Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 2: Sixers on top after week full of surprises

Timberwolves, Suns and Hawks are among the teams on the rise

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Oct 28, 2019 12:12 PM ET

The Sixers have looked strong during their 2-0 start to the season.

Wait ... are the Warriors really this bad and the Suns really this good?

The first week of the 2019-20 season certainly didn't contradict the notion that there were more unknowns than usual across the league. And while Phoenix (with their win over the Clippers on Saturday) is the best story so far, it's hard not to focus on the teams that are off to alarming starts: Golden State, Indiana and Sacramento.

Of course, Week 2 provides the first opportunity for those teams to get things moving in the right direction. And maybe it will provide more clarity in regard to who's the best team in the league. With the Bucks and Clippers both losing on Saturday, with the 2-0 Nuggets needing overtime to beat the Suns at home on Friday, and with the 2-0 Sixers needing a second-half comeback to Blake-Griffin-less Pistons, none of the early favorites are off to a dominant start.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Minnesota (3-0) -- The Wolves' 3-0 start has come exclusively against the Eastern Conference, but includes two wins on the road, where they were 11-30 (5-10 against the East) last season.
  • Something Just Ain't Right: Sacramento (0-3) -- The Luke Walton era is off to a rough start, with the Kings uncompetitive in all three of their games and ranking dead last offensively.

East vs. West

Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Minnesota (+17), Phoenix (+13), Atlanta (+8)
  • Free falls of the week: Golden State (-11), Sacramento (-11), Indiana (-10)

Week 2 Team to Watch

  • Utah -- The new-look Jazz face the Clippers twice (Wednesday and Sunday) this week, and suddenly, their game in Phoenix on Monday (featuring a Devin Booker-Donovan Mitchell matchup) looks pretty interesting, too.

Previously...

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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 104.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.4 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

* * *

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:
4

Record: 2-0
Pace: 106.0 (7) OffRtg: 105.2 (15) DefRtg: 96.7 (5) NetRtg: +8.5 (5)

The Sixers' defense looked pretty incredible in their Foulapalooza win over Boston on Wednesday and allowed the Celtics to score just 37 points on 51 possessions with Joel Embiid on the floor. It's not good that six of Embiid's 13 frontcourt shots came from outside the paint or that he has already missed a game (their win in Detroit on Saturday) with an injury (sprained right ankle). But this team has both room for error and plenty of weapons beyond the Process. Ben Simmons hasn't made a shot outside of eight feet, but still got downhill plenty enough to score 24 points against Boston (a team that had flummoxed him over the last couple of seasons) and Tobias Harris had one of his biggest offensive games as a Sixer (29 points on 10-for-15 shooting) in Detroit. There was even a Shake Milton sighting (with a big, fourth-quarter 3-pointer) as coach Brett Brown went a little deeper on his bench on Saturday.

Week 2: @ ATL, vs. MIN, @ POR

2
Last week:
3

Record: 2-0
Pace: 99.6 (27) OffRtg: 102.4 (21) DefRtg: 99.5 (7) NetRtg: +2.9 (15)

The Nuggets are one of two teams (Minnesota is the other) with two wins after trailing by double-digits and also the first team in 19 years to beat the Blazers in their home opener (a great sign for a franchise that has had a winning road record just three times in the last 40 years). Nikola Jokic's teammates held the fort when he picked up three fouls in the first four minutes of the season, but he was still the star last week, hitting two huge 3-pointers down the stretch on Wednesday and then registered a triple-double in their overtime win over Phoenix on Friday. The Denver depth has Michael Porter Jr. and Juancho Hernangomez on the outside of coach Michael Malone's 10-man rotation, and the bench shot 6-for-9 from 3-point range in Portland, but the Nuggets were still outscored by 13 points in Jokic's 37 minutes off the floor over the two games.

Week 2: @ SAC, vs. DAL, @ NOP, @ ORL

3
Last week:
2

Record: 2-1
Pace: 102.8 (22) OffRtg: 122.1 (1) DefRtg: 114.2 (26) NetRtg: +8.0 (6)

The Clippers weren't going 82-0, but after wins over the Lakers and Warriors, a loss in Phoenix was ... unexpected. The offense has been nearly unstoppable; Not only has Kawhi Leonard shot 51% (including 21-for-37 on non-restricted-area 2-point shots), but he's already had more games of nine or more assists (two) this season than he had in the prior eight seasons (579 games, including playoffs) of his career. Thoughts of the Clippers being the best defensive team in the league (they got more than half the GM's votes in that regard) might have to wait until Paul George returns. They allowed the Suns to score 75 points on 56 possessions in the second half on Saturday. The league's No. 1 offense faces the league's No. 1 defense two times this week, and neither game (Wednesday or Saturday) will be a rest advantage for either team.

