This is not meant to be a slap at the Toronto Raptors, who have undeniably earned their sparkly new No. 10 ranking, thanks to the 9-4 record they've posted since trading Rudy Gay.
That said ...
The fact that the teams in the middle third have been so underwhelming certainly didn't hurt the Raptors' chances of climbing into the upper third of ESPN's human NBA Power Rankings on this Monday.
Dallas has lost four straight home games. Atlanta has lost Al Horford for the rest of the season. Washington has won exactly one home game since Dec. 2. And Denver only needed two high-scoring wins, after an eight-game losing streak, to move up a couple of spots.
Why? The committee (of one) simply hasn't been able to drop any of those teams too far, because ... well, who in that range is worthy of being bumped up? There's sadly a considerable drop-off at the moment between the teams playing top-10 basketball ... and The Other 20.
We nonetheless congratulate the Raps on their surge into the rankings spotlight alongside Golden State, which has ridden a nine-game winning streak to climb to a season-high No. 3. The league's most title-worthy twosome -- Indiana and Miami -- rightfully occupies the top two spots in the first 2014 edition of the rankings, while the significant injuries suffered by Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul have sent Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers for a tumble.
The latest rankings, as always, were compiled by the committee with the usual good dishing from ESPN Stats & Information and Elias. You can click here to rank the teams yourself until we return next Monday to take a fresh 1-to-30 pulse of the league.