The 2014-15 season is finally underway. Unfortunately, that means more injuries. And the broken bones suffered by Russell Westbrook (out at least four weeks with a broken hand) and Julius Randle (out for the season with a broken leg) in the first three days of the season were tough blows.
But we can't have players wear bubble wrap and we must move on. It's still very early, so we won't be drawing any grand conclusions from the season's first six days. But fans of the Grizzlies, Kings and Warriors should certainly be encouraged, while fans of the Hornets and Pistons have to wonder when their team's offseason moves are going to make an impact.
The Power Rankings saw a big shake-up, because it's time to forget preseason projections and focus on regular season results. With two road wins, including an impressive one in Portland on Sunday, the Golden State Warriors are at the top of the list, followed by the other three unbeaten teams. The Rockets are at No. 4, but have a big opportunity to take over the top spot next week, visiting the 3-0 Heat on Tuesday and hosting the Warriors on Saturday.
* * *
• Last week: Spurs on top in early going, but it's wide open
• This time last year: Surprise! Sixers are No. 1 -- The Sixers were 3-0, with wins over the Heat, Wizards and Bulls. Dwyane Wade's "maintenance program" had already begun, Dwight Howard and Omer Asik were starting together in Houston, Blake Griffin got into it with Mark Jackson, and Eric Bledsoe beat the Jazz with a pull-up three.
• Plus-minus stud: Stephen Curry was a plus-62 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: Kobe Bryant was a minus-76 in four games last week.
• Hero Team of the Week: Miami (3-0) -- The Heat are the only unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference with wins over two teams -- Toronto and Washington -- that should be right there with them in the middle of the East playoff picture.
• Zero Team of the Week: Detroit (0-3) -- The Lakers went 0-4 against good teams. The Pistons lost to the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Nets, who went 0-4 otherwise.
• East vs. West: The West went 6-1 against the East in interconference games in the first week. The East's only win was Chicago's last-second victory in Minnesota.
• High jumps of the week: Miami (+12), Sacramento (+12), Boston (+10)
• Free falls of the week: Oklahoma City (-9), Charlotte (-6), Detrtoit (-6), L.A. Clippers (-6)
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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 has averaged 96.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 102.1 points scored per 100 possessions through Sunday..
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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.
102.9 (1), OffRtg:
103.0 (15), DefRtg:
87.5 (1), NetRtg:
Steve Kerr is the only undefeated coach in NBA history. Klay Thompson is the league's leading scorer
and hit a tough game-winner
in Portland on Sunday. The Dubs have been doing it more with defense, but they are moving the ball more, with 57 percent of their possessions seeing more than two passes, up from 48 percent last season, according to SportVU. This week:
vs. LAC, @ HOU, @ PHX
Pace: 96.3 (18), OffRtg: 113.7 (2), DefRtg: 101.3 (11), NetRtg: +12.3 (3)
Erik Spoelstra is your too-early leader for Coach of the Year, with his Heat holding the best record in the East, with the offense remaining efficient without LeBron James, with Mario Chalmers remaining productive as a reserve, and with Shawne Williams somehow holding down the fort in the starting lineup as Josh McRoberts works his way back from toe surgery.
This week: vs. HOU, @ CHA, MIN, @ DAL
Pace: 94.2 (23), OffRtg: 96.7 (22), DefRtg: 91.5 (3), NetRtg: +5.2 (6)
Marc Gasol showed up to the FIBA World Cup in fantastic shape, hoping to lead Spain to gold on its home soil. That didn't work out, but the Grizz are benefiting. Gasol averaged 24.7 points and 7.7 boards as his team got off to its best start in franchise history. Courtney Lee's injury and Vince Carter's slow start have Dave Joerger still depending on Tayshaun Prince.
This week: vs. NOP, @ PHX, @ OKC, @ MIL
Pace: 96.9 (13), OffRtg: 108.7 (4), DefRtg: 94.0 (4), NetRtg: +14.7 (2)
They haven't played anybody good, but the Rockets are the only team with three double-digit wins. James Harden hasn't shot well from the field and Dwight Howard hasn't shot well from the line, but their "role players" have looked good. New additions Trevor Ariza, Kostas Papanikolaou and Jason Terry have combined to shoot 21-for-40 from 3-point range.
