NBA Power Rankings 11/4/15 (from The Midweek Exception)

With a week of NBA games in the books, Jon and Grant have collaborated to create the official “The Midweek Exception” NBA Power Rankings. Each week, we’ll present an updated version of this list with a brief blurb about each team. Keep in mind the formatting of this is due to change to make it more aesthetically pleasing over the oncoming weeks. “It’s a process” – Jon, 2015.

  1. Golden State Warriors (4-0): Not much to say here except they picked up where they left off. Steph Curry has a personal vendetta against the rest of the NBA, and it seems like he wants to continuously hold his middle finger up to anyone who has ever doubted him. (Grant)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers (4-0): If it weren’t for the fact that the Golden State Warriors managed to truly dominate in each of their games, I feel the number one spot would’ve gone to the Clippers. The entire team is looking impressive right now, as they seek to prove themselves as a team that can battle for the top spot in the West throughout the season. They definitely have the roster to do it, it’s just a matter of consistency. (Jon)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-1): Oklahoma City has come out like a thundering herd putting up on average 118 points per game. Their lone loss was a five point loss to the Rockets, which in a few weeks won’t look as bad. The most encouraging part of this start though is their pacing, and KD returning to his old self averaging nearly 30 points. (Grant)
  4. Toronto Raptors (4-0): The Raptors have come out to a slightly surprising start. There was some doubt surrounding them in the pre-season, but three quality wins against potential playoff teams should quiet that. (Grant)
  5. San Antonio Spurs (3-1): The Spurs were by far the team that won in free agency last season, picking up both LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. Both of these players have made an immediate impact on their team, and any doubt in my mind about how Aldridge would fit into the Spurs system early on has been dismissed. Kawhi Leonard is showing that he’s not only an outstanding defensive player, but also able to make an impact on the offensive end. (Jon)
  6. Detroit Pistons (3-1): Has DEEEEEEETRRROOIIIITTTT BASSSKETTTBALLLL officially returned as a force, as the Pistons have come out guns blazin’ early? Unlikely, as they’re due to cool off a bit in due time, but that isn’t to dismiss how great the team has played. Off-season acquisitions Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova have managed to help the Pistons stretch the floor, KCP has proven himself as a solid starting two-guard, and Reggie Jackson is looking like the ideal point guard for this team going forward. Andre Drummond looks like not only one of the most dominant bigs in the East, but also in the entire NBA. (Jon)
  7. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-1): Despite Kyrie Irving being out with an injury and still having an unknown return date, it doesn’t seem to phase LeBron James and Kevin Love yet. Also, congratulations to LeBron for hitting the 25,000-point mark. Huge accomplishment! (Jon)
  8. Miami Heat (2-2): The Heat have had a strong start. They sit at 2-2 with their losses coming against the Cavs and the Hawks. They look solid, but will need to fix some of their continuity issues. One thing we all can agree on is that it’s very good to see Chris Bosh back on an NBA court. (Grant)
  9. Washington Wizards (2-1)The Wizards have not looked great, but they have found a way to win two of their three games. The first was a nailbiter against Orlando, and then they weathered a Bucks stampede. Their only loss came against the Knicks, which is temporarily excusable, but they will need to show they can at least hold their own against a strong Spurs squad. (Grant)
  10. Atlanta Hawks (4-1): After dropping their first game of the season to the Detroit Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks were able to get back on track nicely with 4 straight victories. In these 4 victories, 3 of them were against teams that they should regularly be able to beat (Hornets and Knicks), and then another in a contest against our #8 ranked Miami Heat. We’ll need to see the Hawks consistently beat the top teams in the East to be able to gauge if their insane season last year was them overachieving or not.
