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NBA Power Rankings: First Impressions for All 30 Teams

Are the Warriors back? And how high can the Hornets climb?
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The first week of the NBA season saw hot starts by surprise teams and disappointing results from a few contenders. What to make of it all? SI’s NBA staff is ranking every team from best to worst all season long, taking into account how each squad is currently playing. Where does your team rank? Here are our early impressions after one week of action.

1. Denver Nuggets

(Record: 2-0)

The entire NBA might as well be orbiting Nikola Jokić’s genius right now. Gregg Popovich recently called him “a seven-foot Larry Bird type of guy.” This howling, otherwise inconsequential pass demands a fifth or sixth viewing after being seen for the first time. And his (sustainable?) 30 point, 15 rebound and five assist per game averages are why the Nuggets are 2-0. — Michael Pina

2. Golden State Warriors

(Record: 3-0)

​​Steph Curry, age 33, is still finding new ways to dazzle us (45/10/10 vs. the Clippers) … and make us believe the Warriors can rejoin the elite in the Western Conference. Sweeping the LA teams to open the season is a heckuva start, even if both LA teams are looking a little wonky. — Howard Beck

3. Utah Jazz

(Record: 2-0)

The Jazz haven’t played the toughest schedule (see: Thunder, Oklahoma City) but have yet to lose and lead the NBA in net rating (they’re also third in overall plus-minus). They’ve essentially picked up where they left off and the stink of last year’s disappointing playoff loss shouldn’t factor too heavily into where they currently sit. Which is, more or less, at the top of a teetering ladder. — MP

4. Charlotte Hornets

(Record: 3-0)

All three of the Hornets’ wins have come by double-digits, and LaMelo Ball hasn’t even had to play 30 minutes in a game yet. Charlotte is not only winning to tip off the season, it’s winning consistently. Keep an eye on Miles Bridges, who has scored at least 30 points in back-to-back contests. — Rohan Nadkarni

5. Milwaukee Bucks

(Record: 2-1)

With the static in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, it’d be easy to peg Milwaukee as the regular-season favorite in the East. But don’t be surprised if the reigning champs have occasional duds like the 42-point loss in Miami, which came just two days after their season-opening victory over Brooklyn. Having won it all, Milwaukee—missing five rotation players in the Miami defeat—will likely prioritize health this season. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday were in the Olympics shortly after earning a ring. — Chris Herring

6. Chicago Bulls

(Record: 3-0)

One question may determine Chicago’s season: Can the Bulls defend well enough to make the leap some think they will? A week into the campaign, they’re surrendering 93.7 points per 100 possessions while using active hands to deflect almost 21 passes per game—each fourth-best in the NBA. In part because of that, they’re 3-0. At the same time, the tests figure to get tougher, as they’ve only played the young Pistons and the Pelicans, who stand a combined 0-5. — CH

7. Memphis Grizzlies

(Record: 2-1)

Ja Morant is off to a dominant start, which is great for League Pass subscribers and scary news for the rest of the NBA. The Grizz look fully capable of returning to the playoffs, with Jaren Jackson back healthy and Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton excelling in supporting roles. Their next five games—at Portland and Golden State back to back, Miami, and Denver twice—will be a useful barometer. — Jeremy Woo

8. Atlanta Hawks

(Record: 1-1)

Atlanta followed up a statement win against the Mavs with a loss against the frisky Cavaliers. The team’s depth has been on display in its first couple games, with five different players currently averaging at least 11 points a night. Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter, two players who were mostly injured during last summer’s postseason run, have looked great early. — RN

9. Washington Wizards

(Record: 2-0)

The addition of Spencer Dinwiddie has been a revelation (very) early in the season. The former Nets guard just barely leads the team in scoring through two games with 23.5 points a night. The early returns of the Russell Westbrook trade have been positive, with Montrezl Harrel, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each playing big minutes in the rotation. — RN

10. Philadelphia 76ers

(Record: 2-1)

A 2-1 start includes wins over bottom-feeding New Orleans and Oklahoma City, but hey, it’s better than 1-2. Tyrese Maxey has been decent as a Ben Simmons stand-in and Philadelphia, with five players averaging double figures, is flashing some strong scoring depth. Andre Drummond, still a rebounding machine, has played well, a good sign with Joel Embiid already battling an early season knee issue. — Chris Mannix

11. Miami Heat

(Record: 1-1)

Miami walloped a wounded Bucks team in its home opener, before dropping an overtime slugfest to the Pacers. The good: Tyler Herro has been a wrecking ball off the bench, scoring 57 points in two games to lead the team. The not so good: Kyle Lowry has already missed time because of a twisted ankle, and Jimmy Butler is shooting only 40.6% through two games. — RN

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle drives to the basket against Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

12. New York Knicks

(Record: 2-1)

It was trendy to suggest that Julius Randle couldn’t duplicate last season’s All-NBA performance. Uh, might want to re-think that. Randle is averaging 28.7 points and 11.7 rebounds through the Knicks’ first three games. He’s also handing out more than six assists, showing nice vision as a passer out of the post. Meanwhile, Evan Fournier has been largely as-advertised offensively, giving the Knicks much needed firepower on the perimeter. — CM

13. Brooklyn Nets

(Record: 1-2)

What’s going on with James Harden? Through three games Harden has attempted just eight free throws—one more than he averaged last season—with the NBA cracking down on the kind of non-basketball moves Harden routinely drew fouls within previous seasons. Meanwhile, the Nets’ defense, 24th in defensive efficiency through Sunday, isn’t stopping anybody. Will the pressure increase for a Kyrie Irving return? — CM