Dec 26, 2011, 2:50 PM EDT
Only one third of the teams in the NBA have played a game, but it was enough to move some teams around and give us a new No. 1.
1. Heat (1-0, last week ranked No. 2). They had 100 possessions in their opening game, nine more than they averaged last season. If they do that for a full season they will be a much better team.
2. Bulls (1-0, LW 3). It was all Derrick Rose and defense — so the same as last year — but a dramatic comeback win over the Lakers on the road is a fantastic way to start the season.
5. Clippers (1-0, LW 10). Make no mistake, this is Chris Paul’s team. Blake Griffin is now the No. 2 guy. And note to DeAndre Jordan: Loved all the blocked shots but your chasing the blocks is a key reason the Warriors were so strong on the offensive glass. Pick your spots.
6. Lakers (0-1, LW 5). They showed some grit, but this team needs Andrew Bynum back (Dec. 31 is his return).
7. Celtics (0-1, LW 7). Brandon Bass had a very nice debut with 20 points and 11 boards. They are going to need big number from him nightly.
8. Mavericks (0-1 LW 1). That was not pretty, but we’re going to assume it was a one-off for now and think things will improve fast.
9. Grizzlies (0-0, LW 8). They only move down because the Clippers played and moved up.
10. Spurs (0-0, LW 9). Antonio McDyess has retired. It was time, but that leaves the Spurs front line very thin.
11. Blazers (0-0, LW 11). This is one of the two teams we may well be under-rating right now. They could climb fast.
12. Nuggets (0-0, LW 13). This is the other team we are underrating. Still a lot of talent on this roster despite how much of last year’s team is in China.
13. 76ers (0-0, LW 14). If Evan Turner’s reworked jumper is ready to roll the 76ers are improved. But I need to see it in real action to believe.
14. Hawks (0-0, LW 15). I want Jeff Teague to blow my doors off this season. He has the skills. I’m just not sold it will happen.
15. Magic (0-1, LW 12). Man that was ugly, but the Thunder are able to follow the book on the Magic — Kendrick Perkins can cover Dwight Howard one-on-one, which means other guys can stay home on the shooters. Worked for the Hawks last playoffs, worked for the Thunder Sunday.
16. Rockets (0-0, LW 16). Samuel Dalembert may not play in the opener, and if he does minutes will be limited.
17. Pacers (0-0, LW 17). How healthy is David West and that surgically repaired knee? If it’s all the way back the Pacers will finish this season much higher up this list.
18. Bucks (0-0, LW 18). Stephen Jackson does have back problems but is back with the team after an epidural. That means he’ll be dealing with the injury all season. Something to watch.
19. Suns (0-0, LW 19). No, they have not traded Steve Nash yet and are not planning to. So stop asking.
20. Jazz (0-0, LW 21). This is the kind of team that may not win a lot of games but they are not going to get blown out much — they are a hard out.
21. Warriors (0-1, LW 20). Stephen Curry was 4-of-12 shooting with five turnovers in the first game. Chris Paul is not that good a defender, makes you wonder about the ankle (if it’s not right they should be resting him). That said, I don’t think he looked off on his cuts or movement.
23 Wizards (0-0, LW 23). Jan Vesely probably will not play on opening night due to a sore hip. Not good, we’re looking for reasons to watch the Wizards other than Wall.
25. Timberwolves (0-0, LW 26). This may be one of the most fun teams to watch in the league this season. Not one of the best (although Rick Adelman makes them better), but if they really run one of the most entertaining.
27. Hornets (0-0, LW 27). Newly acquired point guard Greivis Vasquez is going to get some run in New Orleans. That’s not really going to change anything.
28. Raptors (0-0, LW 28). Going into opening day, nobody is really sure what the starting lineup for Toronto will be. That’s not a good sign.
29. Cavaliers (0-0, LW 29). Kyrie Irving will be thrown to the wolves be the Cavaliers starting point guard and learn on the job beginning day one — he got the starting job.
30. Bobcats (0-0, LW 30). Just to add to the fun, Tyrus Thomas will not start in the opener Monday due to injury. This team is snake bit right now.
- Anthony Davis steps into spotlight, is Team USA’s lynchpin 16
- Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay 39
- Report: Cavaliers last team standing in Kevin Love trade talks 85
- Pat Riley says he didn’t think LeBron was leaving, Heat can turn around quickly 56
- Coach K on Rose: “Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back” 30
- Report: Anthony Bennett pulled from pro-am by agent, possibly due to his inclusion in Kevin Love trade talks 43
- Report: Sixers fighting against immediate changes to NBA Draft Lottery system 59
- Team USA going small ball, but how many bigs do they keep on the bench? 4