Week 8 of the NBA Power Rankings is upon us and not much has changed. The league is settling into a nice groove these days, with the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks continuing to assert their dominance over the 28 piddling teams unworthy of their consideration. Who'da thunk that old Pops would continue to squeeze blood from the stones which are Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili? But those two elder statesmen continue to prove that, while the rest of the league and most casual fans of basketball may hate their existence, the NBA Gods do not.
There was a pretty big trade that went down between the Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns, in which Orlando nabbed Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark; the Wiz got Rashard Lewis; and Phoenix got Vince Carter's carcass (with bad knee), funny Pole Marcin Gortat and funny Frenchman Mickael Pietrus. Will this change the immediate fortunes of any team involved? Not likely, though with only a touch of homer glory, I declare the Suns got the best of it all.
Orlando has lost its first two games with the new recruits and now has stumbled in eight of their last nine. They're quickly falling away from the Eastern Conference's elite in the midst of a LeBron-esque standoff with franchise center Dwight Howard, who unfortunately -- if reports are to be believed -- seems to have decided to force the Magic to make some panic moves to put them "over the top" (and not in a Sylvester Stallone type way, though DH's probably good at arm wrestling). Hey, Dwight, have you been paying attention to the Cavaliers the last couple years? Arm-wrestling your team into trading for aging formerly-good players on bad contracts is not the best way to go about a championship. That's usually why general managers are in charge of that sort of thing and not franchise players. But that's okay, because Dwight will leave Orlando when his contract is up and Otis Smith will be stuck trying to trade Hedo and Arenas again. Fun times!
Tyson Chandler and the Dallas Mavericks are still playing some pretty stellar hoops and Sam Presti, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder crew have to be playing a little "What if?" game with nullifying that Chandler trade a couple of seasons ago. For the most part, Dallas has played over expectations. They were expected to be good, but not "super duper elite" good like they have been.
Speaking of playing away from expectations, the Milwaukee Bucks have been an obesely fat dud so far. Projected by many guys paid to talk about basketball on television and radio as a possible fifth or sixth seed in the East, Milwaukee is certainly falling short of that goal. There have been some injury issues among their central players -- Andrew Bogut and Corey Maggette have both missed a handful of games and star point guard Brandon Jennings is now out four-to-six weeks with a broken foot -- but mostly, the Bucks have been hindered by disappointing play. In particular, their offense has been absolutely dreadful -- the team is averaging a league-low 91.4 points a game on 42% shooting from the field and 35% from three.
And the Portland Trail Blazers. Where to begin? The once-revered Golden Children of the NBA have fallen apart so dramatically, not even Eddie Murphy could save them. The litany of injuries the team has been saddled with is ridiculous, and starts and ends with the franchise-destroying hits to core players Greg Oden (stupid knees) and Brandon Roy (stupid knees). Their long-term future is in complete disarray and this season, they're perpetually hovering around .500.
And in local news, the Phoenix Suns not-so-proudly join forces with Portland and possibly the Denver Nuggets (if they trade or lose Carmelo Anthony, which they will) as the former Western Conference powerhouses with the steepest decline over the shortest period of time. But the trade with the Magic dramatically improves Phoenix's long-term prospects. Carter is a short-term deal that'll be over after the season (and may be gone by the February trade deadline), Gortat solidifies an above-average center tandem (hereon referred to as Romar Gorpez), and they even got a first-round pick in a trade for once!
Anyway, enough of all that. Here's this week's rankings:
SBNation.com | NBA Power Rankings, Week 8: Heat Can't Overtake Celtics; Magic Stumble
The Miami Heat can't catch the Boston Celtics in this week's NBA Power Rankings, while the rest of the Eastern Conference experiences a shake-up after a blockbuster trade this week.
NBA.com | Christmas matchups could shake up the rankings
We have four days of games before we get there, but at this point, you can't help but look forward to the NBA's five-game Christmas Day slate.
ESPN.com | NBA Basketball Power Rankings
Caught your breath yet? After a Saturday that delivered two megatrades, two 20-point/20-rebound games (from Dwight Howard and Zach Randolph) and four games decided by one possession (Heat-Wizards, Clippers-Bulls, Nuggets-Wolves, Blazers-Warriors), we turn to the Boston Celtics to restore some order and expectancy.
SI.com | Celtics still No. 1, Mavericks jump to No. 2
In the brutally competitive top tier of this week's Power Rankings, Dallas has supplanted San Antonio for second. But both Texas rivals still trail the Celtics, who continue to win despite a variety of injuries. And just behind that trio are the Lakers and the Heat, who have a much-anticipated matchup looming on Christmas Day.
NBA FanHouse | NBA Power Rankings: Short-Handed Celtics Still Streaking
The Celtics, Spurs and Mavericks have been the class of the league thus far, and as a result, hold the top three spots in this week's edition of FanHouse's NBA Power Rankings.
ProBasketballTalk.com | NBA Power Rankings, cue Glenn Frey because the Heat is on
Our weekly NBA Power Rankings, where Mavs fans are going climb on me for dropping them down to five, and I get that. I just think the four teams above them are better.
DimeMag.com | Dime NBA Power Ranking: LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh move into Top 3
Ranking the NBA from worst to first ...