NBA Power Rankings: Stephen Curry, Warriors cruise to No. 1 spot; surprising Wizards, Nuggets make big jumps

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1


Warriors

It wasn’t exactly a murderer’s row of opponents this week, but the Warriors took care of business, winning all four games by an average margin of over 20 points (the 41-point victory over the lowly Pelicans helped). Already owners of the league’s best defense, the Warriors offense exploded this week, partly due to Stephen Curry’s 28.5 points per game on 46/40/92 shooting splits, including a spectacular 50-point, 10-assist game against the Hawks. Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins each averaged over 20 points per game for the week as well, with contributions coming from up and down the roster. The schedule will start to get harder, but as of now it’s hard to argue against the Warriors being the best team in the NBA. 2 10-1
2


Wizards

The Wizards picked up three more quality wins this week over the Grizzlies, Bucks and Cavs, managing to do so with Bradley Beal averaging just 20 points on 27 percent 3-point shooting. The Russell Westbrook trade turned Washington into one of the deeper teams in the league, and Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie are thriving. Kuzma shot 57 percent from the 3-point line this week, including two clutch corner 3s in a comeback road win over the Cavs on Wednesday. 9 8-3
3


Nuggets

Give the Nuggets all the credit in the world for rattling off three wins this week, the last one without Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic, who committed one of the most egregious and dangerous flagrant fouls you’ll ever see in the win over the Heat and earned a one-game suspension. Denver’s defense has been outstanding all season, and that continued in all three wins this week, holding each opponent under 100 points. 9 7-4
4


Suns

Despite the league’s pending investigation into the owner, the Suns had a great week on the court, going undefeated with wins over the Rockets, Hawks, Kings and Trail Blazers. They won the last three games without starting center Deandre Ayton, whose minutes were replaced partly by Frank Kaminsky, who averaged 14.8 points and 4.5 rebounds on 62 percent shooting for the week. Devin Booker has also caught fire, putting up 23.8 points, eight rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this week on 46 percent 3-point shooting. 10 7-3
5


Nets

The Nets went 3-1 this week, with their only loss coming to the Bulls in Chicago. Kevin Durant is toward the top of the MVP race, averaging 32 points this week on absurd 57/46/92 shooting splits. James Harden appears to be slowly emerging from his early-season funk, putting up 18 points, 9.8 rebounds and eight assists over the past four games on 39 percent 3-point shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge has also been excellent of late, averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this week. — 8-4
6


Jazz

The Jazz beat the Hawks twice this week, while dropping a close one to the Heat and then a rough hangover loss (metaphorically speaking, of course) in Orlando the next night with Mike Conley resting. Donovan Mitchell missed the first win over Atlanta, but averaged 28.3 points and 6.3 assists in the other three games. Jordan Clarkson’s rough shooting start to the season continued, though he showed signs of life in both Atlanta games. If you chalk up the Orlando debacle to a schedule loss, the Jazz have looked incredibly solid to start the year. 2 8-4
7


76ers

Philly ran its win streak to six games before Joel Embiid entered health and safety protocols, further decimating an already-depleted roster. Even so, the 76ers put up valiant efforts in losses to the Knicks and Bucks with Tyrese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang and Shake Milton leading the way offensively. Also, in the last two games without Embiid, fill-in starter Andre Drummond has averaged 15.5 points, 22.5 rebounds (not a typo) and two blocks. The good news is that Tobias Harris appears to be on his way back, and he’ll provide a much-needed boost to a team that has far exceeded expectations so far this season. 5 8-5
8


Bulls

The Bulls shook off a loss to the 76ers to pick up impressive wins over the Nets and Mavericks this week. The offense is starting to click, producing 115.3 points per 100 possessions in the three games this week, even with Nikola Vucevic still struggling to find the scoring touch. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan continue to carry the load offensively, with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso adding defense and 3-point shooting. They’ve also gotten valuable and necessary contributions from Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr. and rookie Ayo Dosunmu.
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— 8-3
9


Mavericks

Luka Magic showed up with a game-winning 3-pointer against the Celtics, and the Mavs also beat the Pelicans before Wednesday’s loss to the Bulls. The offense picked up this week after a slow start, a good sign moving forward, led by Doncic’s 26 points per game on 38 percent 3-point shooting. Kristaps Porzingis also returned to the lineup, averaging just over 18 points in 28.6 minutes per game. 4 7-4
10


Heat

My, how quickly things can change in the NBA. Last week Miami looked like the class of the Eastern Conference, but they fall considerably after a 1-3 week including blowout losses to the Celtics and Nuggets. The win came against a very good Jazz squad, but the Heat were unable to overcome Jimmy Butler’s early exit in Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Lakers. Max Strus was out this week, thinning out an already shallow bench, and they certainly hope Butler isn’t forced to miss significant time after hurting his ankle. One bright spot was Tyler Herro, who averaged 18.3 points on 45 percent 3-point shooting this week. 9 7-5
11


