Power Rankings, Week 3: Heat enter Top 5, Sixers still undefeated and Warriors look done
Miami, Indiana and Dallas are among the teams on the rise this week
The rebirth of the old Golden State Warriors never happened. We knew Klay Thompson would miss most of the season. But the five-time defending West champs still had (arguably) the league’s most impactful players on each end of the floor, along with an additional All-Star that could give their offense a new element.
Then the season started, and the Warriors lost their first two games by a total of 47 points. And in Game 4, with his team trailing the Phoenix Suns by 29 points, Stephen Curry suffered a broken hand that will have him on the shelf for at least three months.
So yes, after just two weeks, we can count the Warriors (1-5) out. And while we already know the team – the Los Angeles Lakers (5-1) – that will take their playoff spot, there remains a ton of intrigue up and down the West standings, with the Dallas Mavericks (4-2) and Phoenix Suns (4-2) looking like teams that could end their own playoff droughts.
The Eastern Conference is a little more academic, though the Miami Heat are already turning some heads. They rise to No. 5 in this week’s rankings, with a very interesting trip out West starting Tuesday.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Jimmy Butler (MIA) was a plus-65 in three games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Clint Capela (HOU) and Larry Nance Jr. (CLE) were both a minus-51 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Miami (3-0) — The Jimmy Butler era is off to an undefeated start and the Heat are one of two teams that ranks in the top 10 on both ends of the floor.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Chicago (1-3) — The Bulls managed to beat the injury-depleted Pistons (at home, by six), but they dropped games to the Knicks, Cavs and the even-more-depleted Pacers.
East vs. West
- The West is 14-11 (.560) against the East in interconference games after going 6-6 last week.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: Indiana (+8), Miami (+8), Three teams (+6)
- Free falls of the week: Golden State (-8), Houston (-7), Denver (-6)
Week 3 Team to Watch
- Miami — The Heat take their 5-1 record out on a three-game trip, visiting the Nuggets on Tuesday, the Suns on Thursday, and the Lakers on Friday.
- Last week: Sixers on top after week full of surprises
- This time last year: Tough tests await No. 1-ranked Warriors — The Bucks won a battle of 6-0 teams that were playing without the guys – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard – that would eventually win the regular season and Finals MVP awards. Derrick Rose dropped 50 on the Jazz, Klay Thompson set a single-game record with 14 3-pointers in Chicago, and Dwight Howard scored 13 points in his first quarter with the Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie led a comeback against his old team, Victor Oladipo beat the Celtics with a pull-up three, and Robin Lopez won Halloween.
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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 103.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.8 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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The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
Last Week: 1
Pace: 106.8 (5) OffRtg: 107.3 (12) DefRtg: 99.6 (6) NetRtg: +7.7 (5)
Brett Brown said before the season that Joel Embiid would be his go-to guy down the stretch of games with the departure of Jimmy Butler. And with the score tied in the final seconds in Atlanta on Monday, the Sixers did something you don't see often on a last-second possession. They ran a designed duck-in for Embiid, who drew a foul on John Collins (after a terrific entry pass from Al Horford) and won the game at the line. With Embiid serving the first game of his two-game suspension on Saturday, the game-winner in Portland - Furkan Korkmaz out of the corner - was a little more conventional, though a step forward in Brown's quest to "grow a bomber." That Atlanta game was Exhibit A for those making the case that the Sixers don't have enough offensively, but 84 points in the paint in Portland (tied for the most in a game in the last eight seasons) was evidence that this team can score without prolific perimeter shooting. This week's schedule provides a few more tests of the league's only perfect record.
