Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 2: Undefeated Celtics take over No. 1 spot

See where all 30 teams rank after the first week of the 2022-23 season.

Jayson Tatum has been on a tear for the Celtics, who moved to 3-0 and No. 1 in our latest Power Rankings.

Week 1 of the season can be both exhilarating and confusing. Nothing has been more fun than the Utah Jazz winning their first three games, all against good teams. But wait, how are the Jazz one of the league’s four undefeated teams? And how are they joined by the Portland Trail Blazers, who looked pretty turrible in the preseason?

As has been noted in this space many times, games in Week 1 count just as much as Games in Week 15. Still, there’s a desire to fast forward a month to help us determine what’s real and what isn’t.

But why would we want to miss whatever’s next? None of the four undefeated teams face each other this week (nor are there any meetings between the six teams that are winless), but each will face a serious test or two. And maybe the 0-3 Houston Rockets are just the team (with two tries) to knock the Jazz off their pedestal.

The four undefeated teams are first, second, fifth and 10th in this week’s Power Rankings. Yes, the Jazz are No. 5. Feel the vibes and enjoy whatever comes next.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Utah (3-0) — Everybody loves a Week 1 surprise, and the Jazz pulled off three of them. In fact, the three teams they beat — Denver, Minnesota and New Orleans — are otherwise 6-0.
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Philadelphia (0-3) — The Sixers are one of two teams (the Thunder are the other) that rank in the bottom 10 on both ends of the floor.

East vs. West

Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Utah (+23), Portland (+11), New Orleans (+7), San Antonio (+7)
  • Free falls of the week: Philadelphia (-13), L.A. Lakers (-6), Houston (-5), Orlando (-5)

Week 2 Team to Watch

  • Portland If Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson didn’t suffer injuries on Sunday, this space would be reserved for the Pelicans, who face the Mavs, Suns and Clippers this week. But with the status of those two guys unknown, let’s put a spotlight on the 3-0 Blazers, who have won their three games by a total of 11 points. More nail-biters could certainly be in store as they host the Nuggets (Monday), Heat (Wednesday) and Rockets (Friday).

Previous Power Rankings

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

The league averaged 111.0 points scored per 100 possessions and 101.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes in Week 1.

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.

Last Week:3

Record: 3-0

OffRtg: 124.3 (1) DefRtg: 116.8 (25) NetRtg: +7.5 (8) Pace: 97.3 (25)

When the Celtics had the league’s No. 1 offense over their last 32 games of last season, they scored 120.7 points per 100 possessions. And through three games this season, they’re at 124.3 per 100. It’s obviously a much smaller sample size, but it shows just how hot they are out of the gate. They didn’t have as efficient of a three-game stretch last season until Games 22-24. They rank seven in 3-point percentage (39.1%), and they’re first in both field goal percentage in the paint (63.3%) and from mid-range (where Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are a combined 11-for-16). Tatum’s 74.4% on 2-point shots is the best mark among 62 players who’ve attempted at least 25. His runner off a behind-the-back dribble late in the Celtics’ win in Miami on Friday was rather ridiculous.

The Celtics turned the ball over a ton against the Heat (that might sound familiar) and the defense hasn’t been to their standards, but maybe that’s a good thing because it has put them in clutch situations in two of their three games. Clutch offense was an issue for them all of last season (and postseason), and they’ve begun this season by scoring 19 points on 10 clutch possessions. With Al Horford out, they played small (with a frontline of Tatum and Grant Williams) down the stretch in Orlando, which allowed Tatum to operate inside the arc (the Magic were playing some zone) and gave them clear driving lanes.

The Celtics are playing their first nine (and 19 of their first 25) games within the Eastern Conference. They have three days off before what should be a fun matchup against the Cavs on Friday.

Week 2: @ CHI, vs. CLE, vs. WAS

Last Week:2

Record: 2-0

OffRtg: 110.8 (14) DefRtg: 99.5 (1) NetRtg: +11.3 (3) Pace: 97.0 (26)

Given the way the Sixers have defended in their other two games, it’s a bit concerning that the Bucks scored just 90 points on 95 possessions in Philly on Thursday. They often took too long to get into their offense, and they shot just 31% in the last 12 seconds of the shot clock. But they made it clear how good they can be defensively, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez forcing Joel Embiid to shoot just 5-for-15 in the paint, and with Jrue Holiday putting on a defensive master class against James Harden down the stretch.

Antetokounmpo cranked up the offense against Houston two nights later, scoring 44 points in less than 28 minutes. He’s had some similarly big nights before, but that was the first time in his career that he’s scored *at least 40 points in less than 30 minutes. He had as many points in the restricted area (26) as the Rockets, and it can’t be understated how much his team needs him inside. Bucks not named Giannis have taken just 28% of their shots in the paint and attempted just 17 free throws over two games.

* Stephen Curry (5), Klay Thompson (4) and James Harden (2) are the only active players with multiple games of at least 40 points in less than 30 minutes.

The Bucks are in the middle of a three-day break and their six-game homestand continues on Wednesday with a visit from the Nets. Going back to Game 6 of their 2021 playoff series, Milwaukee has won five of its last six against Brooklyn, though Antetokounmpo had to hit a step-back 3 to force overtime in the last meeting (March 31).

Week 2: vs. BKN, vs. NYK, vs. ATL

Last Week:1

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 112.6 (11) DefRtg: 110.4 (15) NetRtg: +2.2 (12) Pace: 110.3 (1)

So, about that young bench… The Warriors’ starting lineup has been dominant, registering no worse than a plus-9 in each of their three games. And in 87 total minutes with at least three starters on the floor, the champs have outscored their opponents by 22.3 points per 100 possessions. But in 57 minutes with two or fewer starters on the floor, they’ve been outscored by 29.9 per 100. In the first half against Denver on Friday, the bench put them in a hole that they couldn’t climb out of. And on Sunday, Steve Kerr had to put his starters back in after the subs let the Kings cut a 26-point, third-quarter lead down to 12 with a little more than five minutes to go.

