Christmas Day has come and passed and the NBA season is no officially underway. Most teams have played about a third of their games so far and we’re starting to see some teams break away from the pack.
The Eastern Conference has been decided for some time now as the Miami Heat have established themselves as the clear class of that conference. The New York Knicks are making it interesting playing so well this year and against the Heat in particular, but after those two teams there’s not a lot of competition.
The Western Conference is much stronger. Right now, it’s tough to say who will make it to the NBA Finals in June.
For now, here’s a look at Power Rankings for the Western Conference:
1. Los Angeles Clippers (22-6)
The Clippers hold the best record in the league right now thanks to a winning streak that has reached 14 games. They have really improved their depth this season and the maturation of Blake Griffin has also helped a ton. Chris Paul at the helm will always keep them in contention and their proven success against the Heat and Thunder in the past makes them deserving of this spot.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6)
Losers of their last two puts a bad taste in your mouth when ranking the Thunder. They had their big winning streak snapped in Minnesota then disappointingly lost in Miami on Christmas Day in the same fashion they did in the NBA Finals. Still, they have been one of the most consistent teams in the league and the best offensively despite still having room for improvement, which is scary.
3. San Antonio Spurs (22-8)
The Spurs have been quiet this season and to no one’s surprise. They have some impressive wins like opening night against the Thunder but have also been beaten a few times by top teams in the conference. They still are the best in the league at getting open shots and if Manu Ginobili can return to his old form by the playoffs, they will have as good a chance as anyone to reach the Finals.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (18-8)
They had a great start to the year and have since cooled down. They can stack up against the elite in the NBA and throw something at them that is very hard to match up with in terms of their size. But there are still questions surrounding this team while the other three above have less.
5. Golden State Warriors (19-10)
One of the biggest surprises of the year has to be the Warriors. Their defense has vastly improved despite Andrew Bogut still being sidelines with an injury. Stephen Curry has stayed healthy and is having a solid year while David Lee is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (14-15)
You still can’t totally give up on the Lakers who have just recently gotten Steve Nash back from injury. They beat the Knicks on Christmas Day and look to maybe be on the right track now. If Dwight Howard can’t start looking healthier, they really won’t be able to make much noise this season.
7. Denver Nuggets (16-14)
The Nuggets like the Lakers have been disappointing this year. They also have some new pieces that are slowly starting to get better playing together. They have the talent to make a run and finish the year with a good record if that’s the case.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-13)
Minnesota has recently gotten Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio back from injury and that will make a world of difference. Love is still getting his legs back and Rubio’s minutes are still limited. Once they are 100 percent, the rest of the West needs to be on notice.
9. Houston Rockets (16-12)
The Rockets have been up and down this season but have won their last five games. James Harden and Jeremy Lin are playing better together now. If they can figure that out, they will have a real shot at the playoffs.
10. Utah Jazz (15-15)
The Jazz don’t exactly know who they are and there are some trade rumors surrounding them this year. They are a deep team with more depth on the frontline than just about anyone else. That makes them difficult to handle on a night-to-night basis and major players as the trade deadline approaches.