NBA Week 1 Power Rankings

The NBA season is finally here and we here at the PickandPop are thrilled about it. It’s been a wild week full of surprises.  Here is how we see the league today:

1. Houston: (3-0) Last year Houston was the most exciting team in the league due to their pace and their historic 3 point jacking. So far they haven’t done either thing as aggressively, but they are shooting a higher percentage (5th in eFG) on offense and allowing a lower percentage on defense (2nd in eFG), which if continued will make them an elite team all year long. (EJ)

NBA’s Best?

2. Indiana (3-0) Not a challenging schedule, but that should not be regarded when good teams beat the teams that they are supposed to.  Paul George and Roy Hibbert have gotten better. (WJ)

3. Minnesota (3-0) I really want this to keep happening.  I really, really do.  We all know it isn’t though.  This is what the Wolves do.  They string you along early in the season, have a devastating injury occur and fade to mediocrity.  Here’s to hoping that never happens again. (WJ)

4. Miami (2-2) Miami looked great on opening night pounding the Bulls in a fashion more drastic than the 12 point win would indicate. Then they lost against the surprising 6ers and the transplant Nets. When their defense goes from stifling to good, they are beatable, but overall they are still the most talented team in the league. (EJ)

5. San Antonio (2-1) The Spurs haven’t exactly set the world onfire thus far, despite shooting a high percentage they have struggled to get to the line, force turnovers and crash the offensive glass. Their offensive and defensive ratings (13th in both) suggest they are currently a middling team, but since they are the Spurs, we know this isn’t the case. (EJ)

6. Golden State: Golden State: (2-1) My love of this team knows no bounds.  Three players are averaging over 20 points (Curry, Thompson, and Lee) but I think the real key to this team is Andre Iguodala. He does everything on the floor well and is a rare player who makes his teammates better.  If they stay healthy, I like my pick of the Warriors as Western Conference Champs. (AL)

7. OKC: (2-1).I was admittedly giddy to see Russell Westbrook back in uniform for the Thunder.  The team was nowhere near whole without him.  The one thing I’m worried about is Kevin Durant.  He’s still the 2nd best player in the world, but the man sounds exhausted this early into the season.  Hopefully the weight of the pressure isn’t enough to crush him.(WJ)

8. LA Clippers: (2-1) A tough loss to big brother Lakers in their opener, but Lob City has back to back wins since.  They are an elite offensive unit, averaging over 117 point per game.  Chris Paul, the NBA’s best point guard, has been otherworldly to start this season with averages of 28 points, 12 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals per game so far. (AL)

9. Chicago (1-2) The D. Rose free-pass train has run its course.  Chicago needs to make something happen and fast.  Rose is being starkly outplayed by rookies and some guys that I have never heard of this year.  He will figure it out, but can the Bulls afford to wait that long.  I see this team making a move before the All-Star break to push them to the next level.  Prediction: Kevin Love, after the T-Wolves chariot turns back into a pumpkin (WJ)

10.  Brooklyn: (1-2) Losses to Cleveland and Orlando look bad early, but this is a team still learning to play with each other after an offseason overhaul and are widely regarded as a top contender for the Eastern Conference crown this season.  Deron Williams needs to assert himself more offensively after a poor start, scoring just 24 points in the first three games on 36% shooting.  The only question on this team is whether egos can be put aside for the betterment of the team as players will have to accept fewer shot attempts and minutes per game. (AL)

11. Philadelphia: (3-0) I did not see this coming.  Not even a little bit. Michael Carter Williams has looked absolutely fantastic so far.  His first game performance against Miami in which he dropped 22, with 12 dimes and 9 steals was nearly matched with a 26 point, 10 dime, 3 steal effort matching up with Derrick Rose. The young kid looks ready to be an NBA star.  Not only is MCW playing well, but Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young have all been playing great. (AL)

12. Portland (2-1)  Proud of Nic Batum for forcing that triple double.  I want the Blazers to have a bit of an edge/spark/anything going on with them.  Damien Lillard is electrifying, LaMarcus Aldridge is the definition of “good” and this team has high expectations.  Get on everyone’s radar Portland. (WJ)

13. Dallas: (2-1) Much has been made about Monta Ellis‘ shot selection and overall effort but there are few people in the league that can fill it up like him. So far Ellis is shooting 47% from the floor and benefiting from running the pick and pop with Dirk just like Jason Terry and JJ Barea before him. Those two will help Dallas be one of the best offensive teams in the league, all year. (EJ)

14. Detroit: (2-1) This team is intriguing. They crushed an upstart Washington team in their opener, lost to a tough Memphis team at home and dispensed of the Celtics easily.  We’ve only had a small sample size viewing of Jennings/Smith so this ranking is subject to change violently throughout the year. (WJ)

15. Memphis: (1-2) For the last few years Memphis has hung it’s hat on the defensive end. Which makes it very surprising that they are in the bottom third in the league in defensive field goal percentage and forcing turnovers. Integrating the new pieces into their defensive system might take a little while, but there is no doubt in my mind it will happen and the Grizz will take their rightful place among Western conference powers. (EJ)

16. LA Lakers: (2-2)  4 game split is about as good as can be expected for the Kobe-less Lakers. Honestly, no standout performers on the squad so far; Xavier Henry has been ok and so has Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol, but I think they are fortunate to be .500 right now.  This team doesn’t have much of an identity and will be a mediocre NBA team till Kobe returns. (AL)