This week: @ PHI, @ MIA, vs. SAS, vs. GSW
San Antonio (1-1)
Pace: 91.5 (29), OffRtg: 102.6 (17), DefRtg: 107.3 (25), NetRtg: -4.7 (24)
In case you still had The Finals on your mind, Friday's loss in Phoenix was a reminder that the Spurs sometimes play like a regular basketball team, and that Austin Daye (who got the surprise start) is on their roster. At this rate, Tony Parker is going to match his 2013-14 3-pointer total (25) by late next week. He shot 6-for-6 from deep in the first two games.
This week: vs. ATL, @ HOU, vs. NOP
92.6 (28), OffRtg:
103.4 (14), DefRtg:
105.5 (22), NetRtg:
LeBron James and the Cavs laid an egg
in "probably one of the biggest sporting events ever," but actually got the more important
game of their opening week in Chicago on Friday. Will playing time becomes an issue? Matthew Dellavedova (48) played three times as many minutes as Mike Miller (15) in the first two games. Delly, though, was a team-high plus-21
. This week:
@ POR, @ UTA, @ DEN
Pace: 93.0 (27), OffRtg: 118.8 (1), DefRtg: 109.1 (27), NetRtg: +9.7 (4)
Dirk Nowitzki's mid-range game is in mid-season form. He shot 20-for-28 from between the paint and the 3-point line last week. Tyson Chandler's defensive impact has yet to be really felt, but Chandler Parsons recovered from his poor showing in San Antonio to score 41 points against the Jazz and Pelicans, while the Mavs' bench additions made impacts as well.
This week: vs. BOS, @ POR, @ UTA, vs. MIA
Pace: 95.3 (21), OffRtg: 108.1 (6), DefRtg: 100.5 (10), NetRtg: +7.6 (5)
Derrick Rose didn't make it through two games before suffering his first injury of the season, but it was an ankle and not a knee. With the schedule they have coming up, the Bulls can afford to rest him some more games. Back-up guards Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich have shot 12-for-24 from 3-point range and Jimmy Butler looked great in his return on Saturday.
This week: vs. ORL, @ MIL, @ PHI, vs. BOS
97.2 (11), OffRtg:
103.9 (12), DefRtg:
102.5 (16), NetRtg:
It's great that Blake Griffin has put in a lot of work on his jumper. Bob Thate knows what he's doing
and floor spacing is critical. But Griffin has become a little too jumper happy, taking 52 percent of his shots
from outside the paint through three games, up from 37 percent last season. He was 0-for-8 from the outside in Sunday's loss to the Kings
. This week:
vs. UTA, @ GSW, vs. POR
96.6 (14), OffRtg:
108.6 (5), DefRtg:
106.4 (23), NetRtg:
+2.2 (12) Sunday's loss in Miami
was a reminder of how important Amir Johnson, who missed the game with a sprained ankle, is to the Raptors, especially on defense, where Jonas Valanciunas still has a ways to go. DeMar DeRozan retains an uncanny ability to get to the line (32 times in three games) while taking most of his shots from outside the paint. This week:
vs. OKC, @ BOS, vs. WAS, vs. PHI
97.3 (9), OffRtg:
95.4 (26), DefRtg:
96.0 (7), NetRtg:
The Kings looked awful in the second half of their opener against Golden State, but they're the only team with two wins over top 10 teams from the preseason rankings
, beating both the Blazers and Clippers (in L.A.) over the weekend with big fourth quarters. Hold off on the "Boogie 4 MVP" campaign until they get through this stretch of 10 of 14 on the road. This week:
@ DEN, vs. DEN, @ PHX, @ OKC
88.6 (30), OffRtg:
101.2 (19), DefRtg:
108.8 (26), NetRtg:
The Knicks' defense hasn't been very good, but they shot well in wins over the Cavs and Hornets. Is the shooting sustainable, though? Just 21.6 percent of their shots
have come from the restricted area, the lowest rate we've seen since the '03-04 Wolves (21.5 percent). The early version of the Triangle has produced a lot
of jump shots. This week:
vs. WAS, @ DET, @ BKN, @ ATL
Pace: 95.4 (20), OffRtg: 101.3 (18), DefRtg: 100.3 (9), NetRtg: +1.0 (17)
The good news is that the Blazers are a plus-40 in 62 minutes with at least two reserves on the floor. Steve Blake (15 assists, four turnovers) and Chris Kaman (14.9 points and 10.9 boards per 36 minutes) have worked out thus far. The bad news is that they're a minus-37 in 81 minutes with at least four starters on the floor. Damian Lillard is off to a slow start.
