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Power Rankings: Warriors just keep on setting the pace

Bucks, Wolves rise; Two West contenders plummet into bottom 5

POSTED: Nov 2, 2015 11:17 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann


Even this early in 2015-16, the Warriors are seeing many teams try to copy their pace and style of play.

The pace revolution is upon us.

Through six days, the league is scoring 202.9 points per game this season, the highest mark in more than 20 years (since 1993-94).

Are teams shooting better? Nope. Shooting more threes? A little bit, but that hasn't made much of a difference. Getting to the free throw line more often or committing fewer turnovers? No and no.

The difference is pace. The league is averaging 101.3 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes this season, up from 96.3 last year.

This is a copycat league, and though few of the league's general managers picked the Golden State Warriors to repeat, many of their teams are trying to emulate the champs. The Warriors taught us that you can be successful on both ends of the floor and win a championship while leading the league in pace, and the new numbers tell us that shooting percentages dip dramatically after the first six seconds of the shot clock.

A lot of teams that didn't bother to run last season are taking that to heart. Half of the league (15 teams) is averaging at least five possessions per 48 minutes more than it did last season, with New York (+11.9), New Orleans (+11.7) and Sacramento (+10.2) each making a jump of at least 10 possessions per 48. Overall, the league has attempted 16.0 percent of its shots in the first six seconds of the clock, up from 13.7 percent last season, according to SportVU.

So far, the pace revolution has been good for some teams and bad for others, and we'll see if it continues through April, May and June. But it's not just something that happens in the early days of the season. League-wide pace was at 96.4 at this point last year and only dropped a tick by April. The fastest the league played in any six day period last season was 99.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes.

There are a lot of teams that want to be like the Warriors right now, but there still ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.

* * *

• Last week: Warriors No. 1, and for good reason
• This time last year: Warriors lead four unbeatens -- Julius Randle broke his leg and Russell Westbrook broke his hand. The Knicks beat the Cavs in "probably one of the biggest sporting events ever," according to LeBron James. Paul Pierce got ejected for arguing a clear-path foul and Kobe Bryant threw one down.

• Plus-minus stud: Draymond Green (GSW) was a plus-54 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: James Harden (HOU) was a minus-65 in three games last week.

• Hero team of the week: Detroit (3-0) -- Not only are the Pistons 3-0, but the teams they beat went 8-0 in the other games they played last week.
• Zero team of the week: L.A. Lakers (0-3) -- The Lakers were the only team to lose two games to teams - Minnesota and Sacramento - from the preseason bottom 10.

• East vs. West: The West went 7-3 against the East in interconference games last week.

• High jumps of the week: Detroit (+17), Minnesota (+13), New York (+11)
• Free falls of the week: Houston (-21), New Orleans (-17), Milwaukee (-13)

* * *

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 101.3 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 99.4 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

* * *'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.


Last week: 1

Golden State (3-0)
Pace: 105.2 (6) OffRtg: 114.4 (1) DefRtg: 96.3 (13) NetRtg: +18.1 (1)
The champs are still the champs, and the MVP is still very much the MVP, dropping 93 points in two games against the Pelicans. If you want to slow down Stephen Curry, get to him early. According to SportVU, he's 15-for-23 (9-for-15 from 3-point range) in the first six seconds of the shot clock. The Warriors have now won 65 straight games that they've led by at least 15 points, going back to April, 2014.
This week: vs. MEM, vs. LAC, vs. DEN, @ SAC


Last week: 6

Oklahoma City (3-0)
Pace: 102.9 (12) OffRtg: 111.7 (2) DefRtg: 101.3 (20) NetRtg: +10.5 (6)
Well, the Thunder are officially good again. Kevin Durant is on his way to a 50/40/90 season, Russell Westbrook is hitting big shots, and they're getting key contributions from the supporting cast. Coach Billy Donovan has even trusted Dion Waiters, who hit two big shots in Wednesday's win over the Spurs, in late-game situations. Unfortunately, they don't play the Warriors until February.
This week: @ HOU, vs. TOR, @ CHI, vs. PHX


