- Houston Rockets (21-4): The Rockets didn’t skip a beat when Chris Paul returned to the lineup. It might be time to accept that the rockets are the real deal.
- Golden State Warriors (22-6): Steph Curry will be our for awhile but it won’t mean much because of the star studded lineup this team has. Kevin Durant will carry the team in the meantime.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8):
After not being in the top 10 at all for awhile, the Cavs are now in the top 3. Looks like LeBron isn’t done just yet.
- Boston Celtics (23-6): The Celtics have lost a couple easy ones lately including the most recent one to the Chicago Bulls. It looks like the Celtics are finally facing some adversity.
- San Antonio Spurs (19-8): It seems like the Spurs could go find any 12 guys off the street and Coach Pop could lead them to victory. It’s gonna be scary when this team is 100% healthy.
- Toronto Raptors (17-8): As I’ve said before, Toronto is always that team on the verge of being great. If they can keep this going, it might finally be their year.
- Milwaukee Bucks (15-10): The roles of the East and the West are flipped this year. The West has a few solid teams, while the East has five different teams who could possibly win the conference. The Bucks are one of those teams in the running.
- Indiana Pacers (16-11): Victor Oladipo continues to play well week in and week out. It’ll be interesting to see if he can be consistent and lead this team into a playoff spot.
- Denver Nuggets (14-12): The final two spots could’ve gone to several different teams, but I chose the Nuggets due to their 10-2 record at home. If they keep that up, they’ll cruise right into the playoffs.
- Washington Wizards (14-12): The Wizards have dropped a couple games lately, but it’s important to remember that John Wall has been our. They get the final spot in my rankings because I think this team has the potential to win the East when healthy.
- Houston Rockets (21-4): Houston is playing like the best team in the league right now because they very well may be the best team in the league right now. That’s why I have them here. They have won 10 in a row, and they haven’t lost since Chris Paul’s return. The Rockets are looking more and more like a major threat in the West.
- Golden State Warriors (22-6): The Warriors are still the Warriors, and despite a few slip-ups, they’re still a dominant team. Even with Steph Curry out due to injury, Golden State continues to win. They’re not going anywhere any time soon.
- Boston Celtics (23-6): Since the 16-game win streak, the Celtics have fallen back to earth a little bit losing four of the following 11 games. They’re still the best in the East.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (19-7): Lebron James is not human. He continues to be one of the best, if not THE best, in the NBA, and in turn, he makes his team better. The Cavs have turned things around in a major way, and they look like they’re ready to compete for the East, just like everyone expected.
- San Antonio Spurs (19-8): Kawhi Leonard is finally set to return, so as soon as his minutes restriction is lifted, we will have a better idea of just how good San Antonio is. For now, it’s safe to say they’re going to be really good.
- Toronto Raptors (17-8): Aside from a loss to the ailing Clippers last night, the Raptors continue to be a solid team in the East. All the while, Toronto is flying under the radar, as if they are in the shadow of Boston and Cleveland. Don’t forget about them, though. They’re good.
- Milwaukee Bucks (15-10): This team has been streaky so far this season, but they have really picked up things lately. The Bucks have won six out of their last seven, and their only loss came to the Boston Celtics.
- Indiana Pacers (16-11): In preseason, I picked the Pacers as one of my Bottom 5. I figured they would not only miss playoffs, but they would be a dumpster fire. Who knew that Victor Oladipo would look like an bonafide All-Star this early in the season?
- Minnesota Timberwolves (16-11): The Timberwolves continue to go back and forth, and while they have their issues, they’re still winning more than they’re losing. As far as teams with a lot new faces go, they’re not doing too badly.
- Washington Wizards (14-12): Coming into the season, I wasn’t convinced that the Wizards were going to contend for the East, but I definitely expected them to be better than they have been. They are starting to turn things around, and John Wall should be returning to action tomorrow.
3 To Watch
- New York Knicks (13-13): The Knicks are surprising a lot of people this year. I’ve been really impressed with the level of leadership that Porzingis possesses.
- Miami Heat (13-13): The Miami Heat are working their way up the ladder as well. There are a lot of teams in the East than can cause trouble in the playoffs.
- Portland Trailblazers (13-13): Portland has the talent level to be a top team in the West. However, it’ll come down to how they handle controversy and how they bounce back from tough losses.
- Detroit Pistons (14-12): What has happened to the Pistons? Detroit is riding the league’s longest losing streak with six in a row. Every single team they have lost to is a playoff-caliber squad, however, so maybe they’re just in a rut.
- Philadelphia 76ers (13-13): “The Process” moved into the Top 10 for a while only to drop out after losing their last four. Joel Embiid seems to think that they’re capable of making the Finals, but I’m not so sure about that.
- Portland Trail Blazers (13-13): Portland is next in line behind the Pistons when it comes to losing streaks. The Trail Blazers have lost five in a row, but like Detroit, Portland’s schedule has been rough. I expect they start winning again very soon.
- Chicago Bulls (6-20): While there are several teams not too far behind them, the Bulls still remain the worst team in the NBA. However, they did just put a beating on the Celtics.
- Atlanta Hawks (6-20): The Hawks aren’t much better off than the Bulls. It certainly doesn’t get any easier with the Cavaliers coming up next either.
- Dallas Mavericks (7-20): Dallas has put together a couple of solid wins. However, a couple wins isn’t enough in the NBA.
- Sacramento Kings (8-18): The Kings have shown excellence at times, but they have also shown their youth. Once this young team gets some experience they should be dangerous.
- Memphis Grizzlies (8-19): The Grizzlies drop into the bottom five after a rough couple of weeks. Turns out, firing your coach isn’t always the answer.
- Atlanta Hawks (6-20): Wins are few and far between for Atlanta these days, and because of the way Chicago has been playing, the Hawks are rock bottom for now.
- Dallas Mavericks (7-20): Not too long ago, the Mavs were racking up some wins, and they looked like they might be starting to put some things together. That’s not the case.
- Memphis Grizzlies (8-19): I really wanted to put Memphis in spot for the worst team in the NBA, but they’re just too talented to be losing like they are. Mike Conley is still out due to injury, so I suspect they will get back on track (maybe) when he returns.
- Chicago Bulls (6-20): Chicago moves up from the bottom spot this week because they are on a three-game winning streak. That’s literally half of their wins this season. Not only have they won some games, but they dominated the Celtics by 23 points. Boston had a ton of injuries, but still. Give the Bulls some credit.
- Sacramento Kings (8-18): The Kings have shown some life lately, but they’re still in the Bottom 5. I’m not sure if they’re capable of breaking out or not, but looking ahead, their upcoming schedule isn’t exactly a cake walk.
Article written by Craig Hofeld and Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter, Instagram, and give us a like on Facebook.