17. Phoenix: (2-1) Wonderful start by the Suns, a team thought to be one of the NBAs worst.  Eric Bledsoe has been asked to be “the man” in Phoenix and he has answered with an amazing 22, 9 and 6 stat line. He is averaging nearly 6 turnovers a game, a byproduct of asking him to be so involved on offense with an inexperienced group, but a great start none-the-less. Miles Plumlee is chipping in nicely averaging a double-double at 10 and 11 with a couple blocks per contest.  The young fellas should get plenty of chances to develop, and if I were a Suns fan, i would be ecstatic knowing the young talent I have and the 4 draft picks I will be adding next year. (AL)

18. Orlando: (2-2) So far Orlando has played with excellent pace (8th), been very good offensively (7th in eFG) and even better defensively (4th in eFG). However, even this early you can see that they miss a number one option to get them the buckets they need to win close games. If Arron Afflalo is your crunch time first option, you are going to have a problem. (EJ)

19. New York: (1-2) The Knicks’ first loss came on the game winning floater by Derrick Rose in what was a hard fought defensive battle that could have gone either way. This team can definitely battle in those types of games as long as the heave a healthy Tyson Chandler.  A rough start for Carmelo too, who is shooting just 37,7% and taking over 20 shots a game (of course). (AL)

20. New Orleans (1-2): Right now this looks to be an average team ranking at 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They have done a good job winning the turnover battle but they are allowing opponents to take too many quality shots without taking enough of their own. Hopefully Ryan Anderson will give them a floor balancing 3 point shooter that makes scoring easier when he comes back in a couple weeks. (EJ)

21. Toronto: (2-1) The Raptors have had two wins over a couple of NBA bottom-feeders (Boston and Milwaukee) and really have not looked good at all yet. Rudy Gay has been downright terrible offensively to start this season shooting below 33%.  He’s rebounding well and playing hard, but is not and can never be a franchise caliber player. Lebron will be guarding him Tuesday night, so it may get worse before it gets better for the UCONN product. (AL)

22. Cleveland: (1-2) Guess what?  Anthony Bennett and I have scored the same amount of NBA points this season.  Dude has zero points.  Number one picks aren’t supposed to do that.  They’re shooting is abysmal and they aren’t sharing the ball.  This team has yet to find itself and I’m not sure if they ever will.  #TankForLebron? (WJ)

23. Denver: (0-2) This team is a mess.  I don’t know if they want to be good because everyone is playing on egg shells.  It’s evident that the trade rumors are having an impact on Faried.  This Lawson, Miller, Robinson love triangle isn’t working and the West is stacked.  I expect them to be around here most of the year. (WJ)

24. Atlanta: (1-2) People love to make fun of Josh Smith, but so far the numbers indicate he’s a necessary defensive cog in their system. So far the Hawks have been bad on defense and since it doesn’t seem like they have the horses to outscore people, this could be a major problem. (EJ)

25. Charlotte: (1-2) Good for Charlotte, three games into the season and they already have a win under their belt. The bad news is that they really struggle to score, which can make it rather challenging to win. Right now they are tied for last in the league in point differential, which means they are likely to move down this list not up it as the year progresses. (EJ)

26. Sacramento: (1-2) The team looks to finally be moving in the right direction.  DeMarcus Cousins has been playing to his potential this season posting a 20 and 10 line in the early going.  Rookie Ben McLemore will come along slowly, but he looks like a future key piece. (AL)

27. Washington: (0-3) The Wizards were expected to be a playoff contender but right now they look more like a contender to have their doors blown off, every game. If Philly continues to play well Washington will have one of the toughest stretches of basketball to start their season. It is unlikely they will be favored until they are 10-15 games into their schedule. IF they can’t right the ship quickly they could doom their season before Christmas rolls around. (EJ)

28. Utah: (0-3)  For the n^th year in a row, the Jazz have “potential.”  This is the year that it needs to be realized.  Everyone can be great, but no one has stepped up to the plate.  Can Hayward justify the money he is going to make very soon?  Can Favors be a monster all season?  Is Kanter the real deal?  Utah needs to answer these questions to rise the ranks. (WJ)

29. Milwaukee: (1-2) They stink, duh.  But they’re fun.  This is a wacky, wacky team.  It appears Brandon Knight hasn’t received his soul back from DeAndre Jordan, so we’ve been seeing a lot out of rookie Nate Wolters.  Who, you ask?  Well he went to South Dakota State, a school that might be faker than Hogwarts and he’s been casually compared to Steve Nash.  Carry on, Bucks, carry on. (WJ)

30. Celtics: (0-3) The Celtics’ focus is on developing young talent this season and implementing coach Brad Stevens’ system.  The losses will be aplenty for this squad, but bright spots like Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynyk give Celtic fans hope. The team has looked good earlier in games, but lacks someone to fill that “closer” role and have let games slip away late. Shockingly, coach Stevens withheld Jeff Green, the teams’ best healthy player, from 4th quarter play in a loss to Detroit on Sunday after the team had a chance to win…..yes I’m hinting at tanking already!!!! (AL)

And to the loser go the spoils?….

“We will be meeting soon, NBA”

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