Clippers

The Clippers continued their strong play this week, beating the Wolves, Hornets and Blazers to extend their winning streak to five games. The Clippers’ defense has been outstanding all year long, a significant feat considering they’re missing one of the league’s top defenders in Kawhi Leonard, and the offense has picked up of late. Even more impressive, the Clippers won all three games this week despite Paul George shooting just 35 percent from the field and 21 percent form 3-point range, thanks to the excellent play of Reggie Jackson and a resurgent Nicolas Batum, who put up 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this week while hitting 57 percent of his 3s. 9 7-4
12


Cavaliers

The Cavs had a 2-1 week, but got the bad news that Collin Sexton is out for the foreseeable future with a meniscus injury. The Cavs have been good with Sexton on the bench this season, but they’re going to miss having another scorer and creator on the perimeter. Ricky Rubio, who went bonkers in a 37-point performance with eight 3-pointers at MSG in a win over the Knicks, will absorb more playing time in Sexton’s absence. 3 7-5
13


Knicks

The Knicks split with the Bucks this week, with a win over the depleted 76ers and a loss to the Cavs. The defense continues to be an issue, but the offense looks more dynamic than last season. Julius Randle led the way this week with 24.5 points and nine rebounds per game on 38 percent 3-point shooting, while Derrick Rose averaged 17 points and 4.5 assists per game on 50 percent 3-point shooting. After putting together a strong run of games, RJ Barrett struggled shooting the ball in the 2-2 week. 4 7-5
14


Lakers

It wasn’t pretty, but the Lakers managed to go 2-2 this week, with both of their wins coming in overtime after ugly losses to the Thunder and Blazers. The report that LeBron James might miss up to eight weeks with his abdominal injury must be extremely concerning for the Lakers, whose net rating is 11.1 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court. Anthony Davis left early in the Portland loss due to an illness, but still managed to average 21.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks per game this week, while Russell Westbrook nearly averaged a triple-double with 19.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game, but shot just 36 percent from the field and averaged over six turnovers per game. 4 7-5
15


Bucks

The Bucks are starting to get healthy, with Jrue Holiday playing in all four games this week — a split with the Knicks, a win over the 76ers and a loss to the Wizards. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game, but shot an uncharacteristic 43 percent from the field. Grayson Allen has been huge, averaging over 20 points per game this week on 51 percent 3-point shooting.
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1 6-6
16


Celtics

Amid all the Marcus Smart drama this week, the Celtics turned in a thoroughly dominating performance against the Heat and took care of the Raptors, with their only loss coming on a Luka Doncic step-back, game-winning 3-pointer as time expired. They also lost Jaylen Brown for a least a few games due to hamstring tightness, but the Celtics made up for his absence with six players averaging double figures, led by Jayson Tatum’s 21.3 points per game on 55 percent 3-point shooting. 6 5-6
17


Grizzlies

The Grizzlies started the week on a sour note, losing by 28 to the Wizards, then beat the Wolves in a crazy overtime game before Wednesday’s home loss to a struggling Hornets team. Ja Morant averaged 25.3 points, 6.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game this week, and Dillon Brooks was a welcome sight on the court in his first game of the season. He put up 20 points on 4-for-7 3-point shooting in the loss to the Hornets. 10 6-5
18


Trail Blazers

The Blazers started off the week with back-to-back wins over the Pacers and Lakers, but followed that up with losses to the Clippers and Suns. Damian Lillard made it known that he doesn’t appreciate the way games are being officiated, and he’s still nowhere near the production we’ve come to expect from the All-NBA guard. Norman Powell had a strong week offensively, averaging 21 points on 55 percent 3-point shooting, but the Portland defense still has a long way to go. 5 5-7
19


Raptors

After a big climb last week, the Raptors fall in the rankings after losses to the Cavs, Nets and Celtics. The normally stingy defense betrayed Toronto this week, as it allowed nearly 114 points per 100 possessions in the three losses. The silver lining is that Pascal Siakam made his season debut, averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 27.5 minutes over two games. Fred VanVleet led the offense with 18.3 points and 6.7 assists per game on 44 percent 3-point shooting. 13 7-6
20


Thunder

Well, here we go again. Despite a roster clearly catered toward a high lottery pick, the Thunder rattled off wins over the Lakers, Spurs and Pelicans this week to inch closer to .500, just like they surprisingly did last season before the tankathon truly began toward the end of the year. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made perhaps the signature shot of his young career with a dagger 3-pointer from the logo to secure their second straight win over the Lakers, and he averaged 22 points, 6.7 assists and six rebounds for the week. Lu Dort provided a nice boost after missing last week’s loss to the Clippers, averaging 19 points in three wins this week. 9 4-6
21


