The Bulls take over the top spot and the Heat drop a bit after getting exposed by Atlanta. Also, check out the best performances of the week.
1 Bulls 4-1 (+3)
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Won three straight heading into Tuesday’s game vs. Atlanta, including a 40-point hammer job of Memphis in home opener. Basically, they look even better than the team that won 62 games last year. Thank you, Derrick Rose.
2 Thunder 5-1
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are friends again. So Thunder have already survived adversity, and kept on rolling.
3 Heat 5-1 (-2)
Exposed as the three-man team they are when athletic Hawks zoned up and outsmarted them. But those three guys, whose names you already know, will keep them near very top until end.
4 Hawks 4-1 (+6)
Still ignored, but starting to prove that familiarity, athleticism, commitment to defense and perhaps league’s most underrated coach really do count for something.
5 Spurs 3-2
Injury-plagued Manu Ginobili (broken hand) is out again. But maybe that means Spurs will start slower and finish stronger this time.
6 Pacers 4-1 (+6)
League’s most physical team playing with confidence and a hint of arrogance, seemingly oblivious to fact no one expects it to go anywhere.
7 Magic 4-2 (+4)
Dwight Howard suddenly distracting opponents again, as opposed to his own team. When he does that, Magic can be contenders. We’ll see how long it lasts.
8 Trail Blazers 3-1 (+6)
LaMarcus Aldridge and coaching of Nate McMillan have fueled fast start. Everyone else will need to remain consistent to keep it going.
9 Celtics 3-3 (-2)
Nothing like a couple of games against the Wizards to make believers out of everyone again. But can the Celtics still beat good teams?
10 Nuggets 4-2 (+5)
Most fans can’t name their starting five, but Danilo Gallinari and the gang are better than Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks right now.
11 Lakers 3-3 (-2)
Kobe Bryant is lacking a point guard and hops of the good old days, but still good enough to lead this team to a title. Based on early season, keys will be Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
12 Mavericks 2-4 (-4)
Need time to adjust after losing Tyson Chandler, but certainly not anything that will doom champs in long run. Not as long as Dirk Nowitzki stays healthy and Lamar Odom comes around.
13 Clippers 2-2 (-7)
Is Chris Paul a winner or just a guy who looks great and compiles stats during the course of the game? Playing for this franchise will be the ultimate test. Lots of talent, but still getting used to each other.
14 Knicks 2-3 (-11)
Still lacking championship-caliber defense, and the championship-caliber offense to make up for it. But Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire probably only need a little more time.
15 76ers 2-2 (+2)
Doug Collins still has mostly young guns believing after surprising playoff appearance. It doesn’t hurt that Andre Iguodala has been reborn.
16 Rockets 2-2 (+5)
Hard to see it lasting, but can’t argue with fact Luis Scola and an improved Kyle Lowry leading a group that’s playing hard and playing smart.
17 Bucks 2-2 (+3)
Brandon Jennings off to All-Star start, and additions of Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy paying dividends early.
18 Cavaliers 2-2 (+10)
Lottery picks Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson have quickly breathed new life into franchise. Return of veterans Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao doesn’t hurt, either.
19 Timberwolves 2-3 (+8)
Vision of what Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and other youngsters can become starting to take shape under Rick Adelman. Exciting, intriguing team could climb quickly.
20 Warriors 2-3 (-1)
Still need time to fine-tune under Mark Jackson and a new philosophy that emphasizes D. But can Warriors really go anywhere with two talented guys (Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry) who so clearly need the ball?
21 Raptors 2-3 (+2)
New coach Dwane Casey has Raptors playing with a toughness that was previously lacking. Could pay off soon, because talent exists, starting with Andrea Bargnani.
22 Hornets 2-3 (-6)
You don’t lose Chris Paul and David West without experiencing a bump. But for the Hornets’ sake, let’s hope that bump doesn’t turn into a mountain.
23 Suns 2-3 (+1)
Continue to go as Steve Nash goes. He’s great but he’s also 37. So Suns’ total reliance on him needs to stop.
24 Grizzlies 1-3 (-11)
When you lose by 40 points, your cute minor issues suddenly become glaring. If there’s one thing Grizzlies need to realize, it’s that opponents are taking them seriously this year.
25 Jazz 2-3 (-7)
Seems like they should be better. Either that, or we’ve just been overrating Al Jefferson, Devin Harris and Paul Millsap for the past two or three years.
26 Kings 2-3 (-1)
Firepower doesn’t overcome lack of discipline. Trade DeMarcus Cousins, then move on to Tyreke Evans and J.J. Hickson. Bottom line: One-on-one culture must change.
27 Pistons 2-3 (+2)
Most guys play hard, but new coach Lawrence Frank would probably love to find a way to unload Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Good luck.
28 Bobcats 1-3 (-2)
Not a whole lot of talent, but Paul Silas is making these guys at least matter for a little bit. And Kemba Walker alone has made them worth watching.
29 Nets 1-5 (-7)
Sure way not to land Dwight Howard? Stink and therefore prove you have no one to trade for him.
30 Wizards 0-5
Shouldn’t be overly judged, because they’re still very young. Question is, can these guys ever play together?