Quickie Power Rankings - I'll probably move the day of the week for this around to avoid Spurs games after this week. Focus your Chi and jump#1 Hornets - One thing's for true - the Hornets have had the hardest schedule of any of the top teams. If you think a road back to back against the Clips scares them, consider they beat the Bucks by six under those circumstances... and the Spurs by nine.
#2 Spurs - San Antonio has legit wins of our own and a record setting start after beating Utah. Did we just forget how good this team can be when everybody's healthy and on the same page?
#3 Lakers - The starting five is destroying all competition and the bench has nowhere to go but up from last year. If trends hold and their six seven and eight guys are Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, isn't this (gulp) the best Kobe team yet?
#4 Thunder - It was more than just a gutsy win against a bored Celtics team - the Durant-free upset should help OKC find their defensive identity. Despite only scoring 12 points in the fourth (eight from Westbrook FTs) they held off the classless class of the east.
#5 Mavericks - Just when they were getting some momentum to crack the top three, or at least keep up, two losses in a row establishes them as a step back from that group, in record and point differential. It won't get easier soon, four out of their next five are against Atlanta, Oklahoma, San Antonio and Miami.
#6 Trail-Blazers - Speaking of point margin, there's a even bigger drop from the Mavs to the rest of the West when you look at the season that way. The Blazers aren't here for their meager +1 or 2 over the league, they're here for winning despite adversity... again.
#7 Nuggets - So far it's looked a lot like the uh... actual conference standings. D'oh! Then how can the rudderless and dispirited Nugs get the 7 hole when they're just six and six? It's not just to mix it up - they've had the harder schedule than the Jazz, and usually keep it close. I predict they get some traction with a relatively easy next eight.
#8 Jazz - Speaking of schedules, it's not like 8-5 Utah is getting a break. After the Kings it's New Orleans, Both LAs, and the scrappy Bucks.
The Cavs - I get the feeling these Cavs would be happy with average. At 5-5, they would take 42-42 and a chance to match up with Miami in the first round after a night of sober reflection. I also think they're probably not that good, and a soft schedule masks a team that will probably fade from playoff relevance eventually. Still, they've got that home win against the Celtics to show they're at least dangerous.