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, being a short one, depicts not a lot of separation between the teams record wise, but features some big jumps and falls in position. Although the Indiana Pacers finally dropped a game and the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls look to be back on track, the rest of the top of the East stays a mystery with Brooklyn dealing with an injury-heavy roster and New York still in turmoil. Looking at the overall standings in the East, however, may lead to some becoming nauseous. It’s going to be another sloppy year of lots of below-average basketball.
1. Indiana Pacers (1) – 2013-14 record: 9-1
Indiana finally lost against Chicago this past week after a blowout victory over the Milwaukee Bucks Catching the red-hot Bulls the following game ended Indiana’s 9-0 start to the season, leaving the Pacers to now focus in on defining their supremacy in the East instead of an undefeated record. With Roy Hibbert set out to destroy everything in his path (most notably the Miami Heat) this season, this very well could be the year that Indiana ends Miami’s reign in the East.
MVP: C Roy Hibbert – 11.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.6 BPG, 50.5 FG%
2. Miami Heat (2) – 2013-14 record: 7-3
Speaking of the Heat, after Jeff Green nailed a game-winner at the buzzer two Saturdays ago, Miami has gained a head of steam by pounding on some Eastern cupcakes and the Mavericks. In these three games, LeBron James scored 30 or more points, including a 39-point, four-assist and six-rebound night against Dallas on 14-of-18 shooting from the field. For the season, James is shooting out of this world from inside and outside. The reigning two-time MVP is shooting 62.2 percent from the field and 51.7 percent from three. Wowzers.
MVP: SF LeBron James – 27.3 PPG, 6.9 APG, 5.4 RPG, 62.2 FG%, 51.7 3P%
3. Atlanta Hawks (3) – 2013-14 record: 6-4
Atlanta continues to be a very fun team to watch, and that’s because they’ve been playing great team basketball. Just take a look at Atlanta’s two wins that they compiled over the 76ers and Knicks since last time I ranked the Hawks: Jeff Teague – 33points, 10 assists, four rebounds, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver – six rebounds each, bench – 15 rebounds out of 43 total against the 76ers and Paul Millsap – 14 points, 13 rebounds, Teague and Korver – 31 points, bench – 43 points and Shelvin Mack – 12 assists against the Knicks. Everyone is contributing. This team will continue to succeed if this keeps up. A Tuesday night tilt with the Heat will be a big test in proving their overall dominance.
MVP: PG Jeff Teague – 19.4 PPG, 9.0 APG, 1.5 SPG
4. Chicago Bulls (4) – 2013-14 record: 5-3
The Bulls scored 110 points on the Pacers in handing Indiana its first loss this season, scoring 19 points more than any other opponent had on them in the prior nine games. Having this offense wake up after a 97-80 loss to the Pacers four games earlier really threw the needed fuel in Chicago’s fire. A four-game winning streak currently makes Chicago the hottest team in the East, and timely Derrick Rose’s return will only help the Bulls’ cause.
MVP: SF Luol Deng – 14.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, 93.1 FT%
5. Philadelphia 76ers (5) – 2013-14 record: 5-6
The 76ers would be buried behind a barrage of Western Conference teams if this was a NBA-wide power ranking, but, to clear things up, their lack of movement is not because they affirmed why they were fifth in the first place. They’ve lost six of their last eight contests, and most recently lost in New Orleans to the Pelicans by 37 points. Rough. The 76ers are coming back down to Earth after their two-week high. Should be much lower next week.
MVP: C Spencer Hawes – 15.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 50.4 FG%, 47.5 3P%
6. Orlando Magic (8) – 2013-14 record: 4-6
The Magic seem like one of the most well-rounded teams this season, except at the point guard position. They rank 15th in points per game, sixth in rebounds per game, and 16th in both assists per game and points allowed. Once Oladipo solves his turnover problem and Maurice Harkless becomes even more defined in his team role as a starter, this will be a difficult squad to tango with.
MVP: SG Arron Afflalo – 21.7 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.0 RPG, 50.0 3P%
7. Toronto Raptors (7) – 2013-14 record: 4-7
The Raptors, much like Philly, fell flat on their faces last week, as Rudy Gay’s tumultuous shooting continued in losses against the Bulls and Trail Blazers. In the overtime contest against Portland, Gay did score 30 points but did it on 12-of-17 shooting from the field. Combine that with DeMar DeRozan’s 11-of-27 night, and you have a very inefficient offense in Toronto right now.
