The biggest mover as we enter 2015 is the Atlanta Hawks. They made a big jump, five spots to No. 2, after their undefeated week of road games against the Bucks, the Jazz and (most impressively) the Blazers. While five different Western Conference teams have occupied the top two spots since the season began, this is the first time an Eastern Conference team has been in the top two. Whether the Hawks are going stay up top remains to be seen, though. Two weeks ago the Hawks had a similarly impressive jump from No. 11 to No. 4, but quickly dropped back down to No. 7 last week.

Pistons’ big move results in a big move

On Dec. 22, the Pistons made the controversial decision to outright waive Josh Smith. Stan Van Gundy and company felt they could get some addition by subtraction by cutting ties with the enigmatic forward. That certainly looks like a smart move so far. Detroit is a perfect 5-0 since waiving Smith. On the day they waived Smith, Detroit was languishing at No. 28 in our rankings. This week they climb all the way up to No. 21 with multiple analysts ranking them inside the top 20.

Curious case of the Clippers

The Clippers were considered a preseason favorite and just had a perfect 3-0 week. So why did they stay outside the top 10? One word: opponents. Two words: bad opponents. Four Words: Bad opponents at home. The analysts looked beyond the perfect record this week and saw the Clippers beat the two worst teams in the NBA (Knicks and 76ers) and another bottom 10 team (Jazz) all at home. That three-game sweep is simply indicative of a team not being bad – not an elite team.

NBA POWER RANKINGS (THROUGH 1/4/15)

Rank (LW) Team
1 (1) Golden State Warriors
2 (7) Atlanta Hawks
3 (2) Portland Trail Blazers
4 (T-3) Chicago Bulls
5 (5) Memphis Grizzlies
6 (T-3) Houston Rockets
7 (9) Dallas Mavericks
8 (6) Houston Rockets
9 (10) San Antonio Spurs
10 (8) Golden State Warriors
11 (11) Los Angeles Clippers
12 (12) Oklahoma City Thunder
13 (13) Phoenix Suns
14 (15) New Orleans Pelicans
15 (14) Cleveland Cavaliers
16 (16) Milwaukee Bucks
17 (19) Brooklyn Nets
18 (17) Miami Heat
19 (20) Denver Nuggets
20 (18) Sacramento Kings
21 (25) Detroit Pistons
22 (21) Utah Jazz
23 (22) Indiana Pacers
24 (23) Orlando Magic
25 (26) Los Angeles Lakers
26 (24) Charlotte Hornets
27 (27) Boston Celtics
28 (28) Minnesota Timberwolves
29 (29) New York Knicks
30 (30) Philadelphia 76ers

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