We’re more than a quarter through the season, and the Warriors still haven’t lost. The Spurs and Cavs seem to be the only two teams that may be able to challenge Golden State, but only time will tell as the Warriors head to Boston and Milwaukee this weekend. Without further ado, here’s this week’s rankings.

  1. Golden State Warriors (23-0) —
    FiveThirtyEight recently released their projections for every NBA team this season, and the Warriors stood at a projected 72-10. If that record sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the best regular season record any team has ever had – that of the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Yeah, Dub City is that good. They just dropped 79 on Indiana in the first half. 79!
  2. San Antonio Spurs (18-4) —
    Somehow, even with Kawhi Leonard out and Tim Duncan resting, the Spurs are still dominating the West. They’ve won four straight and nine of their last ten. On Monday night, they beat the 76ers by 51(!) on 62% shooting. Aldridge seems to be benefiting from a system where he’s not always the focal point.
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers (14-7) —
    The Cavs have now lost 4 out of their last 6, including bad losses to the Pelicans and Wizards. Apparently, LeBron James and sleeves aren’t a winning combo – before tearing them in a loss to his former Heat team, he went 4 for 11 from the floor and missed both of his free throws. Kyrie should be back soon, which changes everything.
  4. Indiana Pacers (12-8) —
    Recent quality wins over the Clippers and Bulls have proved that Indiana is legitimate, and these Pacers aren’t waiting to “rebuild” to solidly contend in the East. Paul George’s 27.6 PPG ranks 3rd in the NBA behind The Beard and The Chef. Not only that, but this team is finding balance, with five on the roster scoring at least 11 PPG. They at least managed to give the Warriors a fight in the fourth quarter, which is something most teams haven’t been able to say.
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-8) —
    Close losses to the Heat and Hawks can be forgiven after a 6-2 streak that now puts OKC near the top of the declining West. With Durant healthy, this team is a contender in any game. Also, Russell Westbrook had another triple-double against the Kings, giving him 14 since the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.
  6. Miami Heat (12-7) +6
    It was a weird week for Miami, who scored wins over the Thunder and Cavs before being downed by Washington. Miami is contending mainly on its defense, which is currently allowing just 93 PPG, second-best in the NBA. Luol Deng should be back from a hamstring injury by next week at the latest, giving this team some much needed depth.
  7. Chicago Bulls (11-7) -1
    Bulls fans have been hearing about how lucky they’ve been getting and how an 11-5 start wasn’t deserved. Finally, they’re starting to see why that might be true. An absolute collapse against the scrappy Suns marked the second straight loss for the Bulls. It was the first time the Bulls have let up 100 points in back-to-back games this season.
  8. Charlotte Hornets (12-8) +2
    If you would’ve told most NBA experts that the Charlotte Hornets and the Oklahoma City Thunder would have the same record through 20 games, they likely would’ve laughed in your face. But with six starters averaging at least 10 points, Charlotte is surviving on better-than-average offense and defense. Charlotte can thank Nic Batum for it’s offensive success this year.
  9. Los Angeles Clippers (12-9) -2
    Winners of 5 of their last 6, the Clippers finally seem to be clicking after a slow start. Chris Paul and JJ Redick are both nursing injuries, but the Clippers have shown that they’re much deeper than would have been expected – 11 of the 14 guys on their roster have started a game this season.
  10. Dallas Mavericks (13-9) +3
    The Porzingis-Nowitzki matchup was fun to watch, but the Mavs pulled out the win Monday night, its fourth in the last six. Deron Williams is functioning nicely with this offense after failing to produce much in his time with Brooklyn, and Zaza Pechulia (10/10) is turning in a nice season as well.
  11. Boston Celtics (12-9) +5
    On Larry Bird’s birthday, the Celtics crushed the Pelicans on the road, bringing their record to a hefty 12-9 – somehow only good for 8th in the East. Isaiah Thomas has stepped in beautifully in the absence of Marcus Smart, and through a combination of balanced scoring on offense and lockdown defense, the Celtics have the best point differential in the East at +5.4 per game. Don’t sleep on Brad Stevens’ squad.
  12. Memphis Grizzlies (12-10) -3
    Despite very average defense and a bottom-five offense, the Grizz are winning, including five of their last seven. A Courtney Lee to Jeff Green alley-oop gave Memphis a last-second win against the Suns on Sunday. Can they sustain a playoff spot with average play going forward?
  13. Toronto Raptors (13-9) -5
    The Raptors’ last seven games have all been decided by ten or less points, and they’ve gone 4-3 in the process. The DeMarre Carroll injury isn’t encouraging, but Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are more than holding their own in the backcourt.
  14. Atlanta Hawks (13-9) -3
    The Hawks have the depth necessary to contend in the competitive East this year, so health will be their biggest issue. Only three players on their 15-man roster (Millsap, Horford, Schroder) have played in all 22 games this year.
