Los Angeles Lakers
With Gary Payton running the show, they have an energy level they haven't had before and that's scary for everybody else.
The Kings are still winning, but until Chris Webber gets back sometime next month, we won't know exactly where they are.
Four games into it and the Mavs already have had five double-doubles from four different players. They may get the first seed with this offense.
New Jersey Nets
Alonzo Mourning is playing well and Jason Kidd is playing at the highest level possible. Will they walk to the East title?
They aren't playing great yet, but their two wins are on the road, which speaks volumes about how tough they are.
New Orleans Hornets
They don't and won't have Jamal Mashburn (knee surgery) for quite some time, but Baron Davis is playing extraordinarily well.
They aren't in sync yet and this is too high, but they're going to get better quickly as Jeff Van Gundy's coaching sinks in.
They are struggling to find rhythm with four new starters, so hang with them until further notice.
San Antonio Spurs
Without Tony Parker, they're not a particularly exceptional team and if Tim Duncan is out, they're in big trouble.
If Vin Baker's return to effectiveness is permanent, they'll be a serious contender in the East.
They aren't quite there yet -- like so many other groups -- but they are playing hard and improving daily.
This is high for them, but they are real and will improve as the season progresses -- showing flashes of special play already.
They just got Glenn Robinson after a three-game suspension, so it will take time for them to hit their stride.
They have great young talent, but over the long haul will regret giving away Bo Outlaw and Jake Tsakalidis to cut costs.
Portland Trail Blazers
Something is missing here -- and it might just be the lost leadership of Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis.
No, this isn't a typo. Not only do Carmelo Anthony and Andre Miller make them better, but if Marcus Camby is healthy, watch out.
Golden State Warriors
They need Nick Van Exel, Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson to return, but if others hold the fort, they'll be tough.
Rashard Lewis is on the brink of becoming a star, and even without Ray Allen (ankle), they can score a lot of points.
As long as Vince Carter is healthy, they're dangerous. But he is in serious need of help for consistent scoring.
New York Knicks
The Knicks haven't looked good, but Keith Van Horn is scoring, Allan Houston is getting healthy and they will get Antonio McDyess soon.
Jerry Sloan has convinced these guys that if they play great defense and go harder than the other guys they can win. And they are.
It has been stunning how badly the Magic have played so far, and confusing. Imagine how coach Doc Rivers feels.
It doesn't matter that Terry Porter is a rookie coach. As long as the players believe and respond, they'll improve.
They are so young, but the talent is there and they will get better -- upsetting good teams along the way on occasion.
The Hawks have been better, just unable to pull out games late. Two overtime losses hurt confidence, particularly early in the season.
The dust has cleared from the LeBron James hype coming off an 0-3 road trip. Now we'll see if they can actually win games.
The Bulls have been positively horrid so far, despite the youthful enthusiasm. Could be a roster shakeup coming soon.
Pat Riley resigns as coach, Lamar Odom sprains an ankle two minutes later, and ... look out below.
Los Angeles Clippers
Wasn't it just 12 months ago the Clippers were being mentioned as a potential 50-win playoff team? Yeah, right.