Week 3: @ PHX, @ UTA, @ DEN, vs. CHA
Last Week: 3 ↑
Pace: 100.9 (25) OffRtg: 112.2 (2) DefRtg: 106.1 (16) NetRtg: +6.1 (6)
Kawhi Leonard sat out the first game of the Clippers' first back-to-back, saving his arm strength so he could hoist a career-high 32 shots against the Spurs (random coincidence, surely) on Thursday. (It was a regular season career-high, at least. He took 39 shots in Game 7 against Philly. 39!) The Clips are 5-1 with Leonard and, despite the strength of their bench (and though Montrezl Harrell leads the league in effective field goal percentage), have been 27.5 points per 100 possessions better with the Finals MVP on the floor (plus-18.2) than they've been with him off the floor (minus-9.3). Leonard has shot just 37% in the first quarter, but his shooting has improved as the game has gone on and he's the league's leading fourth-quarter scorer at 12.6 points per game (on 55% from the field at 16-for-16 from the line). The Clips play only two games this week, but they're another Wednesday-Thursday back-to-back.
Week 3: vs. MIL, vs. POR
Last Week: 6 ↑
Pace: 101.7 (18) OffRtg: 105.8 (18) DefRtg: 96.3 (1) NetRtg: +9.5 (2)
Dwight Howard is 19-for-24 (79%) from the field this season, he had some vintage dunks as he shot 7-for-7 in the Lakers' win in San Antonio on Sunday, and the L.A. offense has been at its best with Howard on the floor. But this is now the league's No. 1 defense and it has allowed less than 80 points per 100 possessions (with its opponents shooting just 39% in the paint) in 63 minutes with Howard and Anthony Davis on the floor together. Kyle Kuzma's return (he played 35 total minutes in Dallas and San Antonio) gives the Lakers a greater ability to play small (with Davis at center), but both of the wins were close late, and Howard was on the floor (with Davis and LeBron James) down the stretch in both of them. He ranks second in the league (behind Kawhi Leonard) in total plus-minus at plus-67 in 128 total minutes.
Week 3: @ CHI, vs. MIA, vs. TOR
Last Week: 10 ↑
Pace: 101.6 (20) OffRtg: 106.9 (14) DefRtg: 101.4 (9) NetRtg: +5.5 (7)
The Celtics have been the league's third worst first-half team (minus-8.2 points per 100 possessions), with Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward (the three Celtics who have taken the most shots) all having registered a first-half effective field goal percentage less than 40%. They've even trailed at halftime in both of their meetings with the Knicks. But they've been the league's best second-half team (plus-19.5 points per 100 possessions), with those three guys having combined for an effective field goal percentage of 64% after halftime. And it was a 74-47 second half against the Bucks on Wednesday (with Tatum, Walker and Hayward combining for 57 of the 74 points) that gave them their best win of the season thus far. They play eight of their next 10 on the road, with Walker making his return to Charlotte on Thursday.
Week 3: @ CLE, @ CHA, @ SAS
Last Week: 13 ↑
Pace: 106.6 (6) OffRtg: 108.4 (9) DefRtg: 98.2 (4) NetRtg: +10.3 (1)
Jimmy Butler has averaged less than 15 points in his three games and the Heat have yet to need him down the stretch of the fourth quarter, in part because they've outscored their opponents by more than 30 points per 100 possessions in his 93 minutes on the floor. The Hawks were without Trae Young for all but 11 minutes of their home-and-home series last week, but Miami validated its 5-1 start with a thrashing of the Rockets (in which Butler had nine of the team's 38 assists) on Sunday. They've seen the league's third biggest jump in pace (7.8 possessions per 48 minutes) and have a league-best effective field goal percentage of 72% in the first six seconds of the shot clock, according to Second Spectrum tracking. Other teams won't necessarily look as slow getting back on defense as the Rockets, but with how well the Heat defend, they should continue to have opportunities to run.
Week 3: @ DEN, @ PHX, @ LAL
Last Week: 4 ↓
Pace: 105.1 (10) OffRtg: 111.5 (3) DefRtg: 103.7 (13) NetRtg: +7.8 (4)
The Bucks continue to let big leads slip away. Their game in Boston on Wednesday was their second loss after leading by 19 points or more and they almost blew a 26-point lead to the Raptors on Saturday. As it was against Miami in Week 1, the Bucks' 3-point shooting was an issue in the lost leads, not only in how well they've shot from beyond the arc, but how much they've depended on 3-pointers. After ranking second in the percentage of their shots that came in the restricted area last season (37%), they rank 29th (28%) this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo has seen a drop in his individual percentage (from 62% to 52%), but they also miss the 7.6 points per game in the restricted area they lost with the departure of Malcolm Brogdon, who ranks third in the league with 18.3 drives per game with the Pacers. On the other end of the floor, they're protecting the rim better than they did last season, allowing a league-low 24.0 points per game in the restricted area. And yet they rank much higher offensively than they do defensively.
