We couldn’t have asked for a better Week 1. Many people, including myself, thought the Warriors were a lock to take back the title this season, but if their 29-point loss to the Spurs was any indication, they have a lot of work ahead of them. "We're not clicking and everybody can see that," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. While nobody’s panicking, it’s enough to bump the Warriors down a couple slots while moving the 3-0 Cavaliers and 4-0 Spurs up. Every Monday I’ll be right here with my updated rankings, so let’s take a look at the latest changes ahead of Week 2. For NBA news and fantasy advice, click here to follow me on Twitter!
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No. 1) Cavaliers (3-0) Previous Rank: No. 2
The defending champs blew out the Knicks by 29 points on opening night and a clutch Kyrie Irving 3-pointer helped them steal a win in Toronto. I probably should’ve put them at No. 1 last week but I won’t make the same mistake this time. Their toughest test this week will be a home game vs. the Boston Celtics. Oh, and that LeBron James is still going strong, averaging 21.0 points, 10.0 assists and 8.3 rebounds.
No. 2) Spurs (4-0) Previous Rank: No. 3
Already the best defender in the league, Kawhi Leonard is quickly becoming an offensive superstar. He’s averaging 28.0 points on 50 percent shooting with 4.3 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.0 treys, leading the Spurs to wins over the Warriors, Kings, Pelicans and Heat. LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t look “unhappy” and Pau Gasol finally found his form vs. the Heat with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The only thing holding them back from the top spot is the disappearance of Tony Parker.
No. 3) Warriors (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 1
There’s no reason to panic as it’s going to take some time for the Warriors to develop some chemistry, but they are miles behind the Cavs and Spurs at the moment. Kevin Durant has been dominant with 31.3 points and 10.3 rebounds on 56.6 percent shooting, but they lost by 29 points to the Spurs and had some trouble putting away the Pelicans and Suns. I guess we shouldn’t just hand them the trophy this season.
No. 4) Clippers (2-0) Previous Rank: No. 4
The Clippers have looked awesome, grabbing an impressive road win over the Blazers and crushing the Jazz by double digits. Blake Griffin has never looked better and has added a 3-point shot to his arsenal, while Chris Paul is showing no signs of slowing down. DeAndre Jordan injured his thumb on Sunday, but X-rays were negative and he’s not expected to miss any time. After a date with the Suns on Monday, the Clippers will have three huge tests against the Thunder, Grizzlies and Spurs this week.
No. 5) Raptors (1-1) Previous Rank: No. 6
Teams don’t usually lose a game and move up a spot in my rankings, but the Raptors gave the Cavs a run for their money and were a Kyrie Irving 3-pointer away from heading to overtime. They opened their season with an 18-point win over a solid Detroit team, so ranking them as the second best team in the East seems fair. Jonas Valanciunas is on another level this season with 21.0 points and 14.0 rebounds per game, while DeMar DeRozan is proving that he was worth the max with a scoring average of 36.0 points per game.
No. 6) Blazers (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 7
The arrival of Evan Turner hasn’t worked out yet, but the Blazers have been able to hide his poor play due to the emergence of Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless. C.J. McCollum has taken another step forward and Damian Lillard looks like an MVP candidate, hitting a game-winning floater over the Nuggets. He’s averaging 35.0 points, 8.0 boards, 5.3 assists and 2.7 assists, so he won’t be getting snubbed from the All-Star team this season.
No. 7) Thunder (3-0) Previous Rank: No. 10
The Thunder haven’t had a tough schedule with their three wins coming against the 76ers, Suns and Lakers, but a win is a win. Russell Westbrook is my choice to win the MVP this season and he has looked the part so far, averaging 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 11.7 assists and 2.7 treys per game, notching two triple-doubles in the process. The Thunder have two brutal games on the schedule this week against the Clippers and the Warriors, so we will quickly find out if this Thunder team is legit.
No. 8) Bulls (2-0) Previous Rank: No. 16
This feels a little high, but the Bulls grabbed a huge home win over the Celtics and blew out the Pacers by 17 points a couple days later. I didn’t think this roster was built for success prior to the season, but Dwyane Wade adding a 3-point shot was huge — he hit a total of seven 3-pointers in 2015-16 and already has four through two games in 2016-17. Rajon Rondo has embraced his role and has dished out 22 assists in two games, while the Bulls’ frontcourt trio of Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic have looked great. If Jimmy Butler stays healthy, this team could be sneaky good in the East.
No. 9) Celtics (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 5
The Celtics barely snuck by the Nets in the season opener and suffered a tough loss on the road to the Bulls, but got back on track with an impressive road win over the surging Hornets. Al Horford is fitting in seamlessly and the Celtics have been getting some solid minutes off the bench from two newcomers in the rotation in Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics will be getting a healthy Marcus Smart back this week and Kelly Olynyk’s return from his shoulder surgery is right around the corner. By the way, I hope you listened to us and drafted Avery Bradley in fantasy, as he’s averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 boards, 4.7 assists and 4.0 treys through three games.
