Tha Sports Junkies 101

NBA Power Rankings Update #1

nba, Power rankings, Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors


What a way to open up the season..

The first week of the season has come and gone, which means its time for the first update of my very accurate, never wrong, power rankings.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-0) – Initial Ranking: No. 2 (+1) 

The Cavs and Lebron are fresh off their first championship in 270 years and havent missed a beat. Kyrie Irving is averaging almost 27 PPG while shooting 47% from the field and an incredible 53% from 3 which has pushed him into a very early MVP conversation.

2. San Antonio Spurs (4-1) – Initial Ranking: No. 3 (+1)

The Spurs are still Spurs-ing and their new leader, Kawhi Leonard, has turned into a whole new machine that has been unstoppable thus far. A 29 point blowout over the Warriors is the reason they are ranked ahead above the GSW squad.

3. Golden State Warriors (3-1) – Initial Ranking: No. 1 (-2)

After getting absolutely destroyed by the Spurs in the season opener, the Warriors have settled it down and rattled off 3 straight wins to give them a ironically hilarious record of 3-1. Despite Klay Thomson shooting like an 80-year old woman, KD and Steph have been lighting it up. As a team, the Warriors are averaging 113 PPG and showing why they have the deadliest offense in the league.

4. Atlanta Hawks (3-0) – Initial Ranking: No. 9 (+5)

The “new look” Hawks have looked mighty impressive so far this season. Although their 3 wins were against the Wizards, Sixers and Kings, they were very convincing. Dennis Schroeder has played exceptionally well as the new point guard and the revamped frontcourt of Howard and Millsap seems to flow better than Horford/Millsap did. Dwight hasn’t returned to pre-Laker Dwight but he has been an impenetrable wall in the paint and is getting more touches on the block. Korver is 9-15 from downtown to start the season, as well.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (3-0) – Initial Ranking: No. 4 (-1)

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are both starting the season off playing like MVP candidates. Convincing wins over the Jazz, Blazers and Suns have them looking superb, but the somewhat unexpected play from the Hawks have LAC ticked down one spot.

6. Chicago Bulls (3-0) – Initial Ranking: No. 17 (+11)

Well, so far the Bulls have performed in the exact opposite way that I, and many others, would have thought. The Bulls currently lead the league in 3PT% and Offensive Rating, categories I was sure they would consistently rank near the bottom at. There is still another 79 games to be played but if Wade and Butler can continue to be consistent from deep and Rondo doesn’t royally screw it up, they could retain this ranking for a long time.

7. Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 10 (+3)

The two losses against LAC and Golden State don’t negatively impact them too much and thats mainly because of Damian Lillard. Lillard single-handedly beat the Nuggets at the end of that game and has been putting up insane numbers, averaging 34/6/4 on 52% shooting and 43% from deep. Rookie, Jake Layman scored 17 points in the only 8-minute stretch of playing time he’s seen which should have put them at No. 1, but I’m trying to keep it (somewhat) reasonable here.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-0) – Initial Ranking: No. 12 (+4)

Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double through 3 games and thats all you need to know, but not just any type of triple-double, a 38/12/12 type of triple-double. Sure, those wins were against the Suns, Lakers and Sixers but the Thunder are playing very fast paced and the defense has looked very tight. However, the outside shooting has been poor and trading away Ilyasova doesn’t help but as long as Russ plays like Russ, the wins could keep piling up. OKC’s next three games are against LAC, GSW, and MIN so we’ll figure some things out about this team very shortly.

9. Detroit Pistons (3-1) – Initial Ranking: No. 13 (+4)

Ish Smith has come in to replace the injured Reggie Jackson and is filling his shoes nicely, averaging 10/7, but Andre Drummond has been unstoppable and he’s the reason this team has been playing well. He has been an absolute force in the paint and on the glass, his put-back dunks are becoming his most deadly weapon and there isn’t a single man in this league who can physically stop him. (Maybeeeee Deandre Jordan)

10. Toronto Raptors (2-1) – Initial Ranking: No. 6 (-4)

Demar Derozan has been EATING this year but other than him, Toronto has yet to “wow” me even though their only lost was to the Cavs by 3. They havent shot very well and the bench has been non-existent for the most part. Valanciunas is playing above his normal level but the missing presence of Biyombo on defense has already become an stressing issue.

11. Boston Celtics (2-1) – Initial Ranking: No. 5 (-6)

The Celtics have looked solid so far but not anywhere close to their potential. Minor injuries have caused a road bump to start but this team should only get better as the season goes on.

12. Utah Jazz (2-2) – Initial Ranking No. 8 (-4)

Starting the season 2-2 doesn’t sound that great but a surprising win over the Spurs and playing without Hayward and Burks makes it even more impressive. George Hill taking over the point guard spot was exactly what this team needed.

13. Memphis Grizzlies (2-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 14 (+1)

Despite their most recent loss to MIN, this team has played right about where they were expected. What I didn’t expect was Marc Gasol to start the season shooting better from 3 (46%) than Klay Thompson. Couple that with Conley starting to prove he’s worth the $150 mil and this team is off to a solid start.

14. Charlotte Hornets (2-1) – Initial Ranking: No. 20 (+6)

Kemba Walker is improving upon his stellar play from last season and a healthy MKG has done wonders for this team’s defense. They won the two games they were expected (MIL and MIA) and their 6-point loss against the Celtics is nothing to worry about.

