Weekly NBA Rankings: Vol. 4 (11/23)

The rankings are out again, and there is a new #1. Who is it? How far did the former #1 fall? When will New Jersey get it together? The rankings begin right now.

1. Orlando Magic (11-3) (previous ranking: 9) Five straight wins have vaulted the Magic to the best record in the NBA and the top spot in the rankings. Despite losing Jameer Nelson for four to six weeks, this team is still deep and they are really coming together.

2. Atlanta Hawks (11-3) (previous ranking: 2) If the Hawks had not of lost to New Orleans last night, the talk of them being #1 would be a no-brainer, but this team is still one of the tops in the East. They are really showing themselves as a contender. This is another team that is deep, and if they can stay healthy, they could go a long way in May.

3. Phoenix Suns (11-3) (previous ranking: 1) The Suns loss to the Hornets prevented them from holding the top spot for the week. With Orlando and Atlanta on fire as of late, they had to be bumped down two spots. Not many impressive wins for them to stay among the tops in the rankings

4. Los Angeles Lakers (10-3) (previous ranking: 4) The Lakers stay put after a 3-0 week, and it is good for them that Pau Gasol is back, he will be able to take the load off Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum. The team is complete again, but Phoenix is still holding their ground against them for first in the Pacific Division.

5. Dallas Mavericks (10-3) (previous ranking: 5) The Mavericks may have beat the Lakers, and have won five straight, they were all hard fought victories. The Lakers right now look better than Dallas and with Gasol back from injury, they look more like a better team. If Dallas can beat the Lake Show for a second time with Gasol in lineup, it will be good enough to overtake them. Good 3-0 week for them.

6. Boston Celtics (10-4) (previous ranking: 3) The Magic and Mavericks rise has knocked Boston down a couple of spots. The C’s were a victim of Orlando’s win streak, which was their only loss of the week. Thank Kevin Garnett for avoiding an embarrassing loss to the Knicks at the Garden.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-4) (previous ranking: 5) The Cavs took a pounding from the Wizards this past Wednesday, but responded with wins over Indiana and Philadelphia. At least Shaq has been at home for the games he’s been injured from, and not just the Washington game. Those that know the backstory can have a good laugh.

8. Milwaukee Bucks (8-3) (previous ranking: 10) The Bucks could not beat the Mavericks, but they did take advantage of the weak part of their schedule, beating, New Jersey, Charlotte, and Memphis to cap a 3-1 week and stay tied for first with Clevleland in the Central Division.

9. Denver Nuggets (9-4) (previous ranking: 8] The Nuggets crush the Lakers at home 10 days ago, and in the next week, they lose to the Clippers at Staples Center. This team started out strong, but have been hot and cold since. They have to find a way to stay consistent.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (10-5) (previous ranking: 6) The Blazers went 4-0 last week, but only 2-2 this week. They lost to the Hawks, which wasn’t a surprise, but they also lost to Golden State. Just like the Nuggets, they have to find a way to stay consistent as well. They are good, but we forget that this team is young still.

11. Miami Heat (8-5) (previous ranking: 7) The Heat continue to free fall down the rankings. A huge loss at home to the Thunder, and another bad loss to the Raptors. Udonis Haslem did save the team’s free fall from being worse with a game-winning jumper to sink the New Orleans’ Hornets

12. Houston Rockets (8-6) (previous ranking: 12) The Rockets won the games they were supposed to win (Timberwolves and Kings), but loss the games that they were expected to lose (Suns and Hawks). The 2-2 week has them staying put at #12.

13. Utah Jazz (7-6) (previous ranking: 20) Playing the Cavaliers, and coming close to beating them has had a great effect on the Jazz. They have won three in a row since the Cavs loss, and have a long homestand ahead of them in which they have six straight at home (they started it by beating Detroit on Sat. night).

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-7) (previous ranking: 16) Another big win against a good team on the road as OKC beat the Heat on South Beach. That along with a win at Washington were good wins. Tough losses against Orlando and the Lakers result in a split week, but as with the Thunder’s season, those wins keep going a long way.

15. Chicago Bulls (6-6) (previous ranking: 14) A 1-2 week puts the Bulls at .500, They beat the surprising Kings, in which that was no surprise. They have loss to the Lakers and Nuggets in this West Coast road trip and then have two tough games in the Blazers and Jazz on the road. Some injuries have set them back, but this team should be better and are better than what their record shows.

