Power Rankings, Week 2: Raptors claim No. 1 spot, while Pelicans lead an offensive surge
Scoring marks, efficiency up league-wide as season begins
The 2018-19 season is off to a high-scoring start. Through 39 games, teams are averaging 113.3 points per game, what would be the highest mark in the last 49 years (since they averaged 116.7 in the 1969-70 season). Ten different teams have scored at least 125 points in a night, and there hasn’t been a single overtime game this season.
Pace has been a factor. Through 39 games, the league has averaged 103.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes, up from 98.1 last season. That’s a huge jump, but not as huge if you look at where we were at this point last year. Through six days (40 games) last season, the league was averaging 101.3 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes, and that mark dropped as the year went on.
But efficiency has also been a part of the high scoring. The league has averaged 109.5 points scored per 100 possessions, up from 105 at this point last season. Effective field goal percentage is up, free throw rate is up, and turnovers are down. And though the pace may slow down in the coming weeks and months, efficiency typically goes up as the season goes on. So we may be in for a historically good offensive season.
In regard to offense, the New Orleans Pelicans are leading the way, and are one of six teams that are undefeated entering Week 2.
- Last week From Butler to LeBron and beyond, storylines abound
- This time last year: Injuries already forcing change of plans for several teams — Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin were both lost for the season after suffering injuries in their first game. Bobby Portis sent Nikola Mirotic to the hospital before the Bulls’ season even started. The Rockets came back from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Warriors on ring night, but lost Chris Paul to a knee injury for the next 14 games. Andrew Wiggins beat the Thunder at the buzzer, Giannis Antetokounmpo destroyed the Blazers in the final minute, and the Suns fired Earl Watson after losing two of their first three games by more than 40 points. Eric Bledsoe didn’t wanna be there.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Gary Harris (DEN) was a plus-65 in three games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Jordan Clarkson (CLE) was a minus-41 in three games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: New Orleans (2-0) — The Pels quickly put an 0-5 preseason behind them, thumped the Rockets on Wednesday, and then dropped 149 points (tied for the most points in a game since the Suns scored 152 in March of 2010) on the Kings on Friday.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Cleveland (0-3) — Sunday’s game against the Hawks was a battle for No. 30 in the Power Rankings, and the Cavs earned the spot by allowing Atlanta to drain 22 3-pointers.
East vs. West
- The West was 2-1 against the East in Week 1.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: LA Clippers (+11), New Orleans (+10), Denver (+8)
- Free falls of the week: Oklahoma City (-12), Cleveland (-10), Houston (-8)
Week 2 Team to Watch
- Washington — It’s early, but, as they head West on a five-game trip, the Wizards have something to prove after two home losses against teams playing the second game of a back-to-back. The trip doesn’t include any back-to-backs for the Wizards, but starts in Portland on Monday and continues through Golden State, Sacramento, L.A. and Memphis.
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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 103.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.5 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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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.
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Last Week: 4 ↑
Pace: 100.5 (25) OffRtg: 114.6 (7) DefRtg: 105.6 (9) NetRtg: +8.9 (6)
Kawhi Leonard isn't off to the most efficient start, but had 31 points and a couple of big shots in the Raptors' win over the Celtics, and Kyle Lowry is here to remind us that this team has more than one star. Lowry is 12-for-21 from 3-point range and made a bunch of big plays down the stretch last week, both against Boston and again in Washington on Saturday, with Leonard sitting out the second game of the back-to-back. Bench minutes haven't been great so far, but part-time starter Serge Ibaka gave the Raptors some important second chances (eight of his 11 offensive boards have come in the fourth quarter) in both weekend games.
Week 2: vs. CHA, vs. MIN, vs. DAL
Last Week: 10 ↑
Pace: 103.0 (16) OffRtg: 105.5 (24) DefRtg: 92.9 (1) NetRtg: +12.6 (2)
The Nuggets having the league's best defense is ... strange, but their win over the Warriors on Sunday, with Juancho Hernangomez appropriately sealing the victory with a block, certainly added validity to that ranking. Holding three straight opponents under a point per possession is something they hadn't done in either of the previous two seasons and have done only once before under coach Mike Malone (in March of 2016). The Nuggets having a bottom-seven offense is also strange, though Nikola Jokic has been rather ridiculous, registering a triple-double while making all 11 of his shots against Phoenix on Saturday and totaling 22 assists and just four turnovers through three games.
Week 2: vs. SAC, @ LAL
Last Week: 13 ↑
Pace: 108.8 (3) OffRtg: 127.9 (1) DefRtg: 111.6 (18) NetRtg: +16.3 (1)
The only way to describe the start to the Pelicans' season is with several flame emojis. Defense was cause for concern in the preseason, but defense doesn't matter much when you shoot 56 percent, including 46 percent from 3-point range, and also register the league's second best assist-turnover ratio (2.54) in the first week. Elfrid Payton (16/3) and Jrue Holiday (18/6) have combined for a ratio of 3.78, though Holiday hasn't had to score much with Nikola Mirotic opening the season with two of the five highest scoring games of his career (30 and 36 points). Playing Utah on the second night of a back-to-back might challenge their ability to keep up the pace, though the usually-slow Jazz haven't been afraid to play fast thus far.
Week 2: vs. LAC, vs. BKN, vs. UTA
Last Week: 1 ↓
Pace: 102.7 (19) OffRtg: 107.5 (18) DefRtg: 104.5 (8) NetRtg: +3.0 (9)
Klay Thompson has shot just 1-for-14 on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, the worst mark among 53 players who have attempted at least 10. But what may be weirder is that the Warriors rank 26th in the percentage of their shots that have come from beyond the arc, with their opponents having attempted 41 more 3-pointers than they have. And what may be weirdest is that they've been outscored by 12 points in the third quarter. They were able to lean on the ridiculous offensive skills of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant (along with Jonas Jerebko's tip-in) to outlast the Thunder and Jazz, but turnovers and the lack of threes hurt them in Denver on Sunday.
Week 2: vs. PHX, vs. WAS, @ NYK, @ BKN
Last Week: 2 ↓
Pace: 102.5 (20) OffRtg: 100.7 (29) DefRtg: 97.7 (2) NetRtg: +2.9 (10)
It's clear that the Celtics still have a matchup advantage against the Sixers, with two of the league's best Joel Embiid defenders in Aron Baynes and Al Horford. It's also clear that, after scoring a team-high 23 points against Philly and hitting the game's biggest shot in New York, Jayson Tatum is a star. Of course, his inability to feed the strong side corner before committing an offensive foul late in the Celtics' loss in Toronto is an example of how his game needs to develop. He has the seventh lowest assist ratio (7.2 per 100 possessions used) among the 45 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher. Gordon Hayward sat out the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday, but the Celtics don't have another back-to-back until Nov. 8 and 9.
Week 2: vs. ORL, @ OKC, @ DET
Last Week: 7 ↑
Pace: 103.5 (12) OffRtg: 111.1 (11) DefRtg: 103.4 (6) NetRtg: +7.7 (7)
The Bucks' offense had three efficient halves, and they survived the ugly one -- the second half in Charlotte on Wednesday, when they couldn't take advantage of the Hornets playing center Nicolas Batum at center -- because Kemba Walker missed a layup in the final seconds. Giannis Antetokounmpo is 0-for-10 from outside the paint, but he's averaged 21 points in the paint per game, his teammates have shot 44 percent from 3-point range, and the Bucks' starting lineup has allowed just 76 points per 100 possessions. Friday's easy win over Indiana sets them up for another big game in the top half of the Eastern Conference, Wednesday's meeting with the Sixers.
Week 2: vs. NYK, vs. PHI, @ MIN, vs. ORL
Last Week: 12 ↑
Pace: 104.3 (10) OffRtg: 119.7 (3) DefRtg: 108.6 (13) NetRtg: +11.1 (3)
The Blazers began the season with important wins over two Western Conference teams they could be fighting for a playoff spot. After keeping the Lakers' offense in check on Thursday, they tore up the Spurs' defense on Saturday, even though they didn't get the usual 24 points from Nik Stauskas. This time, it was the Lillard-McCollum minutes (as noted last week, there are more of those this season) that made the difference, with the Blazers shooting 60 percent and scoring 84 points in the 30 minutes that both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were on the floor against San Antonio. Since McCollum became a starter in the 2015-16 season, he's had a much higher effective field goal percentage when he's shared the floor with Lillard (54.3 percent vs. 49.4 percent), though Lillard has shot more effectively when McCollum has been off the court (52.1 percent vs. 50.6 percent).
Week 2: vs. WAS, @ ORL, @ MIA
Last Week: 5 ↓
Pace: 106.0 (5) OffRtg: 116.0 (5) DefRtg: 113.7 (22) NetRtg: +2.4 (12)
The Jazz were 3-1 against the Warriors last season and came one rebound from knocking off the champs in a wild game on Friday that featured a 47-37 second quarter in which six different Jazz players made 3-pointers. Jazz games have been more about offense than defense, even with Donovan Mitchell shooting just 34 percent and with the starting lineup (which turned things around in the second half of last season) having issues again. Utah shot 31 percent and was outscored by 24 points in less than 18 minutes last week, worse against the Kings (minus-18 in 6.9 minutes!) than the Warriors. Alec Burks and Jae Crowder provided boosts off the bench in the first two games.
Week 2: vs. MEM, @ HOU, @ NOP, @ DAL
Last Week: 9
Pace: 100.2 (27) OffRtg: 114.7 (6) DefRtg: 104.0 (7) NetRtg: +10.7 (4)
The Pacers took care of business against the Grizzlies and Nets at home, outscoring those teams 118-56 in the paint, with Tyreke Evans getting to the cup off the dribble and Thaddeus Young doing work in the post. But in their marquee game in Milwaukee on Friday, the Pacers were outscored, 51-18, from 3-point range. Their 3-point volume remains an issue (Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner have both attempted more mid-range shots than 3-pointers), though all three of this week's opponents are with them in the bottom six in the percentage of shots that have come from beyond the arc.
Week 2: @ MIN, @ SAS, @ CLE
Last Week: 21 ↑
Pace: 102.0 (22) OffRtg: 104.6 (26) DefRtg: 102.0 (5) NetRtg: +2.6 (11)
The Clippers' veteran guards -- Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley and Lou Williams -- have combined to shoot 20-for-78 (26 percent), and the team hasn't been particularly good defensively (111 points allowed per 100 possessions) with Beverley and Bradley (the one with the defensive reps) on the floor together. But the Clips are 2-1 against a tough schedule, because they've defended well without those guys on the floor together, rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has given them great minutes off the bench, and Boban Marjanovic has been more than just the guy who touches the rim and the floor at the same time, scoring 35 points in just 39 minutes.
Week 2: @ NOP, @ HOU, vs. WAS
Last Week: 3 ↓
Pace: 105.0 (7) OffRtg: 110.8 (12) DefRtg: 114.2 (24) NetRtg: -3.4 (21)
Time will tell if the Rockets' Week 1 was a sign that they're not as good or just some growing pains for a retooled contender, with Saturday's melee at Staples Center being the only thing worth remembering. But the defense was pretty terrible (124 points allowed per 100 possessions) with Carmelo Anthony and James Harden both in the game and Michael Carter-Williams (5-for-16 shooting) has destroyed the offense when he's been on the floor. With just two games in the next eight days, they should have a couple of practices to figure some things out, but they'll be without Chris Paul for a big game against the Jazz on Wednesday.
Week 2: vs. UTA, vs. LAC
Last Week: 6 ↓
Pace: 103.2 (15) OffRtg: 106.5 (22) DefRtg: 106.1 (10) NetRtg: +0.3 (15)
The Markelle Fultz Project remains a long-term play and Fultz did hit a 3-pointer against Chicago on Thursday. In that bizarre scene, Philly fans were encouraging the former No. 1 pick like he was the college walk-on who never gets to play. But the Fultz starting lineup has scored just 34 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 40 percent) in 16 minutes, while the same lineup with J.J. Redick in Fultz's place has scored 40 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 53 percent) in just 13 minutes. With as many buckets from outside the paint (20) as any two of his teammates combined and having hit the game-winner against Orlando on Saturday (off that tough-to-defend two-man game with Joel Embiid), Redick's importance to this team has never been greater.
Week 2: @ DET, @ MIL, vs. CHA
Last Week: 18 ↑
Pace: 100.3 (26) OffRtg: 110.0 (13) DefRtg: 108.0 (12) NetRtg: +2.0 (13)
Narrow wins over Brooklyn and Chicago aren't a clear sign that the Pistons are a playoff team, but you can only play the teams on your schedule and this week's schedule will surely tell us more. Blake Griffin looks like a well-rounded star again, averaging 29.5 points, 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists (with just one turnover to go with his 11 dimes), while shooting 6-for-8 from 3-point range. Ish Smith drove for the game-winner on Saturday and has played 26 minutes alongside Reggie Jackson (23 more than the two point guards played together all of last season). The Pistons are a plus-17 in those 26 minutes and a minus-10 in Jackson's 37 minutes with Smith on the bench.
Week 2: vs. PHI, vs. CLE, vs. BOS
Last Week: 19 ↑
Pace: 103.0 (16) OffRtg: 111.7 (10) DefRtg: 101.3 (3) NetRtg: +10.4 (5)
It's only five days old, but the Hornets' season has been a roller coaster already. On Wednesday, they came back from 20 points down (with a Nicolas-Batum-at-center lineup that coach James Borrego didn't use in the next two games) to take a late lead against Milwaukee before coming up short when Kemba Walker missed a layup for the win. And on Saturday in Miami, they blew a 26-point lead before Walker hit the game-winning free throw. Their defense (featuring Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at power forward) has looked elite at times and Walker has the two highest scoring games of the season so far (41 and 39 points).
Week 2: @ TOR, @ CHI, vs. CHI, @ PHI
Last Week: 14 ↓
Pace: 96.0 (30) OffRtg: 114.0 (9) DefRtg: 119.9 (28) NetRtg: -5.9 (22)
It's just two games, but it's still strange seeing the Spurs in the bottom three on defense, where they rank in the bottom 10 in opponent effective field goal percentage and opponent turnover ratio. They felt the absence of Dejounte Murray right away, with Jeff Teague attacking Bryn Forbes like Forbes wasn't even there on Wednesday. Patty Mills had to be brought in for defense and DeMar DeRozan had to save them on the other end of the floor. His game-winning bucket came off a drive against Jimmy Butler and he leads the league with 25 drives per game. The Spurs have scored 122 points per 100 possessions in 68 minutes with both DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor, but just 30 points on 38 possessions (79 per 100) with one on the floor without the other.
Week 2: @ LAL, vs. IND, vs. LAL
Last Week: 17 ↑
Pace: 103.0 (16) OffRtg: 105.5 (24) DefRtg: 106.5 (11) NetRtg: -1.0 (16)
Same 'ol Heat. They're shorthanded (four rotation guys have yet to play) and all three of their games have gone down to the wire. Josh Richardson has seen a big jump in usage rate and remains a terrific defender (it's early, but his on-off DefRtg differential is huge), but his 36 percent shooting probably doesn't have the Timberwolves kicking themselves with Pat Riley saying he's "pulling the plug" on trade talks. The Heat don't have a single first-round pick in their current starting lineup, with the play of Richardson and undrafted and undersized forwards Derrick Jones Jr. (more than just a dunk champ, though he still dunks nice) and Rodney McGruder (9-for-18 from 3-point range) being a testament to their player development chops.
Week 2: vs. NYK, vs. POR
Last Week: 11 ↓
Pace: 112.0 (1) OffRtg: 104.0 (27) DefRtg: 113.0 (20) NetRtg: -9.0 (26)
The Lakers have lived up to expectations in that they've been outscored by a league-worst 21 points per game from 3-point range, though it's a little surprising that Lonzo Ball (5-for-12) has more 3-pointers than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1-for-4), LeBron James (1-for-11), Kyle Kuzma (2-for-12) combined. Their small-ball lineups have not worked out well thus far, as they've been 27 points per 100 possessions worse defensively with JaVale McGee (the only center they've used) off the floor (allowing 121 per 100) than they've been with him on the floor (allowing only 94 per 100). Saturday's shenanigans have Rajon Rondo suspended for the next three games and Brandon Ingram suspended for the next four, taking away some of their lineup versatility, but providing an opportunity for Ball to step up.
Week 2: vs. SAS, @ PHX, vs. DEN, @ SAS
Last Week: 16 ↓
Pace: 104.5 (8) OffRtg: 119.8 (2) DefRtg: 119.4 (27) NetRtg: +0.4 (14)
In talking about the Wolves, it's difficult not to focus on Karl-Anthony Towns on the offensive end of the floor, where he ranks fifth on the team in usage rate and took just 16 shots in their first two games. But the Wolves are once again scoring efficiently, despite Towns' apparent willingness to take a back seat and despite their lack of 3-point volume. The bigger issue, of course, is that they still stink defensively, especially when Jimmy Butler isn't on the floor. They've allowed 124 points per 100 possessions in Butler's 76 minutes off the court and allowed the Mavs to rack up 22 fast break points and 24 second-chance points on Saturday with Butler sitting out the second game of a back-to-back. Their next back-to-back isn't until Games 10 and 11, but the games between now and then are against teams no worse than LeBron James' Lakers.
Week 2: vs. IND, @ TOR, vs. MIL
Last Week: 15 ↓
Pace: 103.8 (11) OffRtg: 108.2 (16) DefRtg: 111.1 (17) NetRtg: -2.9 (17)
Any thoughts that the Wizards would be better at taking care of business (winning the games they're supposed to win) this season are on hold. They opened the season with two rest-advantage games at home, against a Heat team that lost in Orlando the night before and against the Raptors without Kawhi Leonard. And they lost 'em both, allowing 36 offensive rebounds and 44 second-chance points, including Kelly Olynyk's game-winner on Thursday. That one was on Markieff Morris, but the rebounding was just as bad when they played with a center (Ian Mahinmi or Jason Smith) as it was when they played without one (with Jeff Green or Morris at the five) and the overall numbers were better (plus-8 in 35 minutes) when they played small. Either way, with their rebounding issues and with eight of their next 10 games on the road, Dwight Howard's status (he still hasn't played) feels more important than it did a week ago.
Week 2: @ POR, @ GSW, @ SAC, @ LAC
Last Week: 8 ↓
Pace: 105.2 (6) OffRtg: 98.4 (30) DefRtg: 110.5 (16) NetRtg: -12.1 (29)
Russell Westbrook's return on Sunday helped the Thunder offense (which scored a brutal 94 points per 100 possessions over their first two games), and Paul George in particular. But Westbrook could not get OKC off the schneid, because his team continued to shoot bricks from beyond the arc (they're a league-worst 24 percent from 3-point range) and somehow allowed the Sacramento Kings (who are now 2-17 in Oklahoma City) to shoot 55 percent. With Dennis Schroder shooting 28 percent in his first week with his new team, with Patrick Patterson off to another cold start, and with Andre Roberson on the shelf for a while, it remains unclear who this team can turn to beyond Westbrook, George and Steven Adams.
Week 2: vs. BOS, vs. PHX
Last Week: 23 ↑
Pace: 99.3 (28) OffRtg: 107.0 (21) DefRtg: 114.1 (23) NetRtg: -7.0 (24)
Not breaking news: Turnovers are an issue for the Nets, who rank last in turnover ratio (20.5 per 100 possessions) and 29th in opponent turnover ratio (10.4) after Week 1. They miss DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (who should be back this week) on defense, but Caris LeVert looks like a Kia Most Improved Player candidate, shooting 20-for-27 (74 percent) in the paint, getting to the line (he ranks ninth in free throw rate among 109 players with at least 25 field goal attempts), and getting the game-winner against the Knicks on Friday. Rodions Kurucs (the 40th pick in the Draft) has been a fun rookie to watch (this controlled finish after a full-court drive was impressive) but turned his ankle in the fourth quarter in Indiana on Saturday.
