NBA Power Rankings: Two new teams crack the top five

Previous Power Rankings: Preseason, Week 1

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 1

The Lakers continue to stay on a roll to start the season. Despite dropping a game to the Portland Trail Blazers to start the week, in which Anthony Davis struggled, AD and the Lakers responded and beat the Spurs twice to finish up the week. The Lebron James and Anthony Davis duo looks to be just as dominant as they were in the bubble, and when they decide to take over they become almost unstoppable.

2. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 3-3

Previous Ranking: 2

The Nets struggled this week, as they lost to the Hornets, Grizzlies, and Hawks this week. The Grizzlies loss was expected, as both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant sat out, but losing to both the Hornets and Hawks was an unexpected bump in the road. Although they seemed dominant in the first week of play, this week the Nets seemed much more vulnerable. They will look to iron out the kinks of adding Durant to the roster, and will have to adjust to losing Spencer Dinwiddie for the season due to a partial ACL tear.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 3

The Clippers were humiliated by the Mavericks to start the week, as they lost by 50 points in a blowout loss. Even though they were missing Kawhi Leonard, there is no excuse to lose by 50 to any team, especially if you want to compete for a championship. The Clippers would bounce back, however, and rattled off back to back wins against the Timberwolves and the Trail Blazers, before losing to the Jazz to finish off the week.

4. Phoenix Suns

Record: 5-1

Previous Ranking: 7

The Phoenix Suns seem to be living up to all of the offseason hype that surrounded the team. The Suns didn’t lose this week, and were able to beat two playoff quality teams, in the Nuggets and Jazz, in the process. Although Chris Paul may not be putting up the best stats, he has affected this team in ways that can not be seen on a stat sheet. They have another huge matchup against the Clippers to start next week, which could prove how serious of a threat the Suns are out West.

5. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 5-1

Previous Ranking: 9

Although the Sixers haven’t faced too many tough opponents, they have come out and won the games they were expected to win. Their only loss so far came against a much improved Cavaliers team, where Joel Embiid sat out, so a loss against them wasn’t too surprising. It seems that Tobias Harris has bounced back from last season, as he has been much more effective so far, and is starting to prove why he got paid so much money. Philly will have their first real test next week against the Nets, to see how they match up against the best in the East.

6. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 3-3

Previous Ranking: 4

The Bucks have been very inconsistent to start the season. One night they lose to the Knicks by 20 and then the next night they come out and break the record for the most three pointers made in a single game, with 29 threes against the Heat. With new additions, such as Jrue Holiday, they was expected to be some struggles early on in the season, but if the Bucks can find some consistency they will be tough to beat.

7. Boston Celtics

Record: 3-3

Previous Ranking: 6

After splitting back to back games with the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics would steamroll the Grizzlies in a blowout win. Jaylen Brown had a career night, posting a career high 42 points in just 29 minutes of play. They were unable to carry this momentum into the next game, and would lose to the Detroit Pistons after Brown missed a game tying three pointer as time expired. The Celtics lack of depth has been on full display, as they await the return of point guard Kemba Walker to help provide some much needed scoring.

8. Miami Heat

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 5

With their star Jimmy Butler out to start the week, it was expected for the Heat to drop one, if not both of their games against the Bucks. After getting embarrassed in the first game, the Heat bounced back and beat the Bucks in the second game, thanks to great games from Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk off the bench. Jimmy Butler would return for their game against the Mavericks to end the week, but Butler, along with the rest of the team put up a dud to finish off a rather disappointing week.

9. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 3-2

Previous Ranking: 10

The backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ Mccollum have been able to help carry the Blazers to two statement wins this week. Firstly, they beat the Lakers, thanks to a bounce back game from Gary Trent Jr. off the bench. Although they couldn’t beat the Clippers the following game, they shrugged off the loss and beat the Warriors by 25 points to cap off a solid week for the team. Dame and CJ have been great so far, but the question still remains whether the rest of the team can carry their own weight.

