- So long, preseason predictions. The NBA season is young, but we've already learned several lessons: Boston is a force, Cleveland is a mess, and teams like Detroit and New York are a lot better than expected.
Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings, where we’re starting to realize that magical Heat championship season might not be in the cards. After giving teams a few weeks to wake up from the long offseason, I’m ready to get nuclear this week. It’s not as simple as chalking up bad records to slow starts anymore, and vice versa. That means it’s time to start believing in Detroit and becoming just the slightest bit uneasy about the Thunder.
Without further ado, here are this week's Power Rankings. Let's get nuts!
(All stats and records through Nov. 5).
30. Dallas Mavericks (1–10)
Last Week: 25
Remember when they beat the Grizzlies? No? I swear, it happened.
29. Sacramento Kings (1–8)
Last Week: 24
The highlight of the week for Sacramento was this game-winning one-legged three by Jack Cooley... in the G–League.
28. Atlanta Hawks (2–8)
Last Week: 29
They’re doing all they can to win, and it worked for once against LeBron and the Cavs.
27. Chicago Bulls (2–6)
Last Week: 28
Bobby Portis’s eight-game suspension for breaking Nikola Mirotic’s face has to come to an end. I can’t figure out if this is good or bad news, but I definitely want to watch and find out which one it is.
26. Phoenix Suns (4–5)
Last Week: 30
I learned who Mike James is this week. No, not this one. He’s apparently the Suns’ starting point guard.
25. Brooklyn Nets (3–6)
Last Week: 21
The Nets’ bandwagon is quickly losing members after four straight losses, including one to the Suns, and one to old friend Brook Lopez and the Lakers.
24. Indiana Pacers (5–5)
Last Week: 26
Indiana did blow a 19-point lead to the Knicks on Sunday, but it also manhandled Cleveland, which was still a big deal at the beginning of the week (then the Hawks managed to beat them). Still, it’s a feat that should be recognized. By the way, when do we start reexamining the package Indiana got back for Paul George? Sabonis and Oladipo can play.
23. Denver Nuggets (5–5)
Last Week: 16
My initial thought when I saw Nuggets–Thunder on the calendar for this Thursday was, "There’s a twenty-point win for OKC." This team needs consistency out of young Nikola Jokic to prosper right now.
22. Utah Jazz (5–5)
Last Week: 18
One of the teams I’m picking up and tossing down the rankings a little, the Jazz have hardly done anything to inspire confidence lately. Their one big win over the Blazers came only because Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell combined for 58 points, something that might never happen again. There’s talent here, but it’s not coming together just yet.
21. Miami Heat (4–5)
Last Week: 17
The four-spot drop here isn’t as much about the Heat as it is about the wins the teams ahead of them have pulled out. Hassan Whiteside has finally made it all the way back, so brighter days should be ahead.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (5–4)
Last Week: 22
Ben Simmons is basically Oscar Robertson right now. If Oscar Robertson got his jersey torn off during a game.
19. Los Angeles Lakers (5–5)
Last Week: 23
They went 3–1 last week with wins over Memphis and Detroit, and that happened without L.A. getting much of anything out of Lonzo Ball. Kyle Kuzma has stepped into Larry Nance Jr.’s starting role quite seamlessly, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is putting the clamps on opposing wings and Brook Lopez looks rejuvenated. Life’s pretty good for the Lakers.
18. Orlando Magic (6–4)
Last Week: 19
Tickets are on sale now for the regression tour. Somehow Orlando pulled out a win over Memphis, but blowout losses to the Bulls (yikes!) and Celtics should keep the Magic right here.
17. New Orleans Pelicans (5–5)
Last Week: 14
When you only squeeze by the Bulls and Mavericks, you’re certainly not going to move up in the rankings.
16. Charlotte Hornets (5–4)
Last Week: 20
The Jeremy Lamb breakout season may FINALLY be here! It’s 2011 all over again.