Jordan Poole had 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting against the Kings but was just 6-for-20 through the first two games. Donte DiVincenzo had a few nice pick-and-roll possessions against the Lakers but has twice as many turnovers (6) as assists (3). And both James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga have averaged more than six fouls per 36 minutes. It’s a long season, the young guys have plenty of time to grow, and the Warriors are still 2-1. But Steve Kerr probably doesn’t want many more games where he has to bring the vets back in when it looked like they’d get the whole fourth quarter off.

The champs have been playing super fast; Their 110.3 possessions per 48 minutes is 9.2 more than the league average (101.1) through Week 1. Their two competitive opponents this week – Phoenix and Miami – rank 27th and 22nd in pace thus far.

The Warriors will have rest advantages against both the Heat and Hornets this week, but their game in Charlotte on Saturday is the start of a five-game trip that includes two back-to-backs. That could mean rest for Klay Thompson and/or Draymond Green in either Charlotte or Detroit this weekend.

Week 2: @ PHX, vs. MIA, @ CHA, @ DET

Last Week:4

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 110.0 (17) DefRtg: 104.0 (4) NetRtg: +6.0 (9) Pace: 96.8 (27)

The opener on Wednesday brought a little deja vu, with the Suns trailing the Mavs by as many as 22 points early in the third quarter. But they kept in touch and turned the game around with a 27-7, fourth-quarter run, in which Devin Booker scored or assisted on 21 of the 27 points. Seeing them close a game without Chris Paul on the floor was strange, but Damion Lee made Monty Williams look like the Coach of Year by hitting the game-winner when the Mavs got the ball out of Booker’s hands.

Clutchness can be fleeting and the Suns lost in overtime in Portland two nights later. But before he missed the game-tying free throws, Deandre Ayton did get a pair of encouraging defensive stops (one block when it looked like was beat and one steal) on Damian Lillard drives. The big man has finished well in the paint but has just seven free throw attempts to go with his 44 shots from the field. As a team, the Suns have been outscored by 7.0 points per game (the league’s fourth-worst discrepancy) from the line.

The Suns’ longest homestand of the season (six games over 12 days) begins Tuesday with a visit from the champs. Phoenix-Golden State games last season were must-watch events because the two teams were a combined 35-5 before the first meeting. (4-2 doesn’t bring quite the same amount of juice.) That was the 17th of 18 straight wins for the Suns, with the streak coming to an end at Golden State (and without Booker) three days later.

Week 2: vs. GSW, vs. NOP, vs. HOU

Last Week:28

Record: 3-0

OffRtg: 115.6 (6) DefRtg: 107.1 (10) NetRtg: +8.6 (7) Pace: 101.6 (14)

The Jazz are just doing what they did in each of the last two seasons, leading the league in 3-point differential. Through three games, they’ve outscored their opponents, 147-72 (a differential of 25 points per game), from beyond the arc. Of course, this is a very different Jazz team, one that isn’t supposed to be 3-0 after games against the Nuggets, Wolves and Pelicans. And while last season’s Jazz ranked 29th in both ball movement (304 passes per 24 minutes of possession) and assist rate (55.2%), this one ranks 16th (313 per 24) and second (70.9%). All these guys that played for a bunch of different teams last season are sharing the ball, even assisting on 11 (73%) of their 15 buckets in the clutch. Jordan Clarkson has had at least five assists in all three games, with some real dimes included within.

Some of this, like their opponents shooting less than 30% from 3-point range, is certainly unsustainable. But it’s been fun, the Jazz defense has also limited 3-point attempts, and these are more-than-capable players who’ve obviously coalesced pretty quickly. Lauri Markkanen has been a standout, averaging 24 points and 9.7 rebounds, and he hasn’t shot particularly well (7-for-21) from deep.

Their overtime win in New Orleans on Sunday was the start of the Jazz’s only stretch of five games in seven days this season. They’ll be at a rest disadvantage in Houston on Monday and again against Memphis on Saturday.

Week 2: @ HOU, vs. HOU, @ DEN, vs. MEM

Last Week:5

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 103.0 (29) DefRtg: 105.3 (8) NetRtg: -2.3 (18) Pace: 100.3 (16)

The Lakers aren’t the only L.A. team struggling offensively. The Clippers (who ranked second offensively two seasons ago) are just one notch above their arena-mates in the offensive rankings, having scored less than a point per possession in the two games that Kawhi Leonard has played in. They haven’t shot too poorly, but they rank 28th in turnover percentage (they had 23 turnovers against the Lakers) and 27th in offensive rebounding percentage. Leonard, averaging 21 minutes off the bench, obviously hasn’t found his rhythm and tertiary options Norman Powell and Reggie Jackson have combined to shoot just 14-for-46 (30%).

The Clippers are still 2-1, because their offense isn’t as bad as that of the Lakers and because Paul George had a huge game (40 points, six assists) in Sacramento on Saturday. Leonard and John Wall both sat that one out, with the Clips choosing to use them in the second game of their weekend back-to-back (a wire-to-wire, 17-point loss to Phoenix) instead.

The Clips’ starting lineup has been outscored by 17 points in its 28 minutes (scoring just 57 points on 63 possessions), but they’ve also been outscored by 13.6 per 100 possessions in Ivica Zubac’s 63 minutes off the floor. So small ball hasn’t been working just yet.

The Clips will have another back-to-back on Sunday and next Monday, though both games are at home and the respective start times are noon and 7:30 p.m. PT. Their lack of size beyond Zubac could certainly be challenged by the Pelicans’ frontline and offensive rebounding prowess.

Week 2: @ OKC, @ OKC, vs. NOP

Last Week:7

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 113.2 (10) DefRtg: 115.2 (23) NetRtg: -2.1 (17) Pace: 104.3 (4)

The Nuggets were Team Jekyll and Hyde in Week 1, getting destroyed in Utah on opening night and then holding on to win at Golden State two nights later. The bigger difference was on offense, where they had 21 turnovers and shot 5-for-22 from 3-point range against the Jazz. They had 70 first-half points against the champs, and the reserves were key, with their five-man bench unit registering a plus-10 in less than nine total minutes on Friday.