Week 3: @ MIN, @ LAC, @ UTA, @ OKC
Last Week: 5 ↓
Pace: 108.3 (2) OffRtg: 106.7 (16) DefRtg: 101.3 (8) NetRtg: +5.4 (8)
The Wolves' new style - they've seen the league's biggest jump in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range and its fourth biggest jump in pace - has been working for them, though not necessarily on offense, where their drop in efficiency (3.9 points scored per 100 possessions) is about league average. They've seen the league's third biggest improvement on defense, where they've allowed 10.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season, in part because they've cut down on opponent shots at the rim and from 3-point range. Without Karl-Anthony Towns (and with Gorgui Dieng blocking three shots in his first rotation minutes of the season) on Saturday, they held the Wizards' offense to 49 fewer points than the Wiz scored in their previous game. The Wolves are without Towns for one more game (Monday against the Bucks), but they play eight of their next 11 at home, having already picked up three wins on the road. Obligatory note: Last season, their third road win (of 11 total) came at the end of Week 10 (Dec. 23).
Week 3: vs. MIL, @ MEM, vs. GSW, vs. DEN
Last Week: 2 ↓
Pace: 97.0 (30) OffRtg: 104.5 (19) DefRtg: 104.9 (14) NetRtg: -0.4 (16)
After two bad defensive performances against two top-five offensive teams - Michael Malone called his teams loss in New Orleans on Thursday "an embarrassing effort defensively" - the Nuggets got to play (and beat) the Magic's 30th-ranked offense on Saturday. There was, seemingly, some luck in their league-best, 31-15 record in clutch games last season. But they're already out to an early lead for the most clutch wins (they're 4-1 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes) this season, with Nikola Jokic having shot 9-for-13 in clutch moments, a mark highlighted by a ridiculous turnaround jumper in Orlando on Saturday. The Nuggets are 4-0 when Nikola Jokic has registered a usage rate higher than 20% and 0-2 when he hasn't. They play eight of their next 10 games at home and Jokic has a couple of fun matchups - the off-suspension Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns - this week.
Week 3: vs. MIA, vs. PHI, @ MIN
Last Week: 15 ↑
Pace: 101.4 (22) OffRtg: 113.1 (1) DefRtg: 108.7 (20) NetRtg: +4.4 (10)
The new No. 1 offense in the NBA (with top-10 rankings in effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, turnover percentage and offensive rebounding percentage) is that of the Dallas Mavericks, who look like a legitimately good team, having won in Denver on Tuesday and gone down to the wire with the Lakers on Friday. They have one of the most exciting tandems in the league and it's very early, but for a third straight season, this team has been at its best with reserves on the floor, outscoring its opponents by almost 23 points per 100 possessions in 57 total minutes with Luka Doncic on the floor without Kristaps Porzingis, who had a couple of poor shooting games before going 7-for-14 (and blocking six shots) in Cleveland on Sunday. Overall, the Mavs' defense hasn't been very good, but it gets to face each of the league's three lowest-ranked offenses this week.
Week 3: vs. ORL, vs. NYK, @ MEM
Last Week: 11 ↑
Pace: 103.5 (14) OffRtg: 106.9 (13) DefRtg: 101.7 (10) NetRtg: +5.2 (9)
When the Raptors beat the Warriors in The Finals, they apparently assumed Golden State's third-quarter dominance. The champs have been outscored by 26 points over the other three quarters, but are a plus-55 (plus-34.6 per 100 possessions) in the third, having shot 55% from 3-point range in the first 12 minutes after halftime and having won all six of their third quarters by at least six points. A 40-29 third quarter wasn't enough in Milwaukee on Saturday, because the Raps couldn't get enough stops in the first half or enough buckets in the fourth. Their starting lineup is the first five-man group to eclipse the 100-minute mark and has scored 40 points on its 30 fourth-quarter possessions, but all other lineups have scored just 102 points on 118 possessions (86.4 per 100) in the final period. Patrick McCaw played his first two games of the season last week (to give Nick Nurse another reserve to trust), but knee pain kept him from playing in Milwaukee.
