Opening week was as awesome as one could hope it would be. Russell Westbrook had a triple double while scoring over 50, but Anthony Davis beat him to the punch for the 50 point plateau. Week two will, hopefully, be as good. Biggest positive mover was Chicago (+12) while the Wizards and Jazz dropped nine slots.
1] San Antonio Spurs 4-0 (Previous 3) Popovich played no games as the Spurs came out with a 129-100 thumping over the new look Warriors, before holding off the Kings. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili took an early showing on the DNP-Old Age list, as LaMarcus Aldridge also sat out a game. Kawhi Leonard has cemented himself as a super-star in the league, becoming the first player to score 30 points with 5 steals in the first two opening games. San Antonio has a home-and-home with Utah prior to visiting the Clippers this week.
2] Cleveland Cavaliers: 3-0 (Previous 1) Cleveland dropped from the top slot for no reason other than the Spurs being dominating during the opening week. A solid 3-nil start with a blow-out victory over Derrick Rose's "superstar" Knicks, and holding off the Raptors in Canada, they did what they needed to do. LeBron is averaging a near triple-double with 21 points, 8.3 rebounds and 10 assists a night. Home dates against Houston and Boston are on the slate prior to visiting Philitankia. 3] Los Angeles Clippers: 2-0 (Previous 4) Having only played two games, the Clippers were able to put away two of the squads many have penciled in as the fourth seed in the West, taking a chippy victory in Portland while hosting the defensive minded Jazz. The bench has been on an absolute tear, even with a minuscule sample size, despite Jamal Crawford being awful while Blake is looking to attack the bucket. A busy week lies ahead as the Clippers host the Phoenix Suns and the Thunder prior to road tests in Memphis and San Antonio. 4] Golden State Warriors: 2-1 (Previous 2) Internet flooded with meme's about Durant switching to the Spurs after the season opener, but Golden State bounced back with back-to-back victories. Neither of which were really impressive, as they struggled to put away Anthony Davis before the Phoenix Suns made things interesting. Not a follow-up one expected from a team that won 73 the year prior, going 37 victories before their first home loss on April. Trips to Portland and Los Angeles (Lakers) with a Thunder game are on deck.
5] Oklahoma City Thunder: 3-0 (Previous 12) Russell Westbrook is making an early push for the MVP award, with a 50-point triple double, averaging just under 40 (38.7) points with 12 (11.7) assists and (12.3) rebounds per. Those numbers will be pretty impossible to keep up during an 82 game stretch and the Thunder will need to find some balance if they want to get into the post-season. Trips to Los Angeles (Clippers) and Golden State before a home date against Minnesota is up next.
6] Toronto Raptors: 1-1 (Previous 5) DeRozan has been solid for the Raptors thus far, and a close loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers doesn't do much sans fan psyche. Speaking of DeRozan, though, he has 72 points through the opening two games, without hitting a single three pointer. A tough feat from a swing guy, and if he can keep his efficient scoring up all year, the Raps may slide into the second seed in the conference. A busy week is ahead with home games against the Nuggets, Heat and Kings with a trip to the US capital early on. 7] Portland Trail Blazers: 2-1 (Previous 8) Lillard wanted to put himself into MVP considerations, and his early play has shown that he has the capabilities to do so, averaging 35 points a night while hitting 74% of his shots inside the restricted area, a 20% improvement over his career thus far. Wins over Utah and Denver, with a chippy loss against the Clippers isn't a shabby way to start, and Allen Crabbe is playing spectacular off the bench. Portland still needs to get it together defensively, as they have a tough week coming up with a home date against the Warriors before embarking on stops in Phoenix, Dallas and Memphis.
8] Boston Celtics: 2-1 (Previous 7) Boston has been pretty damn great on offense, with the top six guys eclipsing 50% from the field and have an effective field goal mark of 55% outside of the painted area. Rebounding is where Boston has woes, having given up 41 second-chance points before facing a Charlotte side that doesn't crash the boards. Isaiah looks to be the first Celtic player since Paul Pierce to score at least 24 during the first four games of a season as Boston hosts Chicago before a trip to Cleveland and Denver coming to town.