Last week: 20

Detroit (3-0)
Pace: 96.6 (26) OffRtg: 97.5 (18) DefRtg: 92.8 (6) NetRtg: +4.6 (13)
The Pistons' bench is a real concern. They were a minus-16 last week in 42 minutes with at least three starters on the bench and Jodie Meeks is out 12-16 weeks after breaking his foot on Wednesday. But Andre Drummond (18.7 points and 16.3 rebounds per game) looks like a first-time All-Star and Marcus Morris (19.3 points per game) looks like one of the big steals of the offseason.
This week: vs. IND, @ PHX, @ POR


Last week: 5

L.A. Clippers (3-0)
Pace: 104.8 (8) OffRtg: 105.7 (5) DefRtg: 94.8 (9) NetRtg: +10.9 (5)
If Curry wasn't doing what he's doing, people might notice that Blake Griffin is averaging 32.0 points on 64 percent shooting. Paul Pierce had a big bucket in Sacramento on Wednesday, but the Clippers' bench is still an issue. Austin Rivers and Josh Smith are a combined 7-for-27 from the field and a minus-21 and minus-22, respectively. There will surely be fireworks when the Clips visit the champs on Wednesday.
This week: vs. PHX, @ GSW, vs. HOU


Last week: 10

Chicago (3-1)
Pace: 101.2 (17) OffRtg: 96.4 (20) DefRtg: 91.0 (5) NetRtg: +5.4 (12)
A big first week from Nikola Mirotic (18.8 points per game, 13-for-28 from 3-point range) has justified his placement in the starting lineup. Derrick Rose doesn't yet have a jump shot (he's 5-for-19 from outside the paint), but improvements from Tony Snell and Doug McDermott could be big in the long run, and the defense has been good enough so far.
This week: @ CHA, vs. OKC, vs. MIN


Last week: 3

Cleveland (2-1)
Pace: 97.6 (24) OffRtg: 103.7 (7) DefRtg: 90.3 (3) NetRtg: +13.4 (3)
LeBron James' back is obviously a concern, but the Cavs' defensive numbers, as well as the play from their bench, are encouraging. Matthew Dellavedova is a plus-53, with 17 assists and one turnover, in 65 minutes. They play the West as many times (2) as they play the Sixers in their first 18 games, so they should still have a top-10 defense into December.
This week: @ PHI, vs. NYK, vs. PHI, vs. IND


Last week: 2

San Antonio (2-1)
Pace: 101.8 (15) OffRtg: 98.9 (17) DefRtg: 90.0 (2) NetRtg: +8.9 (8)
You could nitpick and say that he's not making plays for his teammates (he has three assists in three games), but Kawhi Leonard looks like the best two-way player in the league right now. Though LaMarcus Aldridge obviously provides a talent upgrade, Tiago Splitter will be missed if the defensive numbers continue to be bad when bench bigs Boris Diaw and David West are on the floor together.
This week: @ NYK, @ WAS, vs. CHA


Last week: 13

Toronto (3-0)
Pace: 103.8 (10) OffRtg: 103.4 (8) DefRtg: 93.8 (7) NetRtg: +9.6 (7)
Jonas Valanciunas is getting to touch the ball a little more this year. Not only has DeMarre Carroll (16.3 points per game, 8-for-19 from 3-point range) fit in well with the Raptors, but Terrence Ross (12.3, 6-for-13) looks comfortable in his new role off the bench. The Raps are 3-0 against third-tier teams in the East, but play 10 of their next 12 games on the road and 13 of their next 20 against the West.
This week: @ DAL, @ OKC, @ ORL, @ MIA


Last week: 7

Memphis (2-1)
Pace: 95.3 (29) OffRtg: 101.8 (10) DefRtg: 104.2 (23) NetRtg: -2.3 (20)
It's not a good omen when you start the season by making just five of your first 33 shots, but the Grizzlies have scored 109 points per 100 possessions in their two-plus games since that point. Jeff Green was taken out of the starting lineup after Wednesday's loss to Cleveland and was a positive contributor off the bench against Indiana and Brooklyn. If that continues, it would be big for the Grizz.
This week: @ GSW, @ SAC, @ POR, @ UTA


