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Week 1 is in the books (ok, more like 4 days) and this is how I ranked each team this week.
Week 1 is tough. I want this feature to run every Friday morning, which means I need to write it on Thursday morning, and when the season starts on a Sunday … you get the idea. I have had 4 days to formulate my opinion, and for a lot of teams that only means 2 games. I just wanted to get that disclaimer out of the way before everyone says YOU RANKED PORTLAND 3!!! WHAT ABOUT THE CELTICS?!?!?!
Maybe this should be called SoB NBA Power Ranking Week 1 – Overreaction Edition. This is NOT how I think things will shake out when the year is over. This is how I feel each team played THIS week. Next week will include both weeks, and the week after that it will include the first 3 weeks of the season .. It’s cumulative, get it? Ehhh, I have never been good at explaining myself, so lets just get into it..
1) 3-0 Miami Heat – The Heat come in at #1 again this week, and boy do they deserve it. They destroyed Dallas on Christmas, and then went on to take out Boston and Charlotte. What is even more impressive was how different each win was. They can beat you a bunch of different ways. Blowout/Close game/Come back.. They did it all this week.
2) 3-0 Oklahoma City Thunder – The other 3-0 team with a slightly easier schedule, but impressive nonetheless. Apparently Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant got into a bit of an altercation after their win against Memphis last night. I’m not alarmed yet, but it is something to keep an eye on.
3) 2-0 Portland Trailblazers – This team is good. Like, really, really good. Shame on me for underrating them in my preseason ranking last week. Their starting lineup is so physically dominating it’s scary. I don’t love Gerald Wallace as an undersized power forward, but when you are playing him at small forward with LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby … who can match that size and strength?
4) 2-0 San Antonio Spurs – I kind of expected this start from the Spurs. With good wins over Memphis and ‘Lob City’ this week they come in at #4. They have fresh legs right now so they are playing well. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I’d be surprised if they keep it up.
5) 2-0 Indiana Pacers – My sleeper (and just about everyone’s sleeper) team in the East. They have the depth and talent to grab a top-4 seed this year. That team just works. All the pieces fit. Once again, Kudos to Larry Legend for finally figuring out how to build a solid team.
6) 2-0 Denver Nuggets – They beat Dallas and Utah to start the season. Not the hardest schedule in the world, but they won both games by double digits and they looked good doing it. They have a very selfless team over there in Denver, and it makes them easy to root for. I do have to wonder who will emerge as that team’s closer when the game gets tight. Keep an eye on Ty Lawson.
7) 2-0 Atlanta Hawks – I don’t want to rank them this high, but I guess I sort of have too. They have had the one of the easiest schedules thus far (and have two relatively easy games coming up). They are an above average NBA team … just like they have been for the past 4-5 years.
8) 2-1 Golden State Warriors – They lost to the Clippers on opening night, but came back in a big way to defeat the Bulls and Knicks. That is as tough a schedule as any team has had so far, and to come out of it 2-1 is pretty impressive. Stephen Curry needs to get healthy though.
9) 1-1 New York Knicks – Again, it’s early. They beat Boston on Christmas Day, and then had a let down against a pretty damn good Golden State team. I’m not worried, this team has a ton of talent.
10) 1-1 Los Angeles Clippers – They are in the same boat as the Knicks. One solid win, one letdown game against the Spurs. I’m starting to worry that this team is believing in their own hype, and that can be dangerous. I noticed it in the preseason as well… they are trying to hard to live up to the ‘lob city’ nickname. I’m not a huge Vinny Del Negro fan either.
11) 2-0 New Orleans Hornets – I guess I have to put the Hornets here as the last remaining unbeaten team I haven’t ranked. They have a lot of talent, and in a lot of ways remind me of the Denver Nuggets. So for at least this first week they come in at #11 with wins over Phoenix and Boston.
12) 1-1 Chicago Bulls – This Is why I hate the small sample size. I believe in the Bulls, I think they are one of the top 5 teams in the league, but in this first week some teams have just played better. They still beat the Lakers on Christmas though, so that has to count for something.
