As Week 3 wraps up, teams are establishing a rhythm that may continue for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers are not one of those teams. Kobe scored a season-high 44 points against the Warriors on Sunday, but that was the only glimmer of light for the Lake Show who lost their ninth game. While the Lakers have fallen down the rankings, teams like the Mavericks and Cavaliers are moving up and demand respect.
1. Memphis Grizzles (9-1) – Riding a three-game winning streak, the Memphis Grizzlies don’t do anything flashy. Don’t hibernate on this bunch for too long, you might miss something special.
2. Houston Rockets (9-1) – James Harden and company keep finding ways to win. Three-point shooting and the presence of Dwight Howard is a recipe for success.
3. Golden State Warriors (8-2) – “The Splash Brothers” flat out dominate ball games. While the Warriors showed their inexperience against the Spurs, their battle scars will only get more bountiful during the course of the season.
4. San Antonio Spurs (5-4) – Nothing has changed here. Pop’s team is gearing up for another long playoff run.
5. Portland Trail Blazers (7-3) – Damian Lillard is a match-up problem every night. With great size and talent from top to bottom, Portland is making their case for one of the top teams in the league.
6. Toronto Raptors (8-2) – The Raptors are surprising a lot of people. However, they have not played the cream of the crop in the Western Conference just yet. The jury is still out for this young, talented group.
7. Dallas Mavericks (7-3) – Whether it was coming back from a 20-point deficit against the Kings or destroying the 76ers by 53, the Mavs find a variety of ways to beat you.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (5-3) – Still one of the deepest teams in the league, the Clippers always seem to lose games that they should win. If that changes, the sky is the limit for the high-flying Clips.
9. Sacramento Kings (6-4) – No power forward is more dominate or more hungry than DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins right now. His team has responded accordingly.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (5-4) – The Cavs are the hottest team in the league. They have the talent and it looks as if they are beginning to find their comfortably on the court.
11. Washington Wizards (7-2) – This starting line-up makes things difficult for under talented teams in the East. But, the speed and dynamics of John Wall mixed with the size and skill of the Wizards bigs make this squad more than competitive.
12. Chicago Bulls (7-3) – By the time you finish reading this article, Derek Rose will tweak his knee. However, Tom Thibodeau runs a tight ship in Chi-Town. The Bulls are efficient, but not quite in elite company.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (5-3) – The starting five for the Pelicans is one of the best in the NBA. Marksmen Ryan Anderson provides a deep-ball threat coming off of the bench.
14. Phoenix Suns (5-5) – The Morris twins are confusing commentators for Suns away games just as much as Phoenix’s offense is confusing the opposition. Expect 100 plus points every night from this group.
15. Miami Heat (5-5) – Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade continue to carry the load without “King James” in town. Luol Deng is beginning to step into his role as Miami’s third option.
On The Cusp Of The Postseason
16. Milwaukee Bucks (5-5) – Brandon Knight has had an impressive start to the season. A stat line of 18 points, six assists and six rebounds has willed his team to a couple of quality wins in the first 10 games of the season.
17. Atlanta Hawks (5-4) – The Hawks have had the luxury of playing the Knicks twice already for two of their five wins. Nevertheless, Atlanta has two of the most skilled bigs in the league in Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
18. Brooklyn Nets (4-5) – The Nets have had a tough schedule with losses to the Suns, Blazers and Warriors. But, KG has been dominate on the boards and gives the Nets noticeable intensity on the defensive end.
19. Charlotte Hornets (4-6) – The Hornets have talent, but need to figure out how to walk away with victories. If they can keep games close, they have one of the best finishers in the league in Kemba Walker.
20. Utah Jazz (4-7) – Gordon Hayward has improved his game in all facets. He is surrounded with young talent that has the ability to compete at a high level. Unfortunately, the Jazz have to battle with the monsters of the West nightly.
The Lottery Sweepstakes
21. Boston Celtics (3-5) – While their record is not great, the Celtics have been a surprise thus far. Rajon Rondo keeps this club in ball games. If they had anyone capable of guarding Lebron James, this team would be .500.
22. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-8) – This team is not the same without their two superstars. But, in the absence of Westbrook and Durant, the Thunder have shown some grit lead by rising star Reggie Jackson.
23. Orlando Magic (4-7) – The Magic have the best roster that you have never heard of. Nikola Vucevic is averaging 18 and 11 and Tobias Harris is putting up 18 and eight. The Magic could sneak into playoff contention in the East.
24. Indiana Pacers (4-7) – After dropping five straight, The Pacers have won three of their last four contests. Roy Hibbert is carrying this team that has experienced a plague of injuries.
25. Detroit Pistons (3-7) – Brandon Jennings has averaged 25 points in the last three games. But, that has resulted in only one overtime win against the decimated Thunder.
26. New York Knicks (3-8) – While Carmelo is adjusting to the triangle offense, coach Derek Fisher is adjusting to running a team. It will be a long season for The Knicks unless the two find some unity.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (1-9) – The good news is that Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring at age 36. The bad news is this team does not compete defensively and are matched up with elite teams in the West more often than not.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-7) – Andrew Wiggins and company have dropped five straight. Wins will be tough to come by for this young group.
29. Denver Nuggets (2-7) – The Nuggets have lost seven of their last eight games. Coach Brian Shaw does not have any answers for the lack of depth on this team.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-9) – For what this squad lacks in talent, they make up for in highlights. It remains to be determined if that can translate to wins this season.[divide]
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