Last week: 8

Atlanta (3-1)
Pace: 99.9 (21) OffRtg: 100.3 (14) DefRtg: 97.5 (14) NetRtg: +2.8 (14)
The Hawks are still getting beat up on the boards, ranking 28th in defensive rebounding percentage (though the numbers are much better with Tiago Splitter on the floor). After shooting 2-for-9 in the first two games, Kent Bazemore totaled 39 total points a weekend home-and-home against the Hornets. With both Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha getting rest days, the Hawks need Bazemore on both ends of the floor.
This week: @ MIA, vs. BKN, @ NOP, vs. WAS


Last week: 15

Utah (2-1)
Pace: 93.9 (30) OffRtg: 99.6 (15) DefRtg: 85.5 (1) NetRtg: +14.1 (2)
With a big frontline, elite rim protection and a slow, deliberate offense, the Jazz are the new Pacers. The new Pacers beat the ... Pacers on Saturday, because big can still beat small in today's NBA. Derrick Favors has taken advantage of mismatches to average 21.3 points on 52 percent shooting through the first three games, but will match up against some more traditional power forwards this week.
This week: vs. POR, @ DEN, vs. MEM


Last week: 23

New York (2-1)
Pace: 105.6 (3) OffRtg: 107.0 (3) DefRtg: 101.1 (19) NetRtg: +5.9 (11)
No team is feeling the pace revolution more than the Knicks, who ranked last in fast break points each of the last three seasons and have now decided that they're allowed to score before running through the Triangle offense. Their young guards -- Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant -- have played much better than their old ones, which may lead to a lineup change. Jose Calderon (5-for-19) is off to a rough shooting start.
This week: vs. SAS, @ CLE, vs. MIL, vs. LAL


Last week: 11

Washington (2-1)
Pace: 104.9 (7) OffRtg: 101.6 (11) DefRtg: 99.5 (18) NetRtg: +2.2 (15)
Nobody gets the ball down the floor faster than John Wall and Bradley Beal has shot well, but #PlayoffWittman in the regular season hasn't yet translated into a consistently potent offense for the Wizards, who have scored less than a point per possession in two of their three games. Their forwards have shot 7-for-27 (26 percent) from 3-point range.
This week: vs. SAS, @ BOS, @ ATL


Last week: 12

Miami (2-1)
Pace: 95.8 (28) OffRtg: 106.6 (4) DefRtg: 98.6 (16) NetRtg: +7.9 (9)
There are some presidential candidates who could use Udonis Haslem, who gave a speech that sparked a 65-26 second half against the Rockets on Sunday. And there are some teams that picked 4-9 that could use Justise Winslow, who played a big role in that big second half, hitting two threes and shutting down James Harden. Goran Dragic (averaging just 9.0 points) has yet to get going for the Heat.
This week: vs. ATL, @ MIN, @ IND, vs. TOR


Last week: 16

Dallas (2-1)
Pace: 101.6 (16) OffRtg: 100.6 (13) DefRtg: 94.4 (8) NetRtg: +6.2 (10)
The Mavs are undefeated (1-0) when Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons both play, and it's rather remarkable that they both did in the first week of the season. Deron Williams' health is going to be the biggest key to their offense, though. He sat out Thursday's loss in L.A., but shot 50 percent against the Suns and Lakers, with 15 assists and just two turnovers. Dallas plays five of its next six at home.
This week: vs. TOR, vs. CHA, vs. NOP


Last week: 29

Minnesota (2-0)
Pace: 102.6 (13) OffRtg: 102.8 (9) DefRtg: 90.3 (4) NetRtg: +12.5 (4)
The Wolves have yet to play a team that anybody thought would be any good and they still can't shoot (7-for-31 from 3-point range). But two road wins are two good wins, they lead the league in free throw rate, and Karl-Anthony Towns sure looks like the real deal. He leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks, curling off of Ricky Rubio pin-down screens and scoring both inside and out.
This week: vs. POR, vs. MIA, @ CHI


