It’s hard to deny the Portland Trail Blazers any longer. The Blazers have size, depth and can play uptempo or grind a game out. So watch out for the Blazers. They’re for real. (All records through Friday’s games.)
1. Portland Trail Blazers (17-3, Last week 5): Knocked off Oklahoma City and Indiana in the same week, looking like a legit contender in the West
2. Indiana Pacers (17-2, LW 1): Road trip started nicely against the Clippers, but Paul George couldn’t save the Pacers in Portland.
3. San Antonio Spurs (15-3, LW 2): Tony Parker continues to be one of the league’s best point guards without much fanfare.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-4, LW 4): Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb give the Thunder a youthful boost off the bench.
5. Miami Heat (14-5, LW 3): Dwyane Wade’s health could keep the Heat from finding their stride for some time.
6. Houston Rockets (14-7, LW 7): The Rockets would reportedly like to trade Omer Asik soon, which he’d probably appreciate.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (13-7, LW 6): It looks as if it will take a lot more time for the Clippers to play defense consistently.
8. Dallas Mavericks (12-8, LW 8): DeJuan Blair is emerging as a presence on the glass for the Mavericks. .
9. Denver Nuggets (11-8, LW 9): Ty Lawson is another good point guard that might not be recognized in the deep crop of playmakers in the West.
10. Golden State Warriors (11-9, LW 11): The Warriors miss Andre Iguodala (hamstring) badly and need his defense and versatility.
11. Atlanta Hawks (11-10, LW 12): Shelvin Mack has emerged as the backup to Jeff Teague, leaving rookie Dennis Schroder watching more.
12. Phoenix Suns (11-9, LW 13): A team lacking high-profile players that his fun to watch.
13. Los Angeles Lakers (10-9, LW 15): Nick Young believes he can be Sixth Man of the Year this season.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (9-9, LW 10): Generating offense has to improve for the Grizzlies, even with Marc Gasol out.
15. Chicago Bulls (8-9, LW 14): Luol Deng will be counted on to carry the offense with the starting backcourt out with injuries.
16. Washington Wizards (9-10, LW 19): The Wizards have one seven of their last 10 games.
17. Detroit Pistons (9-10, LW 24): Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are a problem for any opponent; Pistons have won three straight.
18. New Orleans Pelicans (9-10, LW 18): Anthony Davis is out with a broken hand, costing Pelicans their potential All-Star.
19. Charlotte Bobcats: (9-11, LW 17): Bobcats have scored at least 100 points only twice this season.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-10, LW 16): They’ve gone from an early-season surprise to losers of seven of 10.
21. Boston Celtics (9-12, LW 23): If the goal was to tank for the draft, it’s not working in a bad Atlantic Division.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (7-13, LW 22): Michael Carter-Williams might be the most fun rookie to watch this season.
23. Toronto Raptors (6-12, LW 20): The Raptors are leading the Atlanta Division with a losing record.
24. New York Knicks (5-13, LW 28): Can claim the title of best team in New York after blowing out Brooklyn.
25. Orlando Magic (6-13, LW 21): In the Eastern Conference, the Magic still have hope of turning around the season.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (6-13, LW 27): Andrew Bynum has scored 20 points in two of his last three games.
27. Brooklyn Nets: (5-14, LW 26): Injuries have played a big part in the bad start to a season for a team that had title hopes..
28. Sacramento Kings (4-13, LW 22): Games have been close, but the Kings have still lost six in a row.
29. Milwaukee Bucks (2-13, LW 30): The Bucks aren’t tanking, they’re just this bad and have lost 11 in a row.
30. Utah Jazz (4-17, LW 29): Eleven road games through 21 games have been unkind to the Jazz (1-10 on the road).