16. San Antonio Spurs (5-6) (previous ranking: 17) The Spurs are still struggling to maintain the high expectations. They all haven’t been healthy together, as the Big Three of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have been injured at various times of the year. Richard Jefferson has really been non-existent. It’s still early, but when will they finally start to peak?

17. Indiana Pacers (5-6) (previous ranking: 13) Three straight losses has the Pacers dropping four spots. A loss to the Cavaliers is one thing, but to lose to the Knicks and Bobcats is a MAJOR setback, especially blowing a huge lead to New York and losing the game.

18. Toronto Raptors (6-8) (previous ranking: 19) The only team to go 1-3 and move up, it must be because the teams below are doing awful, but the Raps did just run into teams that are better than them, losing two in the mountains (Denver & Utah) and Orlando, but an impressive win over the Heat was their saving grace this week.

19. Sacramento Kings (5-7) (previous ranking: 15) The Kings have lost three straight, against the teams they should really lose to (Chicago at home, Dallas and Houston on the road), but the schedule is encouraging for them to get back to .500 by Wednesday with games at Memphis and against the New York Knicks. Still playing hard and playing with fight, something that has not been seen in Sacto in a long time.

20. New Orleans Hornets (6-9) (previous ranking: 25) Had it not been for Udonis Haslem’s jumper to sink them at Miami, the Hornets could have risen further in the rankings. The team looked like it was in major trouble, but they had impressive wins over Phoenix and Atlanta. Maybe hope is not lost in the Big Easy.

21. Philadelphia 76ers (5-8) (previous ranking: 21) The Sixers escaped with victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in a game that they weren’t supposed to win, but they followed that up with a very bad loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and the fell to the Cavs on the road. This team is not that impressive, but luckily for them, a lot of teams are not that impressive either.

22. Los Angeles Clippers (5-9) (previous ranking: 22) The Clippers lost a couple of bad ones in New Orleans and in Memphis, but they did come on national television this past Friday and won a good game over the Denver Nuggets, so their ranking stays put for another week.

23. Detroit Pistons (5-9) (previous ranking: 18) During the five year anniversary of the “Malice at the Palace”, many bloggers and media people were so focused on how the Pacers have been rebuilding. Sure the Pistons have been in the playoffs consistently, but has anyone noticed that Indiana is ahead of Detroit right now. Five straight losses has the Pistons in the Central Division cellar, and John Kuester needs to know that Joe Dumars has very little patience.

24. Golden State Warriors (4-8) (previous ranking: 24) The Warriors winning percentage in 2009 before Stephen Jackson trade: .333. The winning percentage in 2009 after Stephen Jackson trade: .333. Not much of a difference since Jax’s departure, but it is good to see Stephen Curry get more playing time for the Warriors.

25. Charlotte Bobcats (4-9) (previous ranking: 23) The Bobcats winning percentage in 2009 before acquiring Stephen Jackson: .333. The winning percentage in 2009 after acquiring Stephen Jackson: .250. The one thing that is said though is that they have shown a lot more offense in the last few games, and they ended their seven game losing streak with a win over the Pacers Sunday night.

26. Memphis Grizzlies (4-9) (previous ranking: 27) The Grizz are 2-1 since Allen Iverson was officially released from the team. This team is playing with more confidence, and more loose since the departure of A.I., and by beating and staying with teams that are better than them, it can go a long way (just ask the Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder)

27. Washington Wizards (3-9) (previous ranking: 26) The Wizards have their Big Three healthy and together again, but they are still playing the same? What is with this team? It looked as if they turned a corner when they beat their rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they have lost big to the Thunder and to the Spurs. This team is just hard to figure out. Is Gilbert Arenas on to what he says about this team and “hidden agendas”?

28. New York Knicks (3-10) (previous ranking: 28) The poor Knicks go 2-1 over the week, and can’t move up anywhere. Mike D’Antoni’s bunch could have moved up quite a bit if they could have beaten the Celtics last night, but a 1-7 record at MSG is not going to help matters in this team’s quest to improve.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-12) (previous ranking: 29) The Timberwolves have quietly lost 12 in a row, if it wasn’t for their only win against New Jersey, this team would be 0-13. The question is with them has to be: What does Ricky Rubio think of this? The worst thing about losing 12 in a row is that majority of these losses have been extremely bad.

30. New Jersey Nets (0-13) (previous ranking: 30) The only chance for the Nets to win was lost on Saturday at the hands of the New York Knicks. Lawrence Frank is still around has to be due to the fact that management knows that this team is ravaged with injuries. But at the same time though, there seems to be no wins in sight as they hit the West Coast for a road trip. How much longer will the rope hang for Frank?

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