This week: vs. CLE, vs. DAL, @ LAC, vs. DEN
Pace: 98.1 (7), OffRtg: 105.2 (11), DefRtg: 102.1 (14), NetRtg: +3.1 (9)
The Suns' three-point-guard lineup beat the Spurs with a 10-2 run down the stretch on Friday, but it was a minus-16 (allowing 20 points in less than five minutes) otherwise. Isaiah Thomas (18.7 points per game on 56 percent shooting) has looked fantastic offensively, but the Suns' defense might not hold up when he replaces either Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic.
This week: @ LAL, vs. MEM, vs. SAC, vs. GSW
97.3 (10), OffRtg:
106.0 (9), DefRtg:
103.0 (18), NetRtg:
Maybe Paul Pierce just didn't want to waste his time with the Bucks, because who gets ejected for arguing a clear path foul
? That gave Otto Porter (21 points) a chance to shine, which could maybe help the Wizards' bench down the line. So far, they've been pretty awful offensively
when John Wall and Marcin Gortat have stepped off the floor. This week:
@ NYK, vs. IND, @ TOR, @ IND
96.6 (15), OffRtg:
95.6 (25), DefRtg:
101.6 (13), NetRtg:
With no Kevin Durant and
no Russell Westbrook, it was time for Kendrick Perkins to bust out the jump hook
. Perry Jones (55 points in the last two games) is the guy you want on your fantasy team this month, though if the Thunder are going to survive, they have to do it with defense. They held both the Clippers and Nuggets under a point per possession. This week:
@ BKN, @ TOR, vs. MEM, vs. SAC
102.8 (2), OffRtg:
102.9 (16), DefRtg:
101.4 (12), NetRtg:
There were several candidates, but the Celtics are the clear Jekyll and Hyde Team of the Week, with an effective field goal percentage of 60.2 percent in Wednesday's win over the Nets
and 38.3 percent (they missed their first 21 3s) in Saturday's loss in Houston
. Rajon Rondo (17 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists in the two games) has looked good. This week:
@ DAL, vs. TOR, vs. IND, @ CHI
95.7 (19), OffRtg:
107.7 (7), DefRtg:
110.7 (29), NetRtg:
-3.0 (23) Lionel Hollins aimed to put more movement in the Nets' offense
, but when Joe Johnson starting cooking in Detroit on Saturday
, Hollins did what every one of Johnson's coaches has done in the past. He got the ball right to Joe Jesus, who dropped 34 on the Pistons. The Nets get their first win and good news regarding Brook Lopez, who is set to play Monday. This week:
vs. OKC, vs. MIN, vs. NYK, vs. ORL
Pace: 96.4 (16), OffRtg: 107.4 (8), DefRtg: 102.7 (17), NetRtg: +4.7 (7)
The Hawks are playing a lot of games within the conference in the first month, so we're going to get an early look at where they stand in the East's hierarchy. Right now, they're somewhere between the Raptors and Pacers. The shooting is there, but the rebounding is not. They allowed 27 offensive rebounds and 50 second-chance points in two games.
This week: @ SAS, @ CHA, vs. NYK
New Orleans (1-1)
Pace: 97.9 (8), OffRtg: 103.6 (13), DefRtg: 99.7 (8), NetRtg: +3.9 (8)
If OKC's injuries put them on the playoff bubble, the Pels could benefit. Anthony Davis is already putting up ridiculous numbers (28.5 points, 16.0 rebounds and 6.0 blocks), combining with Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik to grab 35 offensive boards in two games. But there's pressure on the big six, because the bench beyond Anderson is sketchy, to put it nicely.
