NBA Power Rankings: Week 1
As the resident NBA expert on BSO, I’ll be ranking all 30 NBA teams from worst to first every week, kind of like Marc Stein does over at ESPN, only you know, not annoying. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments! Without further adieu, I give you the Week 1 NBA Power Rankings:
30. Detroit Pistons (0-3) – Lose opening night to a team that had 70 losses last season? Check. Blow a home game by letting Jeff Green score the winning lay-up? Check. Blow a 21-point lead and be outscored 34-9 in the fourth against Chicago? Check. Add it all up, and it takes the Pistons to the bottom of the rankings.
29. Charlotte Bobcats (0-3) – After making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, the Bobcats start this season by not showing up in the season-opener against Dallas, losing a home game to the lowly Pacers and then giving Brandon Jennings his first career triple-double. Looks like the Cats are taking a step back.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (0-4) – We know two things for sure after the first week of games: Blake Griffin looks like an absolute monster, and the Clippers look like the same old Clippers. The question now is, can LA’s other team step up their collective game and play up to their talent level? So far it hasn’t looked like it.
27. Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) – Home losses to Miami and Atlanta, followed up by a road loss to Indiana, and the Sixers are 0-3 just like that. Evan Turner has looked good so far this season, and the Sixers young guns have shown promise, but this looks like it’s going to be another long season in Philly.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2) – If it was up to me, I’d put the Wolves at the bottom of these rankings every week for the way they mishandle their team and screw their fans. But after getting a win against Milwaukee, the Wolves have a win, which is one more than the other four teams mentioned above. Kevin Love (14 pts, 13 rebs, 25 mins per game) absolutely has to get more minutes, because 25 a night for their best player is ridiculously low. If he doesn’t then I can’t see him staying in the Twin Cities for much longer.
25. Washington Wizards (0-2) – A blowout loss to Orlando, followed by a not-quite-good-enough loss to the Hawks, and it’s easy to see why nobody really knows where to peg the Wizards. What we do know is that John Wall is a blur of speed who can put on a show any given night. If that game against the Hawks was any indication, nobody will be able to stay in front of Wall this season.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2) – While this might be low for a team that just beat the Celtics (a night after Lebron’s Heat couldn’t by the way), the Cavs jumped up from around 29 with that win, so five spots is enough. Especially for a team who was embarrassed by Toronto and blew a 14-point halftime lead at home to Sacramento. The Cavs will surprise a lot of people this season, with the way they win and lose some games.
23. Toronto Raptors (1-2) – The Raptors are a team that could very possibly compete for a playoff spot in the East, even with the loss of Chris Bosh. A close loss to the Knicks was followed by the aforementioned blow-out win over the Cavs. Normally this would have been enough to propel the Raptors further up in the rankings, but they started off this week by blowing a 17-point lead after one quarter at home to the Kings. On the bright-side, Reggie Evans has 49 rebounds for the Raps through three games.
22. New York Knicks (1-2) – After beating the Raptors in their opener, the Knicks allowed Rajon Rondo to carve up their squad for 24 (24!) assists in a road loss and blowing a nine-point lead in the last five minutes against the Blazers in their home-opener. For all the hype about this being a new Knicks squad and attitude, they’ve looked like the Knicks of old so far.
21. Houston Rockets (0-3) – With Yao returning and the Rockets reloading with some new talent, not many people expected that bad of a first week from Houston. After blowing a double-digit lead and a chance to make a statement in a loss to the Lakers on opening night, the Rockets were blown out by the Warriors and Nuggets in their next two games. The most troubling thing? The lack of defense by the Rockets, allowing Ellis to score 46 on opening night and giving up 28 points to Al Harrington (seriously?) in a home-opener loss.
20. New Jersey Nets (2-1) – After a season in which they lost 70 games, the Nets started off this season 2-0 with home wins over the Pistons and Kings, before suffering their first loss at home against the Heat. The Nets will have one more home game to open the season against Charlotte before hitting the road for the first time for a back-to-back against Orlando and Miami. While the Nets might be 2-4 after those games, Nets fans should enjoy this good start for a team that didn’t have many good moments last season.