Week 3: vs. SAC, @ NOP, @ LAL
Last Week: 7 ↓
Pace: 98.3 (29) OffRtg: 101.6 (25) DefRtg: 97.4 (2) NetRtg: +4.2 (11)
Mike Conley seemingly broke out of his slump (with 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting) in Utah's win over the Leonard-less Clippers on Wednesday. And then he shot 7-for-23 in weekend losses to the Kings and Clippers. The Jazz offense has been great (112.5 points scored per 100 possessions) in 133 minutes with both Conley and Donovan Mitchell on the floor, but has struggled (89.8 per 100) in 174 total minutes with one on the floor without the other. The Jazz have seen some slippage on the defensive glass (after leading the league in defensive rebounding percentage last season), and it was newcomer Bojan Bogdanovic who failed to box out on Harrison Barnes' game-winning tip-in in Sacramento on Friday. With the weekend losses, the Jazz are 1-3 on the road (with the league's 26th-ranked road offense), but they're 3-0 at home, where they'll play six of their next nine and host Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo this week.
Week 3: vs. PHI, vs. MIL
Last Week: 14 ↑
Pace: 103.8 (12) OffRtg: 109.0 (8) DefRtg: 100.5 (7) NetRtg: +8.5 (3)
Another week of games hasn't done anything to dispel the notion that the Suns are legit. They beat two one-win teams - the Warriors and Grizzlies - last week, but road wins (which both were) are good wins and the Suns were a wide-open Kelly Oubre corner three from beating the Jazz on Monday. One of the two teams that rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency is the only team that ranked in the bottom three on both ends of the floor last season. The Suns leads the league in assist percentage, having assisted on 69% of their buckets and also jumped from 29th to 14th in turnover rate. Devin Booker's assist rate is down from a career-high 20.2 per 100 possessions last season, but the percentage of his own buckets that have been assisted has jumped from 36% last season to 57% this season. He's been assisted by eight different teammates, and he's one of three Suns - Tyler Johnson and Aron Baynes (!) are the others - with an effective field goal percentage better than 70% on at least 15 catch-and-shoot jumpers. The Suns have two six-game homestands this season and the first begins Monday with a visit from the league's only undefeated team.
Week 3: vs. PHI, vs. MIA, vs. BKN
Last Week: 12 ↓
Pace: 103.8 (11) OffRtg: 109.0 (7) DefRtg: 105.4 (15) NetRtg: +3.6 (12)
The jury is still out on whether this version of the Spurs' offense - with Dejounte Murray getting them more of the best shots on the floor (those at the rim) - can remain in the top 10. They've had three efficient games against teams - New York, Washington and Golden State - that currently rank 22nd, 27th and 30th defensively, and they were held under a point per possession by both the Clippers and Lakers last week. Defensively, only 32% (the league's lowest rate) of their opponents' shots have come from 3-point range, though five of their six opponents currently rank in the bottom 12 in that regard. And down the stretch of their loss to the Clippers, they were forced to send a double-team at Kawhi Leonard, lacking a lengthy wing to guard him one-on-one. The offense should be tested more over the next two weeks, with four of their next six opponents (including the Thunder and Celtics) currently in the top 10 defensively.
