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 these 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.
For the Week 7 Power Rankings, a lot has changed between Week 6 and now. Teams are starting to become more defined, but this is still the Ewwwstern Conference. The Cleveland Cavaliers are sitting in the 10th slot record-wise but are only two-and-a-half games out of the fourth seed. With the Toronto Raptors sending Rudy Gay back to the Western Conference, maybe things are about to get better. The Knicks look to be getting Tyson Chandler back soon, Brooklyn is (somewhat) starting to win and Boston continues to remain the surprise team in the East. But Milwaukee is still bombing on pace, so that’s no different. Enough said, let’s see where the East teams rank in Week 7.
Kolestarz’s Eastern Conference Power Rankings
1. Indiana Pacers (1) – 2013-14 record: 20-3
An undefeated week by the Pacers, including a win over Miami – a team that continues to deny being “rivals” with the Pacers (especially when they lose) – keeps them at the top. This might keep them at the top for a while, but looking toward the next week of play, Indiana matches up with the Heat again, but this time in Miami. Let’s see if they can get the job done on the road and take a 2-0 lead in the regular season series.
2. Miami Heat (2) – 2013-14 record: 17-6
I don’t think this team is giving their best effort yet that they can every night. This team should be blowing out opponents, but instead (even with Wade back in the lineup on a nightly basis) they’re letting teams hang around from time to time. This was evident in the near Cleveland loss on Saturday. Wednesday against Indiana should be fun, though.
3. Atlanta Hawks (3) – 2013-14 record: 12-12
Al Hordford count ‘em all!!! Even though it took them an extra five minutes to put down the struggling Wizards, Horford hit the game winner and had one of the best games of his career with a 34-point, 15-rebound performance. As Chris mentions below, the Hawks turned over the ball 27 times against the Knicks. But hey, they still only lost by five. Regardless, this team continues to waver around .500 week after week, and I don’t think that will keep them in the third or fourth spot in the conference standings for long.
4. Detroit Pistons (4) – 2013-14 record: 11-14
A busy week with four matchups started off very badly with a 121-94 loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After getting that out of the way, the Pistons beat an improving Brooklyn team and fell two points short of the Western Conference-leading Portland Trail Blazers in overtime. This team will break out any moment now. I can feel it.
5. Boston Celtics (6) – 2013-14 record: 11-14
Jordan Crawford is being the disturber that Boston needs right now, and players are doing what other teams thought was unorthodox last season, which is really helping the growth of Brad Stevens as a coach and the Cs overall. Rajon Rondo will be returning sometime in January, so it will be interesting to see how Stevens manages this team when the star point guard returns.
6. Toronto Raptors (11) – 2013-14 record: 9-13
The Rudy Gay trade is working wonders for the Toronto Drakes. They went 3-1 over this past week, but this all may come to a halt, at least this season, if Toronto keeps true to their word that they’re more than likely going to shop (and trade) Jonas Valaniunas and Amir Johnson. But the call to move Andrea Bargnani was one that was needed, and bidding farewell to two high-volume shooters in the offseason and early on in the regular season gave other teams some bad contracts to take on.
7. Charlotte Bobcats (5) – 2013-14: 10-14
After an impressive win over the Warriors at home, Charlotte dropped three straight, and in return, dropped two spots in the rankings. They kept it close in two of the three contests, but couldn’t get anything going offensively, scoring 83, 88 and 90 points respectively. This team needs to tighten up before things spiral out of control, because they’ve been fun to watch thus far.
8. Chicago Bulls (7) – 2013-14 record: 9-13
It’s been pretty miserable to watch this team post-Derrick Rose in 2013-14. They continue to slip and have no real sense of an offensive game. Kirk Hinrich is holding onto the ball too long, Rose isn’t there to help players rallying around him late in games and they only scored more than 78 points once this week (in a 91-90 win over the Bucks…). Most recently, they lost big to the Raptors by 22, and I don’t see things getting better. When you average 91.6 points on offense, you won’t win many NBA games.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (10) – 2013-14 record: 9-14
Kyrie Irving won Eastern Conference Player of the Week with his first great shooting week of the season. The Cavs, more importantly, went 2-1, winning their first road game since mid-November against a quickly falling Magic team. Then they came back the next night, went down 19 against Miami in the third quarter on the road and showed more heart than I have seen from the Wine & Gold in a while. Let’s see if they can carry this momentum into next week.
10. Washington Wizards (8) – 2013-14 record: 9-13
Just when Washington was starting to look good with Beal sidelined, they went on a four-game skid after their Week 6 ranking at No. 8 and lost all three of their matchups this past week. This included the heartbreaker against the Hawks. Quick fact: Washington has now played in six overtime games this season, the most in the League by a single team.
11. Brooklyn Nets (13) – 2013-14 record: 8-15
After looking like complete crap against the Clippers early on in a Thursday tilt, the Nets extended their winning streak to three before barely falling to the Pistons despite a furious fourth quarter comeback. With D. Will back in the lineup and players starting to return to full health, let’s hope for the sake of the Eastern Conference that Brooklyn is going to be a competitive, and fun, squad to watch.
12. Orlando Magic (9) – 2013-14 record: 7-17
The reason I have the Magic ahead of an improving Knicks team is because a.) Tyson Chandler isn’t back yet and b.) I’m not sold that a 2-2 week with no clear-cut impressive wins is enough to go ahead of a team that, yeah, has lost eight of nine. They gave the best home team in the League (OKC) a hell of a fight after a frustrating loss to the Cavs at home, so there’s that.
