Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 3: Raptors still tops, but Bucks and Warriors gain ground

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Oct 29, 2018 11:05 AM ET

The undefeated Bucks and Raptors will square off on Monday in Milwaukee.

When the schedule was released in early August, you probably didn't circle Toronto-Milwaukee on Oct. 29 as one your most anticipated games. But here we are, two weeks into the season with two undefeated teams remaining: the 6-0 Toronto Raptors and the 6-0 Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks have the better point differential and have played a slightly tougher schedule. The Raptors have better depth and a signature win over Boston in Week 1. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and two guys -- Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez -- in the top 10 in effective field goal percentage. The Raptors have Kawhi Leonard and the guy -- Kyle Lowry -- who has been the league's third most effective shooter (71 percent) through the first two weeks.

While several teams are struggling one one end of the floor or the other, both of these teams have started strong under new coaches. But only one will remain undefeated after Monday's game in Milwaukee (8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass).

Previously...

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Milwaukee (4-0) -- The Bucks certainly haven't had the toughest schedule through two weeks, but they did beat the Sixers pretty comfortably on Wednesday.
  • Something Just Ain't Right: Phoenix (0-4) -- Poor shooting from their imported veterans, another Devin Booker injury, and bad defense are ruining the Suns' plans on being competitive this season.

East vs. West

Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Sacramento (+8), Chicago (+6), Memphis (+5), Miami (+5)
  • Free falls of the week: Washington (-7), Houston (-6), New York (-6), Phoenix (-6)

Week 3 Team to Watch

  • Milwaukee -- If Anthony Davis were healthy (he's questionable for Monday's game in Denver), the Pelicans would reside in this space, with a five-game trip that also continues through Golden State, Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City (next Monday). The Bucks have just two feature games, but they're as good as it gets. After hosting the Raptors on Monday, they'll visit Boston for the first game of TNT's double-header on Thursday, finishing up the week with a Sunday matinee against the Kings.

* * *

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 102.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.8 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

Any stats marked with an * below are based on an estimate for possessions. All other stats are based on true possession counts.

* * *

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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1
Last week:
1

Record: 6-0
Pace: 100.8 (23) OffRtg: 115.7 (4) DefRtg: 105.5 (11) NetRtg: +10.2 (3)

The guy who came with Kawhi Leonard (who had 35 points on 15-for-23 shooting against Minnesota on Wednesday) from San Antonio has been pretty good, too. The 18 3-pointers than Danny Green has made this season are more than he made in any six-game stretch last season, and with the starting group so dominant --the Raptors have outscored their opponents by 27 points per 100 possessions in 90 minutes with Kyle Lowry, Green, Leonard and Pascal Siakam on the floor together -- it hasn't mattered that they have yet to have both Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet off the bench. But after playing five of their first six games at home, the Raptors will play nine of their next 13 on the road. That stretch includes four back-to-backs, with Leonard having rested the second game of their first one.

Week 3: @ MIL, vs. PHI, @ PHX, @ LAL

2
Last week:
4

Record: 6-1
Pace: 103.6 (8) OffRtg: 116.7 (1) DefRtg: 104.8 (9) NetRtg: +11.9 (2)

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are shooting a combined 41 percent from 3-point range ... with Curry having accounted for 46 of the pair's 51 makes from beyond the arc. In another universe, Thompson's 5-for-36 start to the season would be a big story. But Curry and Kevin Durant have more than picked up the slack as the Warriors have scored 124 points per 100 possessions over a four-game winning streak. There were certainly some ups and downs over their weekend in New York, but the offense remains flammable (they've scored at least 35 points in a quarter six times), the defense is much better than it was a year ago (they ranked 27th defensively after two weeks last season), and the champs are off to their best seven-game start since they won their first 24 games four seasons ago.