Week 3: @ ATL, vs. OKC, vs. BOS
Last Week: 9 ↓
Pace: 106.1 (8) OffRtg: 107.6 (11) DefRtg: 106.6 (17) NetRtg: +1.0 (15)
One reason the Sixers scored 84 points in the paint (without Embiid) on Saturday is that the Blazers didn't have much of a frontline, missing Jusuf Nurkic, Pau Gasol, Zach Collins (set to have shoulder surgery) and Hassan Whiteside (bone bruise in his left knee). Of course, the Blazers almost won the game because Damian Lillard scored 33 points on just 16 shots (and just three free throw attempts) and because his teammates shot 11-for-23 from 3-point range. They got a defensive win in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, but those kinds of games may be few and far between. Five of their six games have been within five points in the last five minutes and both the Blazers (16-for-31) and their opponents (17-for-33) have shot better than 50 percent in the clutch, though they missed all four of their 3-point attempts to tie in the final 30 seconds of their loss in San Antonio on Monday.
Week 3: @ GSW, @ LAC, vs. BKN, vs. ATL
Last Week: 8 ↓
Pace: 109.2 (1) OffRtg: 111.3 (4) DefRtg: 116.2 (29) NetRtg: -4.8 (23)
Five of the six teams the Rockets have played currently rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency. But the Rockets themselves have something to do with those numbers, seemingly unable to defend competently while playing at the league's fastest pace. They've actually seen a big drop in the percentage of their opponents' shots that have come in the restricted area, but they rank 28th in the percentage of their opponents' shots that have come from 3-point range (43.0%) and last in opponent 3-point percentage (43.3%), having ranked eighth and second in those numbers last season. So the team that was a league-best plus-18.0 points per game from 3-point range last season (when no other team was better than plus-7.6) has been outscored by 8.0 points per game (the league's third worst differential) from beyond the arc this season. The 29th-ranked defense meets the 29th-ranked offense in Memphis on Monday, the first of eight rest-disadvantage games for the Rockets this season.
Week 3: @ MEM, vs. GSW, @ CHI
Last Week: 21 ↑
Pace: 101.6 (19) OffRtg: 106.8 (15) DefRtg: 110.0 (24) NetRtg: -3.2 (19)
Reggie Jackson (stress reaction in his lower back) is out long term, and the Pistons were without their other two point guards - Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier - against Brooklyn on Saturday, leaving Bruce Brown to play point guard. The Nets begged Brown to shoot from the perimeter (he's 3-for-11 from outside the paint this season), but he still managed to score a career-high 22 points, while dishing out seven assists without a single turnover in what was the Pistons' best offensive game (113 points on 102 possessions) since their season opener in Indiana. Twenty-twenty games have become a regular thing for Andre Drummond and their were some good minutes with Drummond on the floor with Christian Wood in the Pistons' win over the Pacers on Monday. There's still no timetable for Blake Griffin's return, but the Pistons are just two games into a stretch where they're playing 11 of 14 against teams that are currently at or below .500.
Week 3: @ WAS, vs. NYK, @ IND
Last Week: 19 ↑
Pace: 103.6 (13) OffRtg: 101.0 (27) DefRtg: 98.1 (3) NetRtg: +2.9 (13)
Whether the Thunder are good or not is a debate still very much unsettled. On Wednesday, they shot 4-for-27 from 3-point range, losing a game in which they outscored the Blazers, 77-43, in the paint and from the free throw line. The defense has held up in two games without Steven Adams (Nerlens Noel had six blocks against New Orleans on Saturday) and all four of the Thunder's losses have been within two points in the last five minutes (three of the four were within two in the last minute). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander already has as many games of more than 20 points (four) as he had all of last season, and his 23 (with some slick finishes around the basket) led six guys in double figures in the win over the Pelicans. Fun with small sample sizes: The Thunder closed the second quarter on Saturday with a 23-12 run with Danilo Gallinari at center, a look with which they've shot 11-for-13 in five total minutes.
Week 3: vs. ORL, @ SAS, vs. GSW, vs. MIL
Last Week: 26 ↑
Pace: 101.8 (17) OffRtg: 103.3 (22) DefRtg: 102.1 (11) NetRtg: +1.1 (14)
The Pacers have gone from 0-3 to 3-3, playing much better despite the absence of last season's blocks-per-game leader for all but 10 minutes of the three wins. Myles Turner (who sprained his ankle in the first quarter of the Pacers' win in Brooklyn on Wednesday). Turner actually ranks as the league's worst high-volume rim protector, with opponents having shot 28-for-39 (72%) at the basket when he's been there, but Domantas Sabonis ranks as one of best, and without Sabonis (calf contusion) on Sunday, the Pacers still held the Bulls to just 50% shooting in the restricted area, while getting a plus-6 out of the T.J.-T.J.-TJ-Holiday-Holiday lineup. They'll pay for it with tougher stretches eventually, but the Pacers are playing their first 12 (and 20 of their first 23) games against teams that are currently at or below .500.