13. New York Knicks (14) – 2013-14 record: 5-13
Look above for what I had to say about the Knicks (sorry for including my opinion on the Knicks so much in the Orlando reasoning). But until big TC is back, let’s not jump to conclusions.
14. Philadelphia 76ers (11) – 2013-14 record: 7-18
139 points. Let the Trail Blazers, albeit the best team in the League right now in my opinion, shoot almost 60 percent from beyond the arc on their home court. No excuses. This team may out-Tankonia-ing the Bucks when it’s all said and done. They currently own the top-losing streak in the NBA at six games.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (15) – 2013-14 record: 5-19
#GiannisWatch is the only trend keeping this team relevant to me.
Cwmwrites’ Eastern Conference Power Rankings
1. Indiana Pacers (1) – 2013-14 record: 20-3
How the Miami Heat deals with Roy Hibbert this season may be the answer to who represents the Eastern Conference. Indiana followed up the Miami win with a close win over the Bobcats, but nonetheless, this team is the cream of the crop and they should stay at the top of the these rankings for a long time.
2. Miami Heat (2) – 2013-14 record: 17-6
The Heat, for what it’s worth, appear to be content to just make the playoffs and then go full out in pursuit of a three-peat. But as I noted above, Miami has no way of dealing with Hibbert down on the block. And sans Greg Oden magically becoming the player he was back in 2008 after Portland took him with the top pick, they may need to make a move to get a serviceable center.
3. Atlanta Hawks (3) – 2013-14 record: 12-12
Aaaannnd this week in sad Eastern Conference news: The East’s third best is barely one of the league’s Top-15 teams. They also lost to the Knicks last week, and in doing so, committed 27 turnovers. Those 27 turnovers are the highest single-game total for any NBA team so far this season
4. Toronto Raptors (11) – 2013-14 record: 9-13
Hear me out on this one: Toronto has won three of four since dealing Rudy Gay, and look semi-decent without Gay in the lineup. Still, this is probably a one-off deal. Kyle Lowry should be dealt here in the near future for this team to fully tank in hopes of landing Kansas freshman (and Canadian) Andrew Wiggins at the top of the draft next June.
5. Detroit Pistons (4) – 2013-14 record: 11-14
Josh Smith may have done all right last week, but he’s still one of the league’s most inefficient players. Thanks to @sean_corp for the Home Alone GIF, which sums Smith’s season perfectly.
6. Boston Celtics (7) – 2013-14 record: 11-14
Brad Stevens, if I had a vote, would be my coach of the year. He’s taken a team expected to be at the bottom of the league and made them competitive. And with Rajon Rondo returning to practice and likely to debut in the new year, they are only going to get better from here, and if New York and Brooklyn continue to struggle, they may be the favorites in the Atlantic Division.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (11) – 2013-14 record: 9-14
Well look who we have here. Two quality wins over New York and Orlando (plus a competitive loss to Miami) have me feeling good about the Wine & Gold. Kyrie Irving is starting to return to form, Dion Waiters is starting to figure it out and Anthony Bennett is shooting 40 percent from the field in December. This week – with games against the elite (Portland) and two struggling division rivals (Milwaukee and Chicago) – should help us learn even more.
8. Washington Wizards (5) – 2013-14 record: 9-13
They reached .500 two weeks ago and looked primed to possibly become the East’s third-best team behind John Wall (who, in a fair world, would be the East’s starting point guard in the All-Star game if the game were tomorrow). But they’ve lost four in a row, looking rather inept in the process.
9. Charlotte Bobcats (6) – 2013-14: 10-14
The ‘Cats have averaged 87.3 points during their current three-game losing streak. And the losses were to teams of all levels of quality, from the bad (Orlando) to the average (the Lakers) to the elite (Indiana). Buy hey, they aren’t as bad as they were last year.
10. Brooklyn Nets (14) – 2013-14 record: 8-15
With Deron Williams back, they are starting to get their groove back, and they even beat the Clippers last week. If they can get a little more out of Kevin Garnett and can stay healthy, don’t count them out yet to, somehow, be a Top-3 three team in the East.
11. New York Knicks (13) – 2013-14 record: 5-13
The Knicks are three games out of the Atlantic Division lead. Three. Tres. Tre. Tribus. And this is the same team that was blown out by the Celtics last week. And their owner is vetoing trades involving their 2018(!) first-round draft pick.
12. Chicago Bulls (8) – 2013-14 record: 9-13
Say it with me now, for emphasis: the Bulls are horrible right now. They needed a Mike Dunleavy game winner to beat the even worse Bucks and have scored 80 points in just one out of their last five games. If there ever were a time for the Cavaliers to put a beat down on Chicago, it would be this upcoming Saturday.
13. Orlando Magic (12) – 2013-14 record: 7-17
Victor Oladipo played big offensively in a loss to Cleveland last Friday, and they have some quality players, but outside of a win against the Bobcats last Wednesday, Orlando has lost eight of their last nine. Luckily for them, they face Chicago on Monday.
14. Philadelphia 76ers (10) – 2013-14 record: 7-18
Here comes the tank we were all waiting for. They gave up 139 points to the Portland Trail Blazers over the weekend and are currently on a six-game losing streak. Their most interesting storyline to follow is whether for not they will be involved in a trade involving Omer Asik.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (15) — 2013-14 record: 5-19
Still the worst team in an awful conference. And without Larry Sanders, I don’t have much reason to watch this team. Their one positive note is the play of rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has averaged 12.0 points and 8.7 rebounds over the last three games.
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.