Is one week into the regular season too early to do power rankings? Of course not! We do predictions before the season starts, don’t we? The thing about power rankings is you need to get a good mix of how a team has performed thus far as well as where you project them out for the season until we get a larger sample size later on in the season. Let’s see how the teams around the league stack up after six days of games.
1 – Los Angeles Lakers (3-0) – The two-time reigning champs got better over the off-season and are currently undefeated. Nowhere else to place this team than atop the rankings. Steve Blake looks to be a great piece to that second unit and could be huge in the playoffs.
2 – Boston Celtics (2-1) – The opening night win over the Heat was a message to the rest of the league that this team is still a force to be reckoned with, but the Cleveland game was a recipe for disaster (second night of back-to-back on the road for the Cavs opener after watching their former “King” lose the night before). Rajon Rondo already bringing up “best point guard in the league” debate.
3 – Miami Heat (3-1) – Sure they lost their first game together, but they have won their next three by an average of nearly 20 points (19.6 to be exact) and Dwyane Wade has looked unstoppable. One this team gels, they will be scary. Their interior defense, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
4 – Orlando Magic (1-1) – With a 29-point win over the Wizards and a 26-point loss to the Heat under their belt, we don’t have a great read on this team yet. One thing we do know is that Dwight Howard is not fooling around this year. If any of his teammates showed up to play against Miami, the game wouldn’t have been as ugly.
5 – Portland Trailblazers (3-0) – The Blazers are undefeated and as deep as any team in the league. Brandon Roy is showing that he is a top 2-guard in the league, Marcus Camby gets better with age and Rudy Fernandez claims he is “happy” with his role. If health is on their side, watch out!
6 – Atlanta Hawks (3-0) – One of four undefeated teams left, the Hawks are playing well, but against a very soft schedule. This team is good, but don’t think they can ever be great with this core. But we know their anchor down low is going nowhere, as Al Horford signed a 5-year, $60 million extension today.
7 – Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) – After beating the Bulls on opening night at home, they split back-to-back games with a one point win at Detroit and an ugly 21-point loss at home to the Jazz. Jazz were win-less before seeing the Thunder and due for a big game. Kevin Durant will lead the league in scoring again.
8 – New Orleans Hornets (3-0) – After predicting a drop in wins this year, the Hornets start the season 3-0 and all against quality opponents. Chris Paul is nearly averaging a double-double and the addition of another reliable shooter in Marco Belinelli should open up the lane for Paul and Trevor Ariza.
9 – Dallas Mavericks (2-1) – Soft schedule, but only blemish is a one point home loss to the pesky Memphis Grizzlies. Look for Dallas to contend for the No. 1 seed in the West this season.
10 – Denver Nuggets (2-1) – Carmelo Anthony is still a Nugget, but for how long? As long as he is playing in Denver, this team is going to be a top team in the conference.
11 – Chicago Bulls (1-1) – Didn’t expect this team to go on the road and win @ OKC on opening night without Carlos Boozer. Also didn’t expect Derrick Rose to absolutely dominate the Pistons in the 2nd half and will this team to a huge comeback win. Rose has established himself as the premiere scoring point guard in the league with Joakim Noah quickly becoming a top interior defender and rebounder in the entire league.
12 – San Antonio Spurs (1-1) – This could be the last leg for Tim Duncan if the NBA has a lockout next season, but they are still as big of a threat to the Lakers’ Western Conference crown as any other team. Excited and intrigued to see how Tiago Splitter looks.
13 – Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) – The Grizz are looking good in the early going, but nobody has surprised on this team more than Mike Conley, Jr. The fourth year point guard out of Ohio State is currently averaging 15 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 3.7 steals a game this season.
14 – Utah Jazz (1-2) – Started 0-2, but rebounded with a huge win on the road over the Thunder. The duo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson should be dominant this season and Deron Williams can keep any team afloat.
15 – Indiana Pacers (2-1) – Their only loss of the season so far has come against the San Antonio Spurs, but Roy Hibbert went to work on Tim Duncan in the game. My Most Improved Player pick is averaging 18, 10 and nearly 3 blocks per game.
16 – Milwaukee Bucks (1-2) – The Bucks certainly haven’t come out of the gate on fire like many may have expected, but they have the players to make some serious noise. They can’t expect to reach their full potential if Carlos Delfino is their leading scorer.
17 – Phoenix Suns (1-2) – With perhaps the hardest schedule in the league thus far, they shouldn’t feel too bad about only having one win. Starting Hedo Turkoglu at power forward is going to haunt them the entire season.
18 – Golden State Warriors (2-1) – Monta Ellis is a scoring machine, but the loss of Stephen Curry to an ankle injury will hold this team back.
19 – New Jersey Nets (2-1) – Getting two wins much faster than last season, their sole loss is to the mighty Heat. Brook Lopez doesn’t get nearly the publicity that he deserves.
20 – Sacramento Kings (2-1) – Tyreke Evans is back after serving his one game suspension and is playing like the Rookie of the Year he was last season. With some able bodies on the inside (Cousins, Dalembert, Thompson), the Kings look to have a great, young core.
21 – Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2) – Huge, emotional win on opening night over the Boston Celtics, but have dropped two winnable games against the Raptors and Kings since. Consistency will be key for this team. If they can move Antawn Jamison for another young piece, they will be heading in the right direction.
22 – Houston Rockets (0-3) – Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin have been playing great, but with Yao being limited on a nightly basis is going to really dampen this team’s playoff shot.
23 – New York Knicks (1-2) – Two tough losses to the Celtics and Blazers, but the Knicks have looked surprisingly good this season. If Danillo Gallinari could connect on more than 20% of his field goals, we could be talking about a 3-0 team.
24 – Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2) – The T-Wolves are the best rebounding team in the league, but lack a true scoring option on their roster. The move from Miami to Minnesota has been great for Michael Beasley so far.
25 – Toronto Raptors (1-1) – The Raptors’ top-3 scorers are all international players (Bargnani, Kleiza, Barbosa) while they have sport the leading rebounder in the league in Reggie Evans (15/game).
26 – Washington Wizards (0-2) – Two tough division losses to start the season put the Wiz behind early. Gilbert Arenas should be back for the 76ers on Tuesday. John Wall would be averaging double-digit assists if he had teammates that could knock down jumpers.
27 – Los Angeles Clippers (0-3) – This team has got some talent on the roster, but just needs to learn to put it all together. Blake Griffin is a human highlight reel and a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year.
28 – Charlotte Bobcats (0-3) – Tough schedule early, but look for them to turn things around in the coming weeks. Should be lurking around the bottom of the playoff picture in the East all season long.
29 – Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) – Had the unfortunate draw to open their season at home with the Miami Heat coming to town. Evan Turner has looked exponentially better in the regular season than he had in the summer league and preseason.
30 – Detroit Pistons (0-3) – Outside of Ben Gordon, is there a player on this team that you would want your team to go out and actively pursue?
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