Week 3: @ CHA, vs. WAS, vs. DET, @ ORL
Last Week: 17 ↓
Pace: 99.0 (28) OffRtg: 94.6 (30) DefRtg: 99.0 (5) NetRtg: -4.4 (22)
The Magic cracked a point per possession in their win over the Knicks on Wednesday and moving Markelle Fultz into the starting lineup sparked a solid start offensively (they scored 18 points on 13 possessions before D.J. Augustin replaced Fultz) against Denver on Saturday, when Terrence Ross registered an effective field goal percentage better than 41% for the first time. But they haven't been able to sustain any kind of rhythm offensively (they scored fewer than 20 points in both the second and third quarters on Saturday), in part because they don't get great shots or get to the line. They rank 20th in the percentage of their shots that have come in the restricted area (31%), 28th in the percentage of their 3-point attempts that have come from the corners (16%), and last in free throw rate (19.1 attempts per 100 shots from the field). Even though 60% of his shots have come in the paint, Fultz has the lowest free throw rate (13.2 attempts per 100 shots from the field) among the eight Magic players with more than 25 field goal attempts.
Week 3: @ OKC, @ DAL, vs. MEM, vs. IND
Last Week: 18 ↓
Pace: 106.5 (7) OffRtg: 107.9 (10) DefRtg: 108.3 (19) NetRtg: -0.4 (17)
The Nets' most-used lineup (with Jarrett Allen at center) has allowed fewer than 101 points per 100 possessions (and is a plus-22) in its 62 minutes, with the Rockets' No. 1 offense having scored just 32 points on 37 possessions against it on Friday. All other Brooklyn lineups have allowed more than 110 points per 100 possessions, and the defense has been at its worst (118 points allowed per 100) with DeAndre Jordan on the floor. A solid win (featuring a big second quarter) over Houston was sandwiched by losses to the shorthanded Pacers and Pistons in which the Nets forced just 17 total turnovers out of two not-so-great offensive teams. They're the only team in the bottom five in both turnover percentage and opponent turnover percentage, with their turnover discrepancy (6.0 per game) twice as big as that of any other team.
Week 3: vs. NOP, @ POR, @ PHX
Last Week: 16 ↓
Pace: 101.2 (23) OffRtg: 102.0 (24) DefRtg: 103.4 (12) NetRtg: -1.4 (18)
The Hawks have dropped three straight games and their two most important players each suffered ankle injuries in the span of three nights. But they will have had four straight days off before hosting the Spurs on Tuesday, Trae Young could be back this week, and John Collins returned to the game after a third-quarter ankle turn against Miami on Thursday. They've scored a paltry 92.4 points per 100 possessions with Young off the floor and Hawks not named Young or Collins have shot a brutal 21% from 3-point range. Cam Reddish, who started at point guard on Thursday, ranks last in effective field goal percentage (22.1%) among 181 players with at least 40 field goal attempts. The Hawks' visit to Portland on Sunday is the start of a five-game trip and a stretch where they're playing 18 of 27 on the road. So the conclusion of their four-game homestand seems pretty critical.
Week 3: vs. SAS, vs. CHI, vs. SAC, @ POR
Last Week: 28 ↑
Pace: 101.1 (24) OffRtg: 104.3 (20) DefRtg: 111.4 (26) NetRtg: -7.1 (26)
The trip through Northern California ain't what it used to be. The Hornets are good enough to take advantage of the way the Kings and Warriors are playing right now, though they trailed Sacramento by 14 points before coming back on Wednesday and needed a couple of key offensive boards to beat the "Who He Play For?" Warriors on Saturday. With Devonte' Graham continuing to play well (and with Nicolas Batum injured), he and Terry Rozier averaged almost 17 minutes per game on the floor together over the Hornets' four-game trip. The team scored 85 points on 76 possessions with two point guards on the floor in the two wins, though Saturday was the first game in which the duo registered a positive plus-minus, because the defense has not been good. These are not Steve Clifford's Hornets; They rank 29th in turnover percentage and 28th in defensive rebounding percentage.
