1. Memphis Grizzlies (13-3)Preseason rank: 9
The Grizzlies have been playing lights out to start this season. They have the NBA's best record behind a total team effort.
2. New York Knicks (13-4)Preseason rank: 13
As of this writing, the Knicks are the number one team in the Eastern Conference. They've had an excellent start and have established themselves as one of the best teams in the NBA. They've done all of this without two of their best players in Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. It should be safe to say that they will only get better when those two return.
3. San Antonio Spurs (15-4)Preseason rank: 3
The Spurs might be higher on this list if Popovich didn't let his B team play against the Miami Heat. Regardless of the $250,000 vacation the Spurs gave Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green, the Spurs continue to cruise along on pace for yet another 50 win season.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-4)Preseason rank: 2
No James Harden, no problem for the OKC Thunder. The show must go on and Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka look like they're hitting their stride. Competition in the West has only gotten tougher but the defending West champs have to like their chances to get back to the Finals.
5. Miami Heat (12-4)Preseason rank: 1
Normally a loss to the worst team in the NBA would drop them further, but I'll take it easy on them this time. More concerning should be the amount of close games this team has been in this far and when they've lost they've lost big (excluding their loss to the Wizards). The Heat don't have much to worry about in the East though as they've proven they can hit another gear in the playoffs.
6. Atlanta Hawks (10-5)Preseason rank: 15
The Hawks are off to an excellent start and don't appear to miss Joe Johnson. Al Horford has recovered from the torn pectoral that sidelined him for most of last season and leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Jeff Teague has played well. Josh Smith is second on the team in scoring, rebounding, steals and leads the team in blocked shots. With the way the East is this season, perhaps they might finally get past the second round.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (12-6)
Preseason rank: 6
The Clippers have some impressive wins thus far this season and were looking like the best team in the league starting out. A four game skid ended that talk but this team is showing that they are to be taken seriously. The Clippers may have the deepest team in the league and Jamal Crawford should be a lock for an All Star berth as well as Sixth Man of the Year.
8. Brooklyn Nets (11-6)Preseason rank: 10
They had a one of their better starts in about 10 years but are still experiencing growing pains. They're currently city champions after defeating the Manhattan Knicks so they can hang their hat on that. However when it comes to measuring up against the defending champion Miami Heat, the Nets currently fall 43 points short after two L's administered by Miami. And clap (or flop) for the Nets for having two of their players (Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace) get hit with the first ever NBA fines for flopping.
9. Golden State Warriors (11-7)Preseason rank: 19
Stephen Curry's ankles are holding up so far but Andrew Bogut's ankles haven't been as fortunate. The Warriors have to be extremely happy with the position they're currently in at second place in the Pacific Division. If they can get serviceable minutes out of Bogut if or when he returns they'll only get better.
10. Boston Celtics (10-8)Preseason rank: 5
Boston has had bad starts the past two seasons and on paper are better than their current record. Games aren't played on paper though and right now they're no where near the best team in a division they've won for the past five seasons. They do have playoff experience on their side and they're counting on that experience to fuel them for a deep playoff run. However, recent playoff history shows they don't have Miami's number and this team was built to beat the Heat. Not only did the Heat smack them in the season opener, but there hasn't been any sign yet that they can keep up with Miami.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (10-8)Preseason rank: 11
Surely the Sixers would like David Stern to retroactively block the trade that brought Andrew Bynum to Philly. Bynum hasn't even touched the practice court due to his knees that are out of crumbling styrofoam. The team has no clue if or when Bynum will suit up for the Sixers this season. The team's record is ok but this start is hardly what the Sixers' front office envisioned when they made the trade.
12. Houston Rockets (9-8)Preseason rank: 24
First and foremost, condolences go out to Kevin McHale and the McHale family on the loss of their loved one, Sasha. It's good to see the Rockets are holding things down while Kevin McHale takes care of his family. The Rockets as an organization consistently put together teams that play with great effort and this year's edition is no different. Daryl Morey definitely got a steal in Omer Asik and struck gold when he was able to pull off the trade that brought James Harden to town. Patrick Patterson continues to improve and Chandler Parsons is really proving to be a solid player in this league. They still have growing pains but the future and the present don't look so bad for this Rockets team.
13. Indiana Pacers (10-9)Preseason rank: 8
Next to the Lakers, the Pacers have been the second biggest disappointing team in the NBA. They're sorely missing Danny Granger, and aren't getting enough out of Mr. Max Contract, Roy Hibbert or the much hyped Paul George. There is still plenty of basketball to play, but I figured the Pacers would definitely take advantage of a weakened Bulls team to take firm command of the Central Division. As of this writing, they are one game behind Chicago despite having recently defeating the Bulls in Chicago.
14. Chicago Bulls (9-8)Preseason rank: 14
Peace to the Bench Mob. The current Bulls bench isn't worthy of any type of nickname. The Bulls do an excellent job of controlling the pace of games they just can't score to save their lives. Nate Robinson is the only player who can create his own shot but often times has shot the Bulls in the foot. Kirk Hinrich might be the worst starting point guard in the NBA. Rip Hamilton was starting to play better but is now sidelines with a torn plantar fascia. Thibs is going to grind Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to dust as they're currently at the top of the league in minutes played. The best news is that Derrick Rose's rehab appears to be going well. In the meantime, the struggle continues.