19. Golden State Warriors (2-1) – Monta Ellis welcome fans to the NBA season by dropping 46 on the Rockets in the Warriors opener, but after a 2-0 start, Golden State was brought back down to Earth after being thrashed by the Lakers on Sunday night. While wins over a Houston team on the second of a back-to-back and against a winless Clippers squad aren’t really games to get too excited about, the Warriors look like a team that will be improved from last season, and just might, dare we say it, make a playoff run?
18. Phoenix Suns (1-2) – A blowout win against Utah sandwiched between losses to the Blazers and Lakers isn’t enough to knock the Suns outside of the top twenty. That three game start is as difficult as any team in the NBA had to open the season, and despite losing to the Lakers, the Suns have looked good in their last two. While they may not be as good as they were last season, any team being run by Steve Nash has a chance to make the playoffs.
17. Indiana Pacers (2-1) – After losing to the Spurs in their opener, the Pacers were gifted with wins against the struggling Bobcats and Sixers. Danny Granger is back to scoring big numbers, and Roy Hibbert looks like he can be a promising young big with the development he’s shown so far. A visit from Milwaukee this week looms as the first Eastern Conference test for the Pacers this season, and could let us know what to expect this season.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2) – The Bucks followed up their surprising playoff run last season by dropping their first two games this year on the road, shocking some by losing to the Wolves. A win over the Bobcats finally got the Bucks their first win. Brandon Jennings got his first career triple-double in that win, joining Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history to get a triple-double and score 50 points in their first 100 games. Quite a feat for the Yung Buck (ha…ha, I know you saw that coming).
15. Sacramento Kings (3-1) – Count yours truly as one of the many impressed with what Sacramento has done so far. After going 2-1 on a three game road-trip to open the season, including a comeback from 16 down in the second of a back-to-back in Cleveland, the Kings opened Arco with another impressive comeback win against Toronto. After falling behind by 17 after one, the Kings rallied in the fourth to get off to their best start since the 2003-04 season. Tyreke Evans is a true star, and should only get better this season. Things are looking good for Sacramento fans.
14. Utah Jazz (1-2) – Talk about a confusing team. After being blown out by Denver and Phoenix to start the season, the Jazz go into Oklahoma City and blow the Thunder out of their own building. Clearly a team that is still trying to adjust to their new pieces, the Jazz will have a nice schedule this week (Raptors/Warriors/Clippers) before a big test next week with a back-to-back against Miami and Orlando.
13. San Antonio Spurs (2-1) – The Spurs sandwiched wins against the Pacers and Clippers around a surprising home loss to the Hornets in an opening week that showed us that maybe Duncan and Ginobili aren’t as finished as people may think. One thing to worry about is the goose-egg that Tony Parker laid the night he signed his extension against Chris Paul.
12. Dallas Mavericks (2-1) – Blow-out wins over the struggling Bobcats and Clippers surrounded a surprising home-loss to the Grizzlies. Memphis came into Dallas and stole a win against the Mavs on their home-floor. The Mavs are a team many project as top-three in the West, and they will receive a big test this week with a home-and-away against Denver before hosting the Celtics next Monday.
11. Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) – One week into the season, the team with the most impressive road win of the season so far might just be the Grizz. After getting blown out by Atlanta in their opener, the Grizzlies went down to Dallas and beat the Mavs for the first time since 2005, and followed it up by blowing the Wolves out, like a playoff team should. That’s right folks, like a playoff team, because after the first week of the season, that’s what the Grizz look like.
10. Denver Nuggets (2-1) – After a blow-out win against rival Utah in their opener, the Nuggets fell on the road to the Hornets before rebounding with a win against the Rockets. For a team dealing with so much uncertainty, the Nuggets looked good in their wins this week. Two games against Dallas this week surround a home game against the Clippers in a week that should tell us a lot about the mind-set of these Nuggets.
9. Portland Trailblazers (3-1) – The Blazers started the season on a positive note, winning their first three games before falling to the Bulls in Chicago last night. Portland is a deep team who will make noise in the West this season. The Blazers have a tough week that started with Chicago last night, then Milwaukee on the road, before heading home for the Thunder and Raptors and ending the week with a tough game against the Lakers in Los Angeles. A strong week for the Blazers could propel them up the Power Rankings next week.