Week 3: vs. IND, vs. BOS, vs. NOP, @ PHI
Last Week: 24 ↑
Pace: 107.0 (4) OffRtg: 109.3 (6) DefRtg: 113.7 (27) NetRtg: -4.3 (21)
If you haven't already, give the Wizards a boost in your watchability rankings (and make sure you have their opponent's top scorer in your daily fantasy lineup). A fast pace and highly efficient offenses on both ends of the floor have the Wiz (130) and their opponents (138) averaging 268 total points (with no overtimes) over their last three games. Both Bradley Beal and Isaiah Thomas rank in the top six in field goal attempts per 36 minutes, though the Wiz have allowed 114 points on 82 possessions with both of them on the floor. After averaging 18.0 points on 50% shooting (including a solid 9-for-19 from mid-range) through his first four games, Rui Hachimura has had his first rough outing (2-for-11, minus-28 in less than 23 minutes) against Minnesota on Saturday. But fellow rookie Admiral Schofield showed off some tools (catch-and-shoot, posting up) in shooting 5-for-5 after the game was out of hand.
Week 3: vs. DET, @ IND, vs. CLE
Last Week: 23 ↓
Pace: 105.6 (9) OffRtg: 110.4 (5) DefRtg: 113.8 (28) NetRtg: -3.4 (20)
Two weeks into a 6-8-week wait for Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have already lost three other starters - Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors and Brandon Ingram - to injury for at least half a game. Ingram was averaging 26.8 points on an effective field goal percentage of 59% - seeing a big jump in the percentage of his shots that have come from 3-point range and a big drop in the percentage that have come at the rim - before suffering a head injury in the first half in Oklahoma City on Saturday. After allowing the Warriors to get their only win by registering 30 second chance points (tied for most in a game this season) on Monday, the Pels got their only win (and their only decent defensive performance of the season) by holding the Nuggets (fourth in offensive rebounding percentage) to just five offensive boards and five second chance points on Thursday.
Week 3: @ BKN, vs. TOR, @ CHA
Last Week: 27 ↑
Pace: 101.4 (21) OffRtg: 103.4 (21) DefRtg: 109.5 (23) NetRtg: -6.1 (25)
The Cavs got their second win of the season with a 37-29 fourth quarter, featuring 10 points from Collin Sexton and four get-that-weak-stuff-outta-heres from Tristan Thompson, against Chicago on Wednesday. But they just couldn't finish over the weekend, allowing the Pacers and Mavs to total 75 fourth-quarter points (with 36 of the 75 coming in the paint) on Friday and Sunday. Overall, the Cavs are trending in the wrong direction defensively, having allowed more than 110 points per 100 possessions in three of their last four games, though not being last on that end of the floor remains an improvement from last season. The league's most intriguing assist race has Thompson and Kevin Love (41 combined assists) just two behind the Cavs' perimeter starters (43 total for Sexton, Darius Garland and Cedi Osman).
Week 3: vs. BOS, @ WAS, @ NYK
Last Week: 22 ↓
Pace: 101.9 (16) OffRtg: 103.1 (23) DefRtg: 108.1 (18) NetRtg: -5.0 (24)
The Bulls seemingly have the talent to rise above the morass at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. But in the first two weeks of the season, they have losses to Charlotte, New York and Cleveland, having allowed more than 117 points per 100 possessions over those three games. Zach LaVine saved them with a pair of late 3-pointers against Detroit on Friday, but they rank 30th in both the percentage of their opponents' shots that have come in the restricted area (41.3%) and defensive rebounding percentage (68.2%), with their hard-hedging scheme taking their big men away from the basket and allowing opposing bigs get position inside and crash the glass. Now they get to play the Lakers' huge frontline (and their league-best 75% shooting in the restricted area) on Tuesday.
