The first week of the NBA season is in the books, and it did not disappoint. There were exciting games already to watch and impressive individual performances that are catching the attention of the national media and even the casual fan. With that also comes the NBA power rankings. It is early, but they still need to be done as there are some early season moves and droppers that people will be surprised to see.
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1. San Antonio Spurs (1-1): The loss in Phoenixwith Kawhi Leonard returning the lineup is not enough to knock the defending champs out of the top spot. They will be here until further notice.
2. Dallas Mavericks (2-1): Only challenger for the top spot after going to the buzzer with the Spurs in their home opener. The Mavericks are rolling, currently the highest scoring team in the NBA. They added talent this offseason with Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler and they look right at home next to Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.
3. Golden StateWarriors (3-0): Two of those wins came on the road, against the surprising Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. The third was a blowout win over the Lakers in the home opener. It was all done without David Lee, who missed time with a hamstring injury. Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Clippers will be a fun one.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (3-0): The Grizzlies had their prototypical game against the Hornets Saturday winning 71-69. It is the type of game they have built their reputation on. The Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph tandem is looking nice once again, as the tandem is averaging 44.3 points and 20.3 rebounds per game. They will have a busy week hosting Anthony Davis then traveling to Phoenix, OklahomaCity and Milwaukee.
5. Miami Heat (3-0): They had some benefits in the first week, as the Wizards were without Bradley Beal and Nene, and they also got the Raptors at home with a trip to Philadelphiasandwiched in-between. But they do not make the schedule, and won all the games they were asked to play. That undefeated record will be put to the test this week as they will host the Rockets and Timberwolves, and travel to Charlotte and Dallas.
6. Houston Rockets (3-0): The Rockets took advantage of an east early season slate, winning every game easily by double-digits. Things will ratchet up for the Rockets this week, especially if Dwight Howard is forced to miss any time after banging knees this weekend.
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7. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1): The Cavaliers put up a dud in their home opener. Losing to the Knicks, who were on a back-to-back after getting embarrassed in their own home opener by the Bulls is as bad as it sounds. LeBron and company have some work to do, but did beat the Bulls in the round robin the Cavaliers, Knicks and Bulls started the season in.
8. Chicago Bulls (2-1): They hammered the Knicks opening night, and then got beat by the Cavaliers in overtime. The wins and losses at this point are not of the utmost importance. Derrick Rose is who is already missing games because of two twisted ankles. Yes, he twisted both ankles. He just cannot stay healthy, even though he says he can play the team is being overly cautious, and rightfully so, as he is injured.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (2-1): Easily the most underachieving team in the first week of the season. They played close games with the Oklahoma City Thunder sans Kevin Durant and then Russell Westbrook, then beat the Lakers by only seven. They followed that up with a loss to the Kings. That game Wednesday in Golden Statecould be a wake up call.
10. New York Knicks (2-1): Derek Fisher is getting the most out of a roster that many people thought to be extremely flawed. He is using the depth he has to his advantage, playing anywhere from 10-12 players a night. It is working, as the Knicks knocked off the Cavaliers and Hornets after a disappointing home and season opener. Things are looking up for the Knicks, but they have a busy week ahead. The Knicks are set to play four games in five nights against teams they will be fighting for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference in the Wizards, Pistons, Nets and Hawks.
11. Toronto Raptors (2-1): The Raptors hurt themselves against the Heat, missing 15 free throws and shooting 25 percent from the foul line. It will disappoint some people, but they showed they belong and will challenge for a top three seed in the East most likely after the Cavaliers and Bulls.
12. Phoenix Suns (2-1): Isaiah Thomas is fitting in nicely with the Suns, as he Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe finished out the game together in a victory over the Spurs. The good feelings from that game were quickly washed away though as the Suns lost to the Jazz, albeit in a back-to-back.
13. Washington Wizards (2-1): After a season opening defeat at the hands of the Heat, the Wizards pulled off two victories over the Magic and Bucks. They need to continue winning the ones they are expected to win until Bradley Beal returns and Nene gets healthy. Paul Pierce looks to be fitting in quite well.
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14. Sacramento Kings (2-1): Arguably the best start to the season goes to the Kings. Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins look determined to carry over their success from the summer with team USA. Could this be this season’s Suns from 2013-14? If Gay and Cousins continue playing like they did this weekend it could happen.
15. Portland Trail Blazers (1-2): Damian Lillard’s slow start is a big reason the Blazers sit where they do currently at 1-2. A rough Halloween weekend saw the Blazers lose to the Kings and Warriors. Things won’t get easier this week as they host the Cavaliers, Mavericks before traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers in the first night of a back-to-back before hosting the Nuggets.
