1
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.

2
Sacramento Kings
The Kings are still winning, but until Chris Webber gets back sometime next month, we won't know exactly where they are.

3
Dallas Mavericks
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.

4
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?

5
Detroit Pistons
They aren't playing great yet, but their two wins are on the road, which speaks volumes about how tough they are.

6
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.

7
Houston Rockets
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.

8
Minnesota Timberwolves
They are struggling to find rhythm with four new starters, so hang with them until further notice.

9
San Antonio Spurs
Without Tony Parker, they're not a particularly exceptional team and if Tim Duncan is out, they're in big trouble.

10
Boston Celtics
If Vin Baker's return to effectiveness is permanent, they'll be a serious contender in the East.

11
Indiana Pacers
They aren't quite there yet -- like so many other groups -- but they are playing hard and improving daily.

12
Memphis Grizzlies
This is high for them, but they are real and will improve as the season progresses -- showing flashes of special play already.

13
Philadelphia 76ers
They just got Glenn Robinson after a three-game suspension, so it will take time for them to hit their stride.

14
Phoenix Suns
They have great young talent, but over the long haul will regret giving away Bo Outlaw and Jake Tsakalidis to cut costs.

15
Portland Trail Blazers
Something is missing here -- and it might just be the lost leadership of Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis.

16
Denver Nuggets
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.

17
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.

18
Seattle SuperSonics
Rashard Lewis is on the brink of becoming a star, and even without Ray Allen (ankle), they can score a lot of points.

19
Toronto Raptors
As long as Vince Carter is healthy, they're dangerous. But he is in serious need of help for consistent scoring.

20
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.

21
Utah Jazz
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.

22
Orlando Magic
It has been stunning how badly the Magic have played so far, and confusing. Imagine how coach Doc Rivers feels.

23
Milwaukee Bucks
It doesn't matter that Terry Porter is a rookie coach. As long as the players believe and respond, they'll improve.

24
Washington Wizards
They are so young, but the talent is there and they will get better -- upsetting good teams along the way on occasion.

25
Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have been better, just unable to pull out games late. Two overtime losses hurt confidence, particularly early in the season.

26
Cleveland Cavaliers
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.

27
Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have been positively horrid so far, despite the youthful enthusiasm. Could be a roster shakeup coming soon.

28
Miami Heat
Pat Riley resigns as coach, Lamar Odom sprains an ankle two minutes later, and ... look out below.

29
Los Angeles Clippers
Wasn't it just 12 months ago the Clippers were being mentioned as a potential 50-win playoff team? Yeah, right.