13) 1-2 Los Angeles Lakers – This was a tough one. I could argue that some of the teams that will appear below the Lakers in this ranking had a better week, but my argument for the Lakers is that they didn’t really play ‘bad’ in any of their losses. They lost by one to Chicago and by nine in Sacramento (on the second day of a back-to-back). They look like a team that is missing their starting center.
14) 1-1 Sacramento Kings – They played an almost perfect first 6 quarters this season until they collapsed against Portland in the second half Wednesday night. I cannot express how impressive their win over the Lakers was though, and that’s why they come in at #14.
15) 1-1 Orlando Magic – I don’t know what to make of this Orlando team. Is Dwight Howard trying? I mean, if Howard is locked in they should be pretty good this year, but I’m not happy with how he has played in these first two games. Even still, a close loss to the Thunder and a convincing win over Houston keeps this team in the top 15.
16) 1-1 Milwaukee Bucks – With a 1 point loss to the Bobcats and a close win over Minnesota (both teams that I think are pretty decent) the Bucks come in at #16. I like what I have seen from Brandon Jennings so far. He’s the key for them this season.
17) 1-1 Philadelphia 76ers – They lost a close one to a Portland team that I love, and then man handled a terrible Suns team. This looks like same Sixers team we saw last year, which is fine, but not anything special.
18) 0-3 Boston Celtics – Oh boy. I know they don’t have Paul Pierce, but still … you would like to have a win at this point. I can excuse losing two close games to Miami and New York, but last night against the Hornets was inexcusable. This team put up 78 points in four quarters. Seventy-eight! It’s not just the Pierce injury either: Kevin Garnett looks old and Jermaine O’Neal looks like Jermaine O’Neal. I’m not worried about the guards right now, and Pierce should fix the lack of production from the small forward spot, but the Celtics have a serious issue at center and power forward. Brandon Bass is the only one giving you above what you would expect from him, but the starters (Garnett and O’Neal) just aren’t cutting it right now.
19) 1-1 Charlotte Bobcats – The middle of the East is kind of a mess right now with so many teams 1-1, but the Bobcats have been pretty impressive considering my expectations for them this season. They beat the Bucks 96-95, then lost to the Heat 96-95. One solid win and one game they should have won.
20) 0-2 Memphis Grizzlies – Memphis is good, I promise. I can’t fault them too much for losing to the Spurs and the Thunders. Its good to see Rudy Gay healthy and playing.
21) 0-2 Dallas Mavericks – Dallas amazingly only lost to the Heat by 9 even though it felt like a blowout. Then Denver really blew them out the next night. It hasn’t been pretty for the defending champs, but at least there losses came from two really good teams.
22) 0-2 Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio!!! He is making the Wolves must-watch basketball for me. Kevin Love is also still fantastic. I believe in this team. They are 0-2 but could easily be 2-0 right now. I’m telling you, don’t sleep on Minnesota.
23) 0-1 Houston Rockets – The only team to have only played one game at this point, which makes them really hard to judge. Look for them to jump up this list once they get a few games under their belt.
24) 1-1 Toronto Raptors
25) 1-1 New Jersey Nets
26) 1-1 Cleveland Cavaliers
These teams are all basically the same in my eyes. They all have wins, but make no mistake about it …. They aren’t very good.
27) 0-2 Washington Generals (Wizards) – They are just slightly better than the bottom 3 teams. They have John Wall though, so at least there is hope.
28) 0-2 Phoenix Suns – Its time to trade Steve Nash. Actually, it was time to trade Steve Nash 2 years ago, but now it’s really time. Get something for him while you still can.
29) 0-2 Utah Jazz – I kind of don’t think this team is horrible. At least I didn’t think they were horrible until I watched them play. I mean, they have Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Devin Harris, Derrick Favors … they should be able to win some games. I would think.
30) 0-2 Detroit Pistons – Like I said last week, this team is in no mans land. Not enough young talent to get excited about and too many bad contracts to go out and get someone. I feel bad for Pistons fans.