1. Golden State Warriors (31-2) Last week: 1 – Stephen Curry is day-to-day after re-injuring his leg injury – not great news. But you know who else is day-to-day? Head coach Steve Kerr, set to make his return from back surgery soon.
2. San Antonio Spurs (29-6) Last week: 2 – It doesn’t matter that Tim Duncan had the first scoreless game of his career over the weekend, because the Spurs still won. In fact, they ripped off four straight wins over the last week.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-10) Last week: 3 – The Thunder have won their last four games, but Kevin Durant’s big toe injury is a minor concern. He could be out for a couple games. That also means Russell Westbrook is going to be asked to do even more.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-9) Last week: 4 – New year, new Cavs? After dropping two in a row and then squeaking out two wins against the lowly Suns and Nuggets, LeBron James dropped 29 points and the Cavs beat up the Magic by 25 points.
5. Miami Heat (20-13) Last week: 5 – The Heat are 2-0 in 2016, winning by an average of 23 points per game. It’s a good tone to set, and one they’ll need to take with them when embark on a six-game road trip out west beginning on Friday.
6. Atlanta Hawks (20-12) Last week: 6 – The Knicks got them in New York on Sunday, but the Hawks get a chance at redemption in Atlanta on Tuesday. In his 10th NBA season, Paul Millsap is averaging a career-high in points (18.3).
7. Chicago Bulls (20-12) Last week: 10 – Just when Derrick Rose was starting to look more comfortable on the court, he experiences more knee pain. He’s now missed three straight games and could miss more. Clearly, this is Jimmy Butler’s team now – did you see that 40-point second half against the Raptors?!
8. Toronto Raptors (21-14) Last week: 7 – The Raps have to be kicking themselves after allowing the Bulls to come back and beat them on Sunday in Toronto. It was their second loss to them in a week. And now they begin a five-game road trip.
9. Indiana Pacers (19-14) Last week: 8 – Paul George went into takeover mode against the Pistons, scoring the Pacers’ final 21 points of the game. He’s been a ton of fun to watch this season after missing basically all of last season. He’s averaging a career-high 24.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (22-13) Last week: 13 – So let me get this straight… the Clippers lose Blake Griffin and start ripping off wins? They’ve won six straight, five of which have come with Griffin out with a partially torn left quad tendon. Good on them for coming together.
11. Dallas Mavericks (19-15) Last week: 9 – They beat up on the Warriors last week – but without Stephen Curry… so does it really count? We’ll give them partial credit. Unfortunately they followed it up with two losses, including on at home to the Pelicans.
12. Boston Celtics (18-15) Last week: 11 – If the Celtics really are interested in playing an outdoor game at Fenway Park, hopefully it’s against a good team. It’s pretty clear by now that they play down to their opponent. Home losses to the Lakers and Nets are unacceptable.
13. Orlando Magic (19-15) Last week: 15 – The Magic finished December with a 10-5 record and that was enough to earn head coach Scott Skiles Coach of the Month honors. He’s off to a rough January though, as the Magic are 0-2.
14. Detroit Pistons (18-16) Last week: 12 – You have to think that when Brandon Jennings’ workload picks up, the Pistons will begin to seriously consider offers for him. There’s not enough room for both Jennings and Reggie Jackson.
15. Memphis Grizzlies (18-17) Last week: 17 – Home cooking awaits a Grizzlies team that has kept its head above water after a pretty tough first two months of the season. They’ve got two more road games before six straight at home, and nine of their last 11 in January.
16. Houston Rockets (16-19) Last week: 14 – Since a four-point win over the Spurs, the Rockets have lost four straight, including a rematch with the Spurs in which they lost by 18. James Harden at least admits they are an inconsistent group.
17. Charlotte Hornets (16-16) Last week: 16 – An awful season for Al Jefferson got even worse when it was discovered he had a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee last week. He’ll be out for roughly six weeks after surgery. Tough news for the Hornets.
18. Washington Wizards (15-17) Last week: 18 – The Wizards go into 2016 as one of the more disappointing stories in the NBA. They’ve dropped three of four, including two games against East opponents they were thought to compete with this season, the Raptors and Heat.
19. Utah Jazz (15-17) Last week: 19 – Two nice wins over the Trailblazers and Grizzlies have the Jazz. They’ve got a packed schedule this week with five games in seven nights, including two against a Rockets team fighting with them for playoff positioning.
20. Portland Trail Blazers(15-21) Last week: 20 – Winners of four out of their last five games, the Blazers did lose a key one against the Jazz, but have taken care of business against two teams looking up at them in the standings in the Kings and Nuggets.
21. New York Knicks (16-19) Last week: 21 – Kristaps Porzingis won Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the second straight month. Porzingis averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in December, both up from his November averages.
22. Sacramento Kings (13-20) Last week: 22 – Tough back-to-back for the Kings beginning Monday night in Oklahoma City and then over to Dallas. Yes, Rajon Rondo is going back to Dallas, where he will undoubtedly get a hero’s welcome.
23. Milwaukee Bucks (14-21) Last week: 23 – Three losses, two wins, three losses, two wins. The Bucks are going nowhere fast. With the Spurs, Bulls, and Mavericks on tap, the pattern could very well continue.
24. New Orleans Pelicans (11-22) Last week: 24 – They are 10-11 since beginning the season 1-11 which is obvious improvement, but will they string some wins together and make a run at one of those final playoff spots? Plenty of time left.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (8-27) Last week: 29 – Three straight wins for the Lakers. I repeat, three straight wins for the Lakers. And you have to admit Kobe Bryan’s last game in Boston was really cool. The young guys may be coming around just a bit, too.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-22) Last week: 25 – The Timberwolves have lost six of their last seven games, but with the news that Karl-Anthony Towns won Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the second straight month, perspective is needed here.
27. Denver Nuggets (12-23) Last week: 26 – Scary sight watching Kenneth Faried rolled off the court on a stretcher, but the Nuggets forward played the next day. It didn’t matter though, because the Nuggets still lost – and have lost six in a row and nine of ten.
28. Brooklyn Nets (10-23) Last week: 28 – Really bad news for the Nets, who have lost point guard Jarrett Jack for the season with a torn ACL. They were already bad to begin with, and without a legit point guard, it could get much uglier.
29. Phoenix Suns (12-25) Last week: 27 – These guys flat out stink. Nine straight losses, the most recent a 20-point blowout to the Lakers. And one game before that? They allowed 142 points to the Kings. 142! This team needs an overhaul.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (3-33) Last week: 30 – Elton Brand has signed with the 76ers and will mentor some of the young guys, including Jahlil Okafor. That’s actually a smart move by the team. I’m shocked.