Now that we’re ten games into the regular season, I thought it might be appropriate to release Volume 2 of this season’s Tier Trauma. We know a little bit more about most teams, and I think the first 10 games have probably created more questions than answered them. Nonetheless, let’s take a peek at how the teams fit in so far.
First, a reminder of how the tiers work:
Tier 1: Heavyweights. Teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the whole shebang.
Tier 2: Cruiserweights. Not quite ready to be considered in the league's upper echelon, but close and very talented.
Tier 3: Middleweights. Teams are a few steps away from contention, but have enough to challenge for a playoff spot.
Tier 4: Lightweights. Bad teams who don't have a chance.*
*when we say "don't have a chance", that refers to the championship, not the playoffs. The reason for this caveat is that because the Eastern Conference is so weak, there will inevitably be a lightweight team or two who challenges for a playoff spot.
TIER TRAUMA VOLUME 2
Note: a “+” in front of a team notes that they have been promoted a tier, “-“ signifies a demotion.
Tier 1 - Heavyweights
The Clippers’ hot start – despite Chris Kaman looking like garbage – elevates them to top-tier status. Phoenix has looked ugly so far this season – a few big wins, and a few horrendous losses – but I expect them to rebound. Another sub-par two weeks though, and we could see a drop. Dallas is back on track, and the Spurs just look great.
Tier 2 - Cruiserweights
The Cavaliers have looked great this year; and they’ve done it without Hughes. The fact that they’re playing the best basketball in the East but aren’t in Tier 1 says more about the East than it does the Cavs. The Heat drop down to this tier (and could drop further) thanks to some mediocre play and Shaq’s knee surgery. OKC gets a promotion because they’ve looked very good this season (second-half implosion against Portland notwithstanding), and Stojakovic is just starting to heat up.
Tier 3 - Middleweights
Overtakes Tier 4 as now the biggest Tier, which I think more properly reflects the state of the NBA. Portland gets the official promotion. They’ve looked great with Roy in the lineup, and they’ve looked scrappy without him. Nice rebound from a tough four-game losing streak to play some great defense and get a win in New Jersey. The Bulls drop down to this tier as they’ve looked awful this year; I’m just not sure where they’re going to find enough scoring to win. Utah, Orlando, and LA have all been very pleasant surprises this season and are a few big wins away from promotion into Tier 2. And of course the Kings, who can’t seem to get a big win but beat the teams they should, have looked good.
Tier 4 - Lightweights
I might be a little harsh on Milwaukee, demoting them down to Tier 4. But have you seen them play? They lost to the Raptors in what was one of the ugliest games of the year. I will say this: they have potential to play much better, which is more than I can say for Philly, New York, and Minnesota, all of whom are completely stuck in the mud right now.
So there you have it. You’ll see another one of these at the 20-game mark – have a great week everyone.