How high do the Hawks soar in this week's NBA Power Rankings?
The second-most difficult question to answer in the NBA right now -- outside of "What is Vivek Ranadivé thinking?” -- is "Which team is best in the East?"
We’re nine weeks into the season and we've seen five teams lay claim to the throne at some point. The Cavaliers sat atop the conference before the season, the Bulls held the distinction last week, the Raptors owned the top spot for most of the weeks in between and the Wizards haven't trailed far behind.
This week, a new challenger emerges: the Hawks. Not only has Atlanta won 18 of its last 20 games, but also it has taken down several Western Conference foes along the way. Atlanta's offense has ranked near the top of the league all season and is No. 1 in assist percentage, but it's the team's defense that has been most dominant of late, ranking No. 1 in efficiency (96.4 points per 100 possessions) since Nov. 28.
While the Hawks have been nearly unbeatable the last few weeks, they still fall short of No. 1 overall. Let's get to this week's NBA Power Rankings.
(All stats and records through Jan. 4).