Monday, January 23, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 4

After Week 4, the top three teams in our Consensus NBA Power Rankings remain the same: (1) Chicago Bulls, (2) Oklahoma City Thunder and (3) Miami Heat.

In the Eastern Conference, the next five teams after the Bulls (15-3) all have 11 or 12 wins and four or five losses. In other words, they are all separated by only one-half game.

Of those six teams (Chicago plus the other five), they all rank in the top nine in scoring differential. Four of those teams are first through fourth in the NBA in scoring differential: (1) Philadelphia 76ers, +11.5, (2) Chicago Bulls, +10.8, (3) Miami Heat, +7.9 and (4) Atlanta Hawks, +7.1.

Here are some stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: Denver Nuggets (+3.00)
- Biggest drop from last week: New York Knicks (-3.50)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Denver Nuggets (7)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: How many rings will LeBron James win in his career (Over/under: 2.5 titles)?

John (follow on Twitter): LeBron James is the most dominant and best all-around player in the NBA today. Michael Jordan was 28 years old when he won his first championship, and he went on to win six. Even if you're someone who doesn't want to put LeBron in the same stratosphere with Jordan, which is fine, LeBron is clearly a top three player in the league (at worst), and a member of a young, stacked Miami Heat team. In their first year together, the big three came within two games of winning their first title together, falling short against a Dallas Mavericks team that got hot at the right time. They look to be not only contenders, but favorites to win it all, each year for the foreseeable future. I know it's not easy to win an NBA championship, but I'd take over 2.5 and even 3.5 rings for King James in his career.

Sean (follow on Twitter): I'm going with the over on this one. Lebron is too talented not to win multiple championships. I believe Lebron will have three titles by the time he retires. The one thing that may work against him is that other teams may stack their teams like the Heat did. This answer could change as soon as we find out what the Dwight Howard situation is. The one spot nobody is talking about is Chicago. Chicago has the pieces to pull off the trade, Noah, Deng and future picks sounds a lot better to me than Andrew Bynum or Brook Lopez. If Chicago pulled off a deal like this, LeBron and the Heat would be in trouble.

Dan (follow on Twitter): LeBron James will hit the under on this one in his career and win two rings. I do forsee the Heat getting over at some point, and cashing in that championship, as right now the Heat have minimal competition in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls pose the only real threat to Miami's path to the finals so far, and I don't see the East developing too many more elite teams in the next year. The only question is can the Heat handle whichever team makes it out from the West, and if they can close the deal.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): While I believe the Heat have as good of a chance as any other team to win it all this year and in the foreseeable future, having the best players and/or team does not guarantee championships. If that were the case, we'd be getting ready to watch the Packers in Super Bowl XLVI. [FYI: The Packers are already the early favorites to win the Super Bowl in 2013 (via] Back to the NBA, I expect there to be fewer teams with a legitimate shot to win it all, but I expect to see a few more loaded teams at the top as the league's superstars plot to join forces on a couple of super teams. Long story short: LeBron will win two rings (but not more than that).

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 4, click here.

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Related: Our End-of-season NFL Consensus Power Rankings

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