Lakers still lead, but East off to impressive start

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The season might still be less than a month old, but there is one early trend worth noting. The Eastern Conference, formerly known as the JV, has been more than holding its own against its more celebrated Western counterparts. Through Sunday, the East even held a 31-15 edge in head-to-head competition.

The movement of several star players from West to East in recent years, and the aging of some Western powers (Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio), has helped balance the field. Also, former Western playoff teams such as Memphis, Minnesota, Sacramento and Oklahoma City (formerly Seattle) all have gone into serious rebuilding mode over the past two seasons. Add it up, and it's plain that the onetime Leastern Conference can more than hold its own top to bottom right now -- a phenomenon reflected in this week's rankings.

This week's high riser: Sixers (No. 13 from 19)
This week's big drop: Knicks (No. 22 from 14)

(All stats and records are through Sunday's games.)

Got a different view than Marty?