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 Eastern Conference proved that they are even crappier than first imagined. The Pacers and Heat are, again, so far ahead of anyone else in the East talent-wise that the NBA should consider morphing these two teams together with the West and send the other 13 Eastern Conference teams to the D-League for readmission. At least then we can watch some competitive basketball between professionals. The Cavaliers really drove home the definition of “suck” that the East has broadcast over the last two weeks. It’s early in the season, but these rankings are getting tougher and tougher as the weeks go by because it’s hard to determine which team tanked more than the other.
1. Indiana Pacers (1) – 2013-14 record: 12-1
Indiana bounced back from a week that ended in the team’s first loss by plowing over some cupcakes. Even though it took overtime to dispose of the hapless Knicks, Indiana went on to close out Boston and Philadelphia. They won’t start getting tested by top Western Conference teams until the start of December, where in an eight-day stretch they face the Clippers, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Thunder. Two days after that they play the Heat. This should definitely be more fun than watching them beat up on weak East squads.
MVP: SF Paul George – 24.2 PPG, 3.2 APG, 6.2RPG, 36.6 3P%
2. Miami Heat (2) – 2013-14 record: 10-3
Miami also went 3-0 during week four, and the Heat continue to be one of the most spaced-out teams in the NBA. This is incredibly good for Miami, who ranks second in the NBA in assists per game. After disposing of Atlanta and then Orlando by a combined 44 points, it took the Heat until the very end to finish the Magic a second time. LeBron closed out the game as always, going for 22/9/7 in the victory. Someone tweeted this last night, and it’s pretty damn accurate:
Getting obsessed with how bad the East is. Anyone opposed to the East playoffs just being 1 Heat-Pacers series? pic.twitter.com/Ar6FEM0LCq
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) November 25, 2013
MVP: SF LeBron James – 25.3 PPG, 6.8 APG, 5.8 RPG, 59.7 FG%, 48.6 3P%
3. Atlanta Hawks (3) – 2013-14 record: 8-6
The East gets pretty unbearable to look at after the Hawks, but even Atlanta, who split this past week’s four games, were humiliated by the Heat and outdone by the Celtics. Two wins against the Pistons aren’t saying too much at this point, but because of their heavy Eastern Conference schedule, they haven’t seen any formidable opponents besides the Heat and Mavericks this season. I like the spread-out scoring, sharing and D that Atlanta plays, but we’ve seen time and time again, like with the Nuggets last season, that these teams don’t bode well against superstar-packed squads.
MVP: C Al Horford – 17.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 54.9 FG%
4. Chicago Bulls (4) – 2013-14 record: 6-6
This is going to get extremely rough for the Bulls because D-Rose’s season-ending injury might lead to some more dominoes falling. In the first game without their star point guard, the Bulls were blown out by the Clippers by 39 points. It was ugly. With no Nate Rob this year, Chicago has no one formidable backup point guard to step up and be the grit and grind replacement guy. Might see some trades *cough cough Luol Deng* going on here pretty soon.
MVP: SF Luol Deng – 16.3 PPG, 3.4 APG, 7.3 RPG
5. Toronto Raptors (7) 2013-14 record: 6-7
Two good wins by Toronto, but the falloff point for talented teams in the East is probably going to be around the fourth seed this year, and that’s not even guaranteed with the continued failures of the Nets and Knicks and recent injury to D-Rose. If Jonas Valanciunas can get his act together, this team can be semi-good, but not competitive, in the horrendous East.
MVP: SG DeMar DeRozan – 21.2 PPG, 2.6 APG, 3.4 RPG, 36.4 3P%
6. Charlotte Bobcats (8) – 2013-14 record: 7-7
The Bobcats are continuing to be the only team that is consistent this season besides the Pacers and Heat. Charlotte, who just recently announced the switch back to the Purple & Teal, saw big man Al Jefferson return on the weekend to help the ‘Cats take Saturday’s contest against the Bucks in a rout. The Bobcats are somewhat of an pleasant surprise to watch this season in the East, so let’s enjoy it for what it is.
