NBA Power Rankings: Reacting to the Opening Week of the NBA

Previous Rankings: Preseason

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 1-1

Previous Ranking: 1

Despite losing in the opener to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers remain on top of the power rankings. They were able to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas day in a blowout win later in the week to help secure the #1 spot. It is clear that the Lakers are taking the regular season much lighter than most teams, which is expected after a long playoff run and one of the shortest off seasons ever. With that in mind, the Lakers might lose some of these closer games, but fans should know that they are still the most dangerous team in the league at the moment.

2. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 2-0

Previous Ranking: 4

After returning from injuries, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have not missed a beat. The Nets opened up the season with back to back blowout wins against quality opponents. Firstly, they beat the Golden State Warriors by 26, in a game they dominated from start to finish. Then on Christmas, despite trailing the Boston Celtics going into the second half, they were able to put on the burners and pull away in the final 2 quarters and win by 28. The team has looked scary in it’s first two games, and look to be a serious threat to LeBron James and the Lakers in their quest to repeat.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 2-0

Previous Ranking: 3

The Clippers have opened up the season as good as they possibly can. They beat both teams who made it to the Western Conference Finals, and it looks as if Paul George has returned to All Star form after a terrible postseason. The Clippers, however, beat the Lakers on opening night last season and were unable to do any serious damage in the playoffs, so these results should be taken with a grain of salt. With that being said, if George can continue to play like the All Star he is, the Clippers will be much improved from last season and will have a serious chance at upsetting the Lakers this year.

4. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 1-1

Previous Ranking: 2

The Bucks were able to bounce back after Jayson Tatum drilled a game winner against them with a blowout win against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas day. The addition of Jrue Holiday has helped the Bucks out significantly, as he has provided a third scoring option outside of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with solid defense. Khris Middleton has also played extremely well, as he has been able to score the ball at a high rate and do it very efficiently. The lingering question for this team, however will be if the Jrue Holiday addition was enough to get this team over the hump.

5. Miami Heat

Record 1-1

Previous Ranking: 5

After a surprising loss to the Orlando Magic in their season opener, the Heat responded and beat the New Orleans Pelicans rather handily on Christmas. They did so with a barrage of threes, mainly from Duncan Robinson, who had six in the first half against the Pelicans. Rookie standout Precious Achiuwa has also been a bright spot for the team, as he played excellent defense on Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram throughout the contest. Jimmy Butler did leave the last game with an ankle injury and if he is injured for a significant amount of time, players like Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo will have to step up to help the team stay afloat.

6. Boston Celtics

Record: 1-1

Previous Ranking: 7

The Celtics would start the season off in thrilling style, after beating the Bucks in a nail biter thanks to a Jayson Tatum game winner. Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both been able to pick up the slack with guard Kemba Walker out, and have looked like All Stars so far. However the rest of the team hasn’t been as good, and it was clearly evident in the game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics were reliant on Tatum and Brown to initiate their offense, and were quickly blown out once the Nets were able to slow them down. The Celtics will need more contributions from Marcus Smart and Jeff Teague, while they fill in for the injured Walker if they want to consistently win games.

7. Phoenix Suns

Record: 1-1

Last Week Ranking: 11

The Suns came into opening day with a changed roster and looked to prove that they were apart of the upper tier of Western Conference teams with a win over the Dallas Mavericks. They did just that, beating the Mavericks 106-102, thanks to Devin Booker and Chris Paul who would ice the game down the stretch and secure a win. They would fall to the Sacramento Kings later in the wee, losing by 3, but some losses like these are expected for a team with several new parts and are looking to build chemistry. Despite this loss, the Suns showed just how dangerous they can be and should be one of the top teams out West this season.

8. Denver Nuggets

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 6

The Denver Nuggets would lose in dramatic fashion to the Sacramento Kings in their opener, as Buddy Hield would win it at the buzzer with a put back layup. They would then go on to lose to the Los Angeles Clippers, who were able to hold off the Nuggets comeback push in the second half. The major difference from this Nuggets team and the one in the bubble has been the play of point guard Jamal Murray. In the bubble he looked like a superstar and helped give them the offensive boost they needed to beat teams. However, he hasn’t been able to score at the seem level or as efficiently to start the season. The Nuggets need him to turn it around, or they could be in trouble this season.

9. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 13

The Philadelphia 76ers came out and did what they were expected to do at the start of the season. They beat two teams that they were significantly better than and looked much improved under new head coach Doc Rivers. The duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid has carried most of the load to help them to the good start, but they have gotten help from their role players. Shake Milton helped spark a 4th quarter comeback against the Washington Wizards, with tough defense and solid shooting. He would finish with a +33 plus minus and would show some of the depth the Sixers have.

10. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 1-1

Last Week Ranking: 10

After getting blown out by 20 to the Utah Jazz, the Trail Blazers responded with a win in an overtime thriller against the Houston Rockets. Shooting guard C.J. McCollum put on a dazzling performance, scoring 44 points and dishing out 8 assists to help carry the Blazers to a win. This team is another team that has a lot of new parts, such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington who showed how good they can be defensively last night. Once these new parts start to click, the Blazers will be tough to beat on any night.

11. Houston Rockets

Record: 0-1

Last Week Ranking: 11

Houston was the first team to be impacted by Covid-19 this season. Several players on their team, such as James Harden, John Wall, and Demarcus Cousins, were required to quarantine to help prevent any potential cases on the team. Because of this, their first game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was actually postponed, as they didn’t have enough players on their roster that could actually play. Although they would get James Harden and others back in time to be able to play the Blazers, they wouldn’t get Wall or Cousins back in time. They were still very competitive in that came, forcing overtime, but they were unable to get the win. It will be interesting to see how good the Rockets will be once Wall and Cousins are out of quarantine and can join the Rocket

12. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 8

With their star big man Kristaps Porzingis out to start the season, it was expected for the Mavericks to struggle a little bit right out of the gate. However after dropping both of their first two games, it shows just how important Porzingis is to the success of this team. With him out, teams can focus all of their defensive attention onto Luka Doncic, which has forced him to be more inefficient than he usually is. The Mavs will struggle to compete with the top tier teams in the league without Porzingis, but they should be good enough to remain in the playoff picture until he returns. In the meantime, the offense needs to find a way to help out Luka Doncic and relieve him of some of the responsibility of creating all of the offense.

13. Golden State Warriors

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 9

Probably the biggest disappointment of the season so far has to be the play of the Golden State Warriors. After having some lofty expectations with former MVP Steph Curry returning, and new additions such as Kelly Oubre Jr. and James Wiseman, the Warriors have been blown out in back to back games. Although almost everyone has played poorly, forwards Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre have played the worst out of everyone. Wiggins has returned to his inefficient and shot-chucking ways, while giving little defensive effort. Meanwhile Oubre has been unable to hit any shots other than dunks and has been difficult to watch. The one bright spot has been the rookie center Wiseman, who has looked good in his playing time and has shot the three ball at a good clip. The Warriors will most likely get out of this slump, but for right now the team does not look too good.

14. Utah Jazz

Record: 1-1

Last Week Ranking: 15

The Jazz had a statement win in their season opener where they beat the Portland Trail Blazers by 20 points. Rudy Gobert did his best to prove that he was worth the extension he got, as he had a 20 point 17 rebound to help them defeat the Blazers. They were unable to carry that momentum into the next game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as Donovan Mitchell shot an inefficient 6-23 as they would lose by 5. The Jazz look to be playoff contenders, but will need their star Mitchell to be more efficient if they want to be able to compete with some of the top teams out West.

15. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 1-1

Last Week Ranking: 16

The young core of the Pelicans were able to bet the Toronto Raptors in their season opener 113 to 99. They were helped by their veteran players, like Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, who helped do some of the dirty work as well as score the basketball. On Christmas against the Miami Heat however it was a much different story. It was the Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram show as they carried much of the offensive load, while Bledsoe seemed to hurt the team more than he helped. Moving forward the Pelicans need to get consistent play out of their veterans, as they can’t rely on their young and unproven core to lead them to the playoffs.

16. Indiana Pacers

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 17

Getting to play two of the worst teams in the league in the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls is a perfect way to start 2-0. The Pacers beat both of them pretty handily, which was expected from a team that made the playoffs last year. They have been getting good production out of many startes. Offensively, it has been pretty balanced between players like Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis, who have all been the main scoring options. Defensively, Myles Turner has been outstanding, as he already has 12 total blocks to start the season. The Pacers will get their first test to see how good they really are as they play the Celtics this Sunday.

17. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 18

The new look Hawks led by Trae Young seem to be one of the most improved teams of the season already. Although their competition hasn’t been elite, it is encouraging to see the Hawks win their first two games against the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies respectively. Although Young has been amazing to start the season, he has gotten help from other starters and the bench, especially John Collins and Kevin Huerter to help carry the load. The Hawks first real test comes this Wednesday, when they play the Brooklyn Nets, which will help them see where they stack up against the best of the Eastern Conference.

18. Toronto Raptors

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 14

The Raptors have been very disappointing so far to start the season. After losing to both the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs, it has been clear just how important Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol were to this team last season. Them leaving coupled with Pascal Siakam struggling to find his groove has led to a disappointing start for Toronto. This team ultimately has too much talent and great coaching from Nick Nurse for them to not find a way to turn it around.