Last week: 18

Phoenix (2-1)
Pace: 104.1 (9) OffRtg: 95.6 (23) DefRtg: 96.3 (12) NetRtg: -0.7 (18)
The Blazers' lack of scoring is the biggest reason the Suns have two wins. But Phoenix's starting lineup was rather potent in the home-and-home, scoring 97 points (129 per 100 possessions) in just 35 minutes together after an ugly opener against Dallas. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight combined for 60 points in Saturday's win, but will be challenged defensively in L.A. on Monday.
This week: @ LAC, vs. SAC, vs. DET, @ OKC


Last week: 22

Sacramento (1-2)
Pace: 108.1 (1) OffRtg: 105.5 (6) DefRtg: 105.4 (24) NetRtg: +0.1 (17)
Rajon Rondo has been pretty good and the Kings hung tough in both meetings with the Clippers last week. But they played Rondo and Darren Collison together down the stretch and saw both of them get punished on switches against Paul Pierce and Blake Griffin. They're playing nine of their first 11 games at home, but almost all the opponents are tough and DeMarcus Cousins is dealing with a sore Achilles.
This week: vs. MEM, @ PHX, vs. HOU, vs. GSW


Last week: 17

Boston (1-2)
Pace: 106.4 (2) OffRtg: 94.1 (24) DefRtg: 95.4 (10) NetRtg: -1.4 (19)
The Celtics' mojo hasn't carried over from their 24-12 finish last season to the start of this one, and it's not clear how they're going to score consistently. David Lee hasn't made an impact and every guard and wing that played last week shot less than 40 percent. Wednesday's visit to Indiana is the only time in their first 23 games that they're playing an opponent that's on the second night of a back-to-back.
This week: @ IND, vs. WAS


Last week: 24

Denver (1-2)
Pace: 100.1 (20) OffRtg: 92.0 (27) DefRtg: 98.9 (17) NetRtg: -6.9 (23)
A 20-point win over Houston looked like an incredible start to the Mike Malone era, but then the Rockets continued to look awful the rest of the week and Denver got hammered by the Wolves in its home opener. Only the Celtics and Rockets shot worse from outside the paint in the first week, and the Nuggets are dealing with more injuries on their frontline.
This week: @ LAL, vs. UTA, @ GSW


Last week: 25

Portland (1-2)
Pace: 103.7 (11) OffRtg: 96.8 (19) DefRtg: 95.8 (11) NetRtg: +1.0 (16)
If you want to see role players take shots that they've never before been allowed to take, the Blazers are your team. Mason Plumlee runs fast breaks, Al-Farouq Aminu takes one-on-one, step-back jumpers, and C.J. McCollum just shoots and shoots and shoots, especially when Damian Lillard goes to the bench. McCollum (59 FGA, 5 FTA) needs to find his way to the free throw line more often, though.
This week: @ MIN, @ UTA, vs. MEM, vs. DET


Last week: 28

Orlando (0-3)
Pace: 102.5 (14) OffRtg: 93.0 (25) DefRtg: 98.3 (15) NetRtg: -5.4 (21)
You could look at Friday's heartbreaker as a blown 18-point, fourth-quarter lead and a bad decision not to foul Russell Westbrook before he hit a ridiculous three to tie. But the Magic have seen a lot of their young players make big plays in big moments and lost by a total of nine points to teams that are a combined 8-2, pushing the undefeated Thunder to double-OT.
This week: @ NOP, @ HOU, vs. TOR, @ PHI


Last week: 19

Indiana (0-3)
Pace: 100.6 (19) OffRtg: 92.8 (26) DefRtg: 103.7 (22) NetRtg: -10.8 (24)
The Pacers tried starting small (in Toronto and against Utah) and tried starting big (against Memphis). Either way, the finishes, not the starts, have been the problem. They're a plus-14 in the first half and a minus-51 in the second half. Paul George and Monta Ellis have shot poorly, turnovers are a problem again, and their schedule remains tough for the next couple of weeks.
This week: @ DET, vs. BOS, vs. MIA, @ CLE


