1. Golden State Warriors (Record: 24-5; last week’s rank: 1): The Warriors once again resemble last season’s small playoff team with centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli out with injuries.
2. Portland Trail Blazers (Record: 25-7; last week’s rank: 2): Wesley Matthews, leading the NBA with 3.3 made three-pointers per game, would be an ideal candidate to compete in his first Three-Point Contest at All-Star Weekend.
3. Toronto Raptors (Record: 24-7; last week’s rank: 4): Kyle Lowry, who was at the center of trade rumors last season, is an early MVP candidate, leading Toronto to a 10-4 record without DeMar DeRozan.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (Record: 22-8; last week’s rank: 3): It’s impressive and surprising that NBA fans have voted center Marc Gasol as the West starter in the first returns of All-Star balloting.
5. Houston Rockets (Record: 21-8; last week’s rank: 5) Josh Smith shot a career-low 41.9 percent last season, is shooting 39.1 percent this year and missed 17 of his first 28 shots with Houston.
6. Dallas Mavericks (Record: 22-10; last week’s rank: 6) The Mavericks could sign free-agent big man Jermaine O’Neal, but a source told Yahoo Sports he still needs a few weeks to get in shape.
7. Atlanta Hawks (Record: 22-8; last week’s rank: 8): Atlanta’s new ownership search is going very slowly, a source said. Keep an eye on a bid from ex-NBA player Grant Hill, who tried to buy the Clippers.
8. Washington Wizards (Record: 21-8; last week’s rank: 9) A tough West test is about to commence for the Wizards this week with road games against Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
9. Chicago Bulls (Record: 21-9; last week’s rank: 11): Pau Gasol was also a pleasant surprise as an East starter in the first returns of All-Star balloting.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 20-11; last week’s rank: 7) The most exciting thing about the disappointing Clippers right now is Spencer Hawes’ loud and groundbreaking Christmas suit.
11. San Antonio Spurs (Record: 19-13; last week’s rank: 10) The injury-plagued Spurs got a much-needed boost with the return of guard Patty Mills. Spurs players have totaled 94 missed games this season because of injuries.
12. Phoenix Suns (Record: 18-14; last week’s rank: 14): Here come the pesky and young Suns, winners of six in a row, showing they are ready to compete for a playoff spot.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record: 18-12; last week’s rank: 12): Cleveland is in no hurry to find a replacement for Anderson Varejao, but either Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk or A.J. Price could be waived if a roster spot is needed, a source said.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (Record: 15-15; last week’s rank: 13) New Orleans has to improve on the road if it wants to make it to the postseason. The Pelicans are 6-11 away from home.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record: 15-17; last week’s rank: 15): Kevin Durant has now missed six consecutive games because of a right ankle injury that appears to be much worse than initially thought.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (Record: 15-16; last week’s rank: 16) So which NBA bench is scoring the most points? The Bucks’ reserves are leading the league, averaging 45.1 points per game and outscoring opponents by 16.
17. Sacramento Kings (Record: 13-17; last week’s rank: 17): Lost in the attention given to cavalier owner Vivek Ranadivé is an All-Star-worthy season by DeMarcus Cousins, who is averaging 24.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
18. Denver Nuggets (Record: 13-18; last week’s rank: 18) Kenneth Faried is starting to play like he did for USA Basketball with averages of 21 points and 19.3 rebounds the past three games.
19. Miami Heat (Record: 14-17; last week’s rank: 19): Miami desperately needs injured forward Chris Bosh (calf), who practiced Sunday and is a game-time decision at Orlando on Monday night.
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record: 13-16; last week’s rank: 20): The Nets play the Kings on Monday night in the wake of recent talk about Brooklyn trading guard Deron Williams to Sacramento.
21. Orlando Magic (Record: 12-21; last week’s rank: 24): Injured rookie forward Aaron Gordon (foot surgery) is now taking part in low-impact, non-basketball workouts and could return in mid-January, a source said.
22. Utah Jazz (Record: 10-20; last week’s rank: 26): The Jazz, winners of four of five, play the Clippers on Monday night. The Clips have beaten them 11 straight times dating to Jan. 17, 2012.
23. Boston Celtics (Record: 10-18; last week’s rank: 21): Did you know the Celtics, who are 1-4 since the Rajon Rondo trade, have two first-round picks in 2015 and could have four in 2016?
24. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 9-22; last week’s rank: 22): The Lakers’ best trade offer for Rajon Rondo was Steve Nash’s expiring contract, a first-round pick from Houston and two second-round picks, a source said.
25. Indiana Pacers (Record: 11-20; last week’s rank: 23): Indiana, which has been ravaged by injuries, got a much-needed boost from the return of point guard George Hill (knee injury), who is averaging 13.3 points in three games.
26. Charlotte Hornets (Record: 10-21; last week’s rank: 25): The Hornets sent rookie power forward Noah Vonleh, the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA draft, to their D-League affiliate in Fort Wayne on Sunday.
27. Detroit Pistons (Record: 7-23; last week’s rank: 28): The Pistons look a lot better since waiving Josh Smith. Is there still enough time for Detroit to make a playoff push in the weak East?
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record: 5-24; last week’s rank: 27): When asked which rookies will be healthy to play with him in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend, Andrew Wiggins mentioned teammates Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III.
29. New York Knicks (Record: 5-28; last week’s rank: 29): The Knicks are not interested in fire-sale trades yet despite their franchise-worst start, one NBA general manager told Yahoo Sports.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (Record: 4-25; last week’s rank: 30) The Sixers scored just 71 points in a loss to Utah on Saturday and are a laughable 3-3 this season when holding opponents under 90 points.