No one’s hotter than the Thunder and Clippers, and both look like they should be able to sustain recent rolls. Of course, the Knicks and Heat seem primed to have a say about all that. Also: Check out the week’s top performances. 1 Thunder 20-4
Serge Ibaka looks even better, and Kevin Martin is fitting in well. If it continues, who can stop them?
2 Clippers 18-6 +4
So much more than Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. And so, so dangerous when everything is clicking.
3 Knicks 18-6 +2
Carmelo Anthony is more than just a scorer these days. He’s the early frontrunner for league MVP. 4 Heat 15-6 -1
Same as it ever was: Weaknesses exist, but good luck exposing them regularly when LeBron James is around.
5 Spurs 19-7 -3
Still look like West contenders even on their worst days. Wonder how long it’ll be before people actually believe it? 6 Grizzlies 16-6 -2
Three-game hiccup proved Griz are something less-than-perfect. But as long as bench continues to produce, they won’t fade anytime soon.
7 Warriors 16-8
Doing all this with third-year point guard (Stephen Curry), second-year shooting guard (Klay Thompson) and rookie small forward (Harrison Barnes). Mark Jackson for Coach of Year.
8 Hawks 14-7
Josh Smith is supposedly on trading block. If so, Hawks should get tons in return. He’s just having that kind of year.
9 Timberwolves 12-10 +5
Ricky Rubio, Andrei Kirilenko and others make them best passing team in league. All they really need for playoff push is to keep Kevin Love happy.
10 Celtics 12-11 -1
At some point, they’ll get this figured out. But if it doesn’t happen by February, start dreaming up the trade scenarios.
11 Bulls 13-10 -1
Finding their way, especially defensively, without Derrick Rose. At this rate, could win weak Central without him.
12 Pacers 13-11 +7
Rediscovering the physical, edgy play that made them so dangerous last year. Still, they miss Danny Granger more than most people figured.
13 Nets 13-10 -1
Deron Williams already seems to be coming up with excuses. Time to start wondering if the guy isn’t a little overrated? 14 Bucks 12-10 +2
Starting to look like they overspent on Ersan Ilyasova this past summer. But that’s good news, because Larry Sanders is main reason why.
15 Nuggets 13-12 +3
Overall athleticism and teamwork make Nuggets a blast to watch. Danilo Galinari makes them relevant.
16 Lakers 11-14 +1
Depth issues aren’t likely to disappear once Pau Gasol and Steve Nash return. Bench has looked lost under three different coaches.
17 76ers 12-12 -6
Hey, at least Andrew Bynum is starting to show some fire while wearing dress clothes on the bench. That puts him in the same stratosphere as a healthy Kwame Brown. 18 Jazz 13-12 -5
Should be a top-15 team. If they continue to be something else, it may be time to move on from either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, or both.
19 Rockets 12-12 +1
Too bad they don’t get to play the Knicks 41 times a year. Either way, they are one consistent front-court player away from cool things.
20 Trail Blazers 11-12 +2
Some day, Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum could be the Big Three of the Great Northwest. For now, though, Blazers will settle for watching them grow.
21 Magic 11-13
With his expiring contract and lethal jumper, J.J. Redick is one of league’s most-sought players. Surprising Magic could do worse than keeping him, though.
22 Mavericks 11-13 -7
If Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t get back soon, the Mavs may have to start doing their homework on potential lottery picks. Yes, things are that bad.
23 Suns 10-15 +4
Hard to see what the plan is here. Except for the fact that now, they don’t really want Michael Beasley, either.
24 Bobcats 7-16 -1
Really came around offensively to start the season. But despite several new faces, they still can’t really guard anyone.
25 Pistons 7-20
brandon Knight having best season of any second-year player who’s completely ignored. Too bad rest of team is so doggone inconsistent.
26 Cavaliers 5-20 +2
Now have three players (Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller) sporting protective masks. But Irving is better blindfolded than a lot of vets.
27 Hornets 5-18 -1
Greivis Vasquez is early candidate for Most Improved, Anthony Davis for Rookie of Year. Unfortunately for Hornets, almost everyone else might be a bad fit.
28 Kings 7-17 -4
It’s one thing to be young. It’s quite another to be young and disjointed. For Pete’s sake, starting trading guys.
29 Raptors 6-19
Andrea Bargnani spent a day refuting a report that claimed he said Raps are league’s worst team. Why contest something that might be true? 30 Wizards 3-18
Randy Wittman could be a goner weeks before John Wall returns. Basically, nothing’s changed here.