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Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings: Week 3

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: October 29, 2018, 1:01 pm ET

As we begin the third week of NBA action, the Warriors and Raptors retain the top two spots in our updated rankings. However, Milwaukee is climbing and will look to knock off Toronto on Monday night in a battle between the NBA's last two undefeated teams. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this game is the first time in NBA history that two teams with a record of 6-0 or better will play each other.

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1. Golden State Warriors
2018-19 record: 6-1
The Warriors went 4-0 last week, winning each of those first three games by at least 20 points. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry were both incredibly efficient in those four victories. Steph and KD, the NBA’s two top scorers for the week, poured in a combined 271 points on just 165 field goal attempts. To put that in context, Russell Westbrook and Paul George have scored a combined total of 189 points on 161 field goal attempts this season.

2. Toronto Raptors
2018-19 record: 6-0
The Raptors keep rolling. They are a perfect 6-0. However, it should be noted that they have had a favorable early-season schedule. Toronto has played five of their first six games at home, and five of their first six opponents currently have losing records. Things will even out starting Monday when they travel to Milwaukee without Kawhi Leonard (rest) for a showdown with the Bucks, who are the only other undefeated team in the league. Then, after hosting the Sixers the following night, Toronto embarks on a four-game west coast road trip.

3. Milwaukee Bucks
2018-19 record: 6-0
Disappointing news out of Milwaukee on Monday afternoon as it was announced that Giannis Antetokounmpo had been placed in the league’s concussion protocol and will not play against Toronto. Antetokounmpo took an elbow to the head during Saturday's game, which he said caused him to black out briefly. It's a bummer, as the Greek Freak started the season on fire. He became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1965 to tally at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in each the first four games of a season. Also, per NBA.com, the Greek Freak became the first-ever player in NBA history to have 110 points, 60 rebounds, 25 assists in four games to start a season.

4. Boston Celtics
2018-19 record: 4-2
Unsurprisingly, Brad Steven’s Celtics are playing stifling defense. While offenses across the league are putting up points at a historic pace, Boston has still managed to limit three straight opponents to 95 points or less and currently leads the league in Defensive Efficiency. Surprisingly, the C’s have gotten limited offensive production from Kyrie Irving, who is averaging just 14.0 points, while shooting a putrid 39.1 percent from the floor, 24.1 percent from downtown and 69.2 percent from the free-throw stripe this season.

5. Denver Nuggets
2018-19 record: 4-1
The Nuggets started the season at 4-0 before losing to the Lakers on Thursday. If Nikola Jokic can continue at his current pace, he’ll be in the MVP discussion this season. Jokic currently leads Denver in points (23.4), rebounds (10.6), assists (6.2) and steals (1.4).

6. Utah Jazz
2018-19 record: 4-2
After a disappointing loss to the Grizzlies last Monday, Utah bounced back to close out the week with three wins, including victories over the Rockets in Houston and the Pelicans in New Orleans. Rudy Gobert was simply dominant this past weekend. In a pair of back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, Rudy scored 48 points (on 20-of-26 shooting), grabbed 30 rebounds, and blocked seven shots.

7. New Orleans Pelicans
2018-19 record: 4-1
Anthony Davis injured his right (shooting) elbow in the Pelicans win on Friday and was forced to sit out Saturday’s loss to Utah as a result. He is currently being listed as questionable for Monday's game in Denver. It’s obviously impossible to overstate AD’s importance to the Pelicans moving forward. New Orleans begins a nine-day, five-game road trip against Western Conference teams Monday vs. the Nuggets.

8. Indiana Pacers
2018-19 record: 4-2
The Pacers, who host the Blazers on Monday night, have been excellent at home this season, winning both their games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse by a combined 40 points. The will also get Tyreke Evans back in the lineup. Evans did not travel with the team to Cleveland over the weekend on due to a violation of team rules. Per the Pacers PR Twitter feed, Evans was late for practice on Friday. ‘Reke is expected to suit up Monday against Portland.

