Atlanta Hawks: Eastern Conference Power Rankings, Dec. 10

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Previous: . Chicago Bulls. 6. team. 24. .

With the playoff caliber teams in the East so tightly packed, it does feel weird to have the Chicago Bulls sixth this week. However since they’ve played the fewest games in the NBA with 19 and don’t have a stellar record, their current standings reflect that.

This team is great on defense (3rd), but inefficient on offense (27th). A strong defensive identity can only carry a team so far in the postseason. Chicago is a fixture there with this current cast of players, but their inability to put the ball through the hoop consistently isn’t great.

100. . . Previous: . Indiana Pacers. 5. team

The Indiana Pacers have fallen in these rankings due to them losing their last three games. At 12-8, that puts the club in 5th place in the East, but only a game and a half back of both Cleveland in the Central and for top-seed in the conference.

I expect this team to get into at least the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs in 2016. A healthy Paul George is better than just about any player in the Association. With a fantastic head coach in Frank Vogel, this team could get hot and win the East this season.

team. 170. . . Previous: . Charlotte Hornets. 4

Charlotte is arguably the hottest team in the East in mid-December. They have the second-best record in the conference at 13-8 and are playing great basketball for head coach Steve Clifford. Only a game back of Cleveland for the best record in the East, the Hornets are a Top 10 team in both offensive efficiency (10th) and defensive efficiency (7th).

The Hornets are a strong home team (10-3) and The Hive could stand as a great home court advantage throughout the season. What we are seeing out of this year’s Hornets is what we thought we would see out of last year’s club. The Buzz is back!

Next: Tier I: Eastern Conference Championship Contenders