Throughout the 2013-14 NBA season, co-editors Zak Kolesar and Chris Manning will be ranking the 15 Eastern Conference teams on a week-by-week basis every Monday. After each team’s ranking, the two will give a brief description of their rationale behind each ranking and will provide the week’s previous ranking (PR).
Editor’s Note: These rankings are decided on this week’s win/loss record and where Zak and Chris think thsee teams will ultimately end up at the season’s end. Feel free to voice your opinion below in the comment section, or reach out to Zak (@Kolestarz) and Chris (@cwmwrites) on Twitter.
This week, the Eastern Conference continues to be swallowed into a pit of despair. The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat continue to trudge along without much of a challenge at all (Indiana is on a seven-game winning streak, while Miami has won 10 straight), while preseason contenders such as the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets continue to toil away. And then there’s the middle. All of the teams lost in the middle. Yikes.
Kolestarz’s Eastern Conference Power Rankings
1. Indiana Pacers (1) – 2013-14 record: 16-1
Two weeks ago I predicted that Indiana would run the table in November. They went 15-1 instead. Coming off of an impressive road win in Los Angeles against the Clippers, is there any stopping this rising juggernaut?
2. Miami Heat (2) – 2013-14 record: 14-3
Same story different week for Miami, as they continue to get pounded on the boards, but make up for it with their fast, up-tempo offense and crafty perimeter shooting. It seems like the Heat can reel off double-digit winning streaks whenever they please, and the Big Three isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Age? Psssh. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are all shooting over 53 percent from the field, so there’s that.
3. Atlanta Hawks (3) – 2013-14 record: 8-6
The Hawks went 1-3 this week and stayed in third place. This is how bad the Eastern Conference is with the turmoil that the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have succumbed to this season.
4. Chicago Bulls (4) – 2013-14 record: 7-8
Gosh is the Eastern Conference a miserable grouping of 15 teams to analyze. This Bulls team is heading toward disaster without Derrick Rose for the entire season. If you thought the offense went through struggles dealing with the loss of their former MVP last season, put into perspective that they don’t have formidable guards to push the pace of the offense in the 2013-14 campaign.
5. Charlotte Bobcats (6) – 2013-14: 8-10
Being a Cavaliers fan and watching the moves that Charlotte made in the draft and during the offseason, this is frustrating as heck to see the Bobcats playing close to .500 ball. Playoff spots in the East are up for grabs, and they will be all season long. Charlotte can definitely take one with how they’ve been playing early on.
6. Orlando Magic (8) – 2013-14 record: 6-10
Arron Afflalo continues to impress, averaging 21.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. If the ceiling for Nikola Vucevic continues to grow, Victor Oladipo receives more experience in order to help limit turnovers and Maurice Harkless strengthens his value on the perimeter, this team can peak into the top-half of the East playoff teams.
7. Detroit Pistons (9) – 2013-14 record: 7-10
Things could get interesting here for Detroit if they continue to play #DrummondBall. He’s a monster in the paint this year. His most recent performance? A 31-point, 19-rebound, six-steal and two-block performance. Oh yeah, and Drummond is shooting 65.2 percent from the field. That’s leading the NBA thus far. The more Brandon Jennings becomes comfortable with realizing that this team is much more efficient down low, the higher this team will climb.
8. Washington Wizards (10) – 2013-14 record:
Wall has backed up his claim as best point guard in the League by averaging 19.2 points, 9.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. He’s the complete real deal this season. And oh yeah, this team is turning into just another jab at the heart of the Cavs’ hopes and dreams this season.
9. Toronto Raptors (5) – 2013-14 record: 6-10
Amir Johnson was benched this past Sunday in place of power forward Tyler Hansbrough and Rudy Gay still doesn’t care about stat sheets. Let the downfall proceed.
10. Boston Celtics (11) – 2013-14 record: 7-12
I’m starting to like what I see from Brad Stevens. This team is grinding, and that’s all you can ask from a squad that was supposed to be buried deep in the conference by now. But everyone is buried deep behind the Pacers and Heat.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (7) – 2013-14 record: 6-12
It was only a matter of time before the 76ers went kerplunk. They’ve lost four straight by an average of 12.5 points and eight of their last nine. They’re finally fell back into tanking position.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers (12) – 2013-14 record: 5-12
They played the Heat tougher than most expected, but LeBron and co. could have put it into overdrive way before the second half of the second quarter. Then came the abomination of a game against the Cs. Everyone was embarrassed. I hope that’s what fired them up against Chicago on Saturday.
13. Brooklyn Nets (13) – 2013-14 record: 5-12
I live with a Nets fan. We’re having lots of fun this season.
14. New York Knicks (14) – 2013-14 record: 3-13
If New York wanted to salvage their season, they’d be ferociously involved in trade talks. However, I don’t think even that will fix the giant hole on defense. Players calling each other out, altercations happening during practice and Carmelo Anthony saying that the Knicks are “playing to lose.” They have so many internal problems it’s not even funny.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (15) – 2013-14 record: 3-13
#Tankonia continues in Milwaukee.
Cwmwrites’ Eastern Conference Power Rankings
1. Indiana Pacers
By far the best team in the NBA right now, led by top-five player Paul George and an incredibly deep roster.
2. Miami Heat
The defending champs are getting contributions from essentially everyone in their rotation, a good sign for a team that will need it to repeat.
3. Atlanta Hawks
The East’s third-best team isn’t even one the league’s top 10 teams. Chew on that one for a minute.
4. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are still good enough without Derrick Rose to get a first-round home series come playoff time, all depending on their health.
5. Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte is in an interesting spot. Do they stand pat or trade to make the playoffs now?
6. Washington Wizards
The Wizards are without Bradley Beal, but John Wall is playing the best basketball of his career.
7. Toronto Raptors
Rudy Gay and his hatred of box scores make this team interesting even if they are mediocre.
8. Detroit Pistons
Still a mess when it comes to spacing, but Andre Drummond is on the cusp of breaking out. If he can keep it up, does Detroit look to move Greg Monroe?
9. Orlando Magic
There are a lot of good pieces on this team. The future is bright in Orlando.
10. Boston Celtics
Jared Sullinger has been much improved this season, and even at 6’9″, he has done a solid job defending opposing teams’ centers.
11. Philadelphia 76ers
They’ve started to cool off after their hot start and are slowly going to make their way to the bottom of these rankings.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs played well in beating the Bulls, but played awful the night before in Boston. When/if will this team find consistency?
13. Brooklyn Nets
Paul Pierce is now out two-four weeks. Can things get any worse?
14. New York Knicks
The Knicks are mess. Their lineup choices are chaotic, Tyson Chandler isn’t back yet and there is no relief in sight. New York basketball!
15. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee is without LARRY SANDERS! And, without anyone noticing, have done a great job of tanking. Sneaky,sneaky.
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.