Week 2: vs. CHA, @ UTA, vs. SAS, vs. UTA

4
Last week:
1

Record: 1-1
Pace: 110.0 (1) OffRtg: 104.7 (16) DefRtg: 104.8 (15) NetRtg: -0.0 (20)

The Bucks have taken a league-high 52% of their shots from 3-point range, and as they blew a 21-point, second-half lead to Miami on Saturday (they were 33-1 when leading by 20 or more last season), they shot 3-for-24 from beyond the arc over the final 29 minutes of the overtime loss. Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging a triple-double (29.5 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists), but has already fouled out as many times (two) as he did all of last season. His teammates finished off the win in Houston on Thursday without him, but scored on just one of their final seven possessions after he sat down in overtime against the Heat. The Bucks' Eastern Conference finals rematch against the Raptors on Saturday is the second game of their first back-to-back (with Toronto having Friday off) and one of only two home games in an 11-game stretch that begins Wednesday in Boston.

Week 2: vs. CLE, @ BOS, @ ORL, vs. TOR

5
Last week:
22

Record: 3-0
Pace: 105.5 (9) OffRtg: 111.0 (4) DefRtg: 102.1 (13) NetRtg: +8.8 (4)

Through three games, Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging career highs in points (32.0), rebounds (13.3), assists (5.0), steals (3.0) and blocks (2.0) per game. Oh, he also ranks as the league's best rim protector, with opponents having shot just 10-for-29 (34%) at the rim when he's been there to defend it. There's some fortune, like the opponents shooting a league-low 57% from the free throw line, and Andrew Wiggins picking just the right time to make his first four 3-pointers of the season (after an 0-for-13 start), in the Wolves' 3-0 start, but also some misfortune. They rank 28th in opponent 3-point percentage (42.4%) even though only 34% (the league's lowest rate) of their opponents' 3-point attempts have been wide open, according to Second Spectrum tracking. They play three more games against the Eastern Conference before they play their first against the West, but two of the three are against the Sixers and Bucks.

Week 2: @ PHI, @ WAS

6
Last week:
5

Record: 2-1
Pace: 98.0 (30) OffRtg: 107.5 (12) DefRtg: 102.0 (12) NetRtg: +5.4 (8)

The Lakers have still been better with Anthony Davis at the four (plus-13.6 points per 100 possessions in 67 minutes with either JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard on the floor) than they've been with him at the five (minus-7.9 in 35 minutes with neither of the centers on the floor). And Howard had a huge game against one of his (many) old teams on Sunday, putting up 16, 10 and four blocks (in less than 23 minutes) as the Lakers outscored the Hornets, 74-44, in the paint. But two nights earlier, L.A. had Davis at the five to start the second half and took control of the game by scoring 19 points on a stretch of 10 possessions against the league's No. 1 defense, with LeBron James scoring six of those points in the paint with Rudy Gobert attached to Davis outside the paint. There's nothing wrong with being able to play big or small, and Kyle Kuzma's eventual return will give the smaller lineups a little more size and off-the-dribble punch.

Week 2: vs. MEM, @ DAL, @ SAS

7
Last week:
7

Record: 2-1
Pace: 98.2 (29) OffRtg: 101.7 (22) DefRtg: 91.9 (1) NetRtg: +9.8 (2)

After ranking last in defensive efficiency in the preseason, the Jazz are back to No. 1 on defense for the games that count, with their opponents having taken only 56% of their shots (the league's lowest opponent rate by a healthy margin) from the restricted area or 3-point range. Donovan Mitchell has been efficient at high volume (his true shooting percentage of 68.1% ranks third among 38 players with at least 40 field goal attempts), but Mike Conley's struggles (4-for-27) over the first two games kept things equally ugly on the Jazz's end of the floor until they had the fortune of playing the Kings on Saturday. They'll get to play Sacramento again this week, but three of Utah's next four games are against teams -- the Suns (!) and Clippers -- in the top three in offensive efficiency through Week 1.

