NBA Power Rankings Week 3: Los Angeles basketball is Looking grim

The NBA’s second week featured the Lakers and Clippers continuing their abysmal starts to the season, while supposed “tanking for Wenbanyama” teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, and the Indiana Pacers finished with a strong week.

30. Houston Rockets, 1-6

The Rockets have been very close to beating good basketball teams, last night against the Suns being one of those games. What will be the difference for the Rockets this season is Jalen Green’s efficiency. We know that he can score at will and regularly put up 30-40 points in a game, but with an abysmal 48.3 TS% to start the season, there are concerns on whether or not Green can become an efficient scorer this season. The Rockets have the worst net rating in the NBA at -9.6 so its not a surprise that they are ranked 30th in these power rankings. Alperen Sengun, Tari Eason, Kevin Porter Jr., and 3rd overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. all look good to start the year, but Green and only Green has the ability to have the Rockets avoid being the worst team in the NBA. 

29. Orlando Magic, 1-6 

The Magic easily could be ranked 30th in these power rankings but they have been in almost every single game. Paolo Banchero is averaging over 20 points per game to start his rookie season, and ranks in the top 10 in the entire NBA at getting to the free throw line, Bol Bol is developing into the player many scouts thought he would become eventually, and Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr. both look good to start the season as well. Though the Magic have a top 20 defense this season (barely), they rank 28th in offensive rating just in front of the two LA teams. The Magic have a ways to go to piece together some wins, but the organization wouldn’t mind ending up with the #1 overall pick yet again. 

28. Brooklyn Nets, 1-5 

The Nets have the worst defense in the NBA and are only 15th in offensive rating as well. Besides Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets are having a tough time finding offensive production. Royce O’Neal has been good on the defensive end of the floor, but cannot continue to be relied upon as the 3rd option. Ben Simmons can barley put up 7 points in an NBA game and is still very much so scared to shoot the basketball, even on layups. Perhaps the Nets need T.J. Warren to start rolling offensively and take pressure off of Irving and Durant, but Warren will be out for the next couple of weeks at least. Until then, can the Nets tread water? I don’t think they can.  

27. Los Angeles Lakers, 1-5

The Lakers actually won a basketball game against a very good Nuggets team. The Lakers were the only winless team in the NBA heading into Sunday night’s matchup against Denver and started off the year with one of the NBA’s toughest schedules. Even though they are 1-5 and their 2nd overall defensive rating of 104.7 is an indicator of better things to come, the Lakers still rank last in offensive rating by a mile despite shooting 43.3% from 3PT range against the Nuggets.

In fact, they are still the worst shooting team in recent memory and their two superstars, Lebron James and Anthony Davis, are shooting just 25% and 18.2% from 3 respectively this season. The Lakers are undefeated when they shoot over 31% from 3, which only happened in their victory over Denver. If the Lakers can continue to count on Austin Reaves, Matt Ryan, Lonnie Walker, and others to hit 3’s down the stretch of games, then they could start piecing together some wins with their dominant defense. The only issue is that the Lakers only have shot well in 1 of 6 games, not a good percentage. More consistency is needed from this team to rise up in the rankings but the potential is there despite a rocky start.

26. Sacramento Kings, 1-4 

The Kings rose in these rankings after beating a talented Miami Heat basketball team 119-113 behind superb performances from De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray, and Domantas Sabonis. Though the Kings are criticized immensely for trading Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis to build around De’Aaron Fox, the organization has seen a significant increase in production from Fox this season. Fox is 27.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game with a 3PT% of 39.3 and a TS% of 62.5. If the Kings want to make the play-in tournament they need more consistency from Malik Monk. When he is on offensively, this team can hang with anyone offensively, but when Monk isn’t shooting well, it puts more pressure on the big 3 of Fox, Sabonis, and Murray to produce at an elite level, something that likely isn’t sustainable.

25. Detroit Pistons, 2-5

The Pistons are climbing the rankings because they defeated the defending champs convincingly at home 128-114. Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey are already taking big leaps on both ends of the floor, while Jaden Ivey is producing right away as a rookie of the year candidate. The reason for this team’s ascension is Bojan Bogdanovic who deservingly so just signed a 40 million dollar contract extension with the Pistons. Bogdanovic, who was traded to the Pistons from the Utah Jazz, is averaging 22.7 points per game with a 3PT% of 48.8, an eFG% of 66.8 and an out of this world TS% of 72.3 (which is unheard of for a non big man). If Bogdanovic can keep this up, the Pistons will have a shot to make the play-in tournament. 

