Blakely's Top 5/Bottom 5 NBA teams: A few surprises
NBA Top 5/Bottom 5
BOSTON – While it may still be early in the season, we’ve seen enough of a sample size to at least start a pecking order of the powerful – we’re talking the top five teams – as well as the pitiful who'll take up residence at the opposite end of the winning spectrum.
Most of the teams near the top of the NBA are ones we thought might be there. But those holding it down in the back of the pack? Well, there’s a couple of unexpected guests in the NBA basement in this first couple weeks of the season.
Here’s a look at our Top 5/Bottom 5.
1. Golden State Warriors (9-1)
They remain the gold standard in the NBA as they continue to find ways to win with a roster that’s even more top-heavy than we’ve seen in years. Managing the minutes of their top players will be among the biggest challenges facing Steve Kerr this season. So far, so good.
2. Denver Nuggets (7-1)
There was a sense that the Nuggets could be pretty good, but they’re off to a start that’s far better than what many would have envisioned at this point in the season. They’re getting it done with a top-five defense and an offense that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes (they rank among the top-five in fewest turnovers committed per game).
3. Toronto Raptors (8-1)
At this early juncture, the Raptors are playing better than any other team in the East. And their success is indeed fueled by Kawhi Leonard. But the fact that he has already missed a couple of games to rest his body should be somewhat concerning. It’s unclear if the Raptors are just being overly cautious with him or if there’s a very real concern about limiting his workload.
4. Boston Celtics (6-2)
After a sluggish start, Boston has reeled off four wins in a row and remains very much at the front of the pack in the East. Kyrie Irving is getting his shooting groove back, Gordon Hayward continues to make significant strides, and the B.W.A. (Bench With Attitude) has been a vital part of their recent success too.
5. Milwaukee Bucks (7-1)
The Bucks were the last remaining undefeated team, although their success has to be put in perspective when you consider they had played some of the weakest teams in the NBA. And their signature win over Toronto came against the Kawhi Leonard-less Raptors. Still, they have played well enough at both ends of the floor (the Celtics game being the exception) to warrant a spot among the top teams at this early juncture.
26. Houston Rockets (2-5)
The departures of defensive aces Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute has hurt the Rockets, obviously. But the team’s offense has been surprisingly anemic as well, ranked among the bottom 10 in the NBA in a number of offensive categories such as scoring, three-point percentage and assists. It makes a lot of sense why they would be among the teams showing interest in trading for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler considering where they are record-wise and what they would need from their roster to turn things around.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-7)
The Cavs in Year One without LeBron James - this is where they were expected to be. The struggles on the floor led to the firing of Tyronn Lue as coach and now has J.R. Smith talking up the idea of wanting to be traded, which won’t be easy considering he has struggled shooting the ball – the one thing Smith has to do well in order to be effective.
28. Atlanta Hawks (2-6)
Similar to Cleveland, you knew this was going to be a rough season for the Hawks and new coach Lloyd Pierce. For them, it’s about the development of their young players like Trae Young. And part of that development and growth is to take a few lumps early on and learn from them going forward.
29. Washington Wizards (1-7)
Because this team has consistently failed to live up to the lofty hopes and goals so many had for them, it was inevitable that they lean more towards bottoming out at some point. Washington ranks among the bottom 10 in several categories at both ends of the floor which is surprising when you consider they have an All-Star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
30. Phoenix Suns (1-7)
Development, development, development will be a strong theme throughout this season. The steady improvement of top overall pick DeAndre Ayton will serve as a primary goal this season, as well as the elite play of Devin Booker who was a borderline All-Star last season. Throw in a rookie head coach and a front office that’s very much a work in progress, you have all the pieces in place for what will be a rough season for the Suns.