go by what we've actually seen, as opposed to what's been predicted, then this is for the most part where teams should fall based on their early performances. But if you're offended by the spot your favorite team holds, fear not: they likely have 79 regular season games remaining to right the ship.
- 1. Magic (3-0)
Sure, they've only beaten Philly, New Jersey and Toronto. But they've done so by an an average margin of double digits, and they've done it without the suspended Rashard Lewis. Might be the deepest team in the league; time will tell how they match up against the big boys.
- 2. Celtics (4-0)
Opened the season with a solid road victory in Cleveland, before absolutely pummeling inferior competition for the next three games. If the whole team plays with that Rondo-sized chip on its shoulder for the entire season, who knows what Boston is capable of.
- 3. Nuggets (3-0)
Impressive wins against Utah and Portland already, and Carmelo Anthony could be to this season what Dwyane Wade was to last season: someone with something to prove, and maybe a dark horse candidate for MVP.
- 4. Mavericks (2-1)
Can't blame them for losing to Gilbert Arenas' supremely motivated squad in the opener, especially after they regrouped nicely by throttling the Lakers on the road in their second game. This team has one of the best pick-and-roll offenses in the league when it's firing on all cylinders, which will be extremely tough for most other teams to stop.
- 5. Lakers (2-1)
With Pau Gasol missing the first three games of the season, L.A. has looked far from spectacular. Their lack of depth has been exposed, and Ron Artest has yet to fit in. Still, an 18-0 run in the third quarter on Sunday put away the Hawks, and the Lakers did it with defense, offensive rebounding, and getting out on the break for easy baskets. They're the defending champs for a reason.
- 6. Spurs (2-1)
The one game that Tim Duncan has looked like his old self this season -- when he put up 28 and 16 against the Bulls -- San Antonio lost. In the two wins, Tony Parker was the catalyst, leading the team in scoring and getting everyone else involved. Of course, if Ginobili continues to play the role of Batman, the sky's the limit.
- 7. Suns (3-0)
Undefeated against the Clippers, the Warriors, and the T'Wolves, the Suns aren't exactly world-beaters. But after squeaking out a close one in L.A. to open the season, Phoenix has had no trouble imposing their will on their opponents, on the way to a couple of comfortable victories. A tough five-game road trip awaits, but this is a confident group that will likely surprise a team or two on that East coast swing.
- 8. Heat (3-0)
Undefeated is undefeated, and despite some fairly weak competition (Bulls excepted), that's where the Heat stand. Still, they've done it convincingly, with the second best point differential in the league at 14.3.
- 9. Rockets (3-1)
Yeah, I'm surprised they're this high, too. But you can't deny three straight wins, including Monday's in Utah where they held Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap to a combined nine points on 1-of-8 shooting, while getting eight players in double figures offensively.
- 10. Cavaliers (2-2)
Can't really justify having LeBron and company any lower than this, but have they really earned it? It's going to be a while before the Cavs are clicking, and with the team trying to get familiar with Shaq and work Delonte West back into the offense, the gap in the standings could be pretty big by the time things get figured out.
- 11. Hawks (2-1)
Played two and a half solid games really, before completely falling to pieces in the third quarter against the Lakers. This is a long, athletic team that has no trouble on either end of the floor, so consistency and mental toughness will be the qualities that they search for as the season goes on.
- 12. Wizards (2-1)
Gilbert Arenas appears to be all the way back, and has led his team to a couple of nice wins to start the season, even as the club is missing Antawn Jamison. Tough back-to-back at Cleveland and then hosting Miami will tell us a lot about where this team is at right now.
- 13. Trail Blazers (2-2)
Brandon Roy can be All-World, but he's struggled shooting the ball since the Denver game. Andre Miller is -- at least so far -- a very underwhelming addition. The injuries to Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge aren't going to help the team get straight early, but we have a long way to go, and Portland is still loaded and can be right there when it counts at the end of the season.
