Records as of Dec. 3:
1. San Antonio Spurs (14-4, last week No. 2) – We’re putting the Spurs at No. 1 this week just to tick off David Stern — oh, and because the Spurs are great. They’ve won five of six including Saturday’s OT win over the Grizzlies, and would have beaten the Heat had they, ya know, played their good players.
2. Memphis Grizzlies (12-3 last week No. 1) – Blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to the Spurs costs Memphis this week. Fortunately for them, it’s not going to cost $250,000 dollars. But losing the top spot in our rankings is a bad enough punishment.
3. Miami Heat (12-3, last week No. 4) – The win over San Antonio comes with an asterisk, but the other 11 don’t. Miami is the last undefeated team at home (8-0), so maybe fans showing up in the second quarter is a formula for success. Or, maybe the Heat are just better than most teams.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-4, last week No. 3) – The Thunder are winners of five in a row since a loss in Boston on Nov. 23, but the level of competition has been underwhelming. Tuesday’s game at Brooklyn will be a big one. Over/under on Russell Westbrook field goal attempts is at 25.
5. Brooklyn Nets (11-5, last week No. 7) – The Nets are 0-2 against the Heat this season, but Andray Blatche is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds over the Nets’ last three games. It’s amazing what hard work — or work at all in this case — can do for a player.
6. New York Knicks (12-4, last week No. 5) – The Knicks are taking an NBA-high 28 3-pointers per game. It’s OK if Carmelo Anthony and Steve Novak are the reasons, but when Rasheed Wallace is only hitting 31.4-percent of his 3.6 attempts per game on average… yeesh. Ball don’t lie!
7. Los Angeles Clippers (11-6, last week No. 6) – It’s a crazy world when a team in Los Angeles has major coaching issues and it doesn’t revolve around Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers. Chauncey Billups’ return will help stabilize the streaky Clips.
8. Atlanta Hawks (9-5, last week No. 11) – The Hawks get a rare four-day break, which will leave them plenty of time to think about their loss to the Cavs last Friday. Tough road ahead with Denver, Memphis, and Miami on the horizon.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (10-7, Last week No. 10) − The 76ers aren’t the most exciting team to watch, but Eagles head coach Andy Reid is doing just about all he can to get fans in Philadelphia pumped up about their season. Hopefully he doesn’t show up courtside to any of the games.
10. Golden State Warriors (10-7, last week No. 14) – The Warriors have dealt with so many injuries over the years, you’d think they’d publicly handle Andrew Bogut’s better. Instead, they lied about the severity of his ankle. Bogut will be out longer than anyone expected, but the Warriors look good.
11. Milwaukee Bucks (8-8, last week No.15) – The player that came to Milwaukee in the Andrew Bogut deal, Monta Ellis, leads the Bucks in scoring with 18.7 points per game. But reserve center Larry Sanders provides the toughness off the bench averaging 8.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks.
12. Boston Celtics (9-8, last week No. 8) – The Celtics are playing like a mediocre team right now, and their record shows it. Doc Rivers dared to call his team “soft” last week, and we’re still waiting for Boston to prove otherwise. No, pushing down Kris Humphries isn’t tough – but it’s fun to watch.
13. Denver Nuggets (9-9, last week No. 9) – The Nuggets season thus far: Three losses in a row, four wins in a row, three losses in a row, four wins in a row, three losses in a row, and most recently a win over Toronto. Three more wins to go! It’s been a streaky start for Denver.
14. Los Angeles Lakers (8-9, last week No. 12) – Hack-A-Howard is in full effect over in La La Land, and while nobody wants to watch a player go to the line every minute, it makes it better knowing it’s Dwight Howard — and that he’s about to miss. Lakers still have issues.
15. Chicago Bulls (8-7, last week No. 16) – The fact that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has come back so well from his ACL injury should give Bulls fans hope that Derrick Rose can do the same at some point after his return. Until then, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah will try to make Chicago competitive.
16. Houston Rockets (8-8, last week No. 18) – The Omer Asik signing got its fair share of criticism when it happened, but Asik is averaging 11.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Foot, meet mouth.
17. Dallas Mavericks (8-9, last week No. 13) – Mavericks point guard Darren Collison lost his starting point guard job so that he can learn behind veteran Derek Fisher. Hopefully he missed Fish’s 1-for-8 debut.
18. Utah Jazz (9-10, last week No. 19) – Utah dropped its first home loss of the season to the Clippers on Monday night, as Al Jefferson’s game-tying short floater was swatted away by Deandre Jordan. Gotta go up harder than that next time, Big Al.
19. Orlando Magic (7-10, last week No. 22) – The Magic went into L.A. and proved that they’re better off without Dwight Howard! No, they didn’t prove that much. But they’ll certainly take a win anyways.
20. Indiana Pacers (8-9, last week No. 21) -Roy Hibbert is averaging just 9.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season. He Tweeted Pacers fans last week to stick with him. They don’t have a choice after that contract.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8, last week No. 24) – Kevin Love is back and it looks like Ricky Rubio is on the right track, having begun practicing with the team. Good things in Minnesota.
22. Portland Trailblazers (8-10, last week No. 20) – Overtime wins over the Cavs and Bobcats aren’t going to vault the Blazers up the ranks. They are the reason Washington isn’t 0-14. Shame!
23. Charlotte Bobcats (7-9, last week No. 17) – Charlotte has now lost four in a row, but it’s the way they started the streak — a 114–69 loss to the Thunder — that is impressive. OKC was up 79-25 roughly five minutes into the third quarter in that game.
24. Detroit Pistons (6-13, last week No. 26) – When you consider the Pistons were 0-8 to start the year, 6-13 doesn’t look so bad. Still… bad.
25. Phoenix Suns (7-11, last week No. 23) – Bad losses to the Pistons and Raptors followed by another loss to the Knicks. It doesn’t get easier with Memphis twice, Dallas, Orlando and the Clippers in the next nine days.
26. Sacramento Kings (4-12, last week No. 25) – What is there left to say about the Sacramento Kings that their 27 fans haven’t already said?
27. Toronto Raptors (4-14, last week No. 27) – The Raptors are 1-10 on the road with their next four games out west. It doesn’t take an expert to tell you how that’s going to go for them.
28. New Orleans Hornets (5-11, last week No. 29) – Ryan Anderson is the Hornets’ leading scorer this season. He’s averaging 17.5 per game. See: win-loss record.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-14, last week 28) – Anderson Varejao has been a beast on the boards this season, averaging 15.3 rebounds per game including 6.0 offensive boards. Then again, there are plenty of offensive-rebound opportunities for him.
30. Washington Wizards (1-13, last week No. 30) – Washington won a game, so, there’s that.