10. Brooklyn Nets (11-8, Last Week: 5): The Nets are dropping, but are hanging on by a thread to the top ten. Four losses in a row–although two were against Miami and Oklahoma City–definitely set the exciting, new-look Nets back a bit.
9. Atlanta Hawks (12-5, Last Week: 7): The Hawks went 3-0 last week, including a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis, and continue to be an overlooked team in the Eastern Conference.
8. Golden State Warriors (13-7, Last Week: 9): The Warriors are 3-0 to start their seven game road trip; in which one victory came over the Nets in Brooklyn.
7. Chicago Bulls (11-8, Last Week: 12): The Bulls continue to climb. Still without Derrick Rose, the Bulls managed to defeat the New York Knicks on Saturday, and have won their last three games. It’s not uncommon to see their starting five reach double digits in points or put up other incredible stats as Luol Deng has averaged 20.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists; Joakim Noah has averaged 17.7 points, 16.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, Carlos Boozer has averaged 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds; and Marco Belinelli has averaged 20.3 points per game in that three-game stretch. The Bulls have definitely not given up on their season despite Rose’s prolonged recovery from injury all season, or the loss of depth over the summer.
6. Miami Heat (13-5, Last Week: 2): Losses to the dead-last Washington Wizards and a blowout by the New York Knicks–without Carmelo Anthony, mind you–set the Heat back four positions this week.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (14-6, Last Week: 8): The Clippers are currently on a six-game winning streak. Coupled with their incredible depth and Chris Paul’s timeliness for clutch shots, the Clippers are built for big games and a deep run in the playoffs.
4. New York Knicks (15-5, Last Week: 6): The Knicks have won six of their last seven games, including a solid victory over the Miami Heat in Miami, without Carmelo Anthony.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (14-4, Last Week: 4):The Grizzlies are a very well-built team, and have the type of size in the front-court no team wants to face.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (17-4, Last Week: 3): The Thunder are on an impressive eight-game winning streak, which included victories over the Lakers and Nets. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have continued to improve their already elite-level skills. One positive from the James Harden move has been the superstars’ improvement of their all-around games. Durant has boosted his rebounds and assists averages compared with last season, and Russell Westbrook is averaging more than three extra assists this season compared with last.
1. San Antonio Spurs (17-4, Last Week: 1): The Spurs are still absolutely dominant. They’ve won nine of their last ten games, but the one loss came against Miami (a close 105-100 loss, at that) where coach Popovich sat four of his top players. Realistically, the Spurs could be on a ten-game winning streak right now.