9] Atlanta Hawks: 2-0 (Previous 11) A feel-good story in Atlanta as the Hawks have the top ranked defense after week one, albeit they had a chance to play Philadelphia and it is really early. However, Budenholzer had Atlanta with the top defense after Christmas during the prior season and Dwight has been exceptional on the glass. Korver is slowly finding his stroke as well, while Schroder is ecstatic about his contract extension. A busy week follows as the Kings, Lakers and Rockets come to town with a trip to the nations capital sandwiched.
10] Charlotte Hornets: 2-1 (Previous 10) Being stung by a home loss to the Celtics during the home opener, Steve Clifford had his team prepped as they started off with away victories against the Bucks and Heat. One of the worst shooters from outside the painted area, Charlotte needs to keep attacking the glass and have early injury woes as Roy Hibbert and Jeremy Lamb went down. An easy week lays ahead as they host the 76ers before visiting the Brooklyn Nets.
11] Houston Rockets: 2-1 (Previous 15) An absurd loss to the Los Angeles Lakers was followed by the Rockets beating Dallas during a home-and-home series, with game two going down to the wire despite Dirk Nowitzki sitting out for Mark Cuban's side. Surprisingly, though, the Rockets have been damn solid on defense, giving up only 89 points per 100 possessions, as Harden has been playing the point slot well. An east coast trip is on the radar with trips to Cleveland, New York and Atlanta coming up.
12] Chicago Bulls: 2-0 (Previous 24) Well, I suppose I greatly underestimated the Bulls as they are the biggest jumpers going up a dozen slots here. Despite it being a very small sample size, the fact that Chicago has hit 20 shots from range is a sight to be seen. They have had some advantages as both victories came against opponents on night two of a back-to-back, but Hoiberg has his team headed in the right direction. This week, they'll visit Brooklyn and Boston prior to hosting New York and capping it off with a trip to Indiana.
13] Detroit Pistons: 2-1 (Previous 14) Detroit continues to play spectacular D, forcing more jumpers from mid-range and further out thanks to Andre Drummond's defensive presence. Drummond also has two 20-rebound performances on the young season, the fourth time that he's done so in back-to-back appearances, a feat hard to top. Home to New York and Denver with a Brooklyn game sandwiched inbetween.
14] Memphis Grizzlies: 2-1 (Previous 16) Gritty Grizzly play continues, coming back from 17 down to beat the Wolves and eight to beat the Wizards in overtime. The lone loss saw them dig back from an 18-point deficit but not close enough to overcome the Knicks. Randolph is putting himself in the drivers seat for a 6th man of the year award, putting up 18 points in 24 minutes. A trip to Minnesota before hosting New Orleans, Los Angeles and Portland is on the schedule.
15] Utah Jazz: 1-2 (Previous 6) Despite injuries, Utah played the Blazers and Clippers tough, but just wasn't enough to overcome two top Western sides, but a date against the Lakers got them their first win. Trey Lyles has been absolutely miserable, with a plus/minus of -35 in 55 minutes thus far. A trip to San Antonio and New York sandwich home games against Dallas and the Spurs.
16] Indiana Pacers: 1-2 (Previous 9) Paul George has been on an absolute tear. In fact, the Pacers with George on the bench are -31 in just 46 minutes. Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey are yet to play for the Pacers, while Myles Turner wasn't able to follow up a great performance against the Mavericks. Hosting the Lakers, visiting the Bucks, hosting the Bulls is Week 2.
17] Denver Nuggets: 1-1 (Previous 19) Nurkic and Jokic have made a solid tandem up front, but they are quite the liability on defense. Denver should, in all honesty, be sitting at 2-0 right now instead of .500, but weren't able to hold on against scrappy Portland, blowing a eight-point advantage with 48 seconds left in regulation, and then a four-point lead with 1:16 to go in overtime.
18] Miami Heat: 1-2 (Previous 18) Miami has been ugly with Dragic on the bench on offense, and Whiteside on the bench on defense. Spoelstra needs to figure out a way to keep them on the court for as long as possible, and Miami needs to attack the bucket. With only a home date against Sacramento and a trip to Toronto, Spoelstra can afford to give Goran and Hassan more playing time.