No. 10) Hawks (2-0) Previous Rank: No. 12
Dwight Howard is happy, Dennis Schroder got his new deal and Paul Millsap is healthy, so all is well in Atlanta. They expectedly crushed the Wizards and 76ers last week, and their Week 2 schedule looks pretty favorable as well with the Kings, Lakers, Wizards and Rockets up next. The only real concern for the Hawks is right now is their $70 million man Kent Bazemore, as he’s averaging just 7.5 points per game on 27.8 percent shooting.
No. 11) Grizzlies (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 8
The Grizzlies got off to a 1-1 start with a win against the Wolves and a loss to the Knicks which prompted them to change their starting lineup, as Jarell Martin replaced Andrew Harrison in the first unit which pushed JaMychal Green to SF. They needed a Marc Gasol 3-pointer (his fourth of the night) to edge the Wizards in overtime, but the Grizzlies can look forward to getting a healthy Tony Allen (knee) and Chandler Parsons (knee) back in the lineup any day now. If there’s one player to keep an eye on moving forward, it’s rookie Wade Baldwin after he posted averages of 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block in 21.3 minutes per game. I smell upside.
No. 12) Pistons (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 13
Don’t look now, but Andre Drummond is shooting 50 percent from the free throw line on 16 total attempts. He hit just 35.5 percent last season, so he’s finally trending in the right direction. Regardless, he’s still a monster and is averaging 16.0 points, 16.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block per game. Ish Smith is doing an admirable job in Reggie Jackson’s (knee) absence, helping the Pistons bounce back from their loss to the Raptors by leading them to easy wins over the Magic and Bucks. If the Pistons can get second-year forward Stanley Johnson going, this team could be deadly.
No. 13) Rockets (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 15
The Rockets are 13th in the league in points per game (104.3), but I expect that number to climb and I’ve been impressed with them early on. James Harden is loving his new job as the full-time PG, dishing out 10.7 assists per game to go with 29.3 points and 2.7 treys. They took a bad loss to the Lakers on opening night but rebounded with two straight wins over the ailing Mavericks, but we’ll get a good idea of what they are made of when they begin their 5-game road trip against the Cavaliers on Tuesday.
No. 14) Pacers (1-2) Previous Rank: No. 9
After a solid win over the Mavs on opening night, the Pacers had a meltdown against the Nets and were manhandled by the Bulls the following day. Jeff Teague has been brutal and is shooting 20.0 percent from the field, but if there’s one positive to take from their slow start, it’s the play of Myles Turner. The second-year center is averaging 21.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks and looks like a future superstar.
No. 15) Hornets (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 23
I was too low on the Hornets last week, but to be fair they were expected to beat the Heat and Bucks. They are having some tough luck with injuries with Roy Hibbert (knee) and Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) banged up, and they weren’t able to keep their streak alive against the Celtics in Charlotte. The good news for the Hornets is that their next game will be against the 76ers who will be playing without Joel Embiid on Wednesday.
No. 16) Jazz (1-2) Previous Rank: No. 11
The Jazz lost to the Blazers on opening night and then bounced back against the Lakers, but they were absolutely destroyed by the Clippers. To be fair, the Jazz are missing Gordon Hayward (finger) and Alec Burks (knee, ankle), while Derrick Favors just returned from a knee issue. Boris Diaw is not fitting in at all and Trey Lyles has been disappointing off the bench, but George Hill has never looked better and Rudy Gobert is off to a strong start with averages of 11.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Unfortunately for the Jazz, they play the Spurs twice this week.
No. 17) Nuggets (1-1) Previous Rank: No. 24
This is probably too high but I love what I have seen from the Nuggets so far. They were able to hang on against the Pelicans despite a 50-point performance from Anthony Davis, and lost by two points to the Blazers because of Damian Lillard’s game-winning floater. Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic both look like studs, and the Nuggets should be getting a healthy Gary Harris back in the lineup this week.
No. 18) Knicks (1-1) Previous Rank: No. 20
The “Super Team” was torched by 29 points to the Cavaliers on opening night, but to their credit, they responded with a gutsy win over the Grizzlies. Carmelo Anthony is embracing a reduced role, Kristaps Porzingis already looks like an All-Star, and Derrick Rose has looked decent, scoring 15.0 points with 2.0 assists and 2.0 turnovers per game. As long as Phil Jackson stays out of Jeff Hornacek’s ear, the Knicks have a legitimate shot of making the postseason.
No. 19) Wizards (0-2) Previous Rank: No. 17
This team is built around John Wall, so it’s no surprise that they are 0-2 when the All-Star PG is shooting 32.4 percent from the field with 5.0 turnovers per game. They have faced two tough opponents in the Hawks and Grizzlies, so there’s no need to sound the alarm just yet. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier this week with a matchup vs. the Raptors and a rematch with the undefeated Hawks.
