DA's Morning Tip

DA's Top 15 Rankings: Clippers, Pistons climb a few notches

David Aldridge

David Aldridge reveals which teams, to him, are the Top 15 squads in the NBA at this moment.

(last week’s record in parenthesis; previous ranking in brackets)

1) Cleveland Cavaliers (3-0) [2]: A close scrape here and there, including a one-point escape at Philly Saturday, but overall, tney’re not exerting themselves too much during the first fortnight of the regular season.

2) L.A. Clippers (3-1) [3]: Have already spanked Portland in Portland and San Antonio in San Antonio, and are 3-0 on the road so far with wins over three playoff teams from last season.

3) Golden State Warriors (2-1) [4]: Warriors have lost 21 regular season games, total, on the road the last two-plus seasons. Inexplicably, three have now come to the Lakers at Staples.

4) San Antonio Spurs (1-2) [1]: Perhaps Danny Green is a smidge more important to the Spurs than his frequent critics would ever acknowledge.

5) Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) [5]: Jerami Grant can definitely help off the bench.

6) Atlanta Hawks (2-2) [6]: Patriot League alum Mike Muscala (Bucknell) now leads the NBA in field goal percentage (.710).

7) Detroit Pistons (2-1) [10]: Ish Smith filling in more than adequately for the injured Reggie Jackson, averaging 7.5 assists per game with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.75.

8) Charlotte Hornets (2-0) [11]: They’ve only allowed 100 points once in first five games.

9) Toronto Raptors (3-1) [14]: Stunned that more teams haven’t done what the Kings did Sunday against the white-hot DeMar DeRozan: run people at him to get the ball out of his hands and make someone else beat them.

10) Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) [8]: What’s up with Al-Faroqu Aminu behind the arc to start the season? He shot a career-high 36 percent on 3-pointers last season; through seven games so far this year, he’s at 25 percent (9 of 36). Small sample size, to be fair.

11) Boston Celtics (1-2) [7]: Their defense, as evidenced by giving up 123 at home to Denver Sunday, needs some work.

12) Memphis Grizzlies (1-3) [9]: Chandler Parsons makes season debut Sunday after missing the first week-plus of the season.

13) Chicago Bulls (1-3) [12]: Dwyane Wade had seven 3-pointers all of last season. He has 10 threes this season in the first six games.

14) Houston Rockets (1-2) [13]: It wasn’t hard to predict, but James Harden’s numbers thus far are still ridiculous.

15) Utah Jazz (3-1) [NR]: George Hill is balling. An extension, always more likely than not after the Jazz acquired him in June, looks like a certainty now.

Dropped out: Sacramento [15]

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Chicago Cubs (3-0): Oh, come on, like it could be anybody else. Happy for the real Cubs fans I’ve known for three-plus decades, like my buddy Dan, from Barrington, IL, who was physically ill in 1984 when that ground ball went through Leon (Bull) Durham’s legs. A lot of people waited a long time for that moment in Cleveland last Wednesday, and one imagines Ernie Banks and Haray Caray having a good, long pull on very expensive cigars, content at last.

TEAM OF THE WEAK

Philadelphia (0-3): Look, the Sixers are a lot more competitive, and Dario Saric started to pick things up last week, and Joel Embiid still looks like he’s going to be a monster. (And they may have gotten hosed on that non-call on J.R. Smith against Gerald Henderson in the final seconds Saturday). It’s coming, Philly. It’s coming.

More Morning Tip: Warriors, Thunder remain linked | NBA stars do more than their day jobs | Q&A with Tobias Harris

Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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