10. Denver Nuggets

Record: 1-4

Previous Ranking: 8

With such high expectations to start the season, the Nuggets have to be the one of biggest disappointments so far. Although they were able to get their first win of the season against the Rockets to start the week, they would lose to Kings again and then lose to the Suns the following game. Although they have played some stiff competition, the Nuggets need to win some of these tough games if they want to be able to compete for a championship.

11. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 17

Trae Young and this young Hawks core are starting to look like serious playoff contenders after this week. After beating the Pistons, the Hawks went toe to toe with the Brooklyn Nets, and would split the two games they played, with both teams winning one of them. This is a team that is certainly trending upwards and their young pieces have continued to impress so far.

12. Houston Rockets

Record: 2-2

Previous Ranking: 11

After getting both John Wall and Demarcus Cousins back in the lineup, the Rockets were able to get their first win of the season against the Kings. Wall had himself a solid return game, scoring 22 points and dishing out 9 assists in 37 minutes of action. Cousins also had a solid stat line, with 8 points and 3 assists in his debut. Hopefully these two can continue to play well and fit in with James Harden and the rest of the Rockets.

13. Indiana Pacers

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 16

The Pacers were handed their first loss of the season this week, at the hands of the Celtics, just two days after beating them. Indiana has reminded everyone just how solid of a team they are when healthy, and why they are a surefire playoff lock in the East. The injury bug however hit the team again, as T.J. Warren has to have surgery to repair a small left navicular stress fracture and will be out indefinitely. Players like Aaron Holiday and Doug McDermott will have to step up and fill in his role.

14. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 12

Luka Doncic has struggled in these first two weeks, which in turn means the Mavericks have struggled. Although they would destroy the Clippers to start the week, they would drop a game to the Hornets in which Luka did not play good. He would shoot 4-10 from the field and 0-5 from three as the Mavs would lose by 19 points. Luka’s three point percentage has been terrible to start the season, converting at a 16% clip, which is historically bad for someone who takes such a high volume of threes. He would shoot 3-10 from three in the win over the Heat to end the week, so hopefully that is enough to help him turn it around.

15. Utah Jazz

Record: 3-2

Previous Ranking: 14

The Jazz would start the New Year with a big win over the Clippers, in large part due to Mike Conley’s impressive performance. Conley would score 33 points along with 9 assists, shooting 11-20 from the field and 7-14 from three. He would tie his career high in threes made, and have one of his best games as a member of the Jazz. If Conley can continue to play like this, he could relieve a lot of the scoring duties off of Donovan Mitchell and help make him more efficient.

16. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 15

Outside of JJ Redick and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans lack anyone who will really scare teams from the three point line. Although Lonzo Ball has improved, teams are still willing to let him, and many others shoot at will, while they pack the paint to prevent Zion Williamson and Steven Adams from dominating down low. The Suns exposed this weakness when they played them, and the Pelicans were only able to hit three three pointers in a game that would become a blowout loss. They will need to start converting more threes, so things can open up down low for Zion to operate.

17. Golden State Warriors

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 13

Just as it seemed the Warriors might have figured it out, they get blown out by another playoff caliber team. After some late game heroics by Damion Lee against the Bulls, the Warriors were able to string together back to back wins, with Steph Curry looking to be back in prime form. However, against the Blazers, Kelly Oubre Jr. disappointed once again and shot an inefficient 4-12 and 0-4 from three. Oubre needs to step up scoring wise if the Warriors want any shot at beating these playoff teams.

18. Orlando Magic

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 20

Despite getting their first loss of the year to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Magic have been a nice surprise so far. Nikola Vucevic has continued to be as solid as ever for the Magic, as he continues to put up near double-doubles night in and night out. Terrence Ross has continued to be a solid option off the bench as well. They will be forced to play without second year wing Chuma Okeke for the foreseeable future, as he will be out for a couple weeks with a bone bruise.

19. Sacramento Kings

Record: 3-3

Previous Ranking: 19

Rookie Tyrese Haliburton is starting to look like the steal of the draft for the Sacramento Kings. Against the Nuggets, Haliburton would score 8 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, and would help lead them to an important victory. He has been a solid option off the bench for the Kings, and has played some big minutes down the stretch. He could be an early front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award.

