Three weeks into the season, here’s how we’re ranking each of the 30 NBA teams. Come bask in our collective love for the Sacramento Kings.
The Cavaliers picked up a win this week! And three losses! And a new coach! And reports that their veterans think their star rookie doesn’t know how to play!
A Devin Booker buzzer-beater against the Memphis Grizzlies was the only thing that kept the Suns from an 0-3 week. Things have gotten bad in a hurry.
The Bulls picked up a double-overtime win over the Knicks last night but still have been outscored by an average of 7.4 points per 100 possessions, nearly twice the season-long differential of New York. Zach LaVine’s scoring explosions have been fun but until (if?) they start translating to winning games, they’re just a shiny object to ooh and aah over.
Orlando split their four games this week but their four double-digit losses on the season are outweighing their four close wins right now, including needing a buzzer-beater from Evan Fournier to get past the Cavaliers.
The Wizards are on a one-game winning streak, having beaten the Knicks by 13. They actually have the chance to build some momentum with games against Orlando and Dallas this week. Let’s see if they can turn one win into two.
The Hawks might not move much in the standings but all the important numbers are there — Trae Young is fourth in the league in field goal percentage on drives and Omari Spellman and Kevin Huerter are a combined 19-of-43 on 3-pointers.
The Knicks’ win-loss record doesn’t place them above the teams below them on these rankings, but their point differential is noticeably better. Four of their losses this season have come by six points or less and their minus-3.0 point differential falls somewhere between the Pistons and Rockets. At some point, I think they’ll separate themselves from the dregs of the East.
Jimmy Butler is no longer on the court and Minnesota was outscored by an average of 13.6 points per 100 possessions this week, picking up three losses in their four games. They’re just not very good right now.
The Mavericks still aren’t winning games but Luka Doncic has been everything they could have hoped for, and more. It might be time to think about shedding the veterans and pushing towards a full rebuild, as hard as that news would be to pass along to Dirk Nowitzki.
The Nets took a loss at Houston but beat the 76ers and Pistons and continue to show signs of life, inching towards a break-even point differential for the season.
The Lakers actually won more than they lost this week but dropped three spots because of a listless loss to the Toronto Raptors and rumblings of a disconnect between Luke Walton and the front office. Winning some games would help ease tension but it’s possible things get worse before they get better.
After starting the season 4-0, with each win coming by seven points or less, the Pistons have now dropped five in a row. In those four wins, the Pistons played 19 clutch minutes (within the last five minutes of a game with the scoring margin at five points or less) and outscored opponents by an average of 21.6 points per 100 possessions. In their five losses, they’ve played 22 clutch minutes, get outscored by an average of 8.9 points per 100 possessions. Clutch performance is notoriously flukey and where the Pistons are now is probably a better reflection of their true ability.
The Heat continue to float around .500. As good as Josh Richardson has been this season, and he’s been fantastic, this may be the team’s ceiling until Wayne Ellington and James Johnson are fully healthy and back to where they were last season.
The Rockets still have a long way to go but picking up wins over the Pacers, Nets and Bulls this week was a nice way to try and reestablish some rhythm. They didn’t exactly play a slew of elite offenses but holding opponents to 103.9 points per 100 possessions this week was a really good sign for their defense.
Consistency has continued to elude the 76ers, unless you consider consistent mediocrity to be their ceiling. They took important games from the Clippers and Pistons and then were steamrolled by the Brooklyn Nets. Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are averaging about 10 minutes per game together and Philadelphia is managing fewer than 90 points per 100 possessions in those minutes. The hope is that there is a developmental payoff in letting those two struggle against cramped defenses now and ultimately figure it out. Unfortunately, it may not matter by the time they do.