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Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings: Week 2

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: October 22, 2018, 4:51 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @Tommy Beer

 

1. Golden State Warriors
2018-19 record: 2-1
The two-time defending champs opened the 2018-19 campaign with a pair of tough tests on the road in their first week. They were able to sneak past the Jazz in Utah courtesy of a Jonas Jerebko tip-in just before the buzzer. However, they fell to the Nuggets in Denver as Damian Jones had his lay-up attempt blocked in the final second. Yes, it’s odd that Jerebko and Jones were players that decided those contests, considering the Warriors had four other all-stars on the court at the time.

2. Toronto Raptors
2018-19 record: 3-0
Kawhi has looked fantastic early on this season, averaging 27.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists over his first two games as a Raptor, including 31 & 10 in a win over the Celtics last Friday. And, despite playing with Kawhi Leonard (who was resting during the Raps third game in four nights), Toronto improved to 3-0 on the season with a victory over the Wizards in Washington on Saturday.

 

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3. Boston Celtics
2018-19 record: 2-1
The Celtics were in danger of falling to the Knicks Saturday at MSG, before Jayson Tatum sunk a back-breaking fadeaway jumper. The super sophomore finished that game with 24 points and a career-high 14 boards. Gordon Hayward was held out of Saturday's win. Coach Brad Stevens said there wasn't an initial plan to rest Hayward on back-to-backs, but that Hayward was “experiencing general soreness” and will be evaluated on a game-by-game basis.

4. Denver Nuggets
2018-19 record: 3-0
It was a fantastic first weekend for the undefeated Nuggets. On Sunday night, they knocked off the Warriors at home. On Saturday, Nikola Jokic had a game for the ages. He scored 35 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. Oh, and he also had four steals and blocked a shot. Oh yeah, almost forgot, he didn’t miss a single shot from the field, knocking down all 11 of his FG attempts, including three 3-pointers, and made 10-of-11 from the free-throw stripe. Coming into this past weekend, there had been only other game in which an NBA player recorded a 30-point triple-double without a missing a shot from the floor. That was over 50 years ago, when Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the feat in 1967.

5. New Orleans Pelicans
2018-19 record: 2-0
The Pelicans offense is humming right now. They lead the NBA in offensive rating, as they are averaging a mind-boggling 127.9 points per 100 possessions. No other team is averaging more than 119 points / 100 possessions. The gap between first and second place in OffRtg is the same as the gap between second and 12th. New Orleans also leads the league in effective field goal percentage (62.7%), True Shooting Percentage (64.5%) and assist ratio (22.2%).

6. Utah Jazz
2018-19 record: 1-1
Utah’s lone loss was to the Warriors in Golden State on the final play of the game. There are no moral victories in this league, but losing to the defending champs at the buzzer in their building is as impressive a defeat as possible... The perennially underrated Joe Ingles is off to a hot start, averaging 24.5 points, 5.0 assists, 5.5 treys and 3.0 steals, while shooting a scorching 70.4 percent from the floor and 64.7 percent from downtown.

 

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7. Houston Rockets
2018-19 record: 1-2
Clint Capela, James Harden, and Chris Paul played 45 games together last season and went 42-3 in those 45 contests, and all three losses were by six or fewer points... Paul was suspended for two games for his part in Saturday's altercation with Rajon Rondo, which kept him out of Sunday's matchup with the Clippers, a game which the Rockets lost. Dating back to the start of 2017-18, Houston is just 23-15 without CP3, Harden and Capela together in the lineup.

8. Milwaukee Bucks
2018-19 record: 2-0
New head coach Mike Budenholzer has yet to lose a game with Milwaukee. As he’s finding out, it’s a huge advantage having Giannis Antetokounmpo on your side. The Greek Freak tallied 51 points, 33 rebounds and 13 assists through the Bucks first two games. The only blemish on Antetokounmpo’s resume is that he has yet to knock down a 3-pointer, missing all nine of his attempts from beyond the arc.

9. Portland Trail Blazers
2018-19 record: 2-0
Portland has started off the season strong, knocking off Los Angeles in LeBron James’ Lakers debut, and then blowing out the Spurs on Saturday. You think Damian Lillard is playing with confidence right now? Look at where he launches this 3-point attempt from! Mind you, this was the first possession and shot of the game. Both Dame and C.J. McCollum shot 9-of-15 from the floor in the victory over San Antonio.

best part is you can see dame call for a pick and was just like nah nvm pic.twitter.com/OUmLC9QLmU

— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 21, 2018

10. Indiana Pacers
2018-19 record: 2-1
The Pacers showcased their impressive depth in a 132-112 win over the Nets at home on Saturday night. Indiana had nine players log more than four minutes, and all nine of those players scored in double-figures.