15. New York Knicks (5–4)
Last Week: 27
It seems ridiculous to see the Knicks this high, but they’ve earned this spot. They’ve won five out of their last six and their best player is playing like an MVP candidate, with 30 points in seven of nine games and a career-high 40 on Sunday. Doom is certainly coming, but for now the tank is off and this is probably the most fun team in the NBA.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (4–5)
Last Week: 12
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Bucks are slumping, so Bucks Reddit wants Delly to quit eating avocado toast.
13. L.A. Clippers (5–4)
Last Week: 10
They visit the Spurs, Thunder and Pelicans this week. Coming off two losses to the Grizzlies and Heat, the team's skid could be five by the next time you check back on our rankings next week.
12. Toronto Raptors (5–4)
Last Week: 9
Kyle Lowry getting tossed. Fred VanVleet going for 10, 3 and 4 off the bench. I don’t know what the hell is going on with this team.
11. Washington Wizards (5–4)
Last Week: 11
Bradley Beal learned a valuable lesson after calling out LeBron this week.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (4–5)
Last Week: 5
The breakout is most definitely coming, they’ve had too many close losses and bad breaks in the last few weeks. For now, though, this is a 4–5 team struggling to keep pace with other powers in the West. They’ll figure it out. By the way, Ray Felton scored 15 on 7-of-11 shooting against Portland. Just saying.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (4–6)
Last Week: 3
Can anyone tell me what the hell fell out of Ty Lue’s mouth here? Man, this team is so goddamn weird.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (6–4)
Last Week: 7
Tyreke Evans has been a pleasant surprise this season, and nearly catapulted Memphis to comeback wins twice this week. They weren’t to be, though, and things only get tougher from here with Portland, Houston and Milwaukee waiting this week.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (6–4)
Last Week: 13
Just as I was feeling down about the Blazers, Damian Lillard took the wheel and led Portland to glory in consecutive games. As a lot of teams in this range waffle, but the Blazers have the weapons to duel with the West’s powers. Now, they just need to show the consistency.
6. Detroit Pistons (7–3)
Last Week: 15
Alright, so Detroit might be legit. At least in the East. I’m still not sure about the reliability of Andre Drummond (see 10/29 vs. Golden State) but the rest of this squad is filling in nicely. Avery Bradley has found his his scoring groove, Ish Smith is doing stuff off the bench, and what do you know, this team is second in the East.
5. San Antonio Spurs (6–4)
Last Week: 4
They dropped a couple games to good teams, picked up one over a bad team, and then beat the Hornets. Still treading water without Kawhi, the Spurs are doing a fine job in his absence thanks to some contributions from their youngsters. Like this, for example:
Manu, youngster, same thing. Look at that jam!
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (7–3)
Last Week: 6
They’re the second-hottest team in basketball (scroll down for the hottest!) and have proven they can win without heavy lifting from Jimmy Butler—and without stout Tom Thibodeau defense! Both will emerge in due time, which will make the Wolves pretty damn dangerous.
3. Boston Celtics (8–2)
Last Week: 8
They’re tops in defensive rating so far, and it’s not particularly close. Brad Stevens has this group playing some phenomenal basketball. The team has clicked quickly despite all the unfamilarity, and Mr. Fourth Quarter is closing out games.
For fun, here’s Kyrie closing out the Thunder at 20 years old:
And here’s Kyrie doing it this week (with some help from Al Horford):
2. Houston Rockets (8–3)
Last Week: 2
Harden’s 56-point, 13-assist night in a 27-point stomping of the Jazz is proof that the Rockets are legit contenders, even without Chris Paul. The margin between Golden State and Houston is razor–thin right now.
1. Golden State Warriors (7–3)
Last Week: 1
I will agree with everyone and say the Warriors look a bit bored out there. Still, there aren’t many blemishes on their résumé once you get past the first few games of the season, and they still sit No. 1 in Net Rating. Golden State has set the bar impossibly high, but they're still right around it.