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9. Detroit Pistons
2018-19 record: 4-1
The Pistons started this season winning four straight but came crashing back down to earth on Saturday night, when they got shellacked by the Celtics. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as they play five of their next six away from home. The first game in this tough stretch is a trip to Boston on Tuesday night.

10. San Antonio Spurs
2018-19 record: 3-2
Somehow the shorthanded Spurs have won three of their first five, including impressive wins over the Lakers (home and away). They play four times this week, but three of those four are in San Antonio and three of the four are also against teams with losing records (Phoenix, Dallas, and Orlando). DeMar DeRozan has made a remarkable first impression in front of his new fans. He is averaging career-highs in assists (7.8) and rebounds (6.0), to go along with 27.2 points.

11. Portland Trail Blazers
2018-19 record: 3-2
I think we can safely assume that Damian Lillard is going to take home NBA Player of the Week honors in the Western Conference. After registering a season-high 41 points in Orlando on Thursday, Dame one-upped himself on Saturday night when he hung 42 on the Heat. Lillard is the first player in Blazers franchise history with at least 40 points, five rebounds and five assists in consecutive games.

 

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12. Philadelphia 76ers
2018-19 record: 3-3
The Sixers are 3-3 thanks in large part to the impressively consistent excellence from Joel Embiid. On the other end of the spectrum, former No.1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has yet to find his groove. Coming into the 2017-18 campaign, the talk all summer was that Fultz had re-engineered his jumper and would blossom this season. However, Fultz is actually shooting slightly worse from the floor (40.4 percent) and his per-possession production is down across the board. The saga of Fultz’s sophomore season will remain one of the more intriguing NBA subplots all year.

13. Houston Rockets
2018-19 record: 1-4
As their record suggests, the Rockets have multiple issues to confront right now. The most pressing concern is getting James Harden (strained left hamstring) healthy. An MRI revealed a Grade-1 strain for Harden, and he’ll be re-evaluated this week. They also desperately need to improve their defense. The Rockets rank 27th in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency, allowing 114.7 points per 100 possessions.

14. Miami Heat
2018-19 record: 3-2
The Heat won both games they played last week and have a chance to string together a few more wins this week, as they take on the Kings, Hornets and Hawks.

15. L.A. Clippers
2018-19 record: 4-2
As expected, the Clippers up putting up plenty of points on the offensive end. However, it has been their improvement defensively that has keyed their early season success. In 2017-18, the Clippers ranked 19th in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency, allowing over 109 points per 100 possessions. This season, they rank seventh in DefEff, allowing fewer than 104 points per 100 possessions. "Everybody's excited about the offense, but its the defense that does the dirty work and allows everybody to score," coach Doc Rivers said after their win Sunday night.

16. Los Angeles Lakers
2018-19 record: 2-4
The Lake Show has had a tough start to their season, but that can be blamed partly on a demanding schedule. (The Lakers are on the only team in the league with a positive Net Rating but a losing record.) However, it’s not over yet - six of the Lakers first seven and nine of their first 11 opponents won at least 48 games last season. It lightens up a bit later in November, but playing in the stacked Western Conference is often a nightly challenge.

17. Charlotte Hornets
2018-19 record: 3-4
Head coach James Borrego stated before the season that he wants the Hornets to play a more uptempo brand of basketball in 2018-19. However, over the first couple of weeks, that hasn’t been the case. In 2017-18, the Hornets ranked 11th in PACE. This season, they rank 22nd. Nonetheless, their offense has still been impressively effective, ranking sixth in Offensive Efficiency.

18. Memphis Grizzlies
2018-19 record: 3-2
The hallmark of the successful ‘Grit and Grind Grizzlies’ was their dirty work on the defensive end. This iteration of the Grizz are looking to follow a similar blueprint. Despite ranking 28th scoring, Memphis has a winning record because they have a top-five defense which is allowing fewer than 102 points per 100 possessions.

19. Minnesota Timberwolves
2018-19 record: 2-4
The drama surrounding the Wolves has been intense all season. Their on-court product has undoubtedly suffered. On Friday, despite playing at home, they were embarrassed in a 30-point blowout defeat to the Bucks. Coach Tom Thibodeau remains reluctant to trade Jimmy Butler, but this doesn’t seem like a healthy environment for the organization. The Wolves host the Lakers on Monday night.