Nikola Jokic, of course, was driving the bus and picked up triple-doubles in both of the Nuggets’ wins over the weekend. He hasn’t shot much from outside the paint but is 22-for-34 (65%) inside the arc. Jamal Murray (DNP at Golden State, 11-for-25 shooting, more turnovers than assists) hasn’t really joined the party, but Michael Porter Jr. is off to a strong start offensively. He has an effective field goal percentage of 67.6% (he’s 12-for-24 from 3-point range), the third-best mark among 77 players with at least 35 field goal attempts, and a nice contrast to his start to last season.

The Nuggets don’t have another back-to-back until just before Thanksgiving, but they’re playing 13 of their first 19 games on the road, with just one homestand of more than one game in the first six weeks of the season. That two-game stand is Wednesday and Friday, with the Lakers and Jazz at Ball Arena. Two games against the league’s worst offense this week could help a defense that ranks 23rd.

Week 2: @ POR, vs. LAL, vs. UTA @ LAL

Last Week:13

Record: 1-1

OffRtg: 124.1 (2) DefRtg: 103.6 (3) NetRtg: +20.5 (1) Pace: 97.8 (24)

The Mavs won their two first halves by a total score of 126-81, holding the Suns and Grizzlies (two teams with top-five offenses last season) to just 81 points on 97 possessions before halftime. But they’re just 1-1, because they blew a 22-point lead in Phoenix on Wednesday, struggling to deal with Deandre Ayton inside. Prior to that, the Mavs had won the last 56 games (including Games 6 and 7 against the Suns) that they led by 20-plus.

They did continue to pour it on against the Grizzlies on Saturday, with Luka Doncic (leading the league in time of possession for the third straight season) registering 32 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists in less than 30 minutes. JaVale McGee continues to start (with Dwight Powell out of the rotation), but the Mavs have scored a ridiculous 93 points on 63 possessions (148 per 100) in 31 minutes with Doncic and Christian Wood on the floor together. They have the pick-and-pop and Wood can also make good reads off the short roll when opponents try to get the ball out of Doncic’s hands. For now, they’re both scoring; Wood and Doncic are two of the five players who scored more than 36 points per 36 minutes in Week 1.

After the Mavs visit New Orleans and Brooklyn, they’ll play 10 of their next 12 games at the American Airlines Center. Since Jan. 1 (and including playoffs), they’re a league-best 28-6 at home.

Week 2: @ NOP, @ BKN, vs. OKC, vs. ORL

Last Week:16

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 118.3 (3) DefRtg: 108.6 (14) NetRtg: +9.7 (6) Pace: 101.8 (13)

The Pelicans couldn’t have had a better start to the season. They never trailed in either of their first two games, having won the two first quarters by a combined score of 67-38. Their stars all shined in Brooklyn, Jonas Valanciunas had a don’t-forget-about-me performance (30 and 17) in Charlotte, and their starting lineup outscored the Nets and Hornets by 31 points on 23 total minutes.

But there was a bit of a crash against the Jazz on Sunday. Actually, there were two crashes, a collision that had Brandon Ingram being checked for a concussion and a fall that gave Zion Williamson a hip contusion. CJ McCollum did his thing to help the Pels erase a 17-point deficit, but they couldn’t get stops in overtime.

Ingram and McCollum are a combined 30-for-50 (60%) on non-restricted-area 2-points shots. Williamson, meanwhile, hasn’t attempted a shot from outside the paint, and 27 of his 28 buckets have come at the rim. The Pels rank last by a huge margin in the percentage of their shots (25.6%) that have come from 3-point range. But they’ve absolutely destroyed their opponents on the glass, grabbing more than 40% of available offensive rebounds.

Their three opponents this week rank second, sixth and fifth in defensive rebounding percentage. If Ingram and Williamson are able to play, we’re going to see what the Pels are really made of over the next 12 days, when they’ll face the Mavs, Suns, Clippers, Lakers and Warriors.

Week 2: vs. DAL, @ PHX, @ LAC

Last Week:21

Record: 3-0

OffRtg: 107.1 (25) DefRtg: 104.2 (5) NetRtg: +2.9 (11) Pace: 100.2 (18)

After a pretty brutal preseason, the Blazers are 3-0 in the games that count. Their total point differential through the three games is just 11 points, and two of the three teams they’ve beat – the Kings and Lakers – are otherwise 0-4. But 3-0 is 3-0, and one of those clutch wins came against the best clutch team of the last two years. The offense hasn’t been ridiculously efficient down the stretch (44 points on 35 clutch possessions), but it also hasn’t been Damian-Lillard-heavy. All five Portland starters have contributed with key buckets, with Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant getting the game-winners (on two really impressive drives) over the weekend.

Most encouraging is that the Blazers have a top-five defense. It really helps that their opponents have shot less than 32% from 3-point range, but they also rank high in both opponent free throw rate (fourth) and defensive rebounding percentage (seventh), two numbers that are certainly more in their control. Jusuf Nurkic (28.3%) ranks seventh in overall defensive rebounding percentage and Josh Hart (21.4%) ranks second among players 6-6 and shorter.

The Blazers begin a four-game homestand on Monday with a visit from the team – Denver – that should present the toughest defensive challenge they’ve had thus far.

Week 2: vs. DEN, vs. MIA, vs. HOU

Last Week:11

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 116.7 (5) DefRtg: 104.4 (6) NetRtg: +12.3 (2) Pace: 96.3 (29)

The Cavs didn’t get 24 minutes into the season before losing one of their star guards – Darius Garland – to an eye laceration. And they probably missed the 22 year old down the stretch on Wednesday, when they scored just eight points on 11 clutch possessions in a three-point loss in Toronto. But Donovan Mitchell has otherwise done pretty well as a one-man show, averaging 33.3 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 57.2%, with 8.0 trips to the line) and 7.0 assists over the Cavs’ three games.