15. Utah Jazz (10-10)Preseason rank: 16
They don't have the fire power to knock off the Grizzlies, Thunder, Spurs or Clippers in a seven game series. They're on their way to another playoff berth, but it's looking like their visit will be brief.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (9-10)Preseason rank: 4
Here's what I said about the Lakers in the Preseason Power Rankings:
They have the most star studded starting five in the NBA. Their bench is stale bread. Mike D'antoni is going to have to manage the minutes of the starting five due to the injury history and age of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and to a lesser extent Dwight Howard. Metta Ron World Artest Peace's prediction of 73 wins is not going to happen, but the Lakers organization has a bigger goal in mind. And if Mike D'antoni can't get the job done with a starting lineup featuring point guard who is a two-time NBA MVP, a shooting guard who is one time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP, a small forward who is a one time Defensive Player of the Year, a four time NBA All-Star power forward, and a center who is a three time Defensive Player of the Year award winner then he can kiss head coaching in the NBA good-bye. No pressure.The bench is still stale, Steve Nash broke his leg in the second game of the season, the Lakers won't be winning 73 games and Mike Brown is long gone. The struggle continues.
17. Denver Nuggets (9-10)Preseason rank: 7
Denver is a team full of talented players that hasn't been able to get on track this season. They just haven't been able to get on the same page despite having one of the deeper teams in the NBA. Perhaps George Karl needs to unleash JaVale McGee and let him do his thing. The good news is that they can never be counted out and could easily catch fire quickly. They need to figure things out fast though.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-9)Preseason rank: 20
The Timberwolves had a nice start but have hit a few bumps in the road in the first part of this season. The good news for them is that they recently got Kevin Love back in the lineup and Ricky Rubio just started practicing with the team.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (8-9)Preseason rank: 17
The Bucks had a spark when they started but have faded back into mediocrity. They have two huge comeback wins against the Bulls and the Celtics on their résumé, but they have also been blown out in four of their nine losses. The good news for them is that the Central Division is so weak this year that they could sneak into the playoffs. They won't last long though.
20. Dallas Mavericks (8-10)Preseason rank: 12
Dirk Nowitzki can't get back soon enough. A return date hasn't been discussed yet, so Mark Cuban is going to have to continue to endure watching his team get beat down. Mavs fans can keep hope alive for a playoff berth but don't expect a deep postseason run.
21. Portland Trailblazers (8-11)Preseason rank: 22
The good news is that Damian Lillard is the real deal. The bad news is that the Blazers are a below average team yet again.
22. Orlando Magic (7-11)Preseason rank: 18
The Magic smacked the Lakers in LA so they got a nice measure of revenge against Dwight Howard. Seeing Howard and the Lakers struggle this year has to smile on their faces as well. However, the reality that their franchise star is no longer a member of their team has to sting as they pile up losses and suffer on the defensive end.
23. Charlotte Bobcats (7-10)Preseason rank: 30
This season is already a success for the Bobcats since they've already matched their win total from last season. They're in the middle of a five game losing streak, but they've played much better basketball overall this season.
24. Detroit Pistons (6-14)Preseason rank: 21
The Pistons win big when they do win. Wins just haven't been very plentiful this season. This once proud franchise is on track for yet another trip to the lottery.
25. Phoenix Suns (7-12)Preseason rank: 23
The tail end of the Steve Nash era looks like the beginning of the post-Nash era - mediocre. The Suns have to hope they strike gold in the lottery because the future isn't too bright in the Valley of the Sun.
26. New Orleans Hornets (5-12)Preseason rank: 29
When he's played, Anthony Davis has been solid. However, Davis has spent most of the season in street clothes due to a bum ankle. The team plays hard, they just don't have the firepower. Meanwhile, no one knows when Eric Gordon will wear a Hornets jersey again. By the time he puts on a jersey it might say "Pelicans" on the front.
27. Sacramento Kings (5-12)Preseason rank: 25
There is nothing to get excited about for the Sleep Train fans. Start counting down the days to another lottery appearance.
28. Toronto Raptors (4-15)Preseason rank: 26
There is no reason to believe that Toronto will rise out of the East basement to secure a playoff spot, so it's just a matter of what roster moves they'll make and what draft pick they'll get in the lottery.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-15)Preseason rank: 27
It's not a surprise that they're one of the worst teams in the NBA especially since their best player has spent about a month on the mend after breaking his finger. Anderson Varejao has been a surprise though as he has been #StatBeasting all season long. He should be getting his first All Star nod this season. But Dan Gilbert will make his third consecutive lottery trip.
30. Washington Wizards (2-13)Preseason rank: 28
They won their championship when they beat the Heat. Other than that, there's nothing else to say about their season.
First Quarter All StarsEast: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Anderson Varejao, Kevin Garnett, Jrue Holiday, Paul Pierce, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah
West: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Jamal Crawford, Dwight Howard
Let us know what you think in the comments!