Week 3: @ CHI, vs. NOP, vs. MIN

3
Last week:
6

Record: 6-0
Pace: 105.8 (6) OffRtg: 112.8 (9) DefRtg: 97.8 (2) NetRtg: +15.0 (1)

The Bucks have led every game by at least 16 points, and they've led three of the six by at least 28, in part because they've been ridiculous in second quarters, outscoring their opponents by more than 37 points per 100 possessions, with Khris Middleton having made 10 of his 13 second-quarter 3-point attempts. Spacing four shooters around Giannis Antetokounmpo has resulted in the league's eighth biggest improvement in offensive efficiency from last season, but the other side of the floor is the bigger story. After allowing a league-high 38.9 points per game in the restricted area last season, the Bucks have allowed a league-low 27 per game in the restricted area this season. It's early, but it's hard not to get excited about Monday's game between two 6-0 teams in Milwaukee.

Week 3: vs. TOR, @ BOS, vs. SAC

4
Last week:
2

Record: 4-1
Pace: 103.1 (13) OffRtg: 109.7 (11) DefRtg: 101.0 (3) NetRtg: +8.7 (5)

The Nuggets' defense -- which ranked No. 1 after Week 1 -- suffered some slippage in Week 2 in allowing the Kings and Lakers to score 113 points per 100 possessions. Denver's first loss of the season came with L.A. scoring 34 points in the fourth quarter and 58 points in the restricted area on Thursday, the latter number a particular concern given the ability of Monday's opponent to score in the paint. On the other end of the floor, the Nuggets have gone from the top 10 in both 3-point percentage (seventh) and the percentage of their shots coming from 3-point range (ninth) last season to the bottom 10 in both (29th and 24th) this season. Gary Harris has seen a big drop in both, but has somewhat made up for by getting to the basket more.

Week 3: vs. NOP, @ CHI, @ CLE, vs. UTA

5
Last week:
3

Record: 4-1
Pace: 106.8 (4) OffRtg: 116.4 (2) DefRtg: 112.2 (21) NetRtg: +4.2 (12)

Anthony Davis' right elbow injury doesn't appear too serious. He remained in the game on Friday and sealed the Pelicans' wild win over Brooklyn with a deflection on the final possession. But the timing isn't great, with a stretch of six tough games within the Western Conference beginning with the Pelicans' AD-less loss to Utah on Saturday. Davis has shot just 11-for-36 (31 percent) from outside the restricted area, but has taken 51 percent of his shotsin the restricted area this season, up from 41 percent last season (and just 32 percent over the two seasons prior to that). The starting lineup remains a league-best plus-49 (in just 60 minutes), but the Pelicans have now been outscored by 24 points in 54 minutes with Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle on the floor together.

Week 3: @ DEN, @ GSW, @ POR, @ SAS

6
Last week:
5

Record: 4-2
Pace: 101.1 (21) OffRtg: 100.5 (28) DefRtg: 95.2 (1) NetRtg: +5.3 (9)

Raise your hand if you had Marcus Morris as the guy who would lead the Celtics out of their early-season offensive funk. After scoring 96 points per 100 possessions through their first 4 1/2 games, the Celtics have scored 114 per 100 over the last game and a half, with Morris shooting 7-for-11 from 3-point range and hitting the game-winner in Oklahoma City on Thursday. While the Boston starters have scored just 94 points per 100 possessions and are a minus-3 in their 49 minutes, all other Boston lineups have scored 102.0 and are a plus-34 in 239 minutes. Gordon Hayward did have his best game of the season in Detroit on Saturday, scoring 15 points in a variety of ways.

Week 3: vs. DET, vs. MIL, @ IND

7
Last week:
8

Record: 4-2
Pace: 102.8 (16) OffRtg: 109.2 (14) DefRtg: 103.4 (6) NetRtg: +5.8 (8)

The Jazz were without Derrick Favors (knee soreness) in the second game of their first back-to-back on Sunday in Dallas. But their lineup with Jae Crowder in Favors' place has played more minutes and has been much more successful than their regular starting group. Of course, Crowder turned his ankle in the final seconds on Sunday and it was the remaining reserves that made a difference (Grayson Allen was a plus-17 in less than 13 minutes) as the Jazz improved to 4-0 on the road. Though they were a decent 20-21 on the road last season, they started 3-17, not picking up road win No. 4 until Jan. 10. After shooting worse than 40 percent in his first three games, Donovan Mitchell has shot better than 50 percent in the last three, with Rudy Gobert adding 48 total points (on 20-for-26 shooting) in the weekend back-to-back.