  11. Chicago Bulls (3-2): Oh, what one loss can do early in the season. What was a very promising start came to a crashing halt against the lowly, winless Charlotte Hornets. After a quality win against Cleveland to open their season, they had an acceptable loss to a surprising Detroit team. However, losing to the Hornets by 25 and giving up 130 points is unacceptable. Fred Hoiberg has some work to do. (Grant)
  12. Dallas Mavericks (2-2): For a relatively depleted roster this season, the Mavericks have looked actually okay out of the gate so far (compared to some of the other teams in the west anyway), and are looking to become even better when Chandler Parsons is able to be entirely healthy for this squad. Dirk Nowitzki continues to baffle me, as he is the leading scorer for the team thus far, averaging 17.5 points per game. (Jon)
  13. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1): Let’s embrace that, for this week, the Timberwolves are a top 15 team in the NBA. This young squad has looked sharp out of the game, with Ricky Rubio having an outstanding opening night performance and continuing to dish out dimes, but not enough praise can be given to Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s been able to do a bit of everything for this team and will be a centerpiece for this team for years to come. While they may not be a regular contender in our top 16 teams, they are worthy of it this week. Keep it up, T-Wolves. (Jon)
  14. Utah Jazz (2-1): The Jazz are a team that have been established by many analysts as being a potential 8th seed team this season. While I’m not entirely certain they will be able to crack the playoffs this year, there’s no doubt in my mind that this team is on the rise. After finishing in the top 5 in defenses after the All-Star Break last year, the Jazz have continued to carry that title into this season, as they’re currently #1 in defense in the NBA. (Jon)
  15. Phoenix Suns (2-2): The Suns are a hard team to put your finger on at the start. They beat a surprisingly competent Trailblazers team in back to back games, but have a loss to both the Clippers and the Mavs. Don’t be surprised if this team continually perplexes the NBA with great wins one day, and horrid losses the next. (Grant)
  16. Memphis Grizzlies (3-2): The Memphis Grizzlies were able to bounce back nicely last night, picking up a solid win over the Cousins-less Sacramento Kings. However, seeing them get absolutely blown out by the Golden State Warriors was rather unsettling to see. Marc Gasol has been off to a shaky start thus far, and looks to rise back up into being one of the best centers in the NBA. (Jon)
  17. New York Knicks (2-2): I am as shocked as you seeing this team ranked this high to start the season. Two quality wins against the Bucks and Wizards, with both losses being entirely acceptable versus the Hawks and the Spurs. The biggest surprise is Carmelo hasn’t had to put the team on his back, Porzin-God mania is upon New York, and if he can keep it up the battle for Rookie of the Year be fun to watch. (Grant)
  18. Portland Trail Blazers (2-2): To be fair, the Trail Blazers have actually surprised me. I expected them to start off 1-3, but they managed to pick up two wins: one against the struggling Pelicans, and one against the Timberwolves. After a devastating off-season which saw most of their starting five shipped off to other teams, the Trail Blazers are due for an ugly season that may be a bit long and dreary for them. 18 is appropriate for now, but their stock is definitely going to dip a bit as they are due for a rough November against some of the better teams in the NBA. (Jon)
  19. Sacramento Kings (1-3): The 1-3 record doesn’t tell the whole story here. They lost two of their games to the Clippers, both by single digits. Boogie looks solid, but an Achilles scare is something to keep an eye on.  This team looks solid, but they will really need to speed up their learning curve if they want to stay a dark horse for that 8th seed. (Grant)
  20. Orlando Magic (1-3): It’s not fair for the Magic to be placed this low, considering the fact that they have truly battled hard against some of the better teams in the NBA. They took the Thunder to double-OT, lost by one to the Wizards, and made a strong push against the Chicago Bulls. Finally, the Magic picked up their first win of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans. If the Magic can continue to battle hard in games, look for them to be a dark horse 8th seed contender in the East. (Jon)