- 14. Thunder (2-1)
As Kevin Durant goes, so goes the Thunder? KD had 25 and 11, then 25 and 12 in his team's first two games -- both victories. He struggled a bit against the Blazers with 16 and 5 (on a miserable 3-21 shooting), and OKC managed just 74 points in their first loss of the season.
- 15. Sixers (2-1)
In just 23 minutes per game off the bench, second-year player Marreese Speights is averaging 16.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and a blocked shot per game, while hitting 18 of his 24 field goal attempts. Elton who?
- 16. Bulls (1-2)
Opened the season with a nice home win over the Spurs, before having to go to Boston the next night to get thrashed by the Celtics. Chicago then took Miami down to the wire, so the schedule-makers more than anyone are to blame for the Bulls' middle-of-the-pack ranking here.
- 17. Jazz (1-2)
Rough one against the Rockets on Monday, as Utah turned a three-point halftime lead into a 17-point home loss.
- 18. Bobcats (2-2)
Charlotte gets a little credit for standing at 2-2, but they did manage just 79 points against the awful Nets on Monday ... which was, in fact, good enough for a win, thanks to New Jersey's dreadful seven-point third quarter.
- 19. Knicks (1-3)
It took New York three overtimes to lose two of its games, before putting together a solid fourth quarter on Monday to get the team's first win of the season. Now if only they can get some consistency going so that D'Antoni doesn't have to change his starting lineup and rotations every night, they'll be in business.
- 20. Hornets (1-3)
New Orleans has no depth once you get past the starting unit, and the team looks to be far worse off than it was a season ago. So let me be among the first to say it: the Hornets are not making the playoffs.
- 21. Raptors (1-2)
Dropped two straight after beating the Cavs in their opener, but don't blame Chris Bosh: he's averaging 31 points and 14.7 rebounds through the first three games. *cough* contact year *cough*
- 22. Bucks (1-1)
Brandon Jennings is the story here, as he's done better than expected early, and led the team in scoring the first two games. Which is important, considering the fact that Michael Redd is going to be on the shelf for a couple of weeks with a knee injury.
- 23. Pistons (1-2)
Rip Hamilton has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, which has paved the way for Ben Gordon to both start and lead the team in scoring. Ws are what matter most though, and without Hamilton in the lineup, Detroit is 0-2.
- 24. Grizzlies (1-3)
Zach Randolph has two 30-point games in the team's first four, and O.J. Mayo put up a career-high 40 on Sunday. Allen Iverson made his debut on Monday, and big surprise: he was unhappy coming off the bench.
- 25. Clippers (1-4)
If Baron Davis ever finds his shot again, L.A. might become dangerous. Davis is shooting just 33% from the field through the team's first five games, having made just 18 of his 54 attempts.
- 26. Kings (1-3)
Kevin Martin's 48 led Sacramento to their first win of the season on Monday, an overtime joint over the Grizzlies. Between Martin and the potential of Tyreke Evans, the Kings might be worthy of more than an occasional flip over to their games on a random night of League pass action.
- 27. Timberwolves (1-3)
Kurt Rambis actually has his team running some basic triangle offense sets in this young season. Funny how things seemed to turn out a whole lot better with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol involved.
- 28. Warriors (0-2)
Stephen Jackson and Don Nelson have completely checked out, and couldn't care less what happens to this team this season. Not cool for guys like Anthony Morrow, Anthony Randolph, and Stephen Curry, who are all talented young players with a potentially bright future in the league.
- 29. Pacers (0-2)
Rookie Tyler Hansbrough has been practicing, and could make his debut this Friday against the Wizards. That is all.
- 30. Nets (0-4)
Unbelievably bad, managing just seven points in the third quarter on Monday in Charlotte. Other lowlights included going over 11 minutes without a field goal, and getting outscored by the Bobcats 24-0 during a stretch that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Finally, the team lost Yi Jianlian to a knee injury in this one as well. I'd make a joke about how dismal things are for the Nets right now, but honestly, it's not even funny.