Last week: 21

Charlotte (0-3)
Pace: 96.7 (25) OffRtg: 96.2 (22) DefRtg: 102.0 (21) NetRtg: -5.9 (22)
The Hornets are taking and making 3-pointers, which helped them make big runs in both weekend games against the Hawks. But Kemba Walker's two buzzer-beating shots to tie were both off the mark and Charlotte is 0-3 with a rough schedule this week. P.J. Hairston has shot poorly, but the starting lineup (with Hairston at small forward) is a plus-17 in 38 minutes together.
This week: vs. CHI, @ DAL, @ SAS


Last week: 4

Houston (0-3)
Pace: 100.7 (18) OffRtg: 87.2 (29) DefRtg: 109.0 (26) NetRtg: -21.8 (30)
Two of the Rockets' losses came without Dwight Howard and the other was at the hands of the Warriors. But even considering all that, they couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. Their defense has been awful and James Harden can't shoot. Some good news: Eight of their next 16 opponents, including the Thunder on Monday and Magic on Wednesday, will be on the second night of a back-to-back.
This week: vs. OKC, vs. ORL, @ SAC, @ LAC


Last week: 9

New Orleans (0-3)
Pace: 105.4 (4) OffRtg: 96.3 (21) DefRtg: 114.7 (29) NetRtg: -18.4 (28)
It's not fair that the Pelicans had to play two of their first three games against the champs with a depleted roster. Good news: They don't have to deal with Stephen Curry again until March and we'll see if the defensive numbers improve against opponents that don't challenge you nearly as much as the Warriors do. Jrue Holiday's minutes limit has already been extended; He played almost 27 on Saturday.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. ATL, @ DAL


Last week: 14

Milwaukee (0-3)
Pace: 98.3 (22) OffRtg: 100.8 (12) DefRtg: 117.1 (30) NetRtg: -16.2 (26)
Last season's Bucks had the biggest season-to-season defensive improvement since the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan and got David Robinson back from injury. This season's Bucks are going in the opposite direction, having allowed more than 30 points in five of the 12 quarters they've played. They do play three of their four games this week against other teams that are without a win, so something has got to give.
This week: @ BKN, vs. PHI, @ NYK, vs. BKN


Last week: 26

Brooklyn (0-3)
Pace: 96.6 (27) OffRtg: 91.8 (28) DefRtg: 109.7 (27) NetRtg: -17.9 (27)
When the Nets shot 0-for-9 from 3-point range against the Bulls on Wednesday, it was the first time they went without a three since opening night of 2009, when they set an NBA record with 18 losses to start the season and finished 12-70. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has shown promise and Brook Lopez had some nifty assists out of the post on Friday, but it's slim pickings on bright spots.
This week: vs. MIL, @ ATL, vs. LAL, @ MIL


Last week: 27

L.A. Lakers (0-3)
Pace: 105.2 (5) OffRtg: 99.2 (16) DefRtg: 111.7 (28) NetRtg: -12.6 (25)
Kobe Bryant says he sucks and ranks himself as the '200th best player' in the league, which may be a generous assessment at this point. After ranking 26th in 3PA/FGA last season, the Lakers are No. 1 this year. That would be good news if so many of them (37 percent, highest rate in the league, according to SportVU) weren't contested ... or if their defense wasn't so horrid.
This week: vs. DEN, @ BKN, @ NYK


Last week: 30

Philadelphia (0-2)
Pace: 97.8 (23) OffRtg: 85.8 (30) DefRtg: 106.6 (25) NetRtg: -20.8 (29)
The Sixers have a long way to go to match last year's 0-17 record, but they're off to a pretty brutal start and coach Brett Brown doesn't exactly see light at the end of the tunnel. "We're going to experience some heartache over the next month," the coach said after Friday's loss to Utah. "Everybody bunker in." Once again, Philly is at the bottom of the league in both effective field goal percentage and turnover rate.
This week: vs. CLE, @ MIL, @ CLE, vs. ORL