No. 20) Kings (2-1) Previous Rank: No. 27
Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard are just a few of the names getting all of the love this week, but what about DeMarcus Cousins? He’s been unreal, averaging 30.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 52.1 percent shooting. He has led the Kings to wins over the Suns and Wolves, and he even gave the Spurs a scare. If you’re still not impressed, keep in mind that he’s playing alongside a washed-up Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson and Kosta Koufos. The Kings begin a five-game road trip in Atlanta on Monday, so I could see them taking a step down in next week’s rankings.
No. 21) Wolves (0-2) Previous Rank: No. 14
The Wolves lost by four points to the Grizzlies in their season opener and blew an 18-point lead against the Kings. They hired coach Tom Thibodeau for his defense, yet the team is 28th in defensive efficiency early on. The Wolves are also 29th in the league in pace, a huge surprise considering how athletic the starting unit is. To make matters worse, Ricky Rubio sprained his elbow and Kris Dunn hasn’t proved that he’s ready for more than 20 minutes per night. They have Karl-Anthony Towns, so they will eventually figure things out.
No. 22) Heat (1-2) Previous Rank: No. 19
The Heat took care of business against the lowly Magic in the opener, but dropped two straight games to the Hornets and Spurs. This is a rebuilding season for the Heat, and the good news is that both Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside have both made huge strides since last season. The Heat will be getting a healthy Josh Richardson back any day now, meaning they can finally cut back Dion Waiters’ minutes.
No. 23) Mavericks (0-3) Previous Rank: No. 18
Believe it or not, but Harrison Barnes has actually been Dallas’ top performer so far. Dirk Nowitzki has missed two straight games with an illness and a sore Achilles, Wesley Matthews is shooting 29.1 percent from the field and Seth Curry is off to a painfully slow start. Meanwhile, Barnes is averaging 20.0 points, 6.3 boards and 1.7 treys per game. The Mavs look a lottery team, but they are due for a rebuild anyways.
No. 24) Lakers (1-2) Previous Rank: No. 28
How did the Lakers lose two games and still move up? Because the teams below them are shocking right now. The Lakers had an impressive opening win against the Rockets before suffering two straight losses to the Jazz and Thunder. The Lakers aren’t in the playoff hunt anyways, as their focus is strictly on the development of their young studs in D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram.
No. 25) Bucks (1-2) Previous Rank: 22
They are a complete mess right now and my money is on Jason Kidd to be the first coach fired this season. The Bucks gave Miles Plumlee $52 million to play 8 minutes, they think Tony Snell is a starter and they are 24th in offensive efficiency. They barely snuck by the Nets for their only win so far, and they lost to the Pistons and Hornets by a combined 26 points. At least Giannis Antetokounmpo is still a monster, as the Greek Freak is averaging 23.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.0 steals and 0.7 triples.
No. 26) Nets (1-2) Previous Rank: 29
They have no idea how to use Brook Lopez in their new offense, but they are playing just as hard as any team in the League. Coach Kenny Atkinson is a keeper and the Nets couldn’t have picked a better coach to develop their young talent. The Nets have a future again, but it’s going to take some time.
No. 27) Pelicans (0-3) Previous Rank: 26
You have to feel for Anthony Davis… The guy is averaging 37.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.3 steals, yet his team is 0-3. Other than Tim Frazier, Davis doesn’t have much help right now as the team continues to wait for the return of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday. Omer Asik has given the Pelicans nothing at center and the Pelicans refuse to play Terrence Jones more than 15 minutes despite his promising preseason. It looks like another long season in New Orleans, but at least we get to watch Lance Stephenson go rogue.
No. 28) Suns (0-3) Previous Rank: 25
After a rough loss to the Kings in the season opener, the Suns actually put up a really good fight in losses to the Thunder and Warriors. Eric Bledsoe is healthy and playing well, Devin Booker is developing into a star and rookie Marquese Chriss is one of the most exciting prospects in the league with his unique skill-set. I also have to mention T.J. Warren, as the third-year SF is averaging 23.3 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting. The future is bright, but wins will be hard to come by this season.
No. 29) Magic (0-3) Previous Rank: No. 21
I knew they would be bad, but they are even worse than I thought and I was tempted to move the 76ers past them. They have no rhythm on offense and are currently ranked 28th in offensive efficiency. Serge Ibaka looks washed up just as I predicted, and the team continues to play Aaron Gordon out of position. If they don’t beat the 76ers on Tuesday, expect major changes.
No. 30) 76ers (0-2) Previous Rank: No. 30
Yes, they are still bad, but the future has never looked better due to the emergence of Joel Embiid. The Process is averaging 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, and he’s doing it all in just 19.0 minutes per game.