The Cavs have scored 120 points per 100 possessions with Mitchell on the floor, including 136.2 per 100 in 68 minutes alongside Cedi Osman, who’s been a huge spark off the bench. The sixth-year forward has averaged 16 points on an effective field goal percentage of 70% and has closed both of the Cavs’ close games in place of Isaac Okoro (who remains an offensive liability). The league’s best 3-point shooting (Osman, Caris LeVert, Kevin Love and Dean Wade are a combined 26-for-49 from beyond the arc) has made up for some early turnover issues.

Garland’s eventual return should help with the turnovers. The hope is that he’ll be back by Friday, when Mitchell will get his first taste of big-time Eastern Conference basketball with the Cavs’ visit to Boston. As a member of the Jazz, he scored at least 34 points in four of his last six games against the Celtics, totaling 71 on an effective field goal percentage of 64% in two games against the league’s No. 1 defense last season.

Week 2: vs. ORL, @ BOS, vs. NYK

Last Week:8

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 109.3 (19) DefRtg: 120.1 (29) NetRtg: -10.7 (29) Pace: 99.9 (20)

The Grizzlies ranked last defensively (by a wide margin) through the first six weeks of last season, and (without their DPOY candidate) they’re off to another rough start on that end of the floor. But their three games have all been very different: a defensive nail-biter against the Knicks, an offensive victory in Houston, and an absolute shellacking by the Mavs in Dallas on Saturday (when the Grizz were at a rest disadvantage).

The games were similar in that the Grizz struggled to rebound, grabbing less than 70% of available defensive boards in all three games. They were a middle-of-the-pack defensive rebounding team last season, but they rank last (lower than Brooklyn somehow) in defensive rebounding percentage after Week 1. They allowed more than 20 second-chance points just five times last season and have already done so twice this year.

Ja Morant can make up for defensive issues, of course. He dropped 49 in Houston, making five of his six 3-point attempts and coming up with an incredible chase-down block on Jalen Green, as the Grizz came back from a 16-point deficit on Friday. Though Desmond Bane has struggled (only Russell Westbrook has a worse effective field goal percentage on at least 35 shots), the Memphis starting lineup has outscored its opponents by 18.2 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-best mark among 14 lineups that have played at least 35 minutes. Bench minutes, alas, have been bad.

Week 2: vs. BKN, @ SAC, @ UTA

Last Week:9

Record: 1-2

OffRtg: 109.8 (18) DefRtg: 113.9 (18) NetRtg: -4.1 (21) Pace: 98.3 (22)

The Heat had some third-quarter issues in Week 1, getting outscored by almost 33 points per 100 possessions in the third period over their three games. They were tied at the half against the Bulls on Wednesday, only to allow the team that currently ranks 28th offensively to score 37 points on 27 third-quarter possessions. They erased a 12-point deficit against the Celtics on Friday but then allowed Boston to end the period on a 20-6 run. And against the Raptors on Saturday, a 24-point lead was cut to seven late in the period.

Overall, the Heat’s defense hasn’t been to their standards. A year ago, they held their first five opponents to no more than a point per possession. This year, all three opponents have scored more than 110 per 100. (They didn’t allow more than 110 per 100 in three straight games until after Thanksgiving last year.) They rank 21st in opponent 3-point percentage overall, having allowed Boston and Toronto to make eight and nine corner 3-pointers (on a total of 34 attempts), respectively. Last season, they allowed eight or more corner 3s just three times total. They’ve allowed 113 points on 90 defensive possessions (and been outscored by 22 points) in Bam Adebayo’s 27 minutes on the bench.

The Heat will be the first Eastern Conference team to play in the Mountain or Pacific time zones, beginning a three-game trip in Portland on Wednesday. They were 9-6 (their best record in the last eight years) in Western Conference arenas last season.

Week 2: vs. TOR, @ POR, @ GSW, @ SAC

Last Week:10

Record: 1-1

OffRtg: 110.2 (16) DefRtg: 118.7 (28) NetRtg: -8.5 (27) Pace: 98.8 (21)

The Nets couldn’t have had a worse opening night. They got thumped by the Pelicans on Wednesday, losing the first quarter, 32-14, and never making things interesting after that. Their starting lineup (which includes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, by the way) scored just 10 points on 24 offensive possessions and they were absolutely destroyed on the glass. The score on second chances was 36-4, with the Pels’ 36 second-chance points being tied for the most for any team in any game in almost 13 years (since the New Orleans Hornets had 38 in Nov. 2009).

Two nights later, the Nets faced the team that ranked second in offensive rebounding percentage last season. But Nic Claxton had almost as many offensive boards (7) as the Raptors (8), adding a couple of intriguing drives as he totaled 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. The starting lineup scored 37 points on 28 offensive possessions, and the Nets won a game of wild runs. Joe Harris making his season debut was another positive development, and he could eventually replace Royce O’Neale in the starting lineup, though the dagger that O’Neale hit on Friday probably isn’t the last pivotal 3-point attempt that he’ll find himself open for on this team.

As noted last week, the Nets’ first five games are probably their toughest five-game stretch before the All-Star break. They visit Memphis on Monday and are currently 0-6 against the Grizzlies since Ja Morant entered the league (he’s missed two of those six games).

Week 2: @ MEM, @ MIL, vs. DAL, vs. IND

Last Week:12

Record: 1-2

OffRtg: 111.0 (13) DefRtg: 112.8 (17) NetRtg: -1.8 (16) Pace: 96.5 (28)

The Raptors are again winning the possession battle, having averaged 7.9 more shooting opportunities than their opponents, thanks mostly to the league’s second-lowest turnover rate. Through three games, they have 23 fewer live-ball turnovers (10) than their opponents (33). And after some brutal shooting in the preseason, they’ve shot 39.2% (sixth best) from 3-point range through three games. All three Raptors with at least 15 attempts from beyond the arc have made more than 40% of them.

