The NBA is officially back in action, and what a first week it was. Countless players have put up monster stat lines early on. Whether it be the usual suspects like Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, or young guys like Myles Turner, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Nikola Jokic. We’re still in the land of small sample sizes and players averaging 40 points per game, but nevertheless, there’s still some takeaways from week one and teams to rank. So let’s get into it.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
Last week (2)
The defending champs didn’t show too much of a championship hangover in week one. They thoroughly dismantled the New York Knicks, found a way to win an ugly game on the road in Toronto and held off a late push from a young Magic team. While they didn’t win the off-season, they’re still the best team in the league until proven otherwise. The ball movement is improved, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are looking better and they still have the man they call “The King”.
- San Antonio Spurs
Last week (5)
Blowing out the Golden State Warriors in Oakland to highlight their three road wins in week one, the Spurs added a home win against the Pelicans for good measure. The team is making a statement early on that while Duncan may be gone, the defense is not. Oh yeah, and Kawhi Leonard is averaging 28 points per game through four games. Not a bad start for the team in silver and black.
- Los Angeles Clippers
Last week (3)
In case you forgot, this team is very good. The Clippers only played twice in week one, but came away with convincing wins over the Trail Blazers and Jazz. Paul and Griffin is still one of the best 1-2 punches in the league and Doc Rivers is finally starting to stagger their minutes more to maximize their abilities as playmakers. They still are thin at small forward, but are getting good bench contributions from Maurice Speights, Austin Rivers, and Jamal Crawford early on.
- Golden State Warriors
Last week (1)
The Warriors bounced back from their opening night evisceration with unremarkable wins against the Pelicans and Suns. The team will need time to figure it out, but some concerning trends are emerging from this roster. The lack of rim protection and rebounding is real. It won’t hurt them too much in the regular season, but may help teams hang around longer than they should throughout the year.
- Toronto Raptors
Last week (6)
DeMar DeRozan looks to have built upon his career best 2015-2016 campaign. He’s playing with more control than ever and that’s good news for the Raptors. The team handled Detroit easily on opening night and went down to the wire against the Cavs before Kyrie Irving hit a game-winning three. A good win and a good loss is not a bad week for Toronto.
- Atlanta Hawks
Last week (13)
The Hawks are undefeated to start the season and currently have the best defensive efficiency in the association. Dwight Howard hasn’t been a huge piece of the offense early on, but is still bringing it defensively and on the boards. Last year the Hawks finished 28th in rebound rate, they are currently 5th.
- Boston Celtics
Last week (5)
The Boston Celtics don’t look great early on. They have struggled to secure rebounds, which puts their defense in a severely compromised position. They nearly blew it against the Nets in their first game and had a bad loss to Chicago. Their road win against a good Hornets team showed what this team is capable of, there’s just some adjusting left to do.
- Charlotte Hornets
Last week (9)
The Hornets lone setback came against the Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back. The defense hasn’t been as good as Steve Clifford would like, but Kemba Walker appears to be building off his career best season last year.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Last week (14)
While the wins haven’t been impressive for the Thunder, they are one of six teams still undefeated left in the NBA. They beat the bottom-feeding Sixers and Suns by a combined nine points before blowing out the Lakers. Russell Westbrook is averaging nearly a 39-point triple-double. So things have gone according to plan in the first week of the Westbrook era.
- Portland Trail Blazers
Last week (15)
While the Blazers have their flaws, the duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum overcome several of them with their dynamic scoring. They got a solid win against the Jazz and managed to take advantage of Denver’s mistakes and win in overtime. They aren’t the same tier as the Warriors, Spurs, or Clippers, but they’re hoping their dynamic duo can power them to the top of the third tier in the West.
- Memphis Grizzlies
Last week (8)
The Grizzlies were able to hold off the young Timberwolves and Wizards in week one. Although their road loss to the Knicks was a disappointing one, Memphis is a veteran team that knows how to get it done in the regular season. As long as they stay healthy they’ll be fine.
- Detroit Pistons
Last week (10)
The Pistons have survived the Reggie Jackson injury well to start the season. The loss to the Raptors was to be expected, and they handled the Magic and Bucks with ease. Drummond looks as dominant as ever, averaging nearly 18 points and 13 rebounds a game.
- Chicago Bulls
Last week (not ranked)
The Bulls rode hot shooting from Wade, Rondo, and Butler to a win over the Celtics and also managed to take down the new look Pacers. While I don’t expect their hot start to last long, maybe there’s something to be said for having so many veterans while other teams are still figuring it out.
- Houston Rockets
Last week (11)
The defense is as bad as advertised in Houston and contributed to their loss to the Lakers. The experiment with Harden at point guard has been a success though, as surrounding him with shooters and playing up tempo has resulted in him putting up incredible numbers early on.
- Utah Jazz
Last week (7)
The Jazz are once again struggling with injuries. Derrick Favors missed opening night and Gordon Hayward is yet to play a game. Being shorthanded against the Blazers on opening night hurt, as both teams will be competing to be top of the division throughout the year.
- Sacramento Kings
Last week (not ranked)
The Kings had a strong 2-1 week to kick off the season. They managed to stay within ten of the Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back and came backfrom an early deficit todefeat the Wolves. Things typically don’t look good in Sacramento for long, but this is as good of a start as they couldhope for.
- Denver Nuggets
Last week (17)
Despite blowing a very winnable game to the Blazers, the Nuggets are still in pretty good shape. They are going to make mistakes along the way as their youth figures it out, but Nikola Jokic is an absolute monster for them inside. They now head on a five-game road trip that will truly test what this team is made of.
- Indiana Pacers
Last week (11)
The reputation of Paul George is the only thing keeping the Pacers on the list at this point. Myles Turner has been putting up impressive offensive numbers in his second season, but their defense has been very poor early on. An uninspiring overtime win against the Mavericks, followed by bad losses to the Nets and Bulls is not what this Pacers team had in mind.
- New York Knicks
Last week (20)
Throttled by King James on opening night, the Knicks managed to bounce back against the Grizzlies in their home opener. Derrick Rose hasn’t seemed to play within the flow of the offense, but that was predictable. Carmelo Anthony is still one of the most dangerous offensive options on the planet and Kristaps Porzingis is a unicorn, so at least Knicks fans have that to look forward to.
- Milwaukee Bucks
Last week (not ranked)
The Bucks lost to the Hornets and Pistons in their first week, which is to be expected. But they have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker looking great early on and beat the Nets at the buzzer. With the Timberwolves going winless in week one, the Bucks claim the last spot and the title of young-but-not-good-yet team of the week.