Is Portland really that good?

Power rankings always are tricky -- here's how to really tell how good a team is

Updated: November 19, 2013, 3:03 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

Damian LillardMark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsThe Trail Blazers are near the top every power ranking. But are they that good?

It's never easy to rank NBA teams, a task that our Marc Stein undertakes each week, but the most difficult time for evaluations might be this middle point of November. We're beyond the point where truly fluky outcomes like the Philadelphia 76ers' starting 3-0 are possible, but we're not yet far enough into the season that the standings have truly settled down. The biggest challenge for power rankings this week? The Portland Trail Blazers, who, after holding off the Toronto Raptors in a 118-110 overtime win, improved their record to 8-2 and own the third-best record in the league.

But is Portland really the third-best team in the league? Probably not. But figuring out exactly where to put the Trail Blazers (Stein ranked them seventh in his power rankingsThe Hollinger Rankings have them eighth) is tricky. Here's how statistics can help.