8. Atlanta Hawks (3-0) – Might be a little low for an undefeated team, but after beating the Grizzlies to open the season, the Hawks survived the Sixers and Wizards in their next two games. If there’s anything we have learned so far this season, it’s that the Hawks may be a liable defensive team, especially at the point guard position. After giving up 23 points and 8 assists to Mike Conley (and helping him secure a $45 million dollar extension), John Wall went for 28 and 9 on the Hawks. With games against the Cavs, Pistons and Wolves this week, don’t be surprised if the Hawks are 6-0 heading into a showdown with Phoenix on Sunday.
7. Chicago Bulls (3-1) – After an off-season in which they changed a majority of their roster, the Bulls have high expectations for a young team. They started off the season with an opening-night loss to the Thunder, but followed that up with two impressive wins. After falling behind by 21 against Detroit, Derrick Rose had 39 points in leading Chicago to a huge comeback win. They followed that up by knocking off a previously unbeaten Portland team behind 40 points from Luol Deng. Chicago faces a big test this week as they head to Boston on the second game of a back-to-back in what could be an early season statement game.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) – The Thunder are a team experiencing new things this season, no longer being the upstart, but now being the favorites being gunned for on most nights. After beating Chicago, the Thunder almost fell into a trap against a Pistons squad looking for a big win before Jeff Green bailed them out with a game winning lay-up. While Kevin Durant is still scoring at a prolific clip, Russell Westbrook has impressed with his improved game management. If he can develop into an All-Star caliber player alongside Durant, the Thunder will be a team to be reckoned with.
5. New Orleans Hornets (3-0) – One week into the season, and there hasn’t been a team more impressive than the Hornets. A team desperate to prove to Chris Paul that it is worth sticking around for started the season by beating three playoff teams from last year. The most impressive thing about the three wins was how the Hornets went into San Antonio and beat the Spurs on the second game of a back-to-back, handling them so effectively through three quarters that Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were benched for the fourth. If Paul can continue to play at a high level the Hornets may be a team to reckon with this season.
4. Orlando Magic (1-1) – There was a temptation to drop them behind New Orleans, but this team is too talented to be outside of the top four after only one week of the season. Magic fans should be concerned however after a summer spent talking trash on the Heat, Orlando laid a second-half dud against Miami in a 26-point loss that established who the early-season favorites were in the battle for Florida. Dwight Howard has such an advantage over Miami that he should average a 30-20 on them, however he seemed content to take jump shots against the Heat. If the Magic are going to make some noise in the playoffs, Howard needs to get a killer instinct and dominate smaller teams.
3. Boston Celtics (2-1) – Balancing out a big opening night win against the Heat was a disappointing loss to the Cavaliers a night later for the Celts in their opening week. It was definitely an interesting first three games for Boston, who also saw Rajon Rondo drop 24 dimes (still as unbelievable as it was in the Knicks paragraph by the way) in a win against New York. If we learned one thing about Boston this week, it’s that they will be difficult to beat in big games at home, with an electric crowd who clearly rattled most of Miami’s squad on opening night.
2. Miami Heat (3-1) – While that opening night loss to Boston was disappointing, the Heat have looked impressive the last three games. On defense that is. Offensively, Miami still isn’t clicking quite yet. Something that might not be too alarming, yet, for Heat fans is that Wade and Lebron clearly play better when only one of them is on the court. This is still a work-in-progress, but one thing we saw in that Boston game is that Miami will not just roll through the East. This new-look squad will have to gel if they want to get to the Finals.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (3-0) – The defending champions have started off this season by doing the same thing they did to end last season, win games. After being distracted by their new championship rings for most of three quarters, the Lakers turned it on in time to take their opener against the Rockets, followed by a nice road win in Phoenix and a throttling of the Warriors on Sunday. The Lakers bench has quickly shown that they are no longer a weakness, but in fact now a strength of the two-time defending Champs. Steve Blake earned the trust of Kobe and Laker fans everywhere with his game-winner against Houston, and Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown are proving to be great production off the bench. When this team gets Andrew Bynum back, look out.