20. Oklahoma City Thunder
2018-19 record: 1-4
The Thunder finally notched a win when they knocked off Phoenix on Sunday night. It should probably be noted that the 1-5 Suns were playing the back end of a back-to-back on the road without their best player (Devin Booker). However, OKC will most certainly take it and hope they can build some positive momentum of their first victory.

21. Dallas Mavericks
2018-19 record: 2-4
DeAndre Jordan had one of the best all-around games of his career on Sunday night. He just missed a triple-double as he finished with 12 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high nine assists. Also impressive was the fact that he made all four of his free-throws. Jordan, a career 45-percent free throw shooter, is 26-for-30 (86.7 percent) from the charity stripe this season.

22. Sacramento Kings
2018-19 record: 3-3
What if I told you on opening night that almost two weeks into the season the Kings would have as many wins as the Rockets, Thunder and Wizards COMBINED?

23. Brooklyn Nets
2018-19 record: 2-4
The Nets have lost two consecutive games for the first time all season, but point guard D’Angelo Russell is heating up. Over those two contests, Russell averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 5.5 treys, while shooting over 60 percent from the floor and 3-point territory.

24. Washington Wizards
2018-19 record: 1-5
Things have gone from bad to ugly in a very short amount of time for the Wiz. They are only one of two teams yet to win a game in regulation this season (their lone win came in overtime). To be fair, their schedule has been brutal, as they opened the season at home vs. the Raptors and Heat before heading out on a five-game, west coast road trip. And they have yet to have their starting center Dwight Howard make his Wizards debut. Things can only get better, right?? The play the Grizz in Memphis on Tuesday before heading back home to D.C. to host OKC on Friday night.

25. Atlanta Hawks
2018-19 record: 2-3
Credit to new head coach Lloyd Pierce for having his undermanned Hawks competitive early on this season. Per NBA.com, Atlanta leads the league in pace (108.6) and turnovers forced per game (18.2), rank third in 3-point attempts per game, and eighth in defensive rating (104.4),

26. Orlando Magic
2018-19 record: 2-4
Aaron Gordon has struggled out of the gate this season. He is currently shooting below his career percentages from the floor, from 3-point territory and the free-throw stripe. He is crucial to the Magic’s success. In Orlando’s wins last season, Gordon averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting 50.4% from the floor and 41.7% from 3-point territory.

27. Chicago Bulls
2018-19 record: 2-4
Zach LaVine has exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations thus far. He is averaging 29.3 points on 52.7 percent shooting, and dating back to the end of last season he has scored at least 20 points and made at least one 3-pointer in seven straight games. The only Bulls to ever string together longer such streaks are Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Derrick Rose.

28. New York Knicks
2018-19 record: 1-5
The Knicks have lost five straight after knocking off the Hawks on opening night, but got some good news over the weekend when it was reported that Kevin Knox (sprained left ankle) is a bit of schedule and hopes to return to game action during the first week of November. Head Coach David Fizdale, who shook up the starting five over the weekend, has been unafraid to experiment with different lineups.

29. Phoenix Suns
2018-19 record: 1-5
The Suns lost to the Thunder on Sunday night. It was their fifth straight defeat; however, there was a silver lining, as their rookie point guard flashed some impressive upside. Elie Okobo played a career-high 31 minutes and tallied 18 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three 3-pointers and three turnovers. Starting PG Isaiah Canaan exited in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle, so we could see plenty of Okobo this week if Canaan is sidelined.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers
2018-19 record: 0-6
The Cavs canned coach Ty Lue on Sunday. Larry Drew will reportedly be promoted to interim head coach. Fortunately for Drew, the Cavs have a relatively soft upcoming schedule. Their next four games are against Atlanta, Denver, at Charlotte and at Orlando. However, the Cavaliers "are preparing for the strong possibility" that Kevin Love could miss more than a month with a left toe injury, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. With the Cavs seemingly inching towards tank-mode, they have no real motivation to rush Love back into the lineup.