Well, we’re only a week into the NBA season and we’ve already got a Twitter controversy, a head coach firing (both of those happened to the same team!), a buzzer-beater, a double-ejection, and quality Raymond Felton minutes. We're really checking all the boxes.
The aforementioned doomed team, the Suns, are the big mover this week, down to No. 30 after beginning the year at No. 23. On the bright side, the Nets are fun and good, and move up five spots. It’s hard to find a good balance between overreacting and pretending a team has shown you nothing new in three or so games, but we’ll try below.
(All stats and records through Oct. 22).
29. Chicago Bulls (0–2) | Last Week: 30
Kind of difficult to move up in the power rankings when one of your forwards breaks your other forward’s face in practice, but here we are.
28. Atlanta Hawks (1–2) | Last Week: 28
Bright side: The Hawks led the Hornets late and played the Nets hard. Reality: Charlotte went on a 24–0 run to beat Atlanta, and then Dennis Schroeder suffered a painful injury (in a loss to the Nets.)
27. New York Knicks (0–2) | Last Week: 25
Kristaps Porzingis has been a goddamn machine out there, but that’s about where the fun ends. Jeff Hornacek’s rotation is super-weird right now for a rebuilding team; Willy Hernangomez didn’t even play against the Pistons, which is very dumb, and Frankie Smokes only saw eight minutes in the season opener! Whenever he gets that ankle right, he should probably see the floor.
26. Indiana Pacers (1–2) | Last Week: 27
I feel bad about this:
25. Orlando Magic (2–1) | Last Week: 29
They picked up a wire-to-wire win over the Cavs! Mario Hezonja hit a few threes! This might be the pinnacle.
24. Los Angeles Lakers (1–2) | Last Week: 22
This is a team that barely beat the Suns. The Suns! I think there will be some bright spots this season, and more games like Friday’s near-triple-double for Lonzo Ball, but the Lakers just don’t look good right now.
23. Sacramento Kings (1–2) | Last Week: 24
De’Aaron Fox looks legit. This team has actually played some pretty good defense through three games, and has some guys who can score the ball. Maybe they won’t be so bad? Maybe?
22. Philadelphia 76ers (0–3) | Last Week: 20
Man, MarkelleFultz just doesn’t look right out there. And, aside from Simmons, Redick and Embiid, neither do the Sixers. Let’s pump the brakes on the playoff talk. Don’t bring the car to a full stop. Just slow it down a little.
21. Dallas Mavericks (0–3) | Last Week: 21
How did they manage to lose to the Kings? I know I said a nice thing about the Kings earlier, but Dirk Nowitzki and Co. should be able to handle a rebuilding team.
20. Brooklyn Nets (2–1) | Last Week: 25
Russell looks legitimately awesome so far, and the Nets will need him now that Jeremy Lin’s done for the year with a torn patellar. Brooklyn should be scrappy this season.
19. Charlotte Hornets (1–1) | Last Week: 17
HE’S NOT DEAD, DWIGHT!
18. Detroit Pistons (2–1) | Last Week: 19
The Pistons went on a 21–4 run in the fourth quarter on Friday after Andre Drummond fouled out. Just saying...
17. Denver Nuggets (1–1)| Last Week: 13
These are apparently the new Denver Nuggets, a team that can hold squads under 80 points and get a win without getting a single point from Nikola Jokic.
16. Miami Heat (1–1) | Last Week: 12
So, yeah, the Heat haven’t exactly picked up where they left off. The good news is, at least Hassan Whiteside looks like he’s feeling better!
15. Utah Jazz (2–1) | Last Week: 18
You don’t want these problems with confirmed insane person MEAN JOE INGLES.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (1–2)| Last Week: 15
Brow and Boogie look good enough to carry this team to the playoffs. Now, let’s just protect Anthony Davis at all costs. He got clocked in the face Sunday.
13. Portland Trail Blazers (2–1) | Last Week: 14
Portland currently ranks in the top three in net rating, but they’ve beaten up on the Pacers and Suns to get there. They certainly impressed against the Bucks, but I’m not quite sure they’re on that level yet. Side note: Is Meyers Leonard not a thing anymore? Two straight games with a DNP-CD. We need to get him back in the lineup for his annual battle with DeMarcus Cousins.
12. Memphis Grizzlies (2–0) | Last Week: 16
Any time you frazzle the Warriors like that, you’re deserving of a big jump. Oh, you thought I was talking about Steph and KD’s ejection? Hell no. I’m talking about this insane move by Marc Gasol.
11. L.A. Clippers (2–0) | Last Week: 11
The Clippers’ New Big Baby is hurt (I’m so sad), but at least Blake Griffin’s MVP campaign is off to a roaring start! Oh yeah, and there’s never been a more perfect Clipper than J.B. Smoove:
10. Boston Celtics (1–2)| Last Week: 6
We all (unfortunately) saw last week how cruel sports can be. Boston's championship dreams are potentially shattered. This is just not the same team without Gordon Hayward.
9. Washington Wizards (2–0)| Last Week: 9
Just when you thought Otto Porter actually wasn’t good, Otto Porter was totally good against the Pistons. We’re no closer to answering our question about whether or not Otto Porter is good than we were two weeks ago.
8. Milwaukee Bucks (2–1) | Last Week: 10
Whoooo boy, those Giannis MVP picks are looking HOT right now. 37/13/3. 34/8/8. 44/8/4. What an insane start to the season.
7. Toronto Raptors (2–0) | Last Week: 7
“We’re going to the Eastern Conference Finals, boys; that’s all I have to say.” — Aubrey Drake Graham, October 21, 2017. Book those hotel rooms in Cleveland.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (2–1) | Last Week: 8
Wiggins with cornrows is simply something this world was not ready for. He’s played so well in the early going it’s easy to forget Jimmy Butler is even on this team! And how about THIS:
If you look closely you can see Melo requesting a trade to Houston:
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (1–2) | Last Week: 4
Ah, yes, speaking of Melo...it turns out the Thunder still have a few kinks to work out with their big three. That’s totally normal—chemistry takes a little while to build. That loss to Minnesota actually said a lot about the level these three can lift the team to: OKC was dead in the water before a raucous comeback. This will be the first of many thrillers they’re involved in.
Wait, before you go, watch this. But not out loud at work.
4. San Antonio Spurs (2–0) | Last Week: 5
Kawhi remains out, but this team looks just fine. Dejounte Murray can really play.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (2–1) | Last Week: 2
This is not an overreaction to the Magic loss. Houston has just charged out of the gate to establish itself as the clear second-best team in the league so far. The LeBron–Flash reunion tour is going to experience some growing pains along the way, but in the end the bus will still make it to the conference finals.
2. Houston Rockets (3–0) | Last Week: 3
Only Chris Paul’s left knee can slow the Rockets now. Some of you laughed when I talked up the importance of the P.J. Tucker acquisition, but look at the minutes he gave them against Golden State! He finished as a game-high +20 to boot. He’s obviously not going to do that every night, but he’s going to be valuable in games like that. This team is deep enough, and talented enough, to remain the second-best team in basketball even without CP3.
1. Golden State Warriors (1–2) | Last Week: 1
What? You thought a tough week would knock the Warriors out of the top spot? They could start 0–9 and they still might top these power rankings. They’ll be just fine, even if their skin is thin at times. Besides, did you see this crap Klay Thompson pulled?
China has changed this man.