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

8
Last week:
6

Record: 1-1
Pace: 110.0 (2) OffRtg: 107.7 (10) DefRtg: 109.1 (21) NetRtg: -1.4 (21)

James Harden (10-for-42 from the field) and Eric Gordon (9-for-32) are both off to a frigid start, and things were particularly brutal (the pair shot 1-for-17) in the second half on Thursday, when the Rockets blew a 16-point lead to Milwaukee. Russell Westbrook has been more efficient, made some history, and hit a pair of clutch free throws to seal the Rockets' win over New Orleans on Saturday, though he's just 4-for-18 from outside the paint and the minutes with Westbrook on the floor without Harden have not been good thus far. Chris Paul makes his return to Houston on Monday, a rest-advantage game for the Rockets, though the Thunder shouldn't be too fatigued after waxing the Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

Week 2: vs. OKC, @ WAS, @ BKN, @ MIA

9
Last week:
10

Record: 2-1
Pace: 105.0 (13) OffRtg: 109.6 (8) DefRtg: 106.9 (18) NetRtg: +2.6 (16)

Over three games, the Blazers have been outscored by 57 points from 3-point range; They're the only team in the bottom five in both 3-pointers made and (most) 3-pointers allowed per game, and the Nuggets shot 18-for-32 from beyond the arc in their win in Portland on Wednesday. (After winning the first 33 games they led after the third quarter last season, the Blazers lost the first game they led after the third quarter this season.) But having allowed a league-low 23.3 points per game in the restricted area, their points in the paint differential (plus-18.0 per game) is the best in the league. They've picked up two road wins within the Western Conference (with two more games to go on their four-game trip), Hassan Whiteside leads the league in rebounding percentage, and Terry Stotts is the best call-challenging coach in NBA history.

Week 2: @ SAS, @ OKC, vs. PHI

10
Last week:
11

Record: 2-1
Pace: 103.0 (19) OffRtg: 104.2 (18) DefRtg: 100.0 (8) NetRtg: +4.2 (11)

In an early-season Celtics-Raptors game last year, Kyle Lowry drew a critical charge on Jayson Tatum when Tatum failed to kick the ball out to the shooter that Lowry left open. On Friday, the Celtics beat the Raptors when Tatum picked up two straight late-game assists on 3-pointers off of paint attacks. Same opponent. Different decisions. Signs of development for the third-year forward (/center?). With Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis both dealing with injuries, we've seen a super-small, five-best-guys-on-the-floor lineup (Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Tatum) for five total minutes in two of the Celtics' three games. A visit from the Bucks on Wednesday will be a good test of the Celtics' rim protection without Al Horford and Aron Baynes.

Week 2: vs. MIL, vs. NYK

11
Last week:
8

Record: 2-1
Pace: 104.4 (15) OffRtg: 105.8 (14) DefRtg: 98.5 (6) NetRtg: +7.4 (7)

Though the champs blew out the Bulls on Saturday, 33-year-old Kyle Lowry ranks second in the league at 39.7 minutes per game. Part of that is the need for overtime (after iso-Norm didn't work at the end of regulation) against New Orleans on Tuesday, and part of it is coach Nick Nurse's start-of-the-season lack of trust in anybody beyond his top seven guys. He incrementally expanded his rotation over the weekend and was rewarded by 25-year-old rookie Matt Thomas (2-for-3 from 3-point range, plus-18 in 20 minutes) on Saturday. The starting group held its own (plus-4 in 22 minutes) against the Celtics (who started Jaylen Brown at the two) on Friday, but starting all three of his playmakers -- Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet -- together makes it a little tougher for Nurse to manage the second-unit rotation.

Week 2: vs. ORL, vs. DET, @ MIL

12
Last week:
12

Record: 2-0
Pace: 104.5 (14) OffRtg: 116.7 (2) DefRtg: 111.5 (24) NetRtg: +5.3 (9)

Marcus Morris and Davis Bertans (who didn't miss a shot on Saturday) combined to score 49 points at the AT&T Center last week. Neither was playing for the Spurs, but the home team won both games anyway, shooting 26-for-44 (59%) in the two fourth quarters. The Dejounte Murray comeback is underway; The point guard has totaled 37 points on 15-for-25 shooting through the first two games, with 14 of his 15 buckets coming in the restricted area, where DeMar DeRozan also got his game-winner on Saturday. If you're not going to shoot 3-pointers -- the Spurs are again 30th in the percentage of their shots coming from 3-point range -- it helps to get to the bucket. The schedule gets much tougher this week, though the Spurs will have a rest advantage against both the Blazers (Monday) and Clippers (Thursday), with each of those teams having played the night before.