Week 3: @ MIN, vs. MEM, @ DEN

8
Last week:
9

Record: 4-2
Pace: 97.6 (30) OffRtg: 114.5 (5) DefRtg: 105.3 (10) NetRtg: +9.2 (4)

The Pacers are comfortable bucking league trends by ranking last in pace and 28th in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range. They do lead the league in 3-point percentage, with Cory Joseph (7-for-11) and Bojan Bogdanovic (10-for-16) ranking first and second in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage (minimum 10 attempts) early on. Joseph's minutes have been much improved and, even with Tyreke Evans missing their win in Cleveland on Saturday (because he was late for practice), the Pacers rank second in *aggregate bench NetRtg (plus-15 points per 100 possessions). Domantas Sabonis is averaging a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) in just 22.2 minutes per game.

Week 3: vs. POR, @ NYK, @ CHI, vs. BOS

9
Last week:
10

Record: 4-2
Pace: 103.4 (10) OffRtg: 112.6 (10) DefRtg: 103.9 (7) NetRtg: +8.7 (6)

The Clippers have been happy to take advantage of a few teams -- Houston (twice), Oklahoma City and Washington -- that are struggling out of the gates, and the L.A. bench has been doing most of the taking advantage. Lou Williams has caught fire (he's 22-for-37 over the last three games), Montrezl Harrell scored a career-high 30 points in Houston on Friday, and the Clippers scored an amazing 118 points (shooting 66 percent) in the pair's 34 minutes on the floor over the weekend. This week's schedule and next Monday's game against the Wolves are more opportunities to get some early wins against teams that might eventually find their footing. Most important is that Milos Teodosic is back in our lives with his singular style of dropping dimes.

Week 3: @ OKC, @ PHI, @ ORL

10
Last week:
13

Record: 4-1
Pace: 99.7 (27) OffRtg: 108.6 (16) DefRtg: 110.0 (15) NetRtg: -1.4 (15)

The Pistons' perfect season came to an end when the Celtics' defense shut down Blake Griffin (seven points, 2-for-13 shooting) on Saturday. With Luke Kennard out with a shoulder sprain, the search for shooting beyond Griffin and Reggie Jackson continues. Reggie Bullock ranked second in the league in 3-point percentage last season, but is just 4-for-20 this year, and the bigs who could space the floor off the bench -- Henry Ellenson and Jon Leuer -- have barely played. On the other end of the floor, the Pistons have cut down on opponent 3-point attempts (something Dwane Casey did in Toronto last season), but have allowed a league-high 73 percent shooting in the restricted area, with Andre Drummond ranking near the bottom among high-volume rim protectors.

Week 3: @ BOS, @ BKN, @ PHI

11
Last week:
16

Record: 3-2
Pace: 102.0 (18) OffRtg: 109.2 (13) DefRtg: 103.1 (5) NetRtg: +6.1 (7)

The Heat got a little healthier last week, getting Justise Winslow back on Saturday. James Johnson could be back soon (he's out Monday against the Kings), but right now, there's no rush to make another change to the starting lineup. The most recent change (Kelly Olynyk at power forward instead of Derrick Jones Jr.) has sparked a two-game winning streak and the Heat have outscored their opponents by 22.5 points per 100 possessions (and killed them on the glass) with Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside on the floor together. Whiteside has shot just 44 percent and doesn't have a single assist in 149 minutes, but those minutes have been better for the Heat than they've been in the past.

