Throughout the 2013-14 NBA season, co-editor Zak Kolesar will be ranking the 15 Eastern Conference teams on a week-by-week basis every Monday. After each team’s ranking, Kolesar will give a brief description of why he chose the team at that specific spot and will provide the week’s previous ranking (PR) along with the MVP for each team on that specific week (with season stats).
Editor’s Note: These rankings are decided on this week’s win/loss record and where Zak thinks the teams will ultimately end up. Feel free to voice your comment below or tweet Zak at @Kolestarz.
This week the Pacers are again showing complete dominance over the rest of the Eastern Conference. With the Heat dropping to three losses, the Pacers still remain the only team with more than five wins in the conference. While Brooklyn and Chicago have failed to find identities or hit a stride yet this season, the New York Knicks sit at the bottom of the East in a pathetic heap. Anyways, other than Atlanta inching up, Philadelphia sliding down and Boston going on a four-game tear that included a game-winner over Miami at the end of regulation, not much has changed with the makeup of the East in week two.
1. Indiana Pacers (1) – 2013-14 record: 8-0
Wins over Chicago, Brooklyn and Memphis make up the second half of Indiana’s impressive start to the season. They continue to be, without a doubt, the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference. They also remain the only undefeated team in the NBA With the only remaining games in November being against Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Charlotte and Washington. It is quite possible that the Pacers could begin this season with an undefeated month.
MVP: G Lance Stephenson – 14.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.8 APG
2. Miami Heat (2) – 2013-14 record: 5-3
A hard-fought win against a star-packed Los Angeles Clippers squad and a rough loss against a Boston Celtics team with low expectations sums up Miami’s week. Not many teams made moves in the East, but LeBron still seems very unsatisfied seven games in. Whenever LeBron starts to take things into his own hands, bad things happen to those who go up against him. But for now, it looks like Miami and Indiana will duke it out for the top two spots. That is, if anyone can stop the Pacers before the Heat have a shot with them.
MVP: SG Dwyane Wade – 20.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.2 APG
3. Atlanta Hawks (4) – 2013-14 record: 4-4
As I touched on last week, I really like how unselfish this Hawks team is being in the early part of the season. Without unselfish players like Josh Smith taking a volume of the shots, guys like Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver are creating one of the league’s most balanced offenses. If guys like Mike Scott and Cartier Martin continue to produce off of the pine, then this Atlanta team will be sitting pretty come the end of the season. This is a big reason why the Hawks are currently ranking sixth in points per game and second in assists per game.
MVP: PF Pau Millsap – 55.1 FG% 45.5 3P%, 18.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG
4. Chicago Bulls (5) – 2013-14 record: 3-3
Chicago, despite getting to .500, has still looked pretty messy on the court thus far this season. After getting trounced by Indiana, Chicago made quick work of the Utah Jazz and the Cavaliers on Monday night. Derrick Rose continues to struggle from the field and the defense continues to absolutely shut down teams in all phases of the game. So, in reality, nothing has really changed about the Bulls from this season to last season. Get it together, Derrick.
MVP: SF Luol Deng – 14.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 5.7 RPG
5. Philadelphia 76ers (6) – 2013-14 record: 5-4
Yes. The 76ers did go 2-3 since being ranked sixth in my NBA Power Rankings, but too many tams took much worse dives than Philly should have his week. They still rank in the Top 10 in scoring, assisting, and rebounding in he NBA, so they’re definitely still worthy of this spot despite getting worked by the San Antonio Spurs Monday night. Although the 76ers also lost to the Cavaliers in the second of a home-and-away series, they did take Cleveland to overtime and worked them for three quarters the day prior in Philadelphia. I still think that we will see this team drop in the next couple weeks.
MVP: SF Evan Turner– 23.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.1 APG 50.7 FG%
6. Brooklyn Nets (3) – 2013-14 record: 2-5
This team may be too spaced out at the moment. With Shaun Livingston playing 20 minutes a night, there’s not going to be sings of any upward movement in the Eastern Conference if Deron Williams continues to play a facilitator role. Granted he is hurt to some degree, but this isn’t the type of player that Brooklyn needs this season. It’s not that he is distributing the ball more than he has in the past, it’s that he’s playing eight minutes less and shootings five shots less per game. Until this trend changes, Brooklyn will continue to fall.
