Weekly NBA Rankings

The first week of the NBA season is done, and we are looking at some strong competition, close games, exciting crowds, and it is always great to have the NBA on TNT crew come back.

Since there are plenty of games to do things daily, on every Monday, TSX will rank the NBA teams 1-30 each week

1. Boston Celtics (4-0)- The C’s are back with the Big Three, and have a great compliment off the bench in Rasheed Wallace. With the news of Rajon Rondo’s contract extension, they are clearly the team to beat in the NBA.

2. Orlando Magic (3-0)- an 8-0 preseason followed by a 3-0 start, the Magic are showing people that they are poised for a return trip to the Finals, but until they can beat Boston WITH Kevin Garnett, they have to settle for #2. Everybody on this team is stepping up and doing their jobs. Vince Carter’s ankle will be a concern.

3. Denver Nuggets (3-0)- The Nuggets main concern was the lack of additions, but with the same team intact, and the addition of rookie Ty Lawson, the Nuggets are off to a fast start, and have already beat two playoff teams from last season in Utah and Portland (both Northwest Division foes). Carmelo Anthony is playing out of his mind this week, averaging 37.7 PPG.

4. Miami Heat (3-0)- The Heat are playing great defense, allowing just 87.6 PPG in the first three games. Grant it they only have played the Knicks, Pacers, and Bulls, but any fast start and good start is a step towards keeping Dwyane Wade in Miami.

5. Phoenix Suns (3-0)- The Suns are back to the old run and gun style under Alvin Gentry. Expect a lot of points scored, but also expect a lot of points allowed. It will be a clash of styles when the Suns go to Miami to play the Heat tonight.

6. San Antonio Spurs (2-1) Duncan is healthy, Parker is healthy, Ginobili is healthy, and they have added Richard Jefferson to the line up. The Spurs have their spring in their step, but a setback against the Bulls has them underneath all of the unbeaten teams left in the NBA.

7. Dallas Mavericks (2-1)- The reason why the Mavericks are ranked this high is due to a statement victory over the Lakers. Yes the Lakers did not have Pau Gasol, but nonetheless, they beat the Lakers at Staples Center. and the completed the Staples sweep with a win over the Clippers.

8. Los Angeles Lakers (2-1) Reggie Miller said on the opening broadcast on TNT that the Lakers should be 20-1 by Christmas. After the Mavericks loss, they need to win the next 18 games. Andrew Bynum has been playing extremely well this first week. Let’s see if he can stay consistent with it.

9. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2) People expected Shaq to help LeBron, but when the team is still LeBron watching in the 4th quarter, it raises concern. Alas, it is still early in the season, but it looks like things have not changed too much from last season. Thanks to LeBron, the Cavs have this rank. Bright side, it is great to see Delonte West on the court getting past his turbulent off season.

10. Atlanta Hawks (2-1) This team is dangerous. Jamal Crawford has been a good addition, and Horford and Johnson have done well early on. One thing will have to be is how they respond after a loss. Can they handle their business, or will they falter. I definitely expect the former. They have shown it in their two trips to the playoffs.

11. Washington Wizards (2-1) The Wizards are healthy again, with Gilbert Arenas leading the way. One guy to keep an eye on is Andray Blatche, who has been improving all through last season and into this season. He put up a career-high 30 pts. against the Nets, and expect more things from him as the season goes on.

12. Houston Rockets (2-1) Lakers fans and Rockets fans know Trevor Ariza is a gift. The Rockets are showing he is more than just a shut down defender. He is the team’s leading scorer at 23.3 PPG. With Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady out, he is the primary scoring option. When McGrady comes back, what will his role be. The Rockets still seem to be in good shape, but it will be interesting to see where they are once T-Mac comes back from injury.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) The Blazers split two with the Rockets, and if it wasn’t for Greg Oden’s missed free throws, Portland would be higher up, but this team is good, and Oden has really improved on rebounding and is taking pressure off of himself. They played exceptionally well on defense against the Thunder last night, holding them to 74 points.

14. Utah Jazz (1-1) The Jazz have only played two games, but they have already showed the same Jazz of recent years’ past. They are great and solid at home, but on the road, they are a totally different team. The team is concerned with the health of Mehmet Okur, who was injured in the Denver game. He has stated that he will play against the Houston Rockets.

15. Philadelphia 76ers (2-1) The concerning thing about the 76ers is their defense. They have given up 120 to the Magic and 127 in an overtime game against the New York Knicks. On the bright side, it is great to see the old logo and colors back.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) Give the Thunder credit, they did not get their second win until Nov. 29th, 2008 and that’s when they were 2-16. They then did not get win #3 until Dec. 19th, and their record was then 3-24. It will not take this team that long to get win three this year, as they are much improved.