20. Toronto Raptors

Record: 1-4

Previous Ranking: 18

The Toronto Raptors continue to look bad in the second week of the season. It is early, but Pascal Siakam has not looked good, and even got benched for disciplinary action by Nick Nurse following the game against Philadelphia. This team has looked nothing like the team that pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games in the playoffs last year, and they will need to figure it out soon in a very competitive East.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 4-2

Previous Ranking: 24

After dropping the first two games of the week, the Cavs got a huge win over a good Atlanta Hawks team to bounce back. Guard duo Collin Sexton and Darius Garland have been able to score the ball at will, but the Cavs haven’t been able to find much scoring production outside of the two. Forward Kevin Love is also out with a calf injury for 3-4 weeks, so Larry Nance Jr. will have to try to fill in his shoes.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 21

With the news that star Center Karl Anthony Towns would be out for several weeks due to a dislocated wrist, the team would be expected to lose some games with him missing. That is exactly what happened, as the Timberwolves lost all three of their games this week to drop below .500. On the bright side, rookie Anthony Edwards has looked decent, scoring double digit points in every game to start the season.

23. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 22

Despite a career game from forward Keldon Johnson, the Spurs couldn’t defeat the Lakers and would lose their third game in a row. Johnson had a career high 26 points and 10 boards on 7-11 shooting and 5-9 from deep. The Spurs also got guard Derrick White back from injury against the Lakers Friday night, which should help strengthen the guard rotation.

24. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 2-4

Previous Ranking: 27

The Hornets had a solid week, stringing together back to back wins against playoff caliber teams. The Hornets were able to beat both the Nets and Mavericks to start the week but would lose both of their games at the end of the week. Rookie Lamelo Ball has looked fantastic, scoring 22 points and dishing out 5 assists in the win over Dallas. Ball looks to be another front runner for the Rookie of the Year Award as he has been able to produce in the opportunities he has gotten.

25. Chicago Bulls

Record: 2-4

Previous Ranking: 29

Despite being 2-4, the Bulls are a Damion Lee buzzer beater away from being .500. After the heartbreaking loss to the Warriors, Chicago was able to rattle off back to back wins against a struggling Washington team to get their first wins of the season. The team was lifted by Otto Porter Jr. who had 16 off the bench in the first win, and then 28 in the next win as a starter.

26. New York Knicks

Record: 3-3

Previous Ranking: 30

Julius Randle has been a pleasant surprise for Knicks fans to start the season. Randle is averaging 21.2 points per game so far and has a couple double doubles so far. He, along with RJ Barrett, have helped lead the Knicks to a surprising 3-3 start the not many expected them to have. The team will count on these two to continue their high level of play as the season progresses.

27. Washington Wizards

Record: 1-5

Previous Ranking: 23

The Wizards were finally able to get their first win of the season against the Timberwolves. Although Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook have been putting up good stats, it hasn’t been able to translate into many wins. The team is downright terrible defensively, and will most likely have to beat teams in shootouts if they want to win consistently.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 26

The Thunder were able to bounce back after losing three in a row to beat the Magic to end the week. The team had an all around solid performance, with six players scoring in double figures. Although the team is rebuilding, it is nice to see they are still competitive in most games, which should games more exciting for Thunder fans.

29. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 2-3

Previous Ranking: 25

The Grizzlies dodged a major bullet with Ja Morant only having a grade 2 ankle sprain, when the injury could have been far worse. He will miss three to five weeks with the ankle sprain, which will severely hurt the Grizzlies chances at making the playoffs. With Morant out, the team will definitely struggle offensively, and will need players like Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones to step up and try to create some offensive production.

30. Detroit Pistons

Record: 1-4

Previous Ranking: 28

Despite having only one win, the Pistons have been very competitive to start the season. They haven’t lost a game by more than 10 points and players like Derrick Rose and Jerami Grant have been putting up solid stats. Grant in particular has started to look like the leader of this team, and had 24 points in the Pistons win over the Celtics. Rookie Killian Hayes on the other hand has struggled, going scoreless against the Celtics and Warriors this week.

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