24. Los Angeles Clippers, 2-4 

After starting the season 2-0, the wheels have fallen off of this Clippers team with 4 straight losses. Kawhi Leonard has missed 3 straight games and speculation that Leonard could have a more serious injury than known to the public continues to ensue. Paul George has been terrible, shooting just 25.7% from 3PT range and averaging only 19 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Everyone else on the team hasn’t been much better considering the Clippers are just above the 1-5 Lakers in offensive rating (Clippers rank 29th in the NBA).

Norman Powell is supposed to be a 3 and D star, yet is only shooting an atrocious 21.4% from 3 to start the season, John Wall is getting to the basket, but is still only shooting 26.7% from 3, and Robert Covington is playing good defense but can’t be relied upon to be the marksman of this team (30.8% from 3 this season). If the Clippers want to get their season back on track this week they will need to give sharpshooters Luke Kennard (38.9% from 3) and Nicolas Batum (41.7% from 3) big minutes down the stretch of games because the other players simply aren’t producing right now. 

23. Charlotte Hornets, 3-3 

P.J. Washington scored 31 points to lead the Hornets past the Warriors without Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball. Washington has stepped up nicely in the Miles Bridges role this season, and Gordon Hayward is averaging 20 points per game with a TS% of 60.8. Nick Richards and Jaden McDaniels look drastically better already this season and once LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier come back together, this team could be dangerous offensively. Until then, they are at best an average basketball team. 

22. Miami Heat, 2-5 

The Heat started the year 2-5 despite Jimmy Butler averaging 21.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists with a 3PT% of 43.8 and a TS% of 61.2. You read that right, although in limited attempts Jimmy Butler is knocking down 3’s at a career best rate and Bam Adebayo is playing better every single game. The issue with this Heat team is that they rely on having a dominant defense, but rank 19th in the NBA so far in defensive rating. With a team so limited offensively, that is a recipe for disaster and the Heat will only be able to piece together wins more consistently if they can dominate defensively.

21. Indiana Pacers, 3-4 

Tyrese Haliburton is averaging 23.4 points and 10 assists per game with a 3PT% of 50 and a TS% of 65.4. Haliburton is continuing to become not only one of the best young guards in the NBA, but one of the best players in all of basketball. I mentioned my admiration for Haliburton’s game in last weeks power rankings article, but he has the opportunity to become the best point guard in basketball sooner rather than later.

Bennedict Mathurin put up an efficient 32 points the other night, Myles Turner had 5 blocks and 27 points in one game, Buddy Hield is a marksman of all marksmen, and the Pacers are actually an above average basketball team so far this season. If they truly want to pair Victor Wenbanyama with Haliburton and Mathurin they need to be calling up the Lakers and offering Hield and Turner for only one unprotected pick so they can start losing and positioning themselves for the lottery. 

20. Oklahoma City Thunder, 3-3 

The Thunder move up to 20th in these rankings due to winning 3 straight games after starting 0-3. The Thunder picked up those 3 wins against “good” basketball teams in the Mavericks and Clippers. Obviously the Clippers aren’t playing like a good team, but it was impressive for the Thunder to win 3 straight games against projected playoff teams. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on pace to appear in his first All-Star game if he can continue to average 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists with a TS% of 58.6.

Josh Giddey isn’t shooting the ball well, but Kenrich Williams, Mike Muscala, Jalen Williams, and Darius Bazley are picking up some of the slack off of the bench and keeping this Thunder team in games.  Obviously, this team has no intention of making the playoffs with Chet Holmgren out all season and having an extremely young core, but watching Gilgeous-Alexander turn into one of the best offensive players in the NBA is certainly exciting for Sam Presti and the Thunder organization.

 19. Washington Wizards, 3-3 

The Wizards are 3-3, but are far from being a good basketball team. When they needed him to step up the most, Bradley Beal went 4-16 from the floor and struggled against the Celtics last night. The Wizards also fell to the Indiana Pacers on Friday and are on a 2 game losing streak. Rookie Johnny Davis doesn’t look good, and the team should look to rely more on third year forward Deni Avdija for some third option playmaking and scoring considering he has been one of the best two-way players on the Wizards this season in limited opportunities. 

18. New York Knicks, 3-3 

Jalen Brunson is averaging 18.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game to start the season and the Knicks are hovering around .500. So far, the Knicks are above average offensively (12th in offensive rating) and average defensively (15th in defensive rating). If R.J. Barrett can become more consistent offensively to take pressure off of Brunson and Julius Randle, the Knicks can become a very good basketball team. 

17. Philadelphia 76ers, 3-4 

After an 0-3 start, the 76ers have won 3 of their last 4 and saw Tyrese Maxey put up 44 points against the Raptors in a win Friday night. The 76ers are playing better when Maxey and Embiid are the top two options offensively, not James Harden. If the 76ers want to continue their success on both ends of the floor Harden needs to become primarily a distributor to get open looks for Maxey and Embiid. When Harden is the primary scorer on this 76ers team, bad things happen.  

16. Chicago Bulls, 3-4 

The Bulls rely on DeMar DeRozan to win them basketball games and when he doesn’t score over 25 points, it’s hard for them to win. DeRozan is already off to another great start (25.9 points per game, 62.9 TS%) and while both Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic are playing great basketball as well, the Bulls really have no depth. Andre Drummond was a good pickup, but besides Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu the Bulls lack depth at the guard and forward positions. Patrick Williams has been one of the worst players in basketball and Coby White isn’t off to a solid start either. The Bulls are an above-average basketball team that has the ability to be very good if they get Lonzo Ball back. Until then, they will hover around .500. 

15. Minnesota Timberwolves, 4-3 

The Timberwolves are 4-3 but they aren’t that good of a basketball team. They traded their two best perimeter defenders, Jared Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley, to the Jazz and are struggling to defend opposing guards and forwards. Too much pressure is on Anthony Edwards to produce on both ends of the floor and although he is dominant defensively, Rudy Gobert is ruining the spacing on offense for the Timberwolves. This team may be a top 7-8 seed in the Western Conference but last years team was better because of Jared Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley. They already had an elite center in Karl Anthony-Towns already and didn’t need another one. I am still perplexed as to why the Wolves traded for Gobert and it’s not looking like a good experiment so far. 

14. Golden State Warriors, 3-4

The Warriors will be fine. They have struggled in the past, figured out those issues, and won the NBA championship all in one season multiple times. However, the Warriors are so much worse defensively this year it’s mind boggling. Last season, when Draymond Green was healthy, the Warriors ranked 1st in defensive rating. This season, the team ranks 23rd in defensive rating at 115.2. It is early on in the season, but last year’s team would have produced on both ends of the floor late in the game against the Hornets and Pistons, not lost them both.

The Warriors will have ups and downs, and it’s encouraging that Stephen Curry is off to a scorching start with averages of 31 points and almost 7 assists per game with a TS% of 63.7. Once Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, and Klay Thompson show more consistency on the offensive end of the floor, this team will flourish. Until then, the young core of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody will have to step up and learn in big minutes as it will pay dividends for the Warriors in the postseason.

13. Dallas Mavericks, 3-3 

Luka Doncic is averaging 36.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 8.7 assists with a TS% of 60. Doncic has made obvious strides defensively as well this season, and even though his 23.3 3PT% to start the campaign is concerning, he is finding a way to will the Mavericks to win big games and is getting his teammates a variety of open looks. That is indicative of the Mavericks 119 offensive rating (2nd in the NBA) to start the season. They are shooting better than any team in the NBA and their defense will come together as the season goes on. For anybody who doesn’t think the Mavericks ca win it all, think again because any time Luka Doncic is on the floor, the Mavericks have a chance to win every single game. 

12. Toronto Raptors, 3-3 

The Raptors have notched impressive wins against the Heat, 76ers, and Cavaliers, but also lost to the 1-5 Brooklyn Nets. Pascal Siakam has been an MVP candidate this season so far averaging 25.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game with a TS% of 57. If Siakam can continue to flourish like he has been this season with the core of, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr.,Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby around him, the Raptors could become a sneaky title contender. 

11. Atlanta Hawks, 4-2  

Trae Young is averaging 31.5 points and 9.7 assists per game with a TS% of 55.7 while Dejounte Murray is averaging 20 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game with a TS% of 53.7. Clint Cappella and John Collins have played well to but the Hawks ceiling relies on De’Andre Hunter (14.5 points, 4 rebounds per game, 59.3 TS%). If Hunter can average closer to 17 points and 6 rebounds while hitting over 40% of his 3’s, the Hawks will become a title contender, but if they have to rely solely on the offense of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, the Hawks will suffer and barley make the first round of the playoffs. 

10. San Antonio Spurs, 5-2 

The Spurs have one of the best records in basketball despite the assumption that they would tank