Ladies and gentlemen, our first NBA power rankings of the 2019-20 season. 

Let’s see how the league stacks up almost a third of the way in:

1. Lakers (24-3)

This is the obvious choice. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both having MVP-caliber seasons. Kudos to Frank Vogel for getting it all to work so quickly.

2. Bucks (23-3)

Speaking of MVPs, Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like a man that has no desire to give the award up. Milwaukee has won 18 straight and looks like the class of the East.

3. Clippers (20-8)

The Clippers have been inconsistent so far this season, but that’s mostly the result of guys missing time with injury or load management. When they’re right, they’re as dangerous a team as there is in the league, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

4. Sixers (20-8)

Much like the Clippers, the Sixers’ inconsistencies have mostly been caused by players missing time — case in point, the team’s blowout loss to the Nets without Joel Embiid. That ended a five-game winning streak and a stretch that saw them win 13 of 15. They play the next three at home, where they remain the only undefeated team in the NBA. Embiid has proven he can be dominant when he wants to be and Tobias Harris is starting to look like a legit second scoring option.

5. Mavericks (17-8)

The basketball gods can be cruel. Luka Doncic, who’s having an unreal sophomore season, sprained his ankle in last Saturday’s loss to the Heat and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. Doncic has the third-highest usage rate in the NBA so it’ll be quite the test for the Mavericks without him.


6. Rockets (17-9)

James Harden is having one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NBA history. More importantly for the Rockets, the Harden-Russell Westbrook duo is working out better than most expected. Also, Ben McLemore is No. 1 in the NBA in offensive rating. What a time to be alive.

7. Heat (19-7)

Jimmy Butler has his own team and he’s thriving. Six of the Heat’s seven losses have been to high quality opponents. They’re having a heck of a season and come back to the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday looking for a little revenge after the thumping they took from the Sixers back on Nov. 23.

8. Celtics (17-7)

While the Celtics have seen their trio of wings — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward — flourish this season, it seems like Boston could use an upgrade at the center position. Embiid hung 38 points on them last week as he proved too much for the likes of Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter.

9. Raptors (17-8)

The Coach of the Year award will likely go to one of the guys at the helm of a top team, but Nick Nurse deserves serious consideration. He lost arguably the best player in the world and still has the Raptors playing at a high level. And so much credit goes to that organization in general for developing the likes of late first-rounder Pascal Siakam and the undrafted Fred VanVleet.

10. Nuggets (16-8)

The Nuggets have been struggling as a team offensively but are still one of the best defensive teams in the league. Nikola Jokic’s scoring is down to start the season and he’s not shooting the ball well from beyond the arc (25.5 percent). Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are also not giving the Nuggets enough scoring punch. Expect that to even out as the season goes on.

11. Pacers (18-9)

Indiana is a fascinating team. Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis could be All-Stars in the East. T.J. Warren has made up for the scoring the Pacers lost when Bojan Bogdanovic signed with Utah. All of that, and at some point, Victor Olapido will make his return. Don’t sleep on Indiana.

12. Jazz (15-11)

I never really bought into the Jazz hype to start the season. Several pundits considered them a team that could compete with the West’s elite. Where they currently sit — sixth in the conference — seems about right. They’re a clear playoff team, but they’ll need Mike Conley to regain his old form if they want more.

13. Nets (14-12)

No Kevin Durant. No Kyrie Irving. No Caris LeVert. Yet Spencer Dinwiddie has Brooklyn over .500 and playing good basketball. He’s averaging over 20 points a game and could get an All-Star nod. Third-year center Jarrett Allen continues to make strides as well.


14. Kings (12-14)

The Kings are another team bitten by the injury bug. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III have both missed significant time, but Sacramento is hanging in there. The Kings have won four of five and are getting strong contributions from former Sixer Richaun Holmes and (perhaps future Sixer?) Bogdan Bogdanovic.

15. Thunder (11-14)

Oklahoma City is a bit of a surprise here. After trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George, this had the look of a rebuilding team. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the centerpiece of the George trade, looks like a star in the making and Danilo Gallinari, the salary dump in that deal, is having another strong season. Since the Thunder own like a million first-round picks from other teams, they really don’t have a need to tank.

16. Suns (11-14)

What a job Monty Williams has done. Little was expected out of the Suns, but the former Sixers assistant has his team hanging around the .500 mark. For an organization that’s on its fifth coach in five years, Williams has brought stability. Their success may not be sustainable, but the duo of Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr. looks like something they can build around.

17. Magic (12-14)

The Magic are excellent defensively, allowing just 104.3 points per game. The problem is they’re only scoring 103.5 a night. If it wasn’t for Evan Fournier’s resurgence (20 points a game, 44.7 percent from three), that number would be even worse.

18. Blazers (10-16)

The Carmelo Anthony story is nice, but it was born out of necessity. Portland has been ravaged by injuries. Jusuf Nurkic is still recovering from his gruesome leg injury. Promising young big Zach Collins will be out for quite some time with a torn labrum. Rodney Hood is out for the season with an Achillies injury. They still have Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum so you can’t count them out just yet.

19. Pistons (11-15)

The Pistons are what they are. They’ll fight for the eighth seed, probably sneak into the playoffs and then get destroyed again by the Bucks. They should look to move Blake Griffin while he’s still (relatively) healthy, but they likely won’t.

20. Spurs (10-15)

San Antonio got through its eight-game losing streak and has now won four of its last six. It will be interesting to see what the Spurs do at the deadline and if Gregg Popovich’s playoff streak continues.

21. Timberwolves (10-15)

Just when you thought maybe the Timberwolves were figuring this thing out, they drop seven straight games. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are scoring, Robert Covington is defending, and Jeff Teague has been efficient. Outside of that, not much.

22. Hornets (12-17)


After seeing what they did this offseason and how they looked in the preseason, I thought the Hornets had a chance to have the worst record in the NBA. Devonte' Graham’s breakout season (19.6 points, 7.4 assists, 41.1 percent from three) and the emergence of rookie P.J. Washington, who will miss time with a fractured finger, have them off to a decent start.

23. Bulls (10-18)

Despite their surprise win over the Clippers, it’s been a disappointing season for the Bulls. Outside of Zach LaVine, none of their young players have taken a step forward. 

24. Grizzlies (9-17)

Man, Ja Morant is an absolute pleasure to watch. The only concern I had for him was his efficiency. So much for that. He’s shooting 42.6 from three and 46.2 percent overall. This kid is going to be a star.

25. Hawks (6-20)

Like the Bulls, I was expecting a little more, but Atlanta is invested in its future more than short-term gains. They’ve started two rookies — DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish — for the majority of the season. Trae Young missing his pick-and-roll partner John Collins for all but five games this season hasn’t helped things.

26. Wizards (7-17)

The Wizards aren’t good, but they have intriguing pieces. Bradley Beal is an obvious superstar, but rookie Rui Hachimura has shown promise, young big Thomas Bryant continues to impress, and offseason acquisition Davis Bertans has been shooting at a game-changing level (45.6 percent on 8.5 shots from three a game).

27. Pelicans (6-21)

Not having Zion Williamson hasn’t helped, but this team should be much better. They’ve lost 12 straight.

28. Cavaliers (6-20)

Trade Kevin Love and really any veteran you can and start rebuilding. Rookie Darius Garland has largely been a disappointment but has shown signs of life recently.

29. Knicks (6-20)

Who would’ve thought signing all the power forwards this offseason would’ve been such a poor strategy?

30. Warriors (5-22)

James Wiseman would be an interesting fit. He’d see plenty of 1-on-1 looks in the post surrounded by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

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