11. Philadelphia 76ers
2018-19 record: 2-1
Joel Embiid didn’t play more than 29 minutes in any of the Sixers first seven games in 2017-18 and logged fewer than 31 minutes in each of their first ten contests. This season, Embiid has played more than 32 minutes in all three games. However, the Sixers may be without Ben Simmons tomorrow. Simmons (back tightness) did not practice on Monday and is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game vs. Detroit.

12. Detroit Pistons
2018-19 record: 2-0
Detroit canned coach/GM Stan Van Gundy after failing to qualify for the playoffs in a disappointing 2017-18 campaign. With new head coach Dwane Casey at the helm, the Pistons have won two straight to start the new season. Blake Griffin is leading the charge, averaging 29.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.0 triples thus far.

13. Los Angeles Lakers
2018-19 record: 0-2
LeBron has struggled a bit out of the gate for L.A., shooting just 47.4 percent from the floor and making only one of his 11 3-point attempts over the Lakers first two games. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before he gets hot and locks in. However, the Laker will be forced to play without Brandon Ingram this week, as he has been suspended four games for his role in Saturday's altercation with the Rockets.

14. Charlotte Hornets
2018-19 record: 2-1
Kemba Walker has the NBA’s only 40-point game this season, pouring in 41 against the Bucks on opening night. Kemba was back at this weekend, tallying 39, including the game-winning free-throw in the final second, in a victory over the Heat. Walker currently leads the NBA in total points with 106. Stephen Curry, James Harden, Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant round out the top-5.

15. L.A. Clippers
2018-19 record: 2-1
The Clippers are off to a great start, notching back-to-back wins over the Thunder and Rockets. However, they will face a very stiff test this week when they travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans on Tuesday, and then play the Rockets in Houston on Thursday.

16. San Antonio Spurs
2018-19 record: 1-1
The Spurs backcourt was decimated over a five-day span earlier this month. On October 6th, it was announced that Lonnie Walker would have to undergo surgery on a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. On October 7th, Dejounte Murray tore his ACL. On October 11th, Derrick White was diagnosed with a left plantar fascia tear that is expected to sideline him for 6-8 weeks. Through the first two games of the season, the only Spurs with more than five assists are DeMar DeRozan, Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge. Coach Pop is going to have to hope for better point guard play from Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes if he wants to stay near the top of the pack out West. The Spurs have also been shockingly porous defensively, allowing 119.9 points per 100 possessions.

 

17. Minnesota Timberwolves
2018-19 record: 1-2
The circus in Minnesota has been a distraction all month for the Wolves. Their sloppy play on the court has been indicative of a team in crisis off it. Minny has dropped two of their first three games, and their defense has been deplorable. The Wolves have given up at least 112 points in each, and are allowing 121.8 points per 100 possessions over their two most recent contests.

18. Miami Heat
2018-19 record: 1-2
The Heat have dropped two of their first three games, including a disappointing defeat to Orlando in the season opener. Fortunately, both Justise Winslow (hamstring) and Wayne Ellington (left ankle) are expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday when Miami takes on the Knicks. It’s possible James Johnson (groin) is cleared to return later this week as well. However, Hassan Whiteside (hip/groin) did not practice on Monday, and Dion Waiters (ankle) is still without a timetable.

19. Oklahoma City Thunder
2018-19 record: 0-3
Russell Westbrook didn’t show any signs of rust in his season debut on Sunday night, scoring 32 points (on 13-of-23 shooting) to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists. Yet, OKC still lost their third straight. This most recent defeat was an embarrassing loss to the Kings. The Thunder have off until Thursday, when they play the Celtics.

20. Washington Wizards
2018-19 record: 0-2
The Wiz have dropped each of their first two games this season, and things might get worse before they get better. Washington embarks on a five-game, West Coast road trip Monday in Portland. They then travel to Golden State, Sacramento, L.A. and Memphis over eight days, before returning home to take on the Thunder. They are hoping starting center Dwight Howard (piriformis) will make his Wizards debut soon.

21. Dallas Mavericks
2018-19 record: 1-1
Luka Doncic put his full, deadly arsenal on display on Saturday night, in his first game in front of the home crowd in Dallas. Luka finished with 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, four triples, two steals and one block in 36 minutes. His backcourt mate, Dennis Smith Jr. nailed a jumper in the closing moments to seal the victory for the Mavs. Those two will be fun to watch all year long.