  21. Milwaukee Bucks (1-3): If I’m being completely honest, I’m shocked the Bucks have had this rough of a start to the season. Greg Monroe has looked fantastic for this team, and they were without Giannis for two games…but regardless, the Bucks have plenty of work ahead of them. They’re currently ranked as the worst defense team in the NBA, a statistic that will certainly change over the upcoming weeks. (Jon)
  22. Houston Rockets (1-3): While the Rockets were able to pick up a win against the Thunder, there are no excuses for dropping 3 games in a row when you’re supposedly a top team in the West. In addition, each of those losses were by 20 points. Absolutely unacceptable, and it’ll take a stretch of solid games over the next week to move them back up in our rankings. They looked good against the Thunder, getting the production out of Lawson and Harden that fans expected. It’s just a matter of sustaining it throughout the season. (Jon)
  23. Denver Nuggets (2-2): When Danilo Gallinari is you’re best player, there are not high hopes for the season. He’s leading the team with a very inefficient 16 points. However, if you’re a Nuggets fan all you need to pay attention to is Emmanuel Mudiay. He looks like a stud, and a steal for them. Watch him grow, and ignore the inevitable lottery pick looming. (Grant)
  24. Boston Celtics (1-2): Full disclosure: Brad Stevens is absolutely one of the best basketball minds in the current NBA. However, the Celtics are off to a rocky start to the season so far, albeit facing off against two great teams in the Raptors and Spurs back to back. I had them being unable to make the playoffs after their run last season, a statement that I stand by. They definitely have some solid pieces in place, it’s just a matter of continuing to build. (Jon)
  25. New Orleans Pelicans (0-4): Outside of the Rockets looking rough out of the gates this season, the New Orleans Pelicans are the only other team I had anticipated to at least be 2-2 this early in the season. While they have faced the Warriors twice early in the season, they should have been able to pick up wins against both the Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers. A disappointing start, but people need to keep in mind that this team is still being acquainted to a new coaching style and offensive system. (Jon)
  26. Indiana Pacers (1-3): Paul George remains a decent pick as a player gunning for the MVP this season, but the Pacers have looked awful so far as they began 0-3. Included in this stretch was a loss to the Utah Jazz where they only managed to score 76 points. Moving forward, they’re due to be frustrated in their lack of a solid front court. (Jon)
  27. Charlotte Hornets (1-3):  Had we done these rankings just one day earlier, this would eviscerate this team, but we just watched them destroy a good Bulls team. Still they sit at 1-3 with considerable work to do, yet those losses to the Heat and Hawks don’t look so bad. (Jon)
  28. Philadelphia 76ers (0-3): The Philadelphia 76ers are due to be in this spot throughout the season, unfortunately. Outside of what is due to be one of the best NBA front courts in the next few years, there isn’t much to love on this roster (…Covington, maybe?). Still, the 76ers are treated unfairly; they come out every single night, compete, and give it their all. Okafor has looked solid early. LeBron James offered some advice to fans of the 76ers, reminding them that it’s a process and that everyone wants “instant oatmeal”, which I really don’t even like. Oatmeal has never been a go-to breakfast item for me unless I put oats in a breakfast parfait. (Jon)
  29. Los Angeles Lakers (0-4): Kobe Bryant was quoted this week saying “I freaking suck”, to which everyone wanted to give him a hug and say “Hey, cheer up Kobe. It’s not you, it’s…well I mean, your shot selection could be better, you can try to move the ball around more and not take shots so early in the shot clock, but really it’s not only you”, to which Byron Scott would respond “I’m okay with Kobe’s shot selection”. Okay Byron, okay. (Jon)
  30. Brooklyn Nets (0-4): When your best possible option at point guard is Jarrett Jack, you’re in for a rough time. Yes, they were projected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, but they are really suffering early this season. The ideal result of this season? Moving various pieces to help build a young roster (Maybe give Hinkie a call?), and ensure a solid draft pick. (Jon)

Jonathan Slusar

Jonathan Slusar is a podcaster, NBA analyst, and post-game writer for the Chicago Bulls on MultipleSources.net. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in English, and is an avid opponent to radio jingles.

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