They played three close games, went to their go-to set (Fred VanVleet screening for Pascal Siakam) in all three, and got good results, scoring 27 points on 19 clutch possessions. Scottie Barnes also had a pair of strong lefty drives (one against Jarrett Allen) down the stretch of their win over Cleveland.

But the Raps have had some issues on the other end of the floor. They couldn’t keep Donovan Mitchell from getting downhill most of the night on Wednesday, their opponents have shot 59.8% in the paint (the league’s second-highest opponent mark) overall, and they also rank 27th in opponent free throw rate. As always, it’s a feast-or-famine defense, and it’s been a little too much famine, especially early in their losses in Brooklyn and Miami (66 total points on 49 first-quarter possessions).

Barnes could miss their second game in Miami (Monday) with an ankle sprain he suffered Saturday night. After that, it’s a playoff rematch, with two games in the Six against the Sixers.

Week 2: @ MIA, vs. PHI, vs. PHI

Last Week:14

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 112.3 (12) DefRtg: 108.1 (13) NetRtg: +4.1 (10) Pace: 102.8 (10)

The Wolves were supposed to have a super easy first two weeks of the season, but the Jazz failed to inform the rest of the league that they were going to be good and Minnesota’s Week 1 was a bit of a roller coaster ride. The Wolves blew a 17-point lead against Utah on Friday and Rudy Gobert missed the free throws that could have sent the game to a second overtime. They also struggled to hold onto big leads against the Thunder, blowing all of a 16-point cushion on Wednesday and then seeing an 18-point lead be cut to one over the weekend.

You might be stuck on the roller coaster when your leading scorers are Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and a 21 year old. The hope is that Gobert will stabilize things, and the defense has been much better when he’s been patrolling the paint. So far, games have been very different with Gobert on the floor (104 combined points per 100 possessions from the Wolves and their opponents) than they’ve been with him on the bench (117 combined per 100). Towns has seen pretty big drops in his points and rebounds, but he’s averaging a career-high 4.7 assists per game, with six of his 14 total going to Gobert. There have been some lobs that have connected and some that haven’t.

The Wolves’ easy-ish start to the schedule continues this week with three of their four meetings against the Spurs (the last one is in the last week of the season) and a visit from the Lakers. Towns is 8-7 head-to-head against the other Kentucky big man – Anthony Davis – who went No. 1 in the Draft. That includes an 8-2 mark in their last 10 meetings, though they’ve faced each other just three times over the three years that Davis has been in L.A.

Week 2: vs. SAS, vs. SAS, vs. LAL, @ SAS

Last Week:18

Record: 1-1

OffRtg: 115.2 (7) DefRtg: 104.7 (7) NetRtg: +10.5 (4) Pace: 100.4 (19)

In Week 1, Jalen Brunson had zero turnovers (with 15 assists), while RJ Barrett made zero shots from outside the paint (on 12 attempts). Julius Randle was somewhere in between, not so good outside the paint (4-for-13), but a little more disciplined with his shot selection – he’s been assisted on 10 of his 14 buckets, up from 47% last season – and making some good plays.

The bigger difference between the Knicks’ overtime loss in Memphis and their 24-point win over the Pistons was their bench. After some struggles on Wednesday, their five-man bench unit outscored the Pistons, 41-23, in its 15 minutes. For now (Quentin Grimes hasn’t played yet), that second unit includes Cam Reddish, who played just 215 minutes over a possible 40 games after being acquired from the Hawks last season. In the opener, the Knicks ran the first play of the second quarter for Reddish, and, more amazingly, he was on the floor (instead of Evan Fournier or Randle after he fouled out) down the stretch, draining the game-tying 3 in regulation.

We’ll see if Reddish remains in the rotation when Grimes returns (no timeline on that yet). The Knicks’ reserve guards – Grimes, Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose – are 6-5, 6-2 and 6-3, so the 6-8 Reddish is certainly useful in that second unit if can make the most of that length and maintain Tom Thibodeau’s trust. Inevitable injuries and keeping Rose fresh should provide continued opportunities.

The Knicks get two more bottom-tier East teams at home this week before beginning a much tougher stretch in Milwaukee on Friday.

Week 2: vs. ORL, vs. CHA, @ MIL, @ CLE

Last Week:15

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 108.1 (23) DefRtg: 107.5 (11) NetRtg: +0.6 (13) Pace: 102.8 (9)

The Hawks were taking advantage of their soft early schedule. After wins over the Rockets and Magic, they had the league’s No. 1 defense, having allowed less than a point per possession over the two games. But 3-point shooting (Houston and Orlando shot 25% from beyond the arc) had something to do with that. And on Sunday, the Hawks allowed the Hornets to score 82 points (on 52 possessions) over the middle two quarters of a 17-point defeat. Charlotte was 9-for-14 from 3-point range over that 24 minutes, but also outscored the Hawks, 30-8, in the restricted area.

The offense has been good (116.1 points scored per 100 possessions) with both Trae Young and Dejounte Murray on the floor, and they’ve assisted each other 14 times in 83 minutes together. The offense has been not-so-good (96.0 scored per 100) with one on the floor without the other. The Hawks themselves rank 26th in 3-point percentage at 30.8%, with Young just 7-for-28. But their bigs – Clint Capela, John Collins and Onyeka Okongwu – have combined to shoot 34-for-47 (72%) in the paint and De’Andre Hunter (8-for-12 from mid-range) continues to look good inside the arc.

The Hawks probably don’t want to lose another one of these first five games, but they’ve lost their last four in Detroit. The schedule begins to get much tougher with their visit to Milwaukee on Saturday, the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Week 2: @ DET, @ DET, @ MIL

Last Week:6

Record: 0-3

OffRtg: 108.0 (24) DefRtg: 115.4 (24) NetRtg: -7.4 (24) Pace: 95.5 (30)

The Sixers have defensive issues. The Celtics’ 126 points on 97 possessions (129.9 per 100) on Tuesday would have been the second most efficient game against the Sixers last season (regular season or playoffs). Their loss to the Bucks on Thursday was ugly, but defense was again an issue as they allowed the Spurs (playing the second game of a back-to-back) to score 95 points on 69 possessions (138 per 100) over the final 36 minutes. The Sixers were one of three teams (the Pistons and Rockets were the others) to allow at least 120 per 100 in multiple games in Week 1.

The Sixers’ opponents haven’t shot particularly well from 3-point range, but they’re at 58.6% (the league’s second-highest opponent mark) inside the arc. Joel Embiid’s lack of conditioning (due to a plantar fasciitis issue in the offseason) doesn’t help, and there was one possession early in the third quarter where he seemingly didn’t have the energy to keep Jakob Poeltl from getting to a layup. But the Sixers have also had issues getting back in transition, containing the ball and communicating on screens. You have to wonder if Matisse Thybulle (who’s played less than four total minutes through three games) might find his way back into the rotation.

If Embiid finds his wind and his rhythm, the Sixers should be fine. But the foot issue, the 0-3 start, and the loss to a team like the Spurs are certainly reasons for concern given their goal of competing for a championship. We’ll see if there’s a maintenance program in place for the big man when they play their first back-to-back this week, Friday in Toronto and Saturday in Chicago.

Week 2: vs. IND, @ TOR, @ TOR, @ CHI

Last Week:22

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 105.9 (27) DefRtg: 106.6 (9) NetRtg: -0.7 (15) Pace: 98.1 (23)

There’s potential for the Wizards to be pretty potent offensively. They’ve scored 115.7 points per 100 possessions in 97 minutes with Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis on the floor, and they got good results from lots of different actions – pick-and-pop, dribble handoff, back screen, cross screen, flare screen – involving both in their win over the Bulls on Friday. Beal has shot just 3-for-10 from 3-point range but is a pretty amazing 15-for-22 (68%) inside the arc. He hasn’t been able to get to the line a lot, though, and the Wizards have been outscored by 8.3 points per game (the league’s worst discrepancy) on free throws.

And bench minutes haven’t been so good offensively. The Wiz have employed a full bench unit in all three games, and that lineup has scored just 48 points on 57 offensive possessions (84.2 per 100), with more than twice as many turnovers (13) as assists (6). That group – Delon Wright, Will Barton, Rui Hachimura, Anthony Gill and Daniel Gafford – has some guys who can get after it defensively (Gill defended DeMar DeRozan well on the final possession on Friday), but it’s not exactly surprising that it has struggled to score and we’ll see how much more time Wes Unseld Jr. gives it.

The Wizards’ next seven games are against teams that rank in the bottom 10 defensively after Week 1, though two of those – Boston and Memphis – had top-six defenses last season.

Week 2: vs. DET, vs. IND, @ BOS

Last Week:17

Record: 1-2

OffRtg: 104.0 (28) DefRtg: 111.9 (16) NetRtg: -7.9 (25) Pace: 100.3 (16)

The Bulls were 1-14 against the top four teams in the East last season, so starting this year with a win in Miami was pretty big. DeMar DeRozan led the way with 37 points (shooting 8-for-14 from mid-range) and nine assists (with just one turnover), Goran Dragic (12 points off the bench) looked fresh, and the Bulls improved to 7-1 when Ayo Dosunmu (17 points) hits at least three 3-pointers.

Nikola Vucevic is just 5-for-15 from beyond the arc, but he’s been noticeably stronger and aggressive offensively. In Washington on Friday, he was quick to take opposing defenders (Kristaps Porzingis, Deni Avdija and Bradley Beal) into the post, and he was rewarded often. Among 251 players with at least 1,500 field goal attempts over the last five seasons (2017-18 through last season), Vucevic (who is 6-foot-10) ranked 228th in free throw rate (13.2 attempts per 100 shots from the field). But he had a career-high 12 attempts from the stripe on Friday.

Alas, DeRozan missed his first game-winning shot of the year and the Bulls got thumped by the Cavs (with Vucevic attempting zero free throws in 31 minutes) one night later. Zach LaVine made his season debut, but the Bulls were held under a point per possession.

The Bulls’ only win against the East’s top four last season (Nov. 1 at Boston) was also their first game against the group, and they lost the next 14 against the Heat, Celtics, Bucks and Sixers. They’ll get their first looks at Boston and Philly this week, and they’ll have a rest disadvantage (they’re in San Antonio the night before) against the Sixers on Saturday.

Week 2: vs. BOS, vs. IND, @ SAS, vs. PHI

Last Week:26

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 118.0 (4) DefRtg: 108.1 (12) NetRtg: +9.9 (5) Pace: 103.5 (6)

After an 0-5 preseason, the Hornets seemingly found the proverbial switch. They came out on fire on opening night, leading the Spurs by as many as 35 points. And after a loss at home to the Pelicans, they outscored the Hawks, 82-54, over the middle two quarters in Atlanta on Sunday. They’ve been without LaMelo Ball and they have a top-five offense, having scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions in both wins.

Terry Rozier has run the show, ranking seventh in time of possession (7.4 minutes per game) and averaging 23.5 points and 8.5 assists. Dennis Smith has been getting to the basket and Gordon Hayward (19.3 points on 55% shooting) has done a little bit of everything. And among the other three Hornets averaging at least 13 points per game is bouncy big Nick Richards, who ranks second in the league in offensive rebounding percentage. The Hornets have outscored their opponents by 32.1 points per 100 possessions in Richards’ 68 minutes on the floor.

Last season, the Hornets had the biggest differential between their record with rest (41-26, .612) and their record in the second games of back-to-backs (2-13, .133). Their first back-to-back of this season is Friday (at Orlando) and Saturday (vs. Golden State).

Week 2: @ NYK, @ ORL, vs. GSW

Last Week:30

Record: 2-1

OffRtg: 113.9 (9) DefRtg: 117.2 (26) NetRtg: -3.3 (19) Pace: 104.0 (5)

A wire-to-wire defeat (they trailed by as many as 35 points) at home to the Hornets on Wednesday had the Spurs looking like the Day 1 front-runners in the race for Lottery combinations. It also seemingly confirmed fears that their offense – 102 points on 105 possessions against a team that ranked 22nd defensively last season – would be pretty anemic.

But as noted last week, the Spurs are shooting more 3s this season, and 3s can be an equalizer. With eight different Spurs draining at least one over the weekend, they were 33-for-69 (48%) from beyond the arc, scoring more than 122 points per 100 possessions as they won in Indiana and Philadelphia. Eleven of the 12 guys who played had at least two assists over the two wins and the Spurs are back in the top 10 in both player and ball movement. At times, the ball was moving like it was 2014.

The core is super young, but we shouldn’t be surprised that Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones have come back as more skilled and confident players. This team will take its lumps and the defense might actually be a bigger issue than the offense. But, as the Sixers learned on Saturday, it can also be dangerous on any given night.

Week 2: @ MIN, @ MIN, vs. CHI, vs. MIN

Last Week:20

Record: 0-3

OffRtg: 110.7 (15) DefRtg: 114.5 (19) NetRtg: -3.8 (20) Pace: 103.3 (7)

It was kind of cruel for the Warriors to score 50 second-quarter points against their former assistant coach on Sunday. Amazingly, the Kings almost came all the way back from a 26-point deficit against the champs, and all three of their losses have been within five points in the last five minutes. But the bottom line is that the best team of the preseason is 0-3 when it matters. It’s the Kings’ sixth 0-3 start in the 17 seasons since the start of their playoff drought. (They won Game 4 in three of the previous five instances.)

After missing the opener, Keegan Murray has totaled 35 points on an effective field goal percentage of 69% over the weekend. He was on the floor for most of the comeback and could be in the starting lineup (for the first time) this week, having started the second half (instead of KZ Okpala) on Sunday. The Kings had some success (plus-10 in less than 10 minutes) with four guards – De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis and Kevin Huerter – on the floor with Domantas Sabonis against Portland on Wednesday, but didn’t go back to that look against the Clippers or Warriors.

They can space the floor no matter who’s playing around Sabonis (or Richaun Holmes) and they rank second in 3-point rate (45.2% of their shots coming from beyond the arc), up from 21st (37.7%) last season. Both Fox (effective field goal percentage of 66.4%) and Huerter have shot well, and the Kings have outscored their opponents by 9.5 points per 100 possessions in their 89 total minutes together

The Kings have three days off before hosting the Grizzlies on Thursday. Their first back-to-back is in the rear-view mirror and they don’t have another until Week 6.

Week 2: vs. MEM, vs. MIA

Last Week:19

Record: 0-3

OffRtg: 97.2 (30) DefRtg: 103.4 (2) NetRtg: -6.2 (23) Pace: 106.7 (2)

Through Week 1, the Lakers are the league’s third most improved defensive team, having allowed 9.4 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season (112.8, 21st). The Clippers should (eventually) have top-five offense this season and the Lakers’ defense (which ranks first in opponent turnover rate) held them under a point per possession on Thursday.

But there are two ends of the floor and the Lakers rank dead last (by a healthy margin) on the other one. What’s amazing is that, according to Second Spectrum, the Lakers have had the league’s second-best shot quality in regard to the type of shot, its location, and how contested it is. The catch is that the metric doesn’t take into account the quality of the shooters. Russell Westbrook has the worst effective field goal percentage (30.3%) among 100 players with at least 30 field goal attempts, but he’s not alone when it comes to shooting poorly from the perimeter. Eight different Lakers have attempted more than five 3-pointers and all eight have shot worse than 30% on those attempts.

The Lakers should probably adopt the Raptors’ approach and just crash the boards like crazy, knowing that not many of their shots are going in. But they rank last in offensive rebounding percentage, having grabbed just 22.3% of available offensive boards and totaled just 22 second-chance points over their three games.

The schedule isn’t getting much easier, but the situation may be getting much more desperate.

Week 2: @ DEN, @ MIN, vs. DEN

Last Week:29

Record: 1-2

OffRtg: 114.4 (8) DefRtg: 114.7 (22) NetRtg: -0.3 (14) Pace: 106.3 (3)

It took the Pacers 113-plus minutes of game time (until the 6:30 mark of the second quarter of their third game) to take their first lead of the season. But over their three games, they’ve been outscored by a total of just one point. They had last-minute chances to tie their games against Washington and San Antonio after trailing by as many as 18 and 21 points. And a 36-23 third quarter on Saturday helped them come back to beat the Pistons after trailing by 14 early. They rank as the league’s worst first-half team (minus-17.7 points per 100 possessions) and its second-best second-half team (plus-16.9 per 100).

Bennedict Mathurin drove the second-half success on Saturday and leads all rookies at 24.0 points per game. As noted last week, his quickness and strength help him get to the free-throw line. And after shooting 2-for-13 from 3-point range in the preseason, he’s 11-for-21 (the only player above 50% on at least 20 attempts) in the games that count, looking pretty smooth and confident shooting off the dribble. The rookie is averaging those 24 points coming off the bench, and you have to wonder when he’ll be moved into the starting lineup. The Pacers have outscored their opponents by 11.7 points per 100 possessions with Tyrese Haliburton and Mathurin both on the floor, and that’s the best mark among 13 Indiana combos that have logged at least 35 minutes together.

The Pacers begin a five-game trip in Philadelphia on Monday. Myles Turner could return on the trip, having turned his ankle in warmups before the opener. Indy still blocked 15 Pistons shots without him on Saturday.

