Before I dive into the rankings, I have to say something about the latest Cav’s throwback uniforms.
(By the way, Cleveland has way too many of these. You’d think an NBA team with such a crappy history would want to forget about years past as much as possible. Oh well.)
You would think a team insanely concerned with losing their superstar to the glamor of the big city would do anything possible to keep that player from thinking about the potential new team.
In this case, the player is LeBron James, and the new team is potentially the New York Knicks.
So, what do the Cav’s do?
They prance out in uniforms that, from the back, look exactly like a Knicks uniform.
Anyway, on to the rankings.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (35-11)
The aforementioned Cavs have won five in a row, and have a solid lead over the Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
On the year, LeBron James is averaging 29.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game.
7.8 assists per game?!
Imagine what that number would be like if the second-best player on his team wasn’t Delonte West.
2. Denver Nuggets (30-14)
I know the Nuggets are second in the West, but they’ve won seven games in a row now.
Their 21-3 mark at home is second-best in the league, behind only the Lakers.
3. Los Angeles Lakers (34-11)
The Lakers are just 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are officially slumping.
They’ve been battling injuries to their key players all season long, and it’s taken them longer than expected to hit their real groove.
They’ll be tested in a major way Sunday as they visit Boston for a matchup with the Celtics.
4. Atlanta Hawks (29-14)
After beating the red-hot Bobcats and the tough Rockets, the Hawks’ next four get no easier as they face San Antonio, Boston, Orlando, and Oklahoma City.
Will they have enough to win the Southeast Division?
5. Boston Celtics (29-13
With KG back, the Celtics are hoping to regain the swagger that they’ve become so famous for over the past couple of seasons.
They’ll face a tough back-to-back Thursday and Friday, when they travel to Orlando and Atlanta.
6. Dallas Mavericks (30-15)
Sunday, the Mavs whipped the Knicks in New York by 50 without two starters in the lineup.
While they’ve gotten some good wins against the league’s top-tier teams, the worse teams have been tougher for Dallas to handle.
7. Orlando Magic (29-14)
While Orlando is just a half-game out of the division lead, it’s safe to say that this isn’t the same team that went to the Finals last season.
If they can’t find a way to successfully integrate Vince Carter, they won’t be making a repeat appearance this June.
8. Utah Jazz (26-18)
While the Jazz are fourth place in the West today, they’re just two games from falling all the way to ninth, tenth, or eleventh place.
Carlos Boozer is certainly making his case for a big-money contract this summer, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds per game.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (24-19)
Shockingly, if the playoffs were to start today, the Grizzlies would face the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
Zach Randolph has been amazing in his first season in Memphis, and is averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds per game.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (27-19)
Since losing both of their centers to season-ending patella injuries, the Blazers have enjoyed a Rockets-esque rally towards the top of the standings.
11. San Antonio Spurs (25-18)
No Spurs team with Tim Duncan on the roster has ever won fewer than 50 games during the regular season.
San Antonio is going to have to rack it up big time in the season’s second half in order to keep that streak alive.
12. Charlotte Bobcats (22-22)
The Bobcats have won seven of their last 10 games, and have climbed into seventh place in the East.
While they’re 18-5 at home, the Bobcats are just 4-17 on the road this season.
13. New Orleans Hornets (24-20)
The Hornets are currently one of three teams tied for ninth place in the West.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the Hornets will decide to be sellers by the time the trade deadline rolls around.
14. Miami Heat (23-21)
As they have been for quite some time now, Miami is hovering right around .500 and appears to be headed nowhere special this season.
15. Phoenix Suns (26-21)
The Suns appear to be in free-fall mode and are all the way down to eighth place.
Amar’e Stoudemire continues to be the biggest name currently available on the trade market, and it seems increasingly likely that the Suns will trade him before the deadline.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-20)
OKC has already surpassed last season’s win total, and appears poised to battle for a playoff spot all the way to the end.
Could Kevin Durant conceivably win the Most Improved Player award?
17. Chicago Bulls (21-22)
The Bulls are still under .500, but are playing their best basketball of the season.
After curiously dropping the first two games of their current road trip to Golden State and the LA Clippers, the Bulls have gone on to beat Phoenix, Houston, and San Antonio.
18. Houston Rockets (24-20)
For the first time this season, the Rockets are truly struggling to find their way without a true star player.
Trevor Ariza’s shooting woes have continued, as he’s shooting just 38 percent from the floor and a woeful 29 percent from three-point range this season.
19. Toronto Raptors (23-22)
Former first-overall pick Andrea Bargnani is quietly having his best season as an NBA player, averaging 17 points per game for Toronto.
In order to become a true star player, he’s going to have to get his rebounding average above six per game, though.
20. Los Angeles Clippers (20-24)
The Clippers are hanging around in the playoff race, but will need to pick it up in order to make a real push.
Will Chris Kaman have it his way and be named to the All-Star team?
21. New York Knicks (18-26)
The Knicks’ record isn’t great, but it’s good enough for them to remain relevant as a potential playoff team.
They rebounded from their 50-point loss at the hands of Dallas with a blowout win over Minnesota Tuesday night.
22. Milwaukee Bucks (18-25)
Despite likely falling behind Tyreke Evans in the Rookie of the Year race, Brandon Jennings is still enjoying a stellar rookie season, and is averaging 18 points and six assists per game.
Center Andrew Bogut is also deserving of being an All-Star in the Eastern Conference.
23. Sacramento Kings (16-28)
The Kings are just 2-8 in their last 10, and have fallen off the map out West.
Despite the drop off in performance, it would be hard to call this a disappointing season for Sacramento considering the low expectations coming in.
24. Indiana Pacers (16-29)
It’s an eventful week for Pacers fans, as Kobe Bryant brings his Lakers into town Wednesday night, and LeBron and the Cavs come to town Friday.
25. Philadelphia 76ers (15-29)
Despite an incredibly disappointing start, the Sixers still aren’t completely dead in the playoff race.
26. Detroit Pistons (15-28)
Detroit spent lots of money this past summer upgrading their perimeter game, and it hasn’t paid off at all this season.
One of the most successful franchises in the league from 2000-2009 has started the new decade on a big-time low.
27. Golden State Warriors (13-30)
It’s been a season to forget for the Warriors, but Monta Ellis is quietly having an All Star-worthy season.
He’s averaging 26 points per game and has become one of the best scoring guards in the league.
28. Washington Wizards (14-30)
Washington is one of the more disappointing teams in the league, and the Gilbert Arenas circus certainly hasn’t helped anything.
With everyone on the roster apparently available to trade, don’t be surprised if Washington goes into fire-sale mode.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-37)
In a normal year, the T’Wolves would likely be the worst team in the league.
Luckily for them, their futility has been completely overshadowed by New Jersey.
30. New Jersey Nets (3-40)
That’s not a typo, the Nets really are 3-40.
With point guard John Wall the likely top pick in the upcoming draft, might Devin Harris be made available should the Nets land that pick?