The first edition of our weekly NBA Eastern Conference power rankings.
1. Raptors (11-1)
Toronto is 7-1 with Kawhi Leonard and 4-0 without him. Kyle Lowry is having by far his best playmaking season, leading the league in assists, and Serge Ibaka, who Nick Nurse is wisely starting at the five, is averaging 17.7 points, which would be a career high.
2. Celtics (7-4)
Boston is off to a slow start, but it'll start to click soon. Kyrie Irving is averaging 29.4 points a night in his last five, but the Celtics do need more from Gordon Hayward.
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3. Bucks (9-2)
Giannis Antetokounmpo truly is a freak but it's the play of Khris Middleton that's helped Milwaukee to a 9-2 start. The pending free agent is averaging 19.3 points a contest and shooting 45.5 percent from three.
4. Sixers (7-5)
The Sixers got off to a slow start - especially on the road - but looked more like themselves after an impressive win in Indiana. Joel Embiid continues to play at an MVP level while Brett Brown balances developing 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz with winning basketball games.
5. Pacers (7-5)
Victor Oladipo is a star and one of the best two-way players in the NBA while Domantas Sabonis has given Indiana great minutes off the bench. The issue is a true lack of star power outside of Oladipo.
6. Heat (5-5)
Speaking of stars, Josh Richardson appears to be blossoming into one before our eyes. The fourth-year wing has taken a huge leap, leading Miami with 20.7 points a game. He is also an excellent defender. If Hassan Whiteside can find some consistency, the Heat could be intriguing.
7. Pistons (5-5)
Blake Griffin has been one of the East's best players so far. He's fourth in the conference in scoring (27.3) and already has a 50-point game to his credit. Andre Drummond is also off to a strong start … outside of his two matchups with Embiid.
8. Hornets (6-5)
Nobody is scoring more in the East than Kemba Walker and not even Stephen Curry is shooting as much as the Charlotte guard. Second-year guard Malik Monk is averaging 17.5 points through his last four and showing signs of the microwave offensive player he was at Kentucky.
9. Nets (5-6)
Clearly, the Sixers slept walk through their matchup in Brooklyn, but I was impressed with the Nets' roster. They have multiple players that can shoot the basketball and take people off the dribble. They lack any true star power but have a few solid pieces led by Caris LeVert.
10. Knicks (4-8)
Tim Hardaway Jr. is proving to be a legit NBA scorer while he waits for Kristaps Porzingis to rejoin him on the floor. Allonzo Trier, an undrafted rookie on a two-way deal, has looked like a player through 12 games this season.
11. Magic (4-7)
Orlando has such an odd mix of talent. Its two best players are Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, yet the team has drafted Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba the last two seasons. Lots of size and athleticism, but not nearly enough shooting and strong guard play.
12. Wizards (2-8)
They can't stay this bad all season, right? It's mind-blowing that a team with two players as talented as John Wall and Bradley Beal could be this terrible. Though if you're a Sixers fan, Beal is a player to keep your eye on if Washington completely implodes.
13. Bulls (3-9)
Zach LaVine looks like the real deal, but without Lauri Markkanen, he's still looking for help. No Kris Dunn doesn't help either.
14. Hawks (3-8)
Trae Young has flashed at times and I love the Big 5 connection with DeAndre' Bembry and Omari Spellman, but we all know what the Hawks are doing.
15. Cavaliers (1-10)
Remember when LeBron James played for them?
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