Week 2: vs. POR, @ LAC, @ GSW, vs. LAL

13
Last week:
14

Record: 2-1
Pace: 109.5 (3) OffRtg: 105.9 (13) DefRtg: 100.9 (9) NetRtg: +5.0 (10)

The Heat can't be upset with a 2-1 start, considering that Jimmy Butler missed all of Week 1 to be with his new daughter. They were the first team to win a game after trailing by 20 or more points this season (having lost the previous 52 games they trailed by 20-plus), and they did it in Milwaukee, with nine guys scoring at least five points after halftime. But they had a real opportunity to go 3-0, leading by seven in the fourth quarter (and by three with less than five minutes to go) in Minnesota on Sunday before the Andrew Wiggins takeover. With Kendrick Nunn averaging a team-best 22.3 points on 52% shooting, Tyler Herro's run as the trendy Kia Rookie of the Year pick was short-lived. Alas, Butler's return may take away curtail some of Nunn's shine.

Week 2: vs. ATL, @ ATL, vs. HOU

14
Last week:
27

Record: 2-1
Pace: 103.6 (18) OffRtg: 112.1 (3) DefRtg: 101.2 (11) NetRtg: +10.9 (1)

Break up the Suns! The first team to beat the Kawhi-Leonard-led Clippers is the team that finished last (by a wide margin) in the West last season and was missing two starters -- the suspended DeAndre Ayton and an injured Ricky Rubio -- on Saturday. The Suns are playing above last season's level on both ends of the floor (and this team leading the league in assist percentage is pretty stunning), but what they've done on defense is more noteworthy for a few reasons:

  • Only once last season did they allow as few as 101.2 points per 100 possessions over a three-game stretch.
  • They've ranked in the bottom three defensively in each of the last three seasons.
  • Monty Williams' last three teams in New Orleans all ranked in the bottom 10 defensively.

Talent matters more than anything and three games are just three games, but it's evident that some of the Suns' offseason acquisitions -- Aron Baynes, Jevon Carter and Dario Saric -- added an amount of toughness that this team hasn't had in a long time.

Week 2: vs. UTA, @ GSW, @ MEM

15
Last week:
18

Record: 2-1
Pace: 105.2 (12) OffRtg: 110.8 (5) DefRtg: 107.0 (19) NetRtg: +3.8 (13)

It's the season of big twos, and after six days, the Mavs are the only team with two players -- Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis -- with a usage rate of at least 30% (in at least two games). Coach Rick Carlisle had at least one of the two on the floor for all but 1:33 of the Mavs' loss to Portland on Sunday (after playing more minutes with both on the bench in their wins over Washington and New Orleans). With the 10 guys who have played all having attempted at least three 3-pointers (and with Doncic and Porzingis both in the top 15 in total attempts), the Mavs rank third in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range. But 14 of their 22 shots in the fourth quarter on Sunday came from beyond the arc, and they made just one of those 14 3-pointers. The Mavs have lost six straight (and 11 of their last 13) games in Denver, but will have a rest advantage on Tuesday (with the Nuggets in Sacramento the night before).

Week 2: @ DEN, vs. LAL, @ CLE

16
Last week:
24

Record: 2-0
Pace: 99.3 (28) OffRtg: 110.0 (7) DefRtg: 101.0 (10) NetRtg: +9.0 (3)

To go from the Lottery to the postseason, you have to pass at least one playoff team from the season before. And the Hawks got their season started right with wins over the Pistons and Magic. Trae Young, the league's leading scorer, is 11-for-20 from 3-point range (including 3-for-4 from 30 feet and beyond) and sealed the win over Orlando with a step-back off the glass on Saturday. But the Hawks have outscored their opponents, 120-86, in the paint, with Young, John Collins and Jabari Parker all totaling at least 20 point points over the two games. The win in Detroit (98 possessions for the Hawks, 96 for the Pistons) would have been Atlanta's slowest paced game last season.