Week 2: @ PHI, @ CHI, @ WAS, @ BKN

Last Week:25

Record: 1-2

OffRtg: 108.4 (20) DefRtg: 117.9 (27) NetRtg: -9.4 (28) Pace: 102.7 (11)

The Pistons weren’t switching screens with their bigs like they did in the preseason … and the results were still bad. They allowed the Knicks and Pacers to score more than 123 points per 100 possessions as they lost both ends of a weekend back-to-back on the road. The second half in Indiana on Saturday (when the Pacers scored 72 points on 50 possessions) featured the Pistons giving up the middle of the paint too easily. And it wasn’t just the rookies and second-year guys out of position or failing to contain the dribble. The Pistons’ starting lineup has allowed 127 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark among the 14 lineups that have played at least 35 minutes.

It’s also scored 121.8 per 100, the fourth-best mark among that same group of lineups. We did get a Beef Stew dagger 3 in the opener, and Jaden Ivey has looked terrific offensively. Almost all of his nine assists in New York were really good reads off the dribble and he made a near-impossible wraparound pass to Saddiq Bey for a corner 3 early in the Indiana game. There have been some turnovers, but he’s going to bend defenses pretty easily with his quickness, and if he continues to read the floor this well, he can be a high-level playmaker.

The Pistons’ road trip concludes in Washington on Tuesday. The Wizards are 2-1, but rank 27th offensively after Week 1, so something has got to give.

Week 2: @ WAS, vs. ATL, vs. ATL, vs. GSW

Last Week:23

Record: 0-3

OffRtg: 108.3 (22) DefRtg: 114.5 (20) NetRtg: -6.2 (22) Pace: 100.8 (15)

The good news is that the Magic didn’t get clobbered like they did in their first two games last season. In fact, all three of their losses (including one against the hot-out-of-the-gate Celtics) have been within five points in the last five minutes. The bad news is that they’re the only team with multiple defeats after leading by double digits, having led by 15 in Detroit on Wednesday and by 13 in Atlanta on Friday. And their opponents have been more than twice as efficient as the Magic have on clutch possessions.

Of course, the results aren’t that important on this tier of the Eastern Conference. The young forwards and bigs have had good moments, with Paolo Banchero leading the way with 23.3 points, 8.7 boards and 2.0 blocks per game. Wendell Carter Jr. was setting some solid Gortat screens against in Atlanta and Bol Bol has seven blocks in 44 minutes, with four of the seven coming on jump shots (he may be the new king of the weak-side close-out). Franz Wagner has looked good at times in attacking in pick-and-roll, but hasn’t finished well overall (9-for-19 in the restricted area) and has just two free throw attempts to go with his 45 shots from the field. While Banchero ranks ninth in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) among 77 players with at least 35 field goal attempts, Wagner ranks last.

The Magic’s road-heavy start to the schedule (six of their first eight away from the Amway Center) continues this week. They were 2-0 at Madison Square Garden last season, and Monday is the one-year anniversary of Cole Anthony’s 29-16-and-eight performance in his hometown.

Week 2: @ NYK, @ CLE, vs. CHA, @ DAL

Last Week:24

Record: 0-3

OffRtg: 108.4 (20) DefRtg: 120.8 (30) NetRtg: -12.4 (30) Pace: 102.5 (12)

Rockets opponents are still running. Last season, Houston set an 18-year Synergy record by allowing 25.0 transition points per game. Through three games this season, they’ve allowed 32.3 transition points per game, even though they’ve turned the ball over less often (14.3 per 100 possessions, down from 16.2). Their losses in Atlanta and Milwaukee are two of the six instances from Week 1 where a team scored at least 25 fast break points, and their losses to the Grizzlies and Bucks are two of the seven instances when a team has scored more than 125 points per 100 possessions. The Rockets have allowed almost 130 per 100 in 76 minutes with the two franchise cornerstones – Jalen Green and Jabari Smith – on the floor together.

After starting three games in the preseason, Alperen Sengun has taken well to coming off the bench (again), which he did even when Bruno Fernando missed the loss in Milwaukee on Saturday. Sengun had 23 points and 12 rebounds (while registering a plus-13) against Memphis the night before, doing a lot of post work against the Grizzlies’ backup bigs. The Rockets were 11-3 when they scored at least 118 points per 100 possessions last season and had 122 on 103 (118.4 per 100) against the Grizz, but they couldn’t stop Ja Morant.

The Rockets will have a rest advantage when they host the Jazz (who played Sunday night) on Monday. They’ll then play eight of their next nine on the road, and they don’t have an actual homestand (at least two straight games at the Toyota Center) until Nov. 18.

Week 2: vs. UTA, @ UTA, @ POR, @ PHX

Last Week:27

Record: 0-3

OffRtg: 106.4 (26) DefRtg: 114.6 (21) NetRtg: -8.2 (26) Pace: 103.2 (8)

Despite the absence of Chet Holmgren, the Thunder were set to be a fun team to watch. But over the first five days of the season, Jalen Williams was lost to an orbital fracture, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed his first game (Sunday against Minnesota), Josh Giddey turned an ankle in that one, and Aleksej Pokusevski went from starting center in Game 1 to playing just 13 minutes off the bench in Game 3.

Even if the whole roster is healthy, it appears that everybody’s going to get a chance to play, though rookie Eugene Omoruyi (10.9 fouls per 36 minutes) may limit his own opportunities. Neither team had a lead of more than eight points in their game in Denver on Friday and the Thunder used 13 different guys. Keep the roster close at hand when you tune in to watch.

Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 30 points in the two games he played, and Giddey had some strong, late-game drives as the Thunder put a real scare in the Nuggets. They also erased all (or almost all) of a couple of big deficits against Minnesota (after losing both first quarters against the Wolves by 13 points). They somehow don’t rank last in offensive efficiency (again), despite Giddey, Lu Dort and Tre Mann shooting a combined 12-for-50 from 3-point range.

The Thunder have two two-game series with the Clippers, who somehow rank lower than the Thunder offensively. The first of those two series is in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and Thursday.

Week 2: vs. LAC, vs. LAC, @ DAL