10. Detroit Pistons, (13-9)
While some had criticized the Pistons after trading for Blake Griffin, the frontcourt in Detroit has played fairly well with him paired alongside Andre Drummond. New head coach Dwane Casey has helped give them a Top 10 defense to start the season.
9. Boston Celtics, (13-10)
Since they plucked Gordon Hayward out of the starting lineup earlier this month, Boston has had a Top 5 offense (111.5) in the East. This season, even with their early hiccups, they’ve had the best defensive rating (103.1) in their conference.
8. Los Angeles Lakers, (15-9)
The pairing of LeBron James and Brandon Ingram has not been fantastic, which is tough news for the front office and fans of the organization. Los Angeles has won ten games and lost just three since the team signed veteran big man Tyson Chandler. They have had the second-best defensive rating (102.2) during that time.
7. Philadelphia 76ers, (17-9)
After trading for Jimmy Butler, the team has a dominant trio to combine him with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid has had a double-double in all but two games. Thanks also in part to fantastic shooting from veteran guard JJ Redick and rookie guard Landry Shamet, they’ve had one of the best offensive ratings (108.5) in the East.
6. Milwaukee Bucks, (16-7)
The Bucks actually have the best net rating (10.1) behind a league-best offense (115.1) under new head coach Mike Budenholzer. During the final year of his contract, Khris Middleton is playing like an All-Star. Brook Lopez is hitting three-pointers at a historic clip.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder, (16-7)
The most interesting takeaway for Oklahoma City is that they have the best defensive rating (100.59) in the NBA despite arguably their best defensive player Andre Roberson still being out with an injury. Paul George has the second-best mark among small forwards, according to ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus.
4. LA Clippers, (16-8)
Among all players who have finished at least 100 possessions, four of the Top 40 players (Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari, Boban Marjanovic and Tobias Harris) play for the Clippers. Harris is well-deserving of the Western Conference Player of the Month Award he had in November.
3. Golden State Warriors, (17-9)
Despite the chaos that has surrounded this season due to leaked chemistry issues with two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, the back-to-back defending champions have still looked like the heavyweights we know them to be.
2. Denver Nuggets, (17-7)
Denver already has marque victories against powerhouses like the Golden State Warriors as well as the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul Millsap has been one of the most effective defenders in the league.
1. Toronto Raptors, (21-5)
Kyle Lowry has played like a candidate for All-NBA First-Team while forward Pascal Siakam is a leading contender for NBA’s Most Improved Player. The best two-man net rating (minimum: 100 minutes) this season are new additions Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
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