Power Rankings: Warriors seize top spot; first impressions of all 30 teams
Drawing conclusions after just one week of play is like evaluating candy based on smell.
That said, we can nail down a few certainties already. For one, the Los Angeles Lakers are terrible at basketball. Second, the Thunder's playoff hopes are in serious jeopardy as long as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain in street clothes. And the Warriors -- SI.com's No. 1 team -- haven't missed a beat under new coach Steve Kerr.
Others teams are harder to judge. What do we make of the Knicks after floundering at home their first night but spoiling LeBron James' homecoming in Cleveland the next? Are the 3-0 Heat still an elite team? Have the Suns taken the next step?
Rather than guess, let's just go over what we know. Here are my first impressions in this week's NBA Power Rankings. (All stats and records are through Sunday, Nov. 2. "Last Week" refers to preseason rankings.)
There is so much to like with Golden State. The NBA's best backcourt (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 72 points against the Lakers) pairs beautifully with the league's best defense (87.5 points allowed per 100 possessions), forming a concert of mesmerizing basketball that's as fun as it is effective.
One silver lining of not extending Kawhi Leonard now: a contract year from a 23-year-old Finals MVP. San Antonio passed its opening-night test against Dallas without Leonard, but it'll be glad to have a young star with something to prove the rest of the season.
The Cavaliers' opening loss doesn't worry me as much as David Blatt's first stab at a rotation. Cleveland has essentially been relying on seven players, leaving Shawn Marion and Mike Miller on the periphery. LeBron James and Kevin Love have logged at least 38 minutes apiece in the first two games, the second of which went to overtime.
The Grizzlies are already in midseason form, beating the Hornets despite scoring just 71 points. Memphis should be better offensively with the arrival of Vince Carter and the return of Quincy Pondexter, but even if the improvement is only marginal, the Grizz will still grit and grind their way to 50 wins.
Dallas leading the league in offensive efficiency (118.8 points per 100 posessions). Its revamped defense anchored by Tyson Chandler, however, is still a work in progress (109.1 rating). The same goes for the point guard rotation, which added another veteran last week in J.J. Barea, a Mav from 2006-11.
With six players capable of leading the Suns in scoring on any given night, Phoenix's offense is difficult to handle. Isaiah Thomas is following in the sneakers of fellow Seattle native Jamal Crawford, lighting up opponents off the bench (18.7 points) and serving notice that he will be in the Sixth Man Award conversation.
You could make the case that the Kings should be even higher than this, thanks to impressive victories over the Clippers and the Trail Blazers. Rudy Gay scored 40 against Portland, and DeMarcus Cousins manhandled Los Angeles with 34 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. Maybe Sacramento won't have to cherry-pick after all.
The Blazers will be hard-pressed to match their scorching start from last season, when they didn't suffer their fourth loss until Dec. 7. After back-to-back defeats, Portland's next three games are against the Cavaliers, Mavericks and Clippers. It hasn't helped that Damian Lillard is shooting just 26.8 percent.
Anthony Davis' first two games (28.5 points, 16.0 rebounds, 6.0 blocks) offered a glimpse at what the 21-year-old power forward has in store this season.
Veterans such as Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Mo Williams may log extensive minutes early in the season as Flip Saunders seeks to remain competitive, but eventually the Wolves' president/coach needs to do the smart thing and make the development of youngsters like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Zach LaVine the top priority.
New coach Jason Kidd is tasked with shuffling an entire active roster of players worthy of minutes. Skinny O.J. Mayo is a likely trade candidate if his hot start continues. Despite the hype, Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging only 21 minutes, showing just how competitive the fight for playing time is in Milwaukee.