16. Atlanta Hawks (1-1): Kyle Korver is lighting it up from deep, and Al Horford looks good in his return from injury. Traveling to San Antonio will be tough, but important games at Charlotteand hosting the Knicks, important Eastern Conference games that will impact the playoff race at the end of the season.
17. New Orleans Pelicans (1-1): Anthony Davis is a monster. That is all you need to know about the Pelicans, as Davishas averaged 28.5 points, 16.5 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game. Tyreke Evans has also looked great after hamstring woes in the preseason, scoring and handling the ball plenty.
18. Brooklyn Nets (1-1): Brook Lopez makes his much anticipated return to the court Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is a much needed boost for the Nets as they got hammered by the Celtics opening night, but bounced back with a victory over the hapless Pistons.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2): Already without Kevin Durant, they will now be without Russell Westbrook who hurt his hand opening night. This leaves us with the Perry Jones show, who has looked outstanding. It will be interesting to see if Jones, Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka can carry the offensive load and keep the team afloat without their two All-Pros
20. Denver Nuggets (1-1): They lost to the Thunder in their first game without Durant and Westbrook, which doesn’t look good. They have a home-and-home with the Kings to start the week and a visit from LeBron Friday night before traveling to Portland. Interesting tidbit, the Nuggets are actually 12-8 all time against LeBron. Will that success continue?
21. Utah Jazz (1-2): Beating the Suns was a nice win. Alex Burks looks very impressive and worth every penny of the extension he signed recently. He and Gordon Hayward make an impressive duo on the wing, with Derrick Favors playing well in the paint. The Jazz, along with the Kings, are a candidate to be this season’s Suns.
22. Charlotte Hornets (1-2): They could easily be 0-3 if not for the Bucks squandering a 20+ point lead and losing it in halftime thanks to some Kemba Walker heroics. An ugly game against the Grizzlies that saw Lance Stephenson benched wasn’t helped any with a loss at MSG to the Knicks to end the week. This team has a couple things to work out before leaping the Heat and Wizards in that division.
23. Boston Celtics (1-1): Rajon Rondo made a surprising return to start the season, and the Celtics used it to power themselves to a decisive win over the Nets opening night. They came crashing back down to earth against the Rockets in the second game of the season, getting beaten easily. As long as Rondo is around they have a chance in each game, but it could just be to raise his trade value.
24. Indiana Pacers (1-2): The Pacers have a legitimate chance to go into Week 3 with a .500 record, which would be impressive since they are playing without four starters from last season. Getting the 76ers, Bucks and Celtics in the first two weeks helps, but it is what the shorthanded Pacers need. Roy Hibbert though has looked strong in three games.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2): The Timberwolves had a successful week even though they lost twice. They hung tough with the superior Grizzlies and Bulls, and beat the Pistons. They could have easily beaten the Bulls had Andrew Wiggins not committed a bad foul on Jimmy Butler, who sank two free throws to win the game. This season could be a little better for the Timberwolves than originally thought.
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26. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2): The Bucks blew a 20+ point lead in Charlotte opening night, or else they would be looking at a 2-1 record. Jason Kidd has plenty of decisions to make regarding this roster, as they have logjams at plenty of spots. One player who has stood out is O.J. Mayo, who looks to have come back in much better shape, and his good play from preseason is carrying over.
27. Orlando Magic (0-3): Nikola Vucevic has been a monster thus far this season. He already has a 23 rebound game this season, and has looked strong in the paint for the young Magic. Elfrid Payton has looked good thus far running the show, and once Victor Oladipo gets back they will form a young, dynamic backcourt that will be plenty of fun to watch.
28. Detroit Pistons (0-3): Stan Van Gundy is at a loss with this roster. It is mismatched as their three best players cannot share the court together, and the offense is a mess. It could be a long first season in Detroitfor Van Gundy until he can really start piecing together this roster. Andre Drummond will be fun to watch under Van Gundy, but he has to fix his foul woes.
29. Philadelphia76ers (0-3): There won’t be many wins in Philadelphiathis season, but this a fun team to watch nonetheless. Expect plenty of high scoring affairs, and it is always fun watching younger players get a chance to play without limitations or veterans blocking them from minutes.
30. Los Angeles Lakers (0-4): Things are ugly in Los Angeles for the Lakers. Julius Randle was already lost for the season in his first career NBA game. Kobe Bryant is taking over 21 shots a game and looks to be the only thing worth watching in Purple and Gold this season. They are not a good team. Ed Davis has been a bright spot though.