15. Houston Rockets (2-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 15 (=) 

James Harden has assumed the point guard position and it makes me wonder why he hasn’t always played PG. He’s proving to be one of the best, if not THE best, passer in the NBA while also averaging 32 PPG. No big deal. Unfortunately, besides Eric Gordon, the Rockets are underperforming, losing to the Cavs and Lakers while winning both games over a confused Dallas team doesn’t impress me much.

16. Indiana Pacers (2-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 8 (-8)

The Pacers are going against everything I predicted (much like the Bulls), playing extremely poorly through their first 4 games. Losing to Chicago and a bad Nets team with wins over Dallas and LA is not a good start for a team with ECF aspirations. Paul George and Myles Turner are playing well but Jeff Teague has yet to find a comfortable role like the one he had in Atlanta.

17. Sacramento Kings (2-3) – Initial Ranking: No. 27 (+10)

The defense has been atrocious but this team is fairing much better than expected. Rudy Gay is off to a hot start (excluding that brick in crunch time against Miami) along with Demarcus Cousins. The reason they got bumped up so high was due to the fact that if they were 0-5 right now I wouldn’t be surprised one bit. So two wins is kind of like a pleasant surprise. Enjoy it, Kings fans.

18. Miami Heat (2-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 20 (+2)

Dragic and Whiteside are playing out of their minds so far but the two wins over Sacramento and Orlando are less than impressive. Tyler Johnson has been (successfully) proving that he’s worth the $50mil.

19. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 25 (+6)

If it weren’t for their inexperience, this team could easily be 3-0. Wiggins, Lavine and Towns are all playing great but this team’s random stretches of standing around on offense is the reason they’re 1-2. If Rubio is out for a substantial period of time things may not improve as quickly as anticipated.

20. Denver Nuggets (1-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 19 (-1)

If you take away the fact that Damian Lillard single-handedly stole a win from them, the Nuggets have looked solid. They’re slowly weening themselves away from Kenneth Faried into the Jokic/Nurkic era, who are improving each game. The issue seems to be Mudiay and we should learn a lot more about his future play with this team in the coming weeks.

21. New York Knicks (1-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 23 (+2)

3 games into the season and Brandon Jennings has yet to score 50 but I still have faith. Derrick Rose is undergoing a bit of a revival in his game while Joakim Noah has been even worse than I would have imagined. While Melo is struggling to match his standards, Kristaps has continued to improve but through 3 games this team has been even more underwhelming than usual.

22. Orlando Magic (1-3) – Initial Ranking: No. 16 (-6)

My word, has this team been bad. Their sole win is against the Sixers where they only beat them by 2. Some embarrassing loses are making me wonder if this team could break into the playoffs this year. It’s still early but if this is a sign of things to come, it’s not going to be a fun season, it may already be time to discuss trading Vucevic.

23. Milwaukee Bucks (2-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 25 (+2)

Giannis is the clear-cut, heart and soul of this team and his numbers prove it, boasting an average of 23/6/9 through 4 games. Thon Maker has still yet to see a nice chunk of time on the court and I’m not sure why considering how bad this team will be. Anyways, I bump them up a bit because of how amazing Giannis has been so far.

24. Brooklyn Nets (1-3) – Initial Ranking: No. 30 (+6)

If it weren’t for the 30-point loss to the Bulls in their last game they may ranked higher, thanks to Jeremy Lin playing more like Linsanity than the Jermey Lin of last year. The win over the Pacers is what bumped them up. Honestly every win should bump them up a spot, I mean just look at that roster and you’ll understand how impressive even one win is.

25. Los Angeles Lakers (1-3) – Initial Ranking: No. 28 (+3)

It’s so nice and refreshing to see a Laker team without any expensive distractions. Don’t get me wrong, this team is still not good, but they will be. Impressive play from Randle, Russell, and Clarkson are promising for the future but right now, the one win against the Rockets is none too impressive.

26. Dallas Mavericks (0-3) – Initial Ranking: No. 11 (-15)

The Mavs make the biggest move on the list and they deserve it in the worst way. Two losses to the Rockets and another to the Pacers (Although Dirk did miss the two Rockets games) is the worst start this team could have asked for. I’ll give Harrison Barnes some credit as he has improved since his abysmal Finals performance but this team just doesn’t look like they know how to play together and it’s an obvious issue that needs to be taken care of ASAP.

27. Phoenix Suns (0-4) – Initial Ranking: No. 22 (-5)

Plain and simple, this team has not been very good and the overcrowded backcourt only reinforces that. T.J. Warren has been a nice surprise but other than that I don’t have anything good to say about this team.

28. New Orleans Pelicans (0-4) – Initial Ranking: No. 27 (-1)

Poor, poor Anthony Davis. Davis has been KILLING it so far, scoring 50, 45, 18, and 35 respectively in his first 4 games. Yet still no wins. You get the feeling this may how the whole season will go for the Pels. Tim Frazier has shown early that he can ball but Buddy Hield starting 1-14 from deep is concerning.

29. Washington Wizards (0-2) – Initial Ranking: No. 21 (-8)

Only two games in but everything has looked out of sync, especially the backcourt of Wall and Beal. The offense has been stagnant and the defense has been lazy. Obviously the Wizards are better than some of the teams ranked above them but so far they’ve been too terrible to put above anyone. Anyone except the Sixers, that is.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) – Initial ranking: No. 29 (-1)

A lot of my fellow writers here at TSJ are huge Philly sports fans so I’m sorry in advance for this team constantly hanging down here, but I believe it’s justified. The Sixers are bad. I know it, the fans know it, even the Sixers organization knows it. Having to constantly rest Embiid and Noel missing time doesn’t make the situation any better.

(Stats via