19] Sacramento Kings: 2-1 (Previous 26) Dave Joerger has been doing a spectacular job in his first week with the Kings, as Sacramento squandered a double-digit lead against the Spurs for their lone defeat. The ninth ranked defense in the league was able to secure two victories against sides that they will be clawing with for a final slot, but have a tough slate coming up with five games in seven days, all on the road as they visit Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Milwaukee and Toronto.
20] New York Knicks: 1-1 (Previous 20) Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have been surprisingly well for the Knicks, though not the superteam that Rose had envisioned. Jeff Hornacek needs to work on his rotations as the bench is an atrocious -33 in the 48 minutes with two or less starters on the court. A busy week lies ahead as they go to Detroit host Houston, go to Chicago and host Utah.
21] Minnesota Timberwolves: 0-2 (Previous 22) Growing pains continue for a young team. Despite starting off with double digit leads, Minnesota squandered them both and defensive missteps ended up costing them the victory. Wiggins is scoring 27, a great sight to see, but the absence of Rubio could go either way as they host Memphis and Denver prior to visiting Sacramento.
22] Washington Wizards: 0-2 (Previous 13) Washington led in the fourth quarter of both of their games, but ended up losing them by 24 points combined thanks to the worst defense. Against the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol sunk four 3-pointers after having hit no more than three in any prior season. With five of six at home, Scotty Brooks needs to get things going in the right direction to avoid panic, as Toronto and Atlanta come to town prior to a stop in Orlando.
23] Milwaukee Bucks: 1-2 (Previous 17) Antetokounmpo is amazing to watch, and his nickname, Greek Freak, suits him well. Unfortunately for him, no one else on the roster is really....good. From Jabari Parker to John Henson, the team has just been ugly, as shown by the 24th ranked offensive rating. A trip to New Orleans followed by home dates to Indiana and Sacramento before heading to Dallas is on the slate.
24] Dallas Mavericks: 0-3 (Previous 23) Harrison Barnes seems to slowly getting into a groove, but Dallas can not continue to slip up games, even this early if they wish to sneak into a playoff slot. With Dirk back, they have a relatively middling schedule coming up with a trip to Utah and then hosting Portland and Milwaukee.
25] Los Angeles Lakers: 1-2 (Previous 27) A great win over Houston, but since have taken a step back. Tanking is the best bet for the Lakers, but I do love the play of Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. Eastern conference trips to Indiana and Atlanta is followed by home dates to Golden State and Phoenix which should be high octane.
26] New Orleans Pelicans: 0-3 (Previous 28) The Pelicans are 0-3, but the play of Anthony Davis has been spectacular. 37.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks has been out of this world. Jrue Holiday should help out the Pels abysmal 19% from three. Home games to Milwaukee and Phoenix sandwich a trip to Memphis.
27] Brooklyn Nets: 1-2 (Previous 29) Brooklyn is averaging 34 points in the fourth quarter after coming back from double-digits in all three games, including from 23 against Boston. Only one capitalization however led to positive news. Home dates against Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte are on the schedule.
28] Phoenix Suns: 0-3 (Previous 21) TJ Warren is putting up over 23 points a night, scoring over 50% and is having the breakout season that was expected from Devin Booker. Booker and Brandon Knight are shooting a combined 35%. Just ugly. It won't get easy for Earl Watson in the Valley of the Sun with trips to Los Angeles (twice, for each team) and New Orleans swallow up a home date against Portland.
29] Philadelphia 76ers: 0-3 (Previous 30) Only reason why Philadelphia is ahead of Orlando is due to Joel Embiid . He has been a vision, a soft touch, decent jumper. Oh, and having the 11th ranked defensive rating also helps. A trip to Charlotte sandwiches games versus Orlando and Cleveland.
30] Orlando Magic: 0-3 (Previous 25) The 28th ranked offense and 25th ranked defense, the Magic are just pitiful. They have a chance to righten the ship with a trip to Philadelphia and then hosting Sacramento and Washington.