1. Golden State Warriors (28-1) Last week: 1 – It’s scary that Draymond Green thinks the Warriors aren’t playing even close to their potential. I mean, how much better can these guys really get?
2. San Antonio Spurs (25-6) Last week: 2 – The Spurs had their seven-game winning streak snapped on Christmas in Houston. They followed that up by blowing out the Nuggets at home, where they are 17-0 this season.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-10) Last week: 4 – The two-headed monster of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing great right now. Durant is averaging 24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.2 assists over his last five games. Westbrook, meanwhile, is averaging 25 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 9.2 assists.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-9) Last week: 3 – LeBron James and the Cavs had a legitimate chance to take down the Cavs on Christmas, but got two rough performances from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love – and James couldn’t hit his free throws at the end of the game. Then they were blown out in Portland.
5. Miami Heat (18-11) Last week: 6 – The Heat have a nice balance of veteran leadership mixed with youth, and that’s what makes them so dangerous. In their most recent win in Orlando, it was the vets Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who stepped up in the end.
6. Atlanta Hawks (20-12) Last week: 7 – Six straight wins for a Hawks team that looks to finally have pieced things together. They recently overcame a 14-point deficit to beat the Knicks by 19 points.
7. Toronto Raptors (19-12) Last week: 8 – The Raptors jumped out early on the Mavericks and were able to hang on for a nice win against a good Western Conference team. According to ESPN, they had lost eight of their last 10 games when trailing at the end of the first quarter. So good starts are important.
8. Indiana Pacers (17-12) Last week: 5 – A bad loss at home to the Kings earned the Pacers their third straight loss, but they snapped it on the road in Minnesota thanks to a nice game from Monta Ellis. They need Ellis to take some of the scoring pressure off Paul George.
9. Dallas Mavericks (17-13) Last week: 9 – Good news for the Mavericks as Chandler Parsons’ minutes have been increased and he looks ready to get back in the starting lineup. That’s as good of an addition to a lineup as you’ll see right now.
10. Chicago Bulls (16-12) Last week: 10 – Great win on the road in Oklahoma City, but to follow that up with a loss to the Mavs team is a disappointment. The good news from that loss is Derrick Rose’s improved play. He had 25 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
11. Boston Celtics (18-13) Last week: 14 – Winners of four straight, the Celtics can make it seven with a game against the Lakers and two against the Nets. They’re five game above .500 for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
12. Detroit Pistons (17-14) Last week: 12 – How about five 20-20 (points and rebounds) games for Andre Drummond this year? What a talent. If only he could raise his free throw percentage from 38-percent to a more respectable… 50-percent? Feel like that isn’t asking much.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (18-13) Last week: 11 – Really tough news for the Clippers, who will be without Blake Griffin for at least two weeks after he partially tore his quadriceps tendon on Christmas. He’s their leading scorer, averaging 23.3 points per game.
14. Houston Rockets (16-16) Last week: 13 – Classic Rockets. They turn out their best win of the year against the Spurs, and then drop the next one against the lowly Pelicans. I want to believe in this team – but they need to be way more consistent.
15. Orlando Magic (17-13) Last week: 16 – Since starting the season 0-3, the Magic have lost twice in a row just two times. It’s good to see a young team not let losses carry over into the following game.
16. Charlotte Hornets (16-13) Last week: 15 – Al Jefferson returned and the Hornets snapped their three-game losing streak – though Jefferson didn’t help much. He scored just two points and fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Still, his return to the court is a good thing.
17. Memphis Grizzlies (17-16) Last week: 17 – Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes has been suspended for the next two games for attacking Knicks head coach Derek Fisher in October due to Fisher’s relationship with Barnes’ estranged wife. Dramaaaa.
18. Washington Wizards (14-14) Last week: 24 – Signs of life in Washington! Four straight wins for the Wiz, who despite losing players like Bradley Beal and Nene have rallied around point guard John Wall, who has elevated his game this month.
19. Utah Jazz (12-16) Last week: 19 – The hits just keep coming for the Jazz, who will now be without Alec Burks for a while after he broke the fibula in his left leg on Saturday. They’re already missing Rudy Gobert.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (13-20) Last week: 22 – They blew away the Cavs and then beat the Kings without Damian Lillard. These guys have a long way to go, but it’s good to see them fighting out of the cellar.
21. New York Knicks (14-18) Last week: 18 – The streaky Knicks are now losers of four in a row. They’re not close to becoming contenders, and Carmelo Anthony may be long gone before it happens.
22. Sacramento Kings (12-18) Last week: 21 – Give them credit for going into Indiana and beating the Pacers, but to then go back home and lose to the Damian Lillard-less Trail Blazers is no way to build off anything. I like the Kings, but you just never know what you’re going to get.
23. Milwaukee Bucks (12-19) Last week: 23 – No matter what happens to the Bucks the rest of the season, at least they can say they beat the Warriors. Since then they’ve gone 2-4 with the two wins over the lowly Suns and Sixers.
24. New Orleans Pelicans (10-20) Last week: 27 – Three wins over their last four games and it appears as if the Pelicans are finally starting to wake up. Anthony Davis has been beastly as of late, 24-plus points and 12-plus rebounds in four of his last five games.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-19) Last week: 25 – The Timberwolves have lost three straight, all by double-digits. Meanwhile, it looks like Kevin Martin is out of the T-Wolves rotation and may be on the move. He can definitely help a contender.
26. Denver Nuggets (12-19) Last week: 26 – The Nuggest have lost five of their last six games, with just a win over the Suns as the only bright spot. Then again, nobody expected them to beat the Spurs and Thunder, and nobody expects them to beat the Cavaliers up next.
27. Phoenix Suns (12-20) Last week: 20 – The Suns are 5-15 over their last 20 games, including an unacceptable loss to the 76ers over the weekend. Two assistant coaches have been fired, and if things don’t change, head coach Jeff Hornacek could be next.
28. Brooklyn Nets (8-22) Last week: 28 – Not that the Nets were very good with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but they’re 1-7 over their last eight games, all without him.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (5-26) Last week: 29 – The highlights of the Lakers season boil down to Kobe Bryant’s farewells and Byron Scott’s post-game criticism. The latest one? His team looked “fried”.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (2-30) Last week: 30 – When a team loses to the Sixers, like the Suns just did, they are forced to go through a major shake-up.