Spurs

San Antonio doubled its win total this week thanks to victories over the Magic and Kings, with a loss to the Thunder in between. Drew Eubanks and Thaddeus Young have stepped up in the absence of Jakob Poeltl, and they were two of seven players to average double figures for the Spurs this week. Dejounte Murray is pushing a triple-double average with 18.4 points, 8.2 assists and 7.9 rebounds this season, while turning the ball over just over twice per game. San Antonio’s 136 points against the Kings were a season-high. 4 4-7
22


Kings

The Kings started off the week with a 30-point win over the Hornets, but things quickly went downhill from there with losses to the Pacers, Suns and Spurs. The good news is that De’Aaron Fox is starting to look like his old self offensively, averaging 24.8 points and 5.5 assists per game this week. Tyrese Haliburton was also playing well before being forced to miss the final two games of the week with back issues. 4 5-7
23


Hornets

Lackluster defense led to five straight losses for the Hornets, including three this week, but they ended the skid on Wednesday with a big road win over the Grizzlies. Charlotte has plenty of offensive weapons now that Terry Rozier has returned, showcased by five players averaging 15 or more points this week. LaMelo Ball has been scintillating, putting up 20.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists on 39 percent 3-point shooting this week.
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6 6-7
24


Pacers

The Pacers missed a prime opportunity for a win against a Nuggets team without Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, though Indiana was missing Caris LeVert. TJ McConnell stepped up with extra playing time from the absences of LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon this week, averaging 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 65 percent shooting. Myles Turner made an impact on both ends, shooting 47 percent from the 3-point line while blocking four shots per game this week. 3 5-8
25


Magic

The Magic picked up a big win over the Jazz this week, with losses to the Spurs and Nets. Cole Anthony was tremendous in the win against Utah, putting up 33 points, three steals and two blocks on 5-for-10 3-point shooting. Wendell Carter Jr. averaged a double-double for the week, while Franz Wagner cooled off after a hot shooting start to the season. Orlando scored just 95 points per 100 possessions this week. 1 3-9
26


Hawks

The Hawks lost all four games this week to three very tough opponents (Jazz twice, Suns and Warriors), bringing their losing streak to five games overall. The offense hasn’t been great, but the defense has been the real culprit, allowing 119.3 points per 100 possessions over their last eight games. It’s also a bad sign that Atlanta has been losing while Trae Young has played well — he averaged 26.8 points and 8.8 assists in the four losses this week with 46/41/89 shooting splits. It was a wake-up call this week for the Hawks in tests against some of the league’s top teams, and they’ll need to improve defensively if they’re going to turn things around. 7 4-8
27


Timberwolves

The Wolves nearly pulled off a miracle win against the Grizzlies after Karl-Anthony Towns’ incredible 3-pointer to beat the fourth-quarter buzzer, but they went on to lose in overtime. They also dropped games to the Clippers and Warriors for an 0-3 week, despite Anthony Edwards averaging 30.7 points, including a career-high 48 in the loss to Golden State. Towns was third on the team in field goal attempts per game this week behind Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, which may not be the best recipe for efficient offense. That being said, the defense is really what needs fixing here to avoid extending their six-game losing streak. 3 3-7
28


Pistons

The Pistons lost to the 76ers and Nets to start the week, but picked up their second win of the season in a matchup between the top two picks in this year’s draft. Cade Cunningham scored 20 points in 30 minutes in the win over the Rockets, and his 3-point shooting improved to a respectable 36 percent this week after a historically bad start. Jerami Grant led the team in scoring for the week, putting up 35 points in the win over Houston. 1 2-8
29


Rockets

The Rockets lost four more games this week, falling short in their best opportunity for a victory against the Pistons at home. No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green scored 23 points in his first matchup against the only player picked ahead of him in the draft, Cade Cunningham, though he shot just 33 percent from the field for the week. Christian Wood averaged just over 11 field goal attempts in four games this week, third on the team, after putting up nearly 16 per game last season, so that’s something to keep an eye on. 1 1-10
30


Pelicans

Three more games, three more losses for the Pelicans, who have struggled mightily on both ends of the floor, leading to a cringeworthy minus-21.2 net rating for the week. Brandon Ingram missed all three games, leaving the offense to Jonas Valanciunas, who averaged 22.3 points and 13.7 rebounds for the week. It’s been a dismal start to the season for the Pelicans, who eagerly await the eventual return of Zion Williamson. — 1-11

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