Week 2: @ CLE, @ NOP, vs. GSW
Last Week: 26 ↑
Pace: 103.5 (12) OffRtg: 107.1 (19) DefRtg: 101.9 (4) NetRtg: +5.2 (8)
Though an MSG fan hit a half-court shot before the Knicks hit any shot (they were 0-for-9 to start the season), New York almost started the schedule with three wins. But the Nets and Celtics combined to shoot 9-for-13 in the clutch and Trey Burke missed a free throw after Tatum gave him a chance to tie Saturday's game at the line. Kevin Knox recovered from losing his starting job and a 4-for-16 opener to score 17 points in Brooklyn, but turned his ankle against Boston and will be out at least a week. Burke has 17 assists and just three turnovers, but the Frank-Ntilikina-at-the-two starting lineup has struggled offensively, scoring just 95 points per 100 possessions.
Week 2: @ MIL, @ MIA, vs. GSW
Last Week: 27 ↑
Pace: 99.3 (29) OffRtg: 107.1 (20) DefRtg: 110.1 (14) NetRtg: -3.0 (18)
The Suns' season got off to a terrific start against Dallas on Wednesday. They shot 53 percent (26-for-49) from outside the paint, better than they shot from the outside in all but one game last season, with Devin Booker (35 points on 19 shots) leading the way and T.J. Warren now a 3-point shooter. That clearly wasn't sustainable, but they fell hard on Saturday, shooting just 31 percent from the outside (and getting doubled up in the paint) in Denver. Though the shooting has been inconsistent, the early returns show that coach Igor Kokoskov has brought more ball movement to the offense. The Suns have gone from 27th (last season) to first in assist rate (AST/FGM) and from 20th to fifth in passes per 24 minutes of possession.
Week 2: @ GSW, vs. LAL, @ MEM, @ OKC
Last Week: 24
Pace: 102.3 (21) OffRtg: 117.6 (4) DefRtg: 125.4 (30) NetRtg: -7.7 (25)
In this high-scoring start to the season, no games have been more efficient than those of the Mavs, who have combined with their opponents to score 122 points per 100 possessions. They allowed the Kings and Wolves to shoot 33-for-61 (54 percent) from 3-point range, but Wesley Matthews hit three 3-pointers of his own in a 43-point fourth quarter that (along with Dennis Smith's step-back over Derrick Rose) got them the win on Saturday. Luka Doncic has 10 turnovers in two games, but recovered from rough debut to score a team-high 26 points against Minnesota, doing some late-game work in the post against Rose.
Week 2: vs. CHI, @ ATL, @ TOR, vs. UTA
Last Week: 22 ↓
Pace: 101.0 (24) OffRtg: 105.9 (23) DefRtg: 112.9 (19) NetRtg: -6.9 (23)
JaMychal Green's injury (he's out about a month with a broken jaw) could provide an opportunity for Jaren Jackson Jr., who scored 24 points against Atlanta on Friday and is already fifth on the Grizzlies in minutes. He's been the back-up center, though the Grizz have been much better with him playing alongside Marc Gasol (plus-8 in 17 minutes) than they've been with Jackson at the five (minus-37 in 36 minutes). After the offense struggled in Indiana on Wednesday (shooting an amazingly brutal 8-for-39 in the paint), Jackson wasn't the only one who had a much easier time against the Hawks. Garrett Temple shot 10-for-11 and Mike Conley dished out 11 assists without committing a turnover.
