NBA Power Rankings: Eastern Conference reigning supreme?


NBA Power Rankings: Eastern Conference reigning supreme?

The West has long been considered the better of the two conferences, so much so that there was conversation about moving away from conferences as a whole in order to get the 16 best teams in the postseason.

It had credence, too, as the 40-42 Boston Celtics and 38-44 Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs in the East while the 45-37 Oklahoma City Thunder missed out on the postseason in the West last season. In 2014, Phoenix won 48 games as the No. 9 seed in the West, while in the East the 38-win Hawks earned a postseason berth.

But there's been a temporary shift in conference supremacy, at least in the early going. The Eastern Conference owns a 37-32 record against the West through four weeks, with 11 of the 15 teams in the East holding a .500 or better record against the West.

Seven teams in the West are at .500 or better, while 11 teams in the East fall under that category. It's still early, and the West still has 15-0 Golden State, but the East may not be little brother for much longer.

On to the power rankings.

Previous power rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) (15-0) When they beat the Lakers on Tuesday they'll be the first team in NBA history to begin a season 16-0. Not much else to say.
(2) (10-3) Mo Williams (15.5 points, 5.3 assists, 47.7% from the field) has been huge for the Cavs. Also, Kyrie Irving appears close to a return.
(3) (10-3)  Four of their top five scorers are shooting 50 percent or better from the field (Leonard, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili). 
4 (5) (8-4)  The NBA's second most efficient defense through four weeks. Last season they were 19th. Hassan Whiteside (4.8 bpg) is the real deal.
5 (7) (8-4)  Taking the Warriors to the wire without Derrick Rose was a promising performance. Jimmy Butler is quickly rounding into form.
6 (9) (8-6)  Even without Kevin Durant they're turning in stellar performances, like Sunday's win over the Mavericks.
7 (9) (9-5)  The No. 10 defense and No. 11 offense has meant wins in six of their last seven. Dirk is shooting .532/.533/.912 at 37 years old.
8 (6) (9-6)  They'll have to make due without Jonas Valanciunas, who will miss six weeks after breaking his hand.
9 (10) (8-5)  Nine of their next 11 are against teams currently in the playoffs if the season ended today. We'll learn a lot about them the next two weeks.
10 (8) (9-6)  They're better than they've shown of late, losing four of five. Still, Saturday's loss to the shorthanded Cavaliers was real ugly.
11 (13) (6-4)  Otto Porter has stepped up in a big way this season, averaging 13.9 points on 52 percent shooting in a starting role.
12 (15) (7-6)  Brad Stevens has his team playing phenomenal defense while also playing at the league's third fastest pace offensively. Great combo.
13 (17) (7-6)  Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe might be the West's best backcourt not nicknamed the Splash Brothers.
14 (11) (6-7)  Losers in seven of nine, including a Sunday game in which they were down 29 to the Raptors at halftime. What's going on in L.A.?
15 (12) (7-6)  Derrick Favors has been great all year. The 24-year-old is averaging 16.1 points on 54 percent shooting and 9.2 rebounds.
16 (16) (7-6)  They could be higher after picking up an impressive home win over the Cavs last week. A nice pick-me-up after losing four straight on the road.
17 (21) (8-6)  Winners in four straight, we have to talk about Kristaps Porzingis again. The rookie went for 24, 14 and 7 blocks in a road win over Houston.
18 (18) (7-6)  The league's three most efficient offenses? Golden State, Oklahoma City, Cleveland. No. 4? Charlotte. Seriously.
19 (19) (7-7)  Perhaps it's coincidence, but Mario Chalmers' arrival has coincided with the Grizzlies winning four of their last five games.
20 (14) (5-9)  Firing Kevin McHale didn't change anything. They needed OT at home against Portland to pick up their lone win of the week.
21 (20) (6-7) The defense has been there, but the Magic are still tied for 27th in offensive efficiency.
22 (25) (6-9)  Damian Lillard has been everything we thought he'd be in a lead role, averaging 25.2 points and 6.7 assists this season.
23 (23) (6-8) Three straight losses, and five of their next six are against playoff teams from a year ago. More growing pains coming in Colorado.
24 (26) (5-9) Great to see the old Rajon Rondo again. He's averaging 13.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 13.4 assists in his last eight games.
25 (26) (5-8)  You see all the pieces starting to come together, like in last weeks' 12-point road win in Miami.
26 (22) (5-8)  The East's biggest disappointment, and it's not close. Think they'd like to have Brandon Knight right about now?
27 (28) (3-11)  Baby steps. Back-to-back wins against the Spurs and Suns, and the Pellies are now No. 9 in offensive efficiency.
28 (29) (3-11)  Not too many more underrated players than Thaddeus Young. He's averaging 15.6 points on 53 percent shooting and 8.2 rebounds.
29 (27) (2-11)  Lou Williams' follow-up act to his Sixth Man of the Year Award? 12.3 points on 33 percent shooting, and just 23.5 percent from deep. Yuck.
30 (30) (0-14)  Things aren't getting any better. And they play five of their next six on the road. Ben Simmons may not even be able to save this franchise.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: