By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Nov 4, 2013 10:22 AM
It started out as a joke. From the Wells Fargo Center, I tweeted out my first "Power Rankings Update" as the buzzer sounded on the Sixers' miraculous 114-110 victory over the Heat.
But do the Philadelphia 76ers really deserve to be ranked No. 1 in the first Power Rankings of the regular season?
Answer: Heck, yeah!
The Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves are all similarly undefeated and are all better teams than the Sixers are. But none had the kinds of quality wins that Michael Carter-Williams and company did.
Philly beat two teams in our preseason Top 5 and also knocked off a playoff hopeful on the road. And in the three games, they came back from deficits totaling 43 points. It doesn't get much better than that.
Will the Sixers eventually sink back down to the bottom 5? Probably. But based on the results of the first six days, they're the best team in the league.
* * *
• Last week: Heat start at the top, new team on the other side of things
• This time last year: Spurs already back on top - Sandy canceled Knicks-Nets, but New York still got off to a hot start. Mike Brown was still the Lakers' coach, James Harden scored 82 points in his first two games, Corey Brewer left the wrong guy open in the corner, and my man David Aldridge asked Gregg Popovich if he was happy. Happy?
• Plus-minus Stud: Kevin Love (MIN) was a plus-59 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus Dud: Marcus Thornton (SAC) was a minus-42 in three games last week.
• Hero Team of the Week: Philadelphia (3-0) -- Sam Hinkie is a mad scientist.
• Zero Team of the Week: Washington (0-3) -- The Wizards have been the last team to get a win each of the last two seasons and could make it a three-peat this year. Boston (in Memphis on Monday), Denver (hosting the Spurs on Tuesday) and Utah (in Brooklyn on Tuesday) will all have chances to get off the schneid before the Wiz visit Philly on Wednesday.
• High jumps of the week: Philadelphia (+28), Orlando (+15), Phoenix (+14)
• Free falls of the week: Denver (-12), Memphis (-9), Brooklyn (-7), Washington (-7)
• East vs. West: The West was 7-2 (.778) against the East in interconference games last week.
* * *
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank) - Click here
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
The league is averaging 98.3 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 100.3 points scored per 100 possessions.
* * *
NBA.com's Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man's opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via twitter.
|1|| Philadelphia (3-0) |
Pace: 103.2 (1), OffRtg: 106.6 (7), DefRtg: 102.1 (17), NetRtg: +4.5 (9)
As crazy as this seems, maybe it's just the model for when you change your ratio of mid-range attempts to 3-point attempts from 1.7 (last season) to 0.8 (this year). Brett Brown is letting his team push the ball and shoot early in the clock. But ultimately, they're taking the right kinds of shots, getting to the basket a lot more than they did under Doug Collins too. And they're shooting pretty well at the basket.
This week: vs. GSW, vs. WAS, vs. CLE, @ CLE
|Last week: 29|
|2|| Indiana (3-0) |
Pace: 97.6 (16), OffRtg: 97.5 (19), DefRtg: 84.4 (1), NetRtg: +13.1 (2)
If Lance Stephenson (19.0 ppg on 59 percent shooting) has really made the leap, then Danny Granger can take his time getting back and, more importantly, the Pacers are going to be really good. Their defense has been absolutely stifling thus far, with opponents shooting 6-for-27 against Roy Hibbert at the rim. This week will be a challenge, with the Bulls and Nets on the back ends of two back-to-backs.
This week: @ DET, vs. CHI, vs. TOR, @ BKN
|Last week: 3|
|3|| Houston (3-0) |
Pace: 97.5 (17), OffRtg: 108.5 (5), DefRtg: 94.7 (4), NetRtg: +13.8 (1)
It remains to be seen if the twin tower combination is ever going to work (Dwight Howard and Omer Asik are a minus-1 in 34 minutes together), but the Rockets' single-tower lineups are functioning just fine thanks to Francisco Garcia's hot shooting (10-for-20 from 3-point range) off the bench and that James Harden guy. Two games against the Clips this week could be telling for both teams.
This week: @ LAC, @ POR, vs. LAL, vs. LAC
|Last week: 6|
|4|| Minnesota (3-0) |
Pace: 99.9 (8), OffRtg: 105.0 (8), DefRtg: 96.4 (8), NetRtg: +8.6 (4)
Hey, remember Kevin Love? He hits big shots, gobbles up tons of rebounds and ... leads the league in scoring? If he flees Minnesota as a free agent in 2015, maybe he should think about joining an Atlantic Division team instead of heading to L.A., so that he can play the Knicks more often. He's averaged 32.5 points and 20.5 rebounds in his last four games against New York.
This week: @ CLE, vs. GSW, vs. DAL, @ LAL
|Last week: 12|
|5|| Miami (2-2) |
Pace: 97.5 (18), OffRtg: 108.2 (6), DefRtg: 102.8 (20), NetRtg: +5.4 (5)
Though he's shooting 56 percent again, LeBron James hasn't quite looked like his MVP self early on. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade's "proactive" maintenance program began with Game 2. It's all about the long haul, but, if they can find a little bit of a rhythm, the Heat have a chance to pick up a lot of wins against a very soft schedule over the next month. They don't have to play the Sixers again until January.
This week: @ TOR, vs. LAC, vs. BOS
|Last week: 1|
|6|| L.A. Clippers (2-1) |
Pace: 100.7 (7), OffRtg: 113.3 (1), DefRtg: 108.9 (30), NetRtg: +4.5 (10)
As expected, the Clippers' offense is awesome, led by a point guard averaging 27.7 points and 12.0 assists and still featuring lots o' lobs. Similarly predictable is that this team needs time to figure things out defensively. They allowed their opponents to shoot 48 percent from 3-point range last week and now play three of their next four games against two of the 3-point shootingest teams in the league.
This week: vs. HOU, @ ORL, @ MIA, @ HOU
|Last week: 4|
|7|| San Antonio (2-1) |
Pace: 98.2 (12), OffRtg: 101.8 (11), DefRtg: 98.8 (12), NetRtg: +3.0 (14)
Though Tim Duncan suffered a chest contusion and they lost in Portland for the ninth time in their last 10 trips, it was a positive start for the Spurs, because Manu Ginobili looked fresh. Gregg Popovich probably isn't happy with his team's early, coast-to-coast (from Portland to New York in seven days) schedule, but dinner at his favorite Italian restaurant in Manhattan usually puts him in a good mood.
This week: @ DEN, vs. PHX, vs. GSW, @ NYK
|Last week: 2|
|8|| Oklahoma City (2-1) |
Pace: 101.1 (6), OffRtg: 94.6 (26), DefRtg: 96.3 (7), NetRtg: -1.6 (16)
We knew the Thunder would struggle in Russell Westbrook's absence. We just didn't know that his absence would last only two games. All isn't right in Thunderland now that he's is back, but OKC can now figure out how their bench lineups are going to work. They scored 26 points in just seven minutes with Westbrook, Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson on the floor together on Sunday.
This week: vs. DAL, @ DET, vs. WAS
|Last week: 9|
|9|| Chicago (1-2) |
Pace: 97.8 (14), OffRtg: 95.6 (23), DefRtg: 100.7 (15), NetRtg: -5.1 (20)
OK, so Derrick Rose - 15-for-52 with more turnovers (17) than assists (14) and only 10 trips to the line - isn't quite back to MVP form just yet. But Carlos Boozer has looked terrific and with only three games in a 12-day stretch that began Sunday, there's plenty of practice time to get things right. Of course, any offensive breakthrough will have to wait until after Wednesday's big game in Indiana.
This week: @ IND, vs. UTA
|Last week: 5|
|10|| Golden State (2-1) |
Pace: 102.8 (3), OffRtg: 111.2 (2), DefRtg: 98.1 (11), NetRtg: +13.1 (3)
When Steph Curry is shooting 59 percent from 3-point range (10-for-18 on pull-ups and 6-for-9 on catch-and-shoot), there's not much you can do. Of course, the Warriors couldn't do anything to stop Chris Paul and the Clippers on Thursday, either. Unfortunately, the Pacific Division's two best teams don't play again until Christmas, when there probably won't be any gifts exchanged.
This week: @ PHI, @ MIN, @ SAS, @ MEM
|Last week: 10|
|11|| Portland (2-1) |
Pace: 97.5 (19), OffRtg: 108.7 (4), DefRtg: 105.4 (27), NetRtg: +3.3 (13)
The Blazers allowed 31 fast break points to the Suns on Wednesday, 10 to the Nuggets on Friday, and two to the Spurs on Saturday. That's progress. The offense also got better as the week went on, with Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews combining to shoot 19-for-34 from 3-point range over the weekend. That last one was bush league, though.
This week: vs. HOU, vs. SAC, @ SAC
|Last week: 14|
|12|| Orlando (2-2) |
Pace: 99.8 (9), OffRtg: 101.7 (12), DefRtg: 96.5 (9), NetRtg: +5.2 (6)
The Magic were a missed Arron Afflalo turnaround jumper from winning in Minnesota on Wednesday and going 3-1 last week. And oh, Victor Oladipo did this and this in the process of chewing up the Brooklyn defense for 19 points and four assists in just 21 minutes on Sunday. As awful as the Magic were on that end of the floor last season, it's their own defense that was most encouraging.
This week: vs. LAC, vs. BOS, @ ATL
|Last week: 27|
|13|| Dallas (2-1) |
Pace: 102.5 (4), OffRtg: 108.9 (3), DefRtg: 104.1 (22), NetRtg: +4.7 (8)
The Monta Ellis/Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-pop ain't easy to defend, especially when Ellis is passing as well as he did in the Mavs' opening-night win over Atlanta and Nowitzki is shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range. Dallas scored over 118 points per 100 possessions in Dirk's 95 minutes on the floor last week. If Jose Calderon (5-for-26) can get on track, this offense will really hum.
This week: vs. LAL, @ OKC, @ MIN, @ MIL
|Last week: 15|
|14|| Brooklyn (1-2) |
Pace: 97.5 (20), OffRtg: 96.1 (22), DefRtg: 104.3 (24), NetRtg: -8.2 (25)
With a win over the Heat and losses in Cleveland and Orlando (by a lot), the Nets are your Jekyll and Hyde Team of the Week. As big as they are at every position, they shouldn't be taking more mid-range shots (92) than shots in the paint (90). And as terrific as their depth looked against Miami, Andray Blatche (5-for-20 with seven turnovers) has pretty much been a disaster thus far.
This week: vs. UTA, @ WAS, vs. IND
|Last week: 7|
|15|| New York (1-2) |
Pace: 95.5 (27), OffRtg: 95.0 (24), DefRtg: 95.4 (5), NetRtg: -0.4 (15)
Though the Knicks are 1-2 and blew a 25-point lead in the one win, you can look at their first week in a pretty positive light. Tyson Chandler has looked terrific and, as a result, the defense - except for a five-minute span on Sunday in which they allowed the Wolves to score 26 points - has been strong. But even with J.R. Smith returning this week, it will take time to figure out what they're doing offensively.
This week: vs. CHA, @ CHA, vs. SAS
|Last week: 11|
|16|| Phoenix (2-1) |
Pace: 97.6 (15), OffRtg: 98.2 (17), DefRtg: 94.6 (3), NetRtg: +3.6 (12)
Twenty players averaged a double-double in the first week and one of them was named Miles Plumlee, who played a grand total of 55 minutes for the Pacers last season. Eric Bledsoe, meanwhile, was the only guy in the league who averaged 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. Throw in a game-winner against the Jazz and he's a Player of the Week candidate. Break up the Suns!
This week: @ NOP, @ SAS, vs. DEN, vs. NOP
|Last week: 30|
|17|| Memphis (1-2) |
Pace: 97.0 (21), OffRtg: 99.3 (15), DefRtg: 108.2 (29), NetRtg: -8.9 (28)
If it weren't for Marc Gasol's tip-in at the end of regulation against the Pistons on Friday, the Grizz would be off to an 0-3 start. Thus far, they have a starting lineup that can't shoot (though Tony Allen is 3-for-4 from 3-point range, the five-man unit has hit two threes in 42 minutes together) and a bench that can't defend (all other lineups have allowed 110.6 points per 100 possessions).
This week: vs. BOS, vs. NOP, vs. GSW
|Last week: 8|
|18|| Detroit (2-1) |
Pace: 95.7 (26), OffRtg: 103.1 (10), DefRtg: 98.1 (10), NetRtg: +4.9 (7)
Russell Westbrook wasn't the only point guard to make a surprise return on Sunday. Brandon Jennings played 31 minutes in Detroit's win over the Celtics, dropping a seated dime to Andre Drummond. The Pistons have actually been pretty good offensively in 77 minutes with Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith on the floor together, but face the league's No. 1 defense on Tuesday.
This week: vs. IND, vs. OKC
|Last week: 13|
|19|| L.A. Lakers (2-2) |
Pace: 102.9 (2), OffRtg: 96.2 (21), DefRtg: 103.5 (21), NetRtg: -7.2 (24)
After a week in which they beat the Clippers, got crushed by the Warriors and split tightly-contested games with the Spurs and Hawks, the Lakers are still a mystery. But this week's trip through the Southwest Division - especially the games against the Mavs and Pelicans - could be telling. Even with Dwight Howard gone, Pau Gasol is still a jump-shooter, taking 33 of his 57 shots from outside the paint.
This week: @ DAL, @ HOU, @ NOP, vs. MIN
|Last week: 20|
|20|| Atlanta (1-2) |
Pace: 101.3 (5), OffRtg: 103.1 (9), DefRtg: 104.9 (25), NetRtg: -1.7 (17)
How do you go 1-2 with two guys - Kyle Korver and Cartier Martin - shooting 20-for-34 from 3-point range? Bad starts and bad defense. With the worst defensive lineup (minimum 35 minutes together), the Hawks have the worst first-quarter defense, having allowed 33 points in the first 12 minutes to both the Mavs and Lakers. They almost came all the way back from 21 down in L.A. on Sunday.
This week: @ SAC, @ DEN, vs. ORL
|Last week: 16|
|21|| Toronto (2-1) |
Pace: 95.9 (25), OffRtg: 100.0 (14), DefRtg: 96.1 (6), NetRtg: +3.9 (11)
If you like to see Jonas Valanciunas as the centerpiece of the Raptors' offense, make sure you tune in early. JV has attempted 14 shots in 25 first-quarter minutes, but just seven in 40 minutes after the first quarter. The Raps have been at their best offensively (OffRtg: 106.1) when playing small, especially with Amir Johnson as the lone big. A strong start from Landry Fields has helped in that regard.
This week: vs. MIA, @ CHA, @ IND, vs. UTA
|Last week: 21|
|22|| Cleveland (1-2) |
Pace: 98.4 (11), OffRtg: 86.4 (30), DefRtg: 92.8 (2), NetRtg: -6.3 (21)
Kyrie Irving led the league with a clutch-time usage rate of over 50 percent last season, so it was crazy to see the ball out of his hands on a couple of late possessions in Charlotte on Friday. Results: a turnover and an airball. Andrew Bynum's ability to get on the floor for 18 minutes in the first two games is encouraging. Anthony Bennett missing the first 12 shots of his career is not.
This week: vs. MIN, @ MIL, @ PHI, vs. PHI
|Last week: 22|
|23|| New Orleans (1-2) |
Pace: 96.2 (24), OffRtg: 98.6 (16), DefRtg: 100.4 (14), NetRtg: -1.8 (18)
Yep, Anthony Davis is ready to break out, ranking in the top 10 in points, rebounds, steals and blocks per game after one week. He has improved defensively and will eventually get more help on offense. But with a relatively soft November schedule, the Pelicans have a chance to establish something early, so Friday's loss in Orlando (in which they trailed by 30) was particularly disappointing.
This week: vs. PHX, @ MEM, vs. LAL, @ PHX
|Last week: 19|
|24|| Sacramento (1-2) |
Pace: 94.2 (29), OffRtg: 98.0 (18), DefRtg: 105.1 (26), NetRtg: -7.1 (23)
The Kings weren't the only team with quotes like this after a weekend loss, but how do you have "no fight, no pride," according to coach Mike Malone, in Game 3? With 17 of their first 20 games in California, there's little excuse for this team to just lay an egg this early in the season. But hey, they put their money behind DeMarcus Cousins, who beasted his way to 54 points and 24 boards in the first two games.
This week: vs. ATL, @ POR, vs. POR
|Last week: 23|
|25|| Washington (0-3) |
Pace: 99.0 (10), OffRtg: 101.2 (13), DefRtg: 108.1 (28), NetRtg: -7.0 (22)
With their opponents shooting a ridiculous 79.1 percent in the restricted area, it's safe to say that the Wizards miss Emeka Okafor. The 130 points in the paint they gave up in their first two games were 14 more than they gave up in any two-game stretch all of last season. If they don't get revenge on the Sixers on Wednesday, this streak could get ugly, with the Nets, Thunder, Mavs and Spurs after that.
This week: @ PHI, vs. BKN, @ OKC
|Last week: 18|
|26|| Milwaukee (1-2) |
Pace: 94.5 (28), OffRtg: 96.8 (20), DefRtg: 101.8 (16), NetRtg: -5.0 (19)
Random thoughts about the most random team in the league: Eight different guys started at least one of their first three games. Zaza Pachulia is their leading scorer. John Henson has the sweepingest hook shot in the league. They came back from two deficits of 22 points or more. They've attempted 42 above-the-break threes and only six from the corner. And Larry Sanders is frustrated about his lack of minutes.
This week: vs. CLE, vs. DAL
|Last week: 24|
|27|| Charlotte (1-2) |
Pace: 96.4 (23), OffRtg: 88.4 (29), DefRtg: 99.1 (13), NetRtg: -10.7 (30)
Al Jefferson played in just one game and shot 6-for-19 (against the Rockets' center tandem, it should be noted), so the Bobcats' offense was pretty brutal all week. But there were encouraging signs from Cody Zeller (in limited minutes) and Bismack Biyombo (who picked up a double-double), and especially from the defense, which got four straight stops down the stretch of Friday's win over Cleveland.
This week: @ NYK, vs. TOR, vs. NYK
|Last week: 26|
|28|| Utah (0-3) |
Pace: 96.4 (22), OffRtg: 93.9 (27), DefRtg: 102.3 (19), NetRtg: -8.4 (26)
The Jazz led the league in first-week heartbreak. They missed free throws and committed a couple of late turnovers in Wednesday's 3-point loss to the Thunder. They got beat by an Eric Bledsoe pull-up three in Phoenix on Friday. And then they blew a 16-point, second-half lead to the Rockets on Saturday. The encouraging play of Alec Burks (18.0 ppg off the bench) helps ease the pain a bit.
This week: @ BKN, @ BOS, @ CHI, @ TOR
|Last week: 25|
|29|| Denver (0-2) |
Pace: 97.8 (13), OffRtg: 94.7 (25), DefRtg: 104.3 (23), NetRtg: -9.6 (29)
The Season of JaVale is off to a rough start. JaVale McGee is now the starting center by name, but has played just 23 minutes through the Nuggets' first two games, dealing with foul trouble and probably some coach-trust issues. Without Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, Brian Shaw has his work cut out for him in trying to find a lineup that functions on either end of the floor.
This week: vs. SAS, vs. ATL, @ PHX
|Last week: 17|
|30|| Boston (0-3) |
Pace: 93.3 (30), OffRtg: 93.3 (28), DefRtg: 102.2 (18), NetRtg: -8.9 (27)
Two games into the season, Gerald Wallace was already calling his teammates "selfish" for the second time, an act that's probably going to wear thin sometime soon. Brad Stevens is searching for combinations that work (Jeff Green sat the entire fourth quarter in Detroit on Sunday) and to no one's surprise, the point-guard-less Celtics have the highest turnover ratio in the league.
This week: @ MEM, vs. UTA, @ ORL, @ MIA
|Last week: 28|
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