19. Sacramento Kings

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 24

The Kings have to be the most surprising team to be 2-0 at the moment. They were able to beat two playoff caliber teams in close games to start the season, in the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. The Kings, led by DeAaron Fox, have been able to get it done with contributions from almost everyone on the team. They had an insane putback layup by Buddy Hield to beat the Nuggets, and were able to hold off the Suns to secure that win. The Kings are on a hot streak right now, and will rematch both the Nuggets and the Suns this week

20. Orlando Magic

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 22

The Magic are another team that is surprisingly 2-0 to start the season. They beat the Miami Heat in their season opener 113-107, and would then go on to beat the Washington Wizards by ten. Hurd Markelle Fultz has looked great in the first two games, as well as Terrance Ross who might be an early Sixth Man of the Year Candidate after putting up almost 20 plus points in both games. The Magic will look to continue to prove they are playoff contenders, with a game against the Philadelphia 76ers coming in the upcoming week.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 21

With a big win against the Jazz Saturday night, the Timberwolves may be better than most people thought they would be. They have gotten good production from their young players Jarret Culver and Anthony Edwards who have been able to provide quality minutes when given the chance. Their two stars D’Angelo Russel and Karl Anthony Towns also have not disappointed either. This is another team that will have to show they are not just a fluke, and they have a chance to do so as they face both the LA Lakers and LA Clippers this upcoming week.

22. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 27

The Spurs veterans Demar Derozan and Lamracus Aldridge have proven just how solid they are in these two wins. They have both been able to score efficiently and have lead the Spurs to two quality wins against the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. They have also gotten some help from promising you guard Dejounte Murray who looks primed to make a big jump in production from last season. Although the Spurs were a common pick for a team to regress, they may just surprise some people and sneak into the playoff picture.

23. Washington Wizards

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 19

The Wizards dropped both of their opening games to teams that are competing for the payoffs in the East to the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers respectively. Although these are teams the Wizards will need to beat in order to make the playoffs, they will need some time to adjust to playing with Russell Westbrook. Speaking of Westbrook, even though he has been able to record two triple doubles, he hasn’t been able to do so efficiently which has really hurt this team. The team will need Westbrook to improve on that if they want any chance at being successful this season.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 2-0

Last Week Ranking: 28

Young guard Colin Sexton has looked like the real deal to start the season. He has put up 25 plus points in both games and has lead them to a 2-0 start. Although they have played some lackluster competition in the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets, it is promising to see the Cavs be able to pull out victories against these teams. The Cavs will look to build on their promising start as they play the Sixers and Pacers this week to see how they match up against some of the playoff teams in the East.

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 20

Despite Ja Morant’s efforts, the Grizzlies have dropped both of their games to open up the season. Morant has looked spectacular to start the season as he put up 44 points and 9 assists in the first game. Outside of Morant, the team has struggled, and are very reliant on Morant to create anything on offense. The Grizzlies will have a tough task of getting back on track, as they play both the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics this upcoming week.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record: 1-0

Last Week Ranking: 30

The Thunder finally got on the floor after their first game against the Rockets got postponed. They would defeat the Charlotte Hornets in their first game thanks to late game heroics by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who hit the game winner with 1.4 left on the clock. Shai should shine this year on the lackluster Thunder team, and he certainly got off to a good start with this game.

27. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 23

The young Hornets team got off to a bad start and dropped both of their opening games despite some great individual performances. Terry Rozier had a 42 point game against Cavaliers, and Lamelo Ball would bounce back from a 0 point night to score 13 points and grab 6 boards against the Thunder. The young team hasn’t been able to put together a complete game will have some tough matchups with the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks this upcoming week.

28. Detroit Pistons

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 26

The Pistons have been bad just as expected. Rookie guard Killian Hayes has struggled and has been unable to find any offensive rhythm. Several others have struggled as well, but it seems like Jerami Grant might have found his stride in this last game shooting 9-14 for 28 points. Hopefully some of their young players can turn it around soon and start to produce or else they will continue to lose a lot.

29. Chicago Bulls

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 25

The Bulls started the season with back to back blowout losses and look to be one of the worst teams in the league. Young players like Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. have struggled significantly to start the season and will need to turn it around if they want to get some wins. They face the Warriors and Wizards twice this week in a chance to turn it around.

30. New York Knicks

Record: 0-2

Last Week Ranking: 29

The Knicks have been just as bad as most expected. Despite getting a fantastic game from RJ Barrett who had 26 points they still lost by double figures. Knicks fans should be expecting another lousy season out of the Knicks as they hope for some of their young players to finally develop.

21 thoughts on “NBA Power Rankings: Reacting to the Opening Week of the NBA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: