Warriors

NBA Power Rankings: Warriors keep rising with 8-1 start

Warriors

The NBA season has been rolling along for three weeks, and the cream is starting to rise to the top. 

Some of the usual suspects are racking up wins, but it is the Golden State Warriors who are sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference standings at 8-1.

But does that put them in the top spot in this week's Power Rankings?

Here is where each team stands after three weeks:

30. New Orleans Pelicans (1-9): The Pelicans have lost six in a row, with Brandon Ingram missing multiple games and the return of Zion Williamson nowhere in sight.

29. Houston Rockets (1-9): Jalen Green has shown flashes of brilliance and the team has some exciting youth, but the Rockets are well on their way to a bottom-dwelling finish this season.

28. Detroit Pistons (1-8): Detroit finally got its first-overall pick Cade Cunningham in the lineup, but they could very well finish with a record that contends for the top pick in the draft again.

27. San Antonio Spurs (3-7): The Spurs have some good young talent in Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Keldon Johnson. However, they have practically no depth on their roster and their latest loss in Oklahoma City showed how limited they are when a couple of their top players do not perform well.

26. Orlando Magic (3-8): A shocking victory in Orlando over the Jazz propels the Magic up a few spots from the bottom. While a lot of the attention has been on rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner to start the year, it is guard Cole Anthony who has been lighting up the box scores averaging nearly 19 points per game.

 

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-6): If the Thunder could play the Lakers every game, they might be in contention for a title this season. After beating Los Angeles for the second time in a week and taking down the Spurs, the Thunder are proving they are not a team that will just roll-over for their opponents.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-5): The Wolves are very talented with young stars like Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. But they have not been able to translate the talent to team chemistry on the court, and have now lost four in a row because of that.

23. Indiana Pacers (4-7): Rookie Chris Duarte has been very impressive to start the season, averaging 16 points per game. With the return of Caris LeVert to join the Pacers' solid starting group, things could be looking up in Indiana.

22. Boston Celtics (4-6): The Celtics are yet to win at home this season, and there has been some public criticism from guard Marcus Smart towards his star teammates for their lack of passing. A big win against the Heat this week was overshadowed by a last-minute loss to the Mavericks.

21. Atlanta Hawks (4-6): After struggling to start the season, the Hawks are in the midst of a tough west-coast road trip including a game against the surging Warriors at Chase Center on Monday night. Their three-game losing streak might grow even more.

20. Charlotte Hornets (5-5): A hot start to the season has cooled off for LaMelo Ball and the Hornets, who have dropped three straight games. However, Miles Bridges has become an offensive force and is beginning to look like a future All-Star.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (4-6): Without Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, the Bucks simply are not the team we have come to know. The good news for Milwaukee is that when they return to full health, they still have one of the best rosters in the NBA, and perhaps the best player in The Greek Freak.

18. Los Angeles Lakers (5-5): Things are looking bleak for the LakeShow in the near future. With LeBron James potentially missing multiple weeks with an injury, the already injured and old Lakers team has started to look a lot weaker than many expected.

17. LA Clippers (4-4): The Clippers, despite missing Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka, have shown more heart than their cross-town rival so far this season and Paul George is looking like a legitimate MVP candidate, as he usually does to start the season. 

16. Portland Trail Blazers (5-5): An investigation has launched looking into a potential hostile work environment under team president Neil Olshey. Coupled with the already awkward situation with Damian Lillard, it might be a long season for the Blazers.

 

15. Sacramento Kings (5-5): After a torrid start, Harrison Barnes cooled off the last couple games. However, the Kings are not a target anymore for teams looking for an easy win, and it should be a fun season in Sactown.

14. Toronto Raptors (6-5): Pascal Siakam has returned to the Raptors after a prolonged absence, and the "We The North" squad looks like it could be a tough team to beat down the road if they can remain healthy.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-4): The early-season surprise team has caught the league off guard. The Cavs have won four in a row, and their top-pick Evan Mobley looks like a future star. Things are definitely looking up in Cleveland.

12. Washington Wizards (7-4): Everyone assumed that Bradley Beal would demand out of D.C. as soon as the team struggled to start the year, leading to a league-wide sweepstakes. Instead, the Wizards have come out firing with a new cast including Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma. 

11. Denver Nuggets (5-4): Michael Porter Jr. seemed to be destined to take the next leap this season to stardom, however, he has gotten off to a terrible start. Luckily, the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic has been able to pick up the slack.

10. Memphis Grizzlies (5-4): The Grizzlies were impressive in taking down the Nuggets in back-to-back games before falling to the Wizards. Ja Morant is a must-see showman and the Grizz will get even better when they get Dillon Brooks back from injury.

9. New York Knicks (6-4): The Knicks have lost three of their last four games, but they have to be thrilled with the early returns on RJ Barrett, who had been averaging over 19 points per game before a rough outing in a loss to the Cavs.

8. Chicago Bulls (6-3): Back-to-back losses to the 76ers have slowed the early season excitement surrounding the Bulls. Still, both DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are averaging over 26 points per game, and the Bulls have had many highlight moments. 

7. Phoenix Suns (5-3): A four-game winning streak has gotten the Suns back into the upper echelon of the West. It is yet to be seen however how much the controversy and investigation into Suns owner Robert Sarver could create a distraction moving forward.

6. Dallas Mavericks (6-3): Even without Kristaps Porzingis, Luka Doncic was able to lead the Mavs to a buzzer-beater win against Boston and now have taken three of their last four games. Jalen Brunson has impressed early on averaging nearly 15 points per game.

5. Utah Jazz (7-3): After starting the season by winning seven of their first eight games, the Jazz have dropped two straight including a shocking upset in Orlando. They now start a five-game homestand that includes some tough competition from the East.

 

4. Brooklyn Nets (7-3): Despite some head scratching plays from James Harden as he adjusts to the new foul rules, Kevin Durant has been playing at an MVP-level to start the season and the Nets have finally hit their stride, winning five-straight games. 

3. Miami Heat (7-2): Bam Adebayo has been sensational to start the season, averaging over 19 points per game, to go with 12 rebounds and fantastic defense. As it stands, the Heat might be the most complete team when healthy.

2. Golden State Warriors (8-1): Steph Curry has not scored more than 20 points in four straight games, however, it has not slowed down the Dubs. Sure, the Warriors have taken advantage of a weaker schedule to start the season, but they have punished their opponents with a defensive identity that many did not expect.

1. Philadelphia 76ers (8-2): The Sixers are rolling, winning six straight games led by perennial MVP candidate Joel Embiid. Without Ben Simmons, the Sixers have turned to Seth Curry for a higher usage rate, and he has responded by averaging over 17 points per game while shooting 50 percent from deep.

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