MVP: PG Kyle Lowry – 12.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 1.5 SPG
8. Charlotte Bobcats (9) – 2013-14 record: 5-5
The Bobcats’ record is no indication of how bad this Charlotte team is. The downfall will start in the coming weeks with upcoming matches against Chicago, Brooklyn and Indiana, but take a look back at the quality of Charlotte’s wins: they’ve posted a win margin of five points per game. In losses, it has been a different story: they’ve posted a losing margin of 13.8 points per game. Wins against Cleveland (twice), New York, Toronto and Boston are nothing really to write home about.
MVP: SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – 11.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 54.9 FG%
9. Brooklyn Nets (6) – 2013-14 record: 3-6
It’s been a pretty disastrous start in Brooklyn thus far. With Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all already missing time this early on in the season, it’s a major concern whether or not these veterans will be able to survive the whole season. Williams, Lopez and Kirilenko will not play in Monday’s contest against an 8-2 Blazers team, Garnett is probable and Pierce is a game-time decision, so there is no clear answer to how long it will take the Nets to get over the beginning-of-the-season hump.
MVP: PG Shaun Livingston – 8.8 PPG, 3.3 APG, 51.7 FG%
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (12) – 2013-14 record: 4-7
Cleveland split since the last time I ranked Eastern Conference teams, but Kyrie Irving’s performance in the Cavs latest overtime victory over the Wizards this past Saturday marked the first time that the Wine & Gold court general looked both smooth from the field and clutch down the stretch. Tallying nine points in both the fourth quarter and overtime period, Kyrie led his team to victory and hopefully sparked something in the offense.
MVP: Kyrie Irving – 21.3 PPG, 7.0 APG, 4.0 RPG
11. Boston Celtics (10) – 2013-14 record: 4-7
Much like the Bobcats, Boston’s record doesn’t represent how they have looked as a team this year. The offense has no real flow or rhythm to it, the interior defense stands among the weakest in the League and Rajon Rondo has yet to make an appearance. Add in the fact that this Boston team is ranked 28th in the NBA because of Rondo’s absence and the lack of reliable shooters, and this team seems poised to enter #TankForWiggins mode any week now.
MVP: C Vitor Faverani – 6.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 15.6 PER
12. New York Knicks (11) – 2013-14 record: 3-6
Tyson Chandler’s absence has made this an even more unbearable season so far for Knicks fans. With most already presuming that the team will move into offseason mode far before the season ends, I also don’t see things getting better for this team. Yes, a team around .500 still has a shot at making the playoffs in the East, but I believe the Knicks will be roaming between spots 10-13 throughout most of the season.
MVP: SF Carmelo Anthony – 25.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.4 SPG
13. Detroit Pistons (14) – 2013-14 record: 3-6
Defense is one of the few things that Detroit had going for them entering the 2013-14 season. Brandon Jennings has come into Detroit as a much more efficient passer but far less efficient shooter. Jennings has never been the best high-volume shooter in the NBA, and he’s proving it by only connecting on 38.2 percent of his 17.6 field goal attempts per game so far through nine games. This team is reaching the low point that many thought would possibly come with the additions of Smith and Jennings, and I don’t see things getting better any time soon.
MVP: C Andre Drummond – 12.2 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 65.9 FG%, 21.4 PER
14. Washington Wizards (15) – 2013-14 record: 2-7
The Wiz, still without Otto Porter, will be fun once their No. 1 pick enters the game. But before people start oohing over Bradley Beal’s “impressive” start, let’s take a look at how many minutes Mr. Beal is logging per game: 40.1 is the number we’re dealing with. During that time Beal is shooting 41.3 percent from the field and chucking up almost 19 shots per game. That’s like Dion Waiters-like numbers, so let’s not freak.
MVP: PG John Wall – 16.1 PPG, 9.1 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.8 SPG
15. Milwaukee Bucks (13) – 2013-14 record: 2-7
The Bucks are God-awful inside, especially without Larry Sanders in the lineup. They have no offensive presence in the paint, and in the Eastern Conference, you’re not going to win many games without an overpowering superstar or overpowering inside force. Milwaukee currently has neither.
MVP: SG O.J. Mayo – 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 53.3 3P%, 95.7 FT%
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.