MVP: PG Kemba Walker – 15.6 PPG, 4.1 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG
7. Philadelphia 76ers (5) – 2013-14 record: 6-9
The 76ers have to do something about their perimeter defense, or they’re going to continue to slip further and further down the power rankings each week. And that’s going to be a hard task, considering that the East teams are losing in downward trends. They’ve now lost five of their last six, and many are talking of the Cavs and Philly possibly starting trade discussions if their seasons continue the way they have been over the past couple weeks.
MVP: PG Michael Carter-Williams – 17.4 PPG, 7.4 APG, 5.7 RPG, 3.0 SPG
8. Orlando Magic (6) – 2013-14 record: 4-9
Another 0-3 week by an Eastern Conference team leads to another two-rank drop. Plus, as well as Victor Oladipo is doing in the stat line in some places, his handling of the ball is atrocious. The Magic need to start utilizing him in a role where he’s making a move toward the basket or putting up a jumper upon touching the ball. What separates the Magic from some other Eastern Conference teams below .500 is the team unity they have shown on the court this season at times. They’ve shown in certain games that they can make things work with the 10-man unit they have fielded most often. Let’s see if they can do this consistently.
MVP: SG Arron Afflalo – 21.6 PPG, 4.7 APG, 5.1 RPG, 50.7 3P%
9. Detroit Pistons (13) – 2013-14 record: 5-8
With their two latest wins coming from beating the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, I would say five wins is no indication of how cohesive this team has played this season A squad that should be a top defensive threat in the East ranks 20th in the league in points allowed per game, giving up over triple digits in the first 13 contests. Like I mentioned in the offseason, the Pistons need to still utilize their strengths when working in Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith into the offense.
MVP: C Andre Drummond – 12.1 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.8 SPG, 66.4 FG%
10. Washington Wizards (14) – 2013-14 record: 5-8
Washington was the only team that made somewhat vast improvements this past week, but it also helped that they started off by beating up on the Cavaliers coming off of a victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves the night before. Taking three of four with John Wall tallying 30+ in the final two affairs helped this team to win more games in one week than in the previous three.
MVP: PG John Wall – 18.6 PPG, 8.9 APG, 4.5 RPG, 2.1 SPG
11. Boston Celtics (11) – 2013-14 record: 5-10
The Cs continued their crumbling three-game skid from the previous week by dropping three to start off week four. They were outscored by 50 points in the latter half of their six-game skid, proving that this team is deep in rebuilding mode. After breaking the losing streak at the end of the week, Celtic fans shouldn’t get too comfortable with Boston wins in the future.
MVP: PF Jared Sullinger – 12.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG
12. Cleveland Cavaliers (10) – 2013-14 record: 4-10
If you thought week three was bad, week four was an abomination. When the first rookie this season that earned a start was Matthew Dellavedova and not Anthony Bennett, then you already know by that statement that this season is heading in the completely wrong direction. There is no sense of togetherness, no sense of urgency, no fight and no pride in this team right now. They need to get it together, and fast, or they will have wasted a lot of money invested in the future.
MVP: PG Kyrie Irving – 21.4 PPG, 6.4 APG, 3.5 RPG
13. Brooklyn Nets (9) – 2013-14 record: 3-10
With still no Deron Williams or Brook Lopez in sight, this team isn’t going to be able to move out of the cellar without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both stepping up. This is especially true for Garnett, who has struggled with fitting in the Brooklyn offense and just isn’t his same physical self on the boards. This team is very old and hobbled, and the old become hobbled over time.
MVP: SG Joe Johnson – 15.1 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.7 RPG, 45.6 3P%
14. New York Knicks (12) – 2013-14 record: 3-9
The situation without Tyson Chandler gets worse by the week, as New York’s offense continues to go stale and the team fails to work the inside for boards, ranking 28th in the NBA in rebounds per game. Until the hazardous backcourt situation gets more than patched, this team is going nowhere.
MVP: SF Carmelo Anthony – 25.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG
15. Milwaukee Bucks (15) – 2013-14 record: 2-10
The Bucks went from, “Oh cool, this team could fill in the bottom of the playoffs,” to, “THERE IS NO HOPE.” The Bucks have been reeling, losing eight straight. Their last win was against Cleveland. Sigh.
MVP: PF Khris Middleton – 9.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.0 SPG
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.