  15. Houston Rockets (10-12) +9
    This is the Houston we’ve been expecting. Winners of 5 of their last 7, the Rockets now see themselves in the playoff picture in the weaker West. Harden still isn’t shooting well, but he’s averaging 10 made free throws a game, which helps. The improved play of Dwight Howard and Clint Capela gives Houston a better presence inside, something they desperately needed. They are rumored to be interested in Markieff Morris.
  16. Orlando Magic (12-9) -2
    A five-game win streak was ended by a close loss to the Clippers, but this Magic team is making waves in the East. Moving Victor Oladipo to the bench seemed to help Orlando, who still boasts one of the younger NBA teams and will be a force in the coming years.
  17. Detroit Pistons (12-10) +1
    The Pistons also rattled off a nice win streak that was broken by a hot Hornets team, but they need to find more consistent options on offense. Thankfully, they’re still the only NBA team to have the same starters for every game this season, and Andre Drummond is still pulling down rebounds like it’s no one’s business.
  18. Utah Jazz (9-10) -1
    A close win against the Pacers looked really nice, but the Jazz are now routinely letting opponents top 100, something that cannot happen with the mediocre offense they have. Utah has very few consistent scorers, and only four who are attempting at least 10 shots per game.
  19. Washington Wizards (9-10) +1
    Who are the Wizards? Are they the team that confidently beat LeBron and the Cavs about a week ago, or are they the team that gave up 108 and lost to the Lakers? Otto Porter Jr. is shooting an abysmal 24% from three-point range, and injuries are currently nagging a shallow Washington squad.
  20. Portland Trail Blazers (9-14) +3
    The Blazers can appreciate two quality wins over the Pacers and Timberwolves this week, and have actually won five of their last nine. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum need more production from the rest of the team, and they’re starting to get it from sixth-man Allen Crabbe.
  21. Milwaukee Bucks (9-13) +5
    The record isn’t what Milwaukee wanted through this much of the season, but a few wins strung together has Bucks fans looking positive. A 70-point performance against the Spurs has been followed by three-straight 90+ games, including a blowout of the not-terrible New York Knicks. What this team lacks, however, is consistency on both ends of the court.
  22. Phoenix Suns (9-13) -7
    Yes, the Suns lost four in a row. Those games were decided by 3, 5, 3, and 2 points, respectively. Then they picked up a quality win against the Bulls – where they won by 2. The Suns’ last six games have all been decided by 5 points or less, something that didn’t happen once in their first 17 games this season. For some reason this team keeps losing on buzzer beaters.
  23. New York Knicks (10-12) -2
    The Knicks have now lost 6 of 8, and the 2 wins came against the Nets and 76ers. This team has few options behind Porzingis, who by all accounts is looking like a legitimate ROY candidate, and Carmelo Anthony, who is now injured. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where the Knicks totally drop off down the road.
  24. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-12) -5
    After starting the season 4-2, the Wolves are 4-10 since, and are now in the middle of a four-game losing streak. Kevin Garnett, Ricky Rubio, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins have started every game they’ve played in, but only Towns has started all 20 due to injuries. Still, this happened.
  25. Denver Nuggets (8-14) +3
    The Nuggets finally strung together two close wins after a terrible eight-game losing streak. For all the buzz surrounding Emmanuel Mudiay, his shooting numbers are still awful and not improving. The team will have to rely on names like Will Barton and Joffrey Lauvergne going forward, and a good season does not look like it’s in the books. They could use another high lottery pick anyway.
  26. Sacramento Kings (8-15) -4
    Sure, they’ve lost five of their last seven, but it seems that the Kings have some of the pieces to put together at least a few wins this season. Rajon Rondo, the only King to start every game this season, is averaging a double-double, and Boogie’s back. That said, he isn’t shooting very well.
  27. New Orleans Pelicans (5-16) -2
    They had it, and then they lost it. And then they somehow beat the Cavs. Nevertheless, since a three-game win streak, the Pels are 1-5 and haven’t limited an opponent to under 100 points since a 104-90 win over the Spurs on November 20th.
  28. Brooklyn Nets (6-15) -1
    The Nets beat the Suns, Pistons and Rockets this week, which certainly doesn’t look bad for them. However, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is undergoing ankle surgery, so the Nets will unfortunately lose a key young player in need of development. They’re shooting just 29% from three-point range this season.
  29. Los Angeles Lakers (3-18) —
    This season will be remembered as Kobe’s departure, which is probably the best-possible scenario for the dreadful Lakers. The praise surrounding Kobe is understandable, and it really takes pressure off the NBA-worst numbers he’s putting up – 31% FG shooting and 22% from three.
  30. Philadelphia 76ers (1-21) —
    Jerry Colangelo took over the operations position for the 76ers this week. That’s the only good news for Philadelphia, who’s last in PPG and in the bottom five in defense, as well. This didn’t help…
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