22. Memphis Grizzlies
2018-19 record: 1-1
Memphis was awful last season, but that was an anomaly, as the Grizz had qualified for the playoffs each season from 2010-11 through 2016-17. They now have a healthy Mike Conley back in the mix and are hoping to compete for a playoff spot once again. Unfortunately, they'll be without JaMychal Green for the foreseeable future. Green suffered a broken jaw after receiving an elbow to the face from an opposing player in Friday’s game against the Hawks. He underwent a surgical stabilization procedure Saturday morning and is expected to miss anywhere between two-to-six weeks, per varying reports. Their first-round pick, Jaren Jackson Jr., who is the youngest player in the NBA this season, will be asked to step in and step up.

23. Phoenix Suns
2018-19 record: 1-1
Deandre Ayton has undoubtedly looked worthy of the No. 1 overall pick this month. He was dominant in the preseason (averaging 20.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.5 blocks in 29.8 minutes over the Suns first four exhibition games) and looked terrific in his pro debut during the regular season, making 8-of-11 from the field for 18 points with 10 rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and no turnovers. However, he tweaked his ankle in practice last Thursday and was slowed down on Saturday night vs. Denver. He gets his first ever look at the world-champion Warriors on Monday night.

24. New York Knicks
2018-19 record: 1-2
The Knicks have played hard, and played well for the most part, but have just a 1-2 record to show for it. New York has scored 332 points this season, while allowing 317. They’ve lost two games by a combined 4 points. On Saturday, they also lost Kevin Knox to a badly sprained ankle. Their prized rookie is expected to miss up to a month. New York will need Mario Hezonja and Allonzo Trier to play well in the extended minutes they’ll receive over the next few weeks.

25. Brooklyn Nets
2018-19 record: 1-2
The Nets got bit by the injury bug early on this season. DeMarre Carroll (ankle) is out indefinitely; Allen Crabbe missed the season opener; and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (personal, groin), Shabazz (right hamstring strain) and Alan Williams (left ankle) have yet to suit up for a regular season game. They also lost Treveon Graham to a left hamstring strain and Rodions Kurucs to an ankle sprain over the weekend. However, Hollis-Jefferson and Napier are both expected to return to the lineup Wednesday at Cleveland.

26. Orlando Magic
2018-19 record: 1-2
The Magic beat the Heat on opening night and then lost by just a point to the Sixers on Saturday. Their issue this season will be point guard play. Starting PG D.J. Augustin is averaging 7.3 points in 26.0 minutes while shooting a horrific 31.8 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from downtown. Backup Jerian Grant hasn’t been much better.

27. Sacramento Kings
2018-19 record: 1-2
The Kings have had a brutal early-season schedule. The opened up against the Jazz and then played the Pelicans and Thunder on the road over the weekend. Their tough trip isn’t over, as they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets Tuesday night. However, Sacramento has looked exciting early on, especially in their impressive 131-120 victory over Russell Westbrook and OKC Sunday night.

28. Atlanta Hawks
2018-19 record: 1-2
The Hawks looked awful in their first two games, getting blowout by the Knicks and Grizzlies. However, Trae Young put on a show Sunday night in Cleveland, propelling Atlanta to a 133-111 win over the Cavs. Young finished with 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting, six 3-pointers, 11 assists, two rebounds and one steal. Young is only the seventh rookie over the last 45 years to score at least 35 points and dish out 10+ assists. The other six are Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Sherman Douglas, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry.

29. Cleveland Cavaliers
2018-19 record: 0-3
Believe it or not, the Cavs aren’t all that competitive without King James in Cleveland. As a reminder, here are the Cavaliers season-average win totals over the last 12 years:
From 2006 thru 2010 (with LeBron on the roster): 55.5 wins
From 2010 thru 2014 (without LeBron on the roster): 23.7 wins
From 2014 thru 2018 (with LeBron on the roster): 52.8 wins

30. Chicago Bulls
2018-19 record: 0-2
Zach LaVine joined some pretty impressive company this weekend. As of last week, only two players in Bulls franchise history had scored at least 30 points in each of the first two games of a season: Bob Love and Michael Jordan. With 30 points on opening night and 33 on Saturday, LaVine joined those two Bulls legends. Nonetheless, Chicago lost both games and has yet to record a victory. However, they will welcome back Kris Dunn on Monday, who was away from the team last week to be with his family following the birth of his first child.