Week 3: vs. SAC, @ CHA, @ ATL

12
Last week:
7

Record: 3-2
Pace: 103.1 (15) OffRtg: 116.1 (3) DefRtg: 111.6 (19) NetRtg: +4.5 (11)

Damian Lillard is off to a huge start offensively, averaging 33.8 points, shooting 92 percent on 10 free throw attempts per game, and registering an assist-turnover ratio of 3.3. But he couldn't finish (in more ways than one) against Washington on Monday (getting blocked at the end of both the fourth quarter and overtime) and didn't get enough help in Miami on Saturday, as a big Blazers come back fell short. Speaking of not being able to finish, C.J. McCollum has shot a brutal 4-for-25 (16 percent) in the restricted area. The Blazers begin a six-game homestand (their longest of the season) on Thursday, but the first five games are part of a stretch where they're playing nine in 15 days.

Week 3: @ IND, @ HOU, vs. NOP, vs. LAL, vs. MIN

13
Last week:
15

Record: 3-2
Pace: 98.3 (29) OffRtg: 113.1 (7) DefRtg: 118.6 (30) NetRtg: -5.5 (21)

Gregg Popovich has used three different starting lineups in the Spurs' last three games, and he may keep making changes until he finds a group that can get stops. Despite a 36-point first quarter from the Lakers on Saturday, the win was the Spurs' best defensive game of the season, with L.A. registering season lows in fast break points, points in the paint, and second-chance points, with as many turnovers (six) as buckets in the fourth quarter. The Spurs still rank 30th defensively, but continue to make things work on the other end of the floor, with the league's lowest turnover rate (10.5 per 100 possessions) by a healthy margin. DeMar DeRozan's assist-turnover ratio of 3.25 ranks third among the 38 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher.

Week 3: vs. DAL, @ PHX, vs. NOP, vs. ORL

14
Last week:
12

Record: 3-3
Pace: 103.2 (11) OffRtg: 107.0 (20) DefRtg: 109.2 (14) NetRtg: -2.2 (18)

The Sixers still haven't hit their stride on either end of the floor, but a critical development has been Joel Embiid turning the ball over just 6.9 times per 100 possessions, half the rate that he turned it over last season (13.8 per 100). While the focus in Philly may be on Markelle Fultz's offense, the Sixers' starting lineup has struggled more defensively (allowing 132 points per 100 possessions) than it has offensively (scoring 100). And according to Brett Brown, it was defense that kept Fultz off the floor down the stretch of their overtime loss (which Ben Simmons missed) in Detroit on Tuesday, when Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith had combined to shoot 9-for-10 with Fultz as the primary defender. A rare, five-game week includes two back-to-backs, with Tuesday's game in Toronto being the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Week 3: vs. ATL, @ TOR, vs. LAC, vs. DET, @ BKN

15
Last week:
17

Record: 2-4
Pace: 106.4 (5) OffRtg: 112.9 (8) DefRtg: 112.8 (22) NetRtg: +0.1 (14)

Practice your free throws, kids. LeBron James almost averaged a triple-double last week, but his two misses at the line at the end of overtime against the Spurs on Monday set up Patty Mills' game-winner in what could end up being an important game in the West standings. As the Lakers continue to figure things out, Lance Stephenson continues to give them productive minutes off the bench (he led a James-less, 12-5 run to tie Thursday's game against the Nuggets before making a brilliant pass to James for the lead) and Josh Hart looks more and more like a permanent starter at two guard (and the best fit next to James). Brandon Ingram returns Monday to reclaim his spot at the three.

Week 3: @ MIN, vs. DAL, @ POR, vs. TOR

16
Last week:
14

Record: 3-4
Pace: 100.8 (22) OffRtg: 113.3 (6) DefRtg: 108.1 (13) NetRtg: +5.3 (10)

New coach, same story. The Hornets have a positive point differential (plus-5.1 points per game, sixth in the East) and a losing record, as was the case at the end of each of the last two seasons. They got an easy win over the Bulls on Friday behind big games from Kemba Walker and Tony Parker, but are 1-3 in games that have been within five points in the last five minutes, having shot 7-for-33 (21 percent) in the clutch, with a costly turnover at the end of their loss in Chicago on Wednesday and an 0-for-4 finish from 3-point range in Philly on Saturday. They've played just two home games thus far, but 17 of their next 25 will be at the Spectrum Center, starting with a rest-advantage game against the Heat on Tuesday.

Week 3: vs. MIA, vs. OKC, vs. CLE

17
Last week:
11

Record: 1-4
Pace: 103.2 (12) OffRtg: 107.0 (19) DefRtg: 114.7 (27) NetRtg: -7.7 (26)

Not that a healthy James Ennis is the answer to the Rockets' problems, but Ennis' hamstring injury has exposed how thin (in the context of Houston as a title contender) this roster is at the forward positions. Michael Carter-Williams' tenure as a replacement starter lasted just a game and a half before Carmelo Anthony took over. With the Rockets having been outscored by 24 points per 100 possessions in 48 minutes with Anthony and Carter-Williams on the floor together, it's probably not a coincidence that they've reportedly made another offer for Jimmy Butler. After their second loss to the Clippers (one without Chris Paul, one without James Harden), the Rockets have already trailed by 20 or more points for more time this season (21 minutes and 41 seconds) than they did all of last season (a league-low 12 minutes and 51 seconds).

Week 3: vs. POR, @ BKN, @ CHI

18
Last week:
18

Record: 2-4
Pace: 103.5 (9) OffRtg: 108.7 (15) DefRtg: 113.4 (23) NetRtg: -4.7 (20)

The team that has ranked 29th or 30th in 3-point attempts in each of the last four seasons has been shooting more 3-pointers the last few games, launching a franchise-record 43 against Milwaukee on Friday. But, even though they were 15-for-30 from beyond the arc in Toronto on Wednesday, the Wolves scored just 97 points per 100 possessions last week, with a drop in free throw rate and guards Derrick Rose, Josh Okogie, Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones combining to shoot just 32 percent. In six games, Karl-Anthony Towns has just eight baskets in the restricted area. So be it.

Week 3: vs. LAL, vs. UTA, @ GSW, @ POR

19
Last week:
27

Record: 3-3
Pace: 107.3 (3) OffRtg: 109.5 (12) DefRtg: 111.8 (20) NetRtg: -2.2 (19)

Playing fast is working thus far for the Kings. They have won three of their last four games and have seen the league's fourth biggest jump in offensive efficiency (6.5 points per 100 possessions) from last season, with big increases in both how well and how often they've shot in the paint. De'Aaron Fox is obviously the guy pushing the pace, but Marvin Bagley has shot 66 percent in the paint and the Kings have scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions with their starting frontline of Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica on the floor. The Kings dug too big of a hole in Denver on Tuesday, but allowed just 86 points per 100 possessions in the fourth quarter in their three games last week, critical in comebacks against the Grizzlies and Wizards.

Week 3: @ MIA, @ ORL, @ ATL, @ MIL

20
Last week:
25

Record: 3-2
Pace: 99.3 (28) OffRtg: 103.6 (25) DefRtg: 101.8 (4) NetRtg: +1.8 (13)

Offense has been a struggle. Both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol have both shot less than 40 percent, Kyle Anderson hasn't provided much on that end of the floor, only the Spurs have taken a lower percentage of their shots from the restricted area and the Grizzlies' performance in Sacramento on Wednesday was brutal. But they've held three straight opponents under a point per possession, lead the league in opponent turnover rate (even though Tony Allen is long gone), and have allowed just 93.4 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the floor.

Week 3: vs. WAS, @ UTA, @ PHX

21
Last week:
21

Record: 2-4
Pace: 99.9 (26) OffRtg: 108.5 (17) DefRtg: 110.5 (17) NetRtg: -2.0 (16)

Last season, only the Mavs had more losses in games that were within five points in the last five minutes than the Nets (19-31), who are off to another rough start (1-3) in that regard, having suffered the most brutal of meltdowns in New Orleans on Friday. Jared Dudley and D'Angelo Russell submitted early entries for Dumbest Foul of the Season and Most Careless Turnover of the Season, respectively, as Brooklyn blew a five-point lead with the ball and less than a minute to go. The Nets' only wins are against the Knicks and Cavs, but three of their losses are to the Pistons, Pelicans and Warriors by a combined 11 points. They've taken a step forward offensively and, having played three of their last four games against top-five offenses, their defense could be better than it looks on the surface. Jarrett Allen ranks as the league's best rim protector, with opponents having shot less than 40 percent at the basket when he's been there.

Week 3: @ NYK, vs. DET, vs. HOU, vs. PHI

22
Last week:
20

Record: 1-4
Pace: 105.0 (7) OffRtg: 99.6 (30) DefRtg: 106.5 (12) NetRtg: -6.9 (23)

Nerlens Noel getting the start against the Suns on Sunday was a surprise (Steven Adams was a late scratch with calf tightness). Noel being the star (20 points on 9-for-14 shooting, 15 rebounds, four steals and a block) in the Thunder's first win and best offensive game of the season was an even bigger surprise. After starting the season 1-for-11 from beyond the arc (with two quick-trigger misses at the end of the Thunder's loss to Boston on Thursday), Russell Westbrook may be doing that thing where he stops shooting so many 3-pointers (like last season after a 1-for-12 performance in Memphis). Ten of his 13 shots on Sunday came within eight feet of the basket and he didn't take a single shot from 3-point range.

Week 3: vs. LAC, @ CHA, @ WAS

23
Last week:
29

Record: 2-4
Pace: 101.3 (20) OffRtg: 106.6 (21) DefRtg: 113.5 (24) NetRtg: -6.9 (24)

MCL sprains have starters Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis out 4-6 weeks, with Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine already on the shelf. But the Bulls managed to win a couple of games last week, with Zach LaVine coming up clutch against Charlotte on Wednesday and whatever's left of the bench giving them good minutes in Atlanta on Saturday. Ryan Arcidiacono, now the back-up to Cameron Payne at the point, has 28 assists and just five turnovers, along with as many 3-pointers (nine) as he had all of last season. The opponents are tough, but the four games they play this week are the Bulls' longest homestand of the season.

Week 3: vs. GSW, vs. DEN, vs. IND, vs. HOU

24
Last week:
26

Record: 2-4
Pace: 100.6 (24) OffRtg: 100.2 (29) DefRtg: 110.8 (18) NetRtg: -10.6 (28)

The Magic got a good win in Boston on Monday (before the Celtics started to figure things out offensively), but have remained wildly inconsistent on both ends of the floor. Nikola Vucevic has dished out five assists in the three games since he had 12 in Philadelphia and we're back to the reality that, with a center that spends most of his time far away from the basket and nobody in the top 40 in drives per game, the Magic are 25th in the percentage of their shots that have come from the restricted area and 30th in free throw rate. Some bad defenses on the upcoming schedule could help out in that regard.

Week 3: vs. SAC, vs. LAC, @ SAS

25
Last week:
28

Record: 2-3
Pace: 108.6 (1) OffRtg: 102.2 (27) DefRtg: 104.4 (8) NetRtg: -2.2 (17)

Trae Young has shot just 6-for-24 (Kobe!) since his 35-point game in Cleveland, but he finished strong as the Hawks beat Luka Doncic and the Mavs on Wednesday and was 17-for-22 from the line in his two games last week. DeAndre Bembry isn't the offensive point guard that Young is, but his energy helped the Hawks climb back from a 26-point deficit against Dallas and has continued to play good minutes behind Young. The Hawks have allowed just 95 points per 100 possessions with Bembry, who ranks third in deflections per 36 minutes (minimum 100 minutes played), on the floor.

Week 3: @ PHI, @ CLE, vs. SAC, vs. MIA

26
Last week:
19

Record: 1-5
Pace: 107.4 (2) OffRtg: 104.9 (23) DefRtg: 114.5 (26) NetRtg: -9.6 (27)

Power Rankings: No. 26. Dysfunction Rankings: No. 2 (no topping the Wolves, unfortunately), and Dwight Howard hasn't even played yet. The Wizards' Week 2 actually began with a win in Portland, but things went downhill from there, with Stephen Curry dropping 51 on 'em on Wednesday, three turnovers (with chances to tie or take the lead) in the final 30 seconds (followed by some locker-room finger-pointing) in Sacramento on Friday, and an atrocious performance in L.A. on Sunday. They continue to get crushed on the glass (they've been outrebounded by at least 11 boards in all six games), but their defensive issues go beyond that, and with a bottom-five assist rate (they ranked third last season), they're not on the same page offensively either.

Week 3: @ MEM, vs. OKC, vs. NYK

27
Last week:
24

Record: 2-4
Pace: 103.1 (14) OffRtg: 108.4 (18) DefRtg: 114.1 (25) NetRtg: -5.6 (22)

The Mavs are still waiting on Dirk Nowitzki, but Sunday brought the debut of their projected starting lineup, with Harrison Barnes playing his second game and Dennis Smith Jr. back from a one-game absence. And Rick Carlisle gave the lineup a ton of time together (almost 34 minutes), even after an ugly start (the Mavs fell into an 18-8 hole before their first sub) in a loss to Utah. Luka Doncic still has as many turnovers (24) as assists and faded after a hot start (12 points in the first seven minutes) in Atlanta on Wednesday, but the Mavs have been 14.1 points per 100 possessions better offensively with him on the floor (scoring 110.5) than they've been with him on the bench (96.4).

Week 3: @ SAS, @ LAL, vs. NYK

28
Last week:
22

Record: 1-5
Pace: 102.4 (17) OffRtg: 102.9 (26) DefRtg: 110.4 (16) NetRtg: -7.5 (25)

The Knicks had a fourth-quarter lead in Milwaukee on Monday (before Khris Middleton repeatedly picked on Enes Kanter in pick-and-rolls) and a fourth-quarter lead against the Warriors on Friday (before Kevin Durant went nuclear). They've been competitive against good teams and Frank Ntilikina had a break-out performance against the champs, tying a career high with 17 points, looking comfortable pulling up from deep when the Warriors gave him space, and continuing to be one of the best young defensive guards in the league. David Fizdale shook up the starting lineup on Friday (starting 20-year-olds at point guard and center), saying he has "a lot of freedom to look at a lot of different stuff" and that he wants to see what role (on or off the ball) fits Ntilikina best.

Week 3: vs. BKN, vs. IND, @ DAL, @ WAS

29
Last week:
23

Record: 1-5
Pace: 102.0 (18) OffRtg: 103.8 (24) DefRtg: 115.3 (28) NetRtg: -11.6 (29)

Devin Booker is out with a hamstring injury and the veteran shooters the Suns brought in this summer -- Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza -- are a combined 16-for-57 (28 percent) from 3-point range. So the rookies will lead them. Deandre Ayton is top three among rookies in points, rebounds and assists per game, and has shot a league-best 89 percent in the restricted area. Mikal Bridges is a team-best plus-24 on the season, and Elie Okobo dished out seven assists in Oklahoma City on Sunday, with a fourth-quarter feed to a rolling Ayton being the best of the bunch. Alas, the Suns have been outscored by almost 18 points per 100 possessions as they've lost five straight games.

Week 3: vs. SAS, vs. TOR, vs. MEM

30
Last week:
30

Record: 0-6
Pace: 100.1 (25) OffRtg: 105.7 (22) DefRtg: 118.3 (29) NetRtg: -12.6 (30)

Tyronn Lue certainly bears some responsibility for the Cavs being one of the league's worst defensive teams over the last two-plus seasons. But he also bears some of the responsibility for the franchise's only championship, and the timing of his dismissal doesn't make a lot of sense given the state of the current roster, with Kevin Love having missed the last two games (and possibly out much longer). Kyle Korver could be a useful vet somewhere else and, with 3-point shooting continuing to be an issue for this team, started to get some playing time last week. He had 21 points in 22 minutes in Detroit on Thursday.

Week 3: vs. ATL, vs. DEN, @ CHA

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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