This week: @ MEM, vs. CHA, @ SAS
94.1 (24), OffRtg:
91.7 (29), DefRtg:
94.2 (5), NetRtg:
The Hornets' offense at the start of this season has looked a lot like the Bobcats' offense at the start of last season, with Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker combining to shoot 32 percent. They'd be 0-3 if the Bucks didn't let Walker walk right into his game-tying 3 on Wednesday
. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looked great before bruising his ribs on Sunday. This week:
@ NOP, vs. MIA, vs. ATL, @ LAL
99.4 (5), OffRtg:
92.1 (27), DefRtg:
89.6 (2), NetRtg:
Remember when the Nuggets were fun to watch? Kenneth Faried had the occasional highlight
, but the Denver offense was otherwise ugly through their first three halves of the season, shooting 19-for-86 (22 percent) from outside the restricted area. They made some shots in the second half in OKC on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to come back from 26 down. This week:
vs. SAC, @ SAC, vs. CLE, @ POR
Pace: 95.0 (22), OffRtg: 109.9 (3), DefRtg: 110.6 (28), NetRtg: -0.7 (19)
The Jazz have a pretty rough schedule over the first couple of weeks, but they haven't done themselves any favors by allowing their opponents to average 60.7 points on 55 percent shooting in the first halves of games. They did run past the Suns on Saturday behind 32 points from Derrick Favors, and Trevor Booker looks like a nice addition to the bench.
This week: @ LAC, vs. CLE, vs. DAL, @ DET
93.9 (25), OffRtg:
100.5 (21), DefRtg:
103.3 (20), NetRtg:
The old Pacers had a great starting lineup and an awful bench. These Pacers have an awful starting lineup (featuring a few guys who used to be on the bench), which has been outscored by 24 points in 38 minutes
(and in each of their three games). Starting forwards Solomon Hill and Luis Scola are averaging a combined 14.0 points per game. This week:
vs. MIL, @ WAS, @ BOS, vs. WAS
Pace: 96.4 (17), OffRtg: 105.5 (10), DefRtg: 103.7 (21), NetRtg: +1.8 (13)
Positive point differential, losing record, same 'ol Wolves. All three of their games have been within five points in the last five minutes, but they couldn't get the stop they needed in Memphis on Wednesday and Andrew Wiggins went for Jimmy Butler's pump fake on Saturday. Chase Budinger and Zach LaVine were the odd men out of the rotation in the first week.
This week: @ BKN, @ ORL, @ MIA
Pace: 93.7 (26), OffRtg: 91.7 (28), DefRtg: 103.3 (19), NetRtg: -11.6 (28)
The Stan Van Gundy era is off to a rough start, and the Pistons haven't exactly been playing elite competition. Van Gundy went shopping for shooting this summer, but his team shot 22 percent from 3-point range in its first three games. They continue to have a relatively soft schedule this week, but hit the road next Monday to play four playoff teams.
This week: vs. NYK, vs. MIL, vs. UTA
100.2 (4), OffRtg:
96.0 (23), DefRtg:
94.6 (6), NetRtg:
The Bucks have a top 10 defense and are one stop away from being 2-1. But their only win is against Philly, they blew a 24-point lead in Charlotte, and they've turned the ball over 49 times in their last two games. Jabari Parker leads all rookies in scoring
(10.7 per game) and rebounding (8.3), but has shot 4-for-23 from outside the restricted area
. This week:
@ IND, vs. CHI, @ DET, vs. MEM
Pace: 97.1 (12), OffRtg: 95.7 (24), DefRtg: 107.1 (24), NetRtg: -11.4 (27)
Ben Gordon scored as many points (22) against the Wizards on Thursday as he did in any two games last season, Elfrid Payton looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate against the Raptors on Saturday, and Nikola Vucevic has put up big numbers. But overall, the Magic have been bad, especially in third quarters, in which they've been outscored 96-64.
This week: @ CHI, @ PHI, vs. MIN, @ BKN
99.3 (6), OffRtg:
100.6 (20), DefRtg:
120.2 (30), NetRtg:
Kobe Bryant had a nice dunk
and few other highlights, but Julius Randle broke his leg and the Lakers' defense has been predictably brutal, allowing almost 10 more points per 100 possessions than any other team. After playing four games in five nights against tough opponents, a one-in-seven schedule allows for some practice time. This week:
vs. PHX, vs. CHA
Pace: 100.4 (3), OffRtg: 89.5 (30), DefRtg: 102.2 (15), NetRtg: -12.7 (29)
There was no 3-0 start or No. 1 ranking this year, though the Sixers did hold third-quarter leads in all three of their games. Nerlens Noel was 10-for-26 and shot some brutal looking jumpers, but will be better when Michael Carter-Williams returns. Both the Sixers and Magic are probably looking at Wednesday's meeting as a chance to get off the schneid.
This week: vs. HOU, vs. ORL, vs. CHI, @ TOR