Week 2: @ UTA, @ SAC, vs. PHX
Last Week: 28 ↑
Pace: 101.5 (23) OffRtg: 101.0 (28) DefRtg: 110.5 (15) NetRtg: -9.5 (28)
The Magic are this season's first "Jekyll and Hyde Team of the Week," having looked awful at home against Charlotte in between a good win over Miami and a tough loss in Philadelphia. With the offense running through Nikola Vucevic (who recorded his second career triple-double on Saturday and has 20 assists through three games), shooting has been a bigger issue than point guard play. Though they shot 16-for-29 from 3-point range in Philly, the Magic are still the only team that ranks in the bottom 10 in field goal percentage in the paint (24th), mid-range field goal percentage (24th) and 3-point percentage (21st) after Week 1. The Philly game was just the start of a tough, four-game stretch, but Saturday's visit to Milwaukee begins a string of four straight rest-advantage games for the Magic.
Week 2: @ BOS, vs. POR, @ MIL
Last Week: 30 ↑
Pace: 110.7 (2) OffRtg: 114.2 (8) DefRtg: 117.4 (25) NetRtg: -3.1 (19)
The Kings have gone from 30th (last season) to second in pace, but they once again rank 30th in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range and coach Dave Joerger still can't go more than a couple of games without a change to his starting lineup. Of course, Sunday's change (Yogi Ferrell out, Iman Shumpert in) paid off with an 11-point win in Oklahoma City in which the new starting group was a plus-11 in a little over eight minutes and Shumpert scored 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting. De'Aaron Fox has shot 20-for-33 (61 percent) inside the arc and ranks seventh in the league (among 109 players with at least 25 field goal attempts) with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 0.575. The Kings have been outscored by 42 points in his 38 minutes off the floor.
Week 2: @ DEN, vs. MEM, vs. WAS
Last Week: 29 ↑
Pace: 108.3 (4) OffRtg: 109.8 (14) DefRtg: 113.2 (21) NetRtg: -3.4 (20)
Not to be outdone by what other top-five picks might have done earlier in the week, Trae Young dropped 35 points in Cleveland on Sunday, adding 11 assists with just one turnover. He not only drained six 3-pointers, but also toasted the Cavs' defenders for six buckets in the restricted area. Not every defense will be so friendly, but this week's two opponents are also in the bottom five on that end of the floor (and the Hawks will visit the Cavs again in Week 3). The second quarter has been the decisive 12 minutes in all three of the Hawks' games, as they were outscored 89-53 in the second by New York and Memphis, and used a 40-26 second to propel them to their win in Cleveland on Sunday.
Week 2: vs. DAL, vs. CHI
Last Week: 25 ↓
Pace: 103.5 (12) OffRtg: 108.7 (15) DefRtg: 117.8 (26) NetRtg: -9.1 (27)
The 2018-19 Bulls might never again be as sharp offensively as they were in the first quarter of their first game, when they scored 41 points on 17-for-28 shooting (scoring on 14 straight possessions at one point) against what promises to be a top-five defense. But 20 months removed from his ACL surgery, Zach LaVine has continued to look explosive on that end of the floor, shooting 12-for-14 in the restricted area and totaling 63 points in the Bulls' two losses. Of course, the Bulls' defense has been another story, highlighted by Jabari Parker escorting Ish Smith to the game-winning bucket on Saturday. We'll see if Parker is on the floor the next time Chicago needs a late-game stop.
Week 2: @ DAL, vs. CHA, @ CHA, @ ATL
Last Week: 20 ↓
Pace: 104.3 (9) OffRtg: 108.0 (17) DefRtg: 121.4 (29) NetRtg: -13.4 (30)
We knew the Cavs would suffer offensively without LeBron James, and they have seen the league's biggest drop in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range from last season (38 percent, fourth in the league) to Week 1 (25 percent, 29th). The question was whether they'd remain a terrible defensive team without him, and after three games, the Magic 8 Ball says "Signs point to yes." J.R. Smith will shoot some 3-pointers when he returns from his elbow injury and the development of Cedi Osman (one of 13 players averaging at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists) has been a bright spot, but it's been an ugly start otherwise.
Week 2: vs. BKN, @ DET, vs. IND
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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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