17. Milwaukee Bucks (1-1) The Bucks, like the Jazz have only played two games, but they are no where near the Jazz are. The bright spot for the Bucks has been Brandon Jennings, who has performed well in his first two games, and is leading the team with 20.5 PPG. The bad news is that they are without Michael Redd for two weeks with a left knee injury

18. New Orleans Hornets (1-2) New Orleans has some great pieces, Chris Paul, David West, and emerging play from Julian Wright can mean some big things for this team. The question mark is how well Emeka Okafor can fit in with this team. Being away from the team while healing his injury could come back to haunt everybody as a whole. They have to take advantage of Houston’s injury situation in the highly competitive Southwest Division.

19. Chicago Bulls (1-2) The Bulls have had a tough schedule early. They played well against the Spurs, but a blowout loss to the Celtics and a loss to the Heat. The core of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas will be improving as the season goes on. The only question is: Is Vinny del Negro the right coach for this improving team? Time will tell.

20. Detroit Pistons (1-2) The Pistons are clearly a shell of their old selves, as they have lost to the Thunder (at home), and the Bucks on the road. This team should easily be 3-0, but with a new coach and a new system, it is an adjusting process. Rip Hamilton has been resting that sprained ankle, but another question is will he still be a Piston through the trade deadline?

21. Memphis Grizzlies (1-2) The Grizzlies may not be as bad as people think this year. That is, if Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo can get along. Gay has said that everything is cool between the two young stars. Zach Randolph is much more effective inside than outside. Allen Iverson will make his Grizzlies debut tonight at Sacramento, if Memphis can handle their business against the bad teams, and surprise good teams, they could be decent.

22. Toronto Raptors (1-2) The Raptors started off impressively with a win over Cleveland. They were a team that was under the radar in the summer, but a loss to Memphis knocks them underneath the Grizzlies. Chris Bosh is playing great basketball right now, averaging 31 PPG and 14.6 RPG. It is early though, so things can change.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2) The Timberwolves opened up their season coming back from 19 down to win at the buzzer. They have lost the next two games since that victory, but they have lost to two of the top teams in the league in Cleveland and Phoenix. Jonny Flynn is putting up an early Rookie of the Year campaign with 15.3 PPG. One good thing is that they are playing hard under new head coach Kurt Rambis.

24. Charlotte Bobcats (1-2) The Bobcats are shooting 37.2% from the field and only averaging 80 PPG, both worst in the NBA. It’s bad when it takes double overtime to score over 100 points. Raja Bell is going to play tonight against the New Jersey Nets, despite pain in his wrist that could require surgery. In a game of 4 quarters, Charlotte is only averaging 69 PPG.

25. Golden State Warriors (0-2) The Warriors fell in a heartbreaker to Houston in a 1-point loss at home to the Rockets, which was followed by a blowout loss in Phoenix. When the team captain (Stephen Jackson) gets booed on opening night by the fans, it just shows that this team is a disaster.

26. Indiana Pacers (0-2) The Pacers are young, and it shows. Jermaine O’Neal took the young Pacers frontcourt to school in the Heat’s victory over the Pacers. Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush had their options picked up by Indiana, so they are really establishing their young core of players. T.J. Ford needs help at point guard.

27. New York Knicks (0-3) The Knicks have been behind in all three of their games this season, but give them credit. They have come back from big deficits and forced overtime, but have come up on the short end of the stick. Keep an eye on Danilo Gallinari from the wing and 3 point land, he’s really showing his range and that he can shoot.

28. Sacramento Kings (0-3) Despite the 0-3 record, the Kings put up a fight against the New Orleans Hornets, and were probably distracted after Manu Ginobili’s bat-swatting episode against the Spurs. But they do open up their season at home against the equally-bad Grizzlies. Tyreke Evans is a very bright spot, especially in the back court with Kevin Martin, and he is handling the point very well.

29. New Jersey Nets (0-3) Bad: The Nets blew a 19 point lead at Minnesota and loss. Good: They held Orlando under 100 points. Bad: They were horrible against the Wizards. Good: They face the Charlotte Bobcats, a team they have had excellent success with, and with the ‘Cats play as of late, they may get that first win.

30. Los Angeles Clippers (0-4) They got a tough break when #1 draft pick Blake Griffin went down with a knee injury. As the hard luck with the #1 pick continues, the Clippers are already starting a downward spiral to the NBA lottery. They need to salvage as much as they can before Griffin can come back and have some kind of impact on the team.

Keep in mind, it’s early. These rankings will drastically change as the season goes on.

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