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NBA Power Rankings: Trail Blazing

In the first Power Rankings of 2015, the red hot Portland Trail Blazers warrant special attention.

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As the calendar turns to 2015, we are in awe of what has transpired thus far in this young NBA season. We came into it expecting the Eastern Conference to be all about the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls and thus far, neither of those teams have controlled the top seed for anywhere near as long as the Toronto Raptors have.

That they have done that even without DeMar DeRozan, to us, is amazing.

Out West, it is a similar story. The Golden State Warriors have been the league’s best team for a solid two months and they have done so behind the leadership of a rookie head coach. A few miles north, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have continued to grow and have led their Portland Trail Blazers to the second seed out West as 2014 ended. And as the year concludes, it is the Trail Blazers who are the hottest team in the NBA.

In terms of the biggest surprises, the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder will each have their work cut out for them. The Bucks are clinging to their playoff hopes while the Thunder are trying to recapture a top seed. If either team hopes to end up where they expected they would before the season began, they will have their work cut out for them.

As we march toward the All-Star break, the Bucks and Thunder are among the teams we will be watching closely.

And yes, as we march toward the All-Star break, we are looking forward to not only seeing Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler make their All-Star debuts, but to the trade winds swirling, as well. Jeff Green and Greg Monroe will be watched keenly, and for sure, a paradigm-shifting trade or two will be made.

It’s inevitable, just like the delivery of Basketball Insiders’ first NBA Power Rankings of 2015.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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