The East continues to be a steaming mess that makes absolutely no sense. Good teams are bad, bad teams are good, and like a wight on Game of Thrones, the Detroit Pistons refuse to just sit down and die. 10 of the 15 teams in the East are either 5-4, 5-5, or 4-5. I don’t get it anymore, man.
1. Boston Celtics | 9-2 (+9.1 point differential)
The Celtics have persevered through Gordon Hayward’s injury by rattling off nine straight games. Some of their shooting numbers should regress to the mean, but whew, they’re playing well.
2. Detroit Pistons | 7-3 (+3.6 point differential)
The Pistons are still playing really well, and for whatever, reason, Andre Drummond has learned how to shoot free throws. Drummond is shooting 75 (!) percent from the line this season on four attempts a game. Drummond’s career free throw percentage is 39. If this continues, it is indeed a good thing for Detroit.
3. Philadelphia 76ers | 5-4 (-0.9 point differential)
4. Orlando Magic | 6-4 (+2.7 point differential)
The Magic are still playing fairly well, but a loss to the Bulls legally obligates a little ding on the resume. They also got wrecked by the Celtics, though that seems to be happening a lot these days. I don’t know if Orlando is wired to shoot 40 percent from three for the entire season.
5. Toronto Raptors | 5-4 (+5.0 point differential)
The Raptors are just Raptoring along. They are what they are at this point, so for entertainment, here’s a GIF of Jonas Valanciunas playing some of the worst defense you’ll see.
6. Washington Wizards | 5-4 (+3.6 point differential)
The Wizards are the Kings of talking enormous trash and then losing to the team they just talked trash to. They are a gift, and I hope they never, ever learn their lesson.
7. New York Knicks | 5-4 (-0.2 point differential)
Here come the Knicks! Kristaps Porzingis is literally unstoppable, and is shooting 64 percent from 10-16 feet. That is bonkers, and won’t sustain, but for now, he makes the Knicks tough to beat.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers | 4-6 (-4.9 point differential)
I mean, we sort of know what the Cavaliers are at this point, right? They beat the good teams in front of them (Milwaukee, Boston, Washington) and lose to the garbage in front of them (Nets, Hawks, literally all their losses). In that way, they’re sort of predictable. Who knows if they’ll figure it out soon, but they might need to if they want to avoid wholesale changes made to the roster.
9. Milwaukee Bucks | 4-5 (-3.1 point differential)
The Bucks have lost three in a row and are definitively proving why you shouldn’t make a player the odds-on MVP favorite three games into the season. The Eric Bledsoe changes their calculus slightly, but it appears that Jason Kidd might be holding this roster back a bit.
10. Charlotte Hornets | 5-5 (-1.0 point differential)
The Hornets could conceivably be above the Cavs and Bucks but are so boring that I docked them for literally no reason. If you’ve got a problem with it, get your own rankings.
11. Indiana Pacers | 5-5 (+1.2 point differential)
The Pacers seem to be settling in a little bit into an average team. They’re really quite solid, and they’ve got a solid starter and bench player at almost every position. Turns out that that helps.
12. Miami Heat | 4-6 (-2.7 point differential)
If you told me that the Heat hadn’t played a single game this season, I honestly would’ve had to check the schedule. This team has zero juice, and it’s showing this year.
13. Brooklyn Nets | 4-6 (-3.9 point differential)
The Nets are settling back into mediocrity, though they topped the Suns on Monday night to help them shake a recent funk. They still look like one of the worst teams in the league, it just depends on how bad they really are.
14. Chicago Bulls | 2-6 (-6.4 point differential)
The Bulls continue to find hope in Lauri Markkanen looking like a top-three rookie for this class behind Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds, and if Zach LaVine returns to form, the Bulls might actually be a little bit fun? Probably not, but still.
15. Atlanta Hawks | 2-9 (-7.5 point differential)
A win against the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers (see what I did there?) wasn’t enough to drag this talentless husk out of the bottom spot in the power rankings.