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

17
Last week:
15

Record: 1-1
Pace: 101.8 (24) OffRtg: 95.1 (29) DefRtg: 92.2 (2) NetRtg: +2.9 (14)

The Magic's new bench -- featuring Al-Farouq Aminu, Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba -- has been pretty good, even though Terrence Ross has shot just 5-for-21. They took control against Cleveland on Wednesday with a 16-0, second-quarter run that featured some hybrid lineups (with Aminu on the floor the whole time) and some great defensive rotations. Fultz didn't hesitate much when Atlanta (coached by a guy who knows Fultz from a season in Philadelphia) was basically begging him to shoot on Saturday, he already has twice as many buckets from outside the paint (where he's 5-for-15) as he did in the preseason (2-for-22), and he's made some plays off the dribble. But the Magic's returning starting lineup is off to a slow start, having been outscored by 18 points in its 18 minutes against the Cavs and Hawks and having scored just 32 points on 41 total possessions against teams that ranked 28th and 30th defensively last season. They will face some much tougher defenses this week.

> Smith: Fultz slowly regaining confidence with Magic

Week 2: @ TOR, vs. NYK, vs. MIL, vs. DEN

18
Last week:
13

Record: 1-2
Pace: 107.5 (5) OffRtg: 108.1 (9) DefRtg: 106.9 (17) NetRtg: +1.2 (17)

Kyrie Irving (37.7 points per game, including a 50-spot in the opener) has been putting on a show, and the Nets, who have had a below-average offense in each of the last six seasons, rank in the top 10 on that end of the floor after Week 1. But they've seen the league's biggest reduction in ball movement, from 346 passes per 24 minutes of possessions (12th in the league) last season to 290 (29th) this season, according to Second Spectrum tracking. An offense can succeed without the ball moving all that much (see Rockets, Houston), the Nets have had more issues on the other end of the floor (where they rank 29th in opponent 3-point percentage), and if they just hadn't missed a few important free throws, they could be 3-0. But it will be interesting to see if the ball continues to stick as much as it has so far (their 303 passes per 24 in Memphis on Sunday was the highest mark in their three games) and if that affects the full-roster buy-in that has been so important over the last few seasons.

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

19
Last week:
20

Record: 1-2
Pace: 103.0 (19) OffRtg: 97.4 (27) DefRtg: 93.2 (3) NetRtg: +4.2 (12)

The Thunder are one of two teams (the Jazz are the other) that has held its opponent under a point per possession in each of its games thus far. They rank second in opponent 3-point percentage (22.4%), though 56% of their opponents' 3-point attempts (the league's fifth highest opponent rate) have been wide open (according to Second Spectrum) and the opponents have shot just 20% (the league's second lowest opponent rate) on those wide-open 3-pointers. The Thunder offense, meanwhile, was pretty rough as they lost to the Jazz and Wizards on Wednesday and Friday and scored an unbelievably paltry 50 points on 84 total possessions with Danilo Gallinari off the floor. Then they got to play the Warriors on Sunday and scored 35 points in each of the first three quarters. Gallinari has shot 53%, even though only eight of his 34 shots have come in the paint.

Week 2: @ HOU, vs. POR, vs. NOP

20
Last week:
9

Record: 0-2
Pace: 105.5 (10) OffRtg: 100.9 (24) DefRtg: 124.3 (30) NetRtg: -23.3 (30)

Oh my. Not only did the Warriors lose their first two games by a total of 47 points and not only do they rank last in both points allowed and point differential per 100 possessions, but they've yet to hold a lead this season, having fallen into a 14-0 hole against the Clippers on Thursday and an 8-0 hole in Oklahoma City on Sunday. Their depth is obviously a problem and Kevon Looney's hamstring issue (he was only able to play the first half of the first game) is obviously a concern, but the Warriors have been outscored by 45 points in 28 minutes with Stephen Curry, D'Angelo Russell and Draymond Green all on the floor, so their struggles are not just about the other eight healthy guys who have played. And though the shooting numbers aren't pretty, they've allowed their opponents to score 94 points on just 63 possessions (just shy of 1.5 per) in those 28 minutes.