MVP: C Brook Lopez – 20.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 58.8 FG%
7. Toronto Raptors (8) – 2013-14 record: 4-5
In Toronto’s five losses this season, they have lost by an average of 6.2 points, and recently coming off of a road trip that garnered an OT loss to the Rockets and a blowout win over the Grizzlies, I like where the Raptors are at so far this season. Gay must love playing for this Toronto team, because it’s starting to shape up a lot like the team that Rudy played for in Memphis. The starters combine to average 30.1 rebounds and the team ranks fourth in scoring defense. Out of the teams that looked to be on the rise this offseason, it looks like Toronto has claimed one of those spots as a playoff contender early on.
MVP: SF Rudy Gay – 19.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 33.3 3P%
8. Orlando Magic (12) – 2013-14 record: 4-5
Orlando is another young team looking to prove that they can build up the defensive way. And for this Orlando team, it seems that a lot of players are realizing their roles on this team, even the young guys. Afflalo takes care of the scoring, Vucevic is a dominant force on the boards, Jameer Nelson has a nice touch, Olapido is proving to be as much as a defensive threat as he was at Indiana and Kyle O’Quinn leads the team in blocks. Let’s see how long this team can be balanced for.
MVP: SG Arron Afflalo – 19.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, 46.2 3P%
9. Charlotte Bobcats (13) – 2013-14 record – 4-4
It’s way too hard to tell anything about this team after eight games, but they did step up against a red-hot Boston team that was on a four-game winning streak. They also dismantled the Cavaliers at home if you didn’t remember. Cleveland has a chance to get revenge on the ‘Cats on Friday, but with Al Jefferson stepping onto the court, it may be the same story.
MVP: C Al Jefferson – 11.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG
10. Boston Celtics (14) – 2013-14 record: 4-5
As I mentioned above, the Bobcats halted Boston’s four-game winning streak, but if you remember last time around, the Cs were 0-4 and almost dead last in the power rankings. I was impressed with how the rookies played during their four-game, in which they beat the Heat on a last-effort shot. The man who wins the MVP for this week was responsible for the clutch play.
MVP: SG Jeff Green – 16.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 48.1 3P%
11. New York Knicks (6) – 2013-14 record: 3-4
They split against the Bobcats, lost by 31 to the Spurs at home and won by five most recently in Atlanta. Will a trade happen soon? The Knicks better hope so, or double-digit losses will be more frequent in New York’s future.
MVP: SF Carmelo Anthony – 23.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG
12. Cleveland Cavaliers (9) – 2013-14 record: 3-6
Yuck. It was a pretty ugly week for the Cavaliers. One win and three losses, and the win was in overtime over Philly. Dion continues to struggle on both sides of the ball, the bench is no longer producing like it did on opening night and the D is now downright atrocious after starting the season ranked second in points against. This team needs some leadership to step up.
MVP: PG Kyrie Irving – 19.4 PPG, 7.5 APG, 4.6 RPG
13. Milwaukee Bucks (11) – 2013-14 record: 2-5
It’s going to be a long six or so weeks without Larry Sanders. This means that the interior defense will continue to struggle and that rebounding will be a weak point this season. I had some good things to say about this team last week, but the hot-cold nature of guys like O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal will make this one frustrating season for Bucks fans.
MVP: SG O.J. Mayo – 16.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 4.2 RPG, 57.7 3P%
14. Detroit Pistons (7) – 2013-14 record: 2-5
Josh Smith was benched the other night. That came earlier than I expected. I think Brandon Jennings poor shooting is of more concern for Pistons fans worried about the offseason acquisitions. This team isn’t rebounding or playing defense like many thought they would, either.
MVP: C Andre Drummond – 11.6 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 66.7 FG%
15. Washington Wizards (15) – 2013-14 record: 2-6
Wall is day-to-day after being poked in the eye, but let’s talk some Bradley Beal. He’s not shooting so efficiently, but he’s doing a much better job than Dion would have if he was putting up 17 a game (Dion attempts 14). D is a mess, but let’s still keep an eye on that backcourt.
MVP: SG Bradley Beal – 19.3 PPG, 3.6 APG, 3.9 RPG
Make sure to sound off in the comment section below whether or not you agree with the rankings and check back next week to see if any of your teams moved up or down in the rankings.