Week 3: vs. LAL, @ ATL, vs. HOU
Last Week: 30 ↑
Pace: 99.9 (26) OffRtg: 101.4 (26) DefRtg: 110.0 (25) NetRtg: -8.6 (27)
Madison Square Garden is a great place to get your offensive groove back, and the Kings did that on Sunday with an easy win over the Knicks, the first game in which they've had more 3-pointers (15) than turnovers (13). Through seven games, they've yet to register as many fast break points as they averaged last season (20.9). But before they began their three-game trip, they got off the schneid by scoring 81 points on 74 possessions with Rudy Gobert on the floor (his worst on-court mark of the season) on Friday and getting the game-winning tip-in from Harrison Barnes. With 22 attempts over his last two games, De'Aaron Fox has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 0.500, a mark which ranks fifth among 134 players with at least 50 field goal attempts and is up from 0.378 last season.
Week 3: @ TOR, @ ATL
Last Week: 20 ↓
Pace: 103.1 (15) OffRtg: 105.8 (17) DefRtg: 117.3 (30) NetRtg: -11.5 (29)
The good news is that the young guys on the Warriors' roster have a huge opportunity to earn a rotation spot for when the stars are healthy next season. Five of the nine guys who played in their loss to Charlotte on Saturday are 22 years old or younger, and rookie Eric Paschall is off to a good start. He's shot 61% this season (showing a knack for getting to and finishing at the hoop) and he registered games of 20 and 25 points against Phoenix and Charlotte. The bad news is that, with Stephen Curry on the shelf for at least three months, there will be no examination of D'Angelo Russell's ability to coexist with the two-time MVP. This week's schedule would be pretty awesome if this team was healthy, but Draymond Green (torn ligament in his left index finger) is out and the status of Russell (ankle) is uncertain.
Week 3: vs. POR, @ HOU, @ MIN, @ OKC
Last Week: 25 ↓
Pace: 107.6 (3) OffRtg: 97.1 (29) DefRtg: 108.7 (21) NetRtg: -11.7 (30)
The First Half Grizzlies are 4-1, having allowed their opponents to score just 92.0 points per 100 possessions (the league's second best mark). The Second Half Grizzles are 0-5, having allowed their opponents to score 125.3 points per 100 possessions (the league's worst mark), and were on the wrong side of a 22-0 run by the Lakers on Tuesday and a 19-3 run by the Suns (featuring six Memphis turnovers in less than five minutes) on Saturday. The biggest difference between the two Grizzlies teams has been how well their opponents have shot from outside the paint (where they have an effective field goal percentage of 33% in first halves and 63% in the second halves), so (with early jump-shooting numbers being noisy) we can expect a forthcoming reduction in the overall defensive discrepancy, though maybe coach Taylor Jenkins needs to work on his halftime speeches. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been defending the rim a lot more (7.2 shots in 25.2 minutes per game) than he did last season (4.1 in 26.1), but left the loss to the Suns in the third quarter with a knee injury.
Week 3: vs. HOU, vs. MIN, @ ORL, vs. DAL
Last Week: 29 ↓
Pace: 99.9 (26) OffRtg: 99.6 (28) DefRtg: 108.9 (22) NetRtg: -9.3 (28)
With Bobby Portis torching his old team with 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting, the Knicks came back from 18 points down to get their first win of the season on Monday. But comebacks like that do not happen often and, with the league's worst first-quarter offense (less than 84 points scored per 100 possessions), the Knicks have trailed by double-digits in six of their seven games. With both Dennis Smith Jr. (personal) and Elfrid Payton (hamstring) out, Frank Ntilikina has started the last two games. Their best start offensively (18 points on their first 17 possessions with a couple of points left at the line) actually came with R.J. Barrett starting at point guard (in Orlando on Wednesday), though David Fizdale does not want to hear about the rookie's league-high 260 minutes played.
Week 3: @ DET, @ DAL, vs. CLE