Week 2: @ NOP, vs. PHX, vs. SAS, vs. CHA

21
Last week:
21

Record: 1-2
Pace: 103.0 (19) OffRtg: 107.5 (11) DefRtg: 110.6 (23) NetRtg: -3.1 (22)

The Pistons are in trouble if Blake Griffin (who has missed the first three games with a hamstring issue) isn't healthy. But the larger issue wasn't the Griffin-less offense as they lost at home to the Hawks and Embiid-less Sixers on Thursday and Saturday, with Derrick Rose totaling 58 points on 25-for-37 shooting over the two games. In the two second halves, they allowed Atlanta and Philly to score 120 points on 102 possessions, with 44 of those 120 points coming (on 79% shooting) in the restricted area. We'll know things are really bad if they can't beat coach Dwane Casey's former team (against whom they went 3-0 last season) on Wednesday.

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

22
Last week:
23

Record: 1-2
Pace: 105.5 (10) OffRtg: 100.9 (23) DefRtg: 106.0 (16) NetRtg: -5.0 (24)

The Bulls have seen the biggest increase in the percentage of their shots that have come from the restricted area or 3-point range, from 64% (26th in the league) last season to 81% (third) this season. But they rank 29th in field goal percentage in the restricted area (where Tomas Satoransky and Otto Porter are a combined 5-for-15) and 28th in 3-point percentage (where Lauri Markkanen is 3-for-21). The offense has been particularly ugly (less than 90 points scored per 100 possessions) before halftime, when they've trailed all three of their games. They came back in Charlotte and Memphis, but were able to finish off only one of those two games. Jim Boylen mixed and matched, using nine different guys in clutch time over the two games.

Week 2: @ NYK, @ CLE, vs. DET, @ IND

23
Last week:
17

Record: 0-3
Pace: 105.8 (8) OffRtg: 110.4 (6) DefRtg: 114.8 (28) NetRtg: -4.5 (23)

The Pelicans have looked about as good as a team could in going 0-3. All three losses were within two points in the final two minutes and they have the league's sixth-ranked offense through Week 1. But when you're 0-3 with the sixth-ranked offense, there are problems on the other end of the floor. Only the Bulls (83%) have allowed their opponents to take a greater percentage of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range than the Pelicans (82%), who also rank 29th in defensive rebounding percentage. Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday should be one of the best defensive backcourts in the league, but the Pelicans have allowed more than 120 points per 100 possessions (159 on 130) in the pair's 58 minutes on the floor together, and Holiday (left knee sprain) was missed in Houston on Saturday. They're playing nine of their first 14 games against teams that ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency last season.

Week 2: vs. GSW, vs. DEN, @ OKC

24
Last week:
25

Record: 1-2
Pace: 102.5 (23) OffRtg: 103.6 (19) DefRtg: 103.3 (14) NetRtg: +0.3 (19)

The Wizards will often be overmatched at four of the five positions in their starting lineup, though the group is a plus-6 in its 55 minutes thus far. But an Isaiah Thomas-Davis Bertans combination will be fun to watch off the bench. Bertans is 10-for-20 from 3-point range to start the season and Thomas had an encouraging debut on Saturday, scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists in less than 20 minutes in San Antonio. Though they gave up a game-winning layup in that loss, the Wizards' rim protection has shown some early signs of improvement after allowing the most points per game in the restricted area (42.6) in the last 20 years last season. Of course, Harden and Westbrook (on Wednesday) will a much bigger test in that regard than any combination they've faced thus far.

Week 2: vs. HOU, vs. MIN

25
Last week:
28

Record: 1-2
Pace: 108.6 (4) OffRtg: 100.0 (25) DefRtg: 107.7 (20) NetRtg: -7.7 (25)

Ja Morant went toe-to-toe with Kyrie Irving on Sunday and came out on top, blocking Irving at the end of regulation, getting three impressive clutch buckets down the stretch of the Grizzlies' overtime win, and assisting Jae Crowder on the game-winning 3-pointer. Morant hasn't been very willing to shoot from the outside (only 10 of his 43 shots have come from outside the paint), but his paint attacks (he ranks fifth among guards with 10 points per game in the restricted area) are electric. The Grizzlies have been outscored by a total of 48 points in three second halves (allowing more than 120 points per 100 possessions), but their win on Sunday could be one to build on.

Week 2: @ LAL, vs. PHX

26
Last week:
16

Record: 0-2
Pace: 101.0 (25) OffRtg: 103.5 (20) DefRtg: 113.4 (25) NetRtg: -9.9 (26)

The Pacers are the Eastern Conference "Uh Oh" Team of Week 1. Without Victor Oladipo or much rotation continuity, a slow-ish start was to be expected. But they lost to the Griffin-less Pistons and the Cavs (trailing Cleveland by 15 or more points for most of the final 30 minutes), for cryin' out loud. Defense has been the issue; They're one of three teams (the Warriors and Kings are the others) that rank in the bottom six in both opponent field goal percentage in the paint (60.8%, 26th) and opponent effective field goal percentage outside the paint (55.7%, 25th). It is a make-or-miss league, but they also allowed 62 free throw attempts and 31 second chance points over the two games. Malcolm Brogdon (52 points, 21 assists and only three turnovers) has looked fantastic offensively and they get second chances at both Detroit and Cleveland this week.

Week 2: @ DET, @ BKN, vs. CLE, vs. CHI

27
Last week:
30

Record: 1-1
Pace: 100.5 (26) OffRtg: 97.0 (28) DefRtg: 96.0 (4) NetRtg: +1.0 (18)

Tristan Thompson (and his expiring contract) might be somewhere else come February 6, but he remains in Cleveland and put in some work -- a team-leading 41 points, 24 rebounds, four blocks and his first career 3-pointer -- as the Cavs split their first two games. Kevin Love took just 17 shots in Week 1, but was an assist shy of his first triple-double in a Cavs uniform (he had three with Minnesota) in the win over Indiana on Saturday. Most important may be that 96.0 points allowed per 100 possessions is the Cavs' best two-game stretch of defense since March of 2017, and it wasn't just about their opponents missing shots. After Week 1, they rank in the top three in both opponent free throw rate and defensive rebounding percentage.

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

28
Last week:
29

Record: 1-2
Pace: 104.0 (17) OffRtg: 104.5 (17) DefRtg: 117.3 (29) NetRtg: -12.8 (28)

Just when you thought $57 million man Terry Rozier might lose his starting job to little-known Devonte' Graham (who totaled 47 points, shooting 12-for-16 from 3-point range, in the first two games), the latter shot 1-for-13 against the Lakers on Sunday. P.J. Washington has also cooled off after making seven 3-pointers in the Hornets' win over the Bulls on Wednesday, and a bottom-five defense isn't going to keep this team competitive when the shots aren't falling. The Hornets have allowed their opponents to take 44% of their shots (the league's highest rate by a wide margin) in the restricted area. But given the Kings' and Warriors' struggles, the rest of their four-game trip does look a little easier than it did a week ago.

Week 2: @ LAC, @ SAC, @ GSW

29
Last week:
26

Record: 0-3
Pace: 107.0 (6) OffRtg: 98.1 (26) DefRtg: 109.3 (22) NetRtg: -11.2 (27)

The Knicks were competitive (for 2 3/4 games) against three (seemingly) good teams and RJ Barrett is off to a strong start, averaging 21 points and an effective field goal percentage of 58.2%. But over the span of 27 hours (Friday and Saturday night), the Knicks had as many games of 25 or more turnovers (two) as they had over the previous 10 seasons. They've forced some turnovers on the other end of the floor (Barrett and Elfrid Payton are both in the top six in total steals), but with Mitchell Robinson missing their first game and unable to stay on the floor in the other two (averaging 8.9 fouls per 36 minutes), their opponents have shot better than 70% in the restricted area.

Week 2: vs. CHI, @ ORL, @ BOS, vs. SAC

30
Last week:
19

Record: 0-3
Pace: 104.3 (16) OffRtg: 92.0 (30) DefRtg: 114.7 (27) NetRtg: -22.7 (29)

Whoof. The Kings have trailed all three of their games by at least 18 points and two of the three by more than 30, having been outscored, 96-61, in third quarters. And amid that horror, Marvin Bagley fractured his finger, shelving him for 4-6 weeks. After ranking in the top 10 in ball movement (351 passes per 24 minutes of possession) last season, they rank in the bottom five (306) this season, and they're one of four teams that have recorded assists on less than half of their field goals. Maybe it's not a coincidence that two of the three most disappointing teams thus far are the ones that traveled to India, but both the Kings and Pacers were back home before the four teams that played in China and Japan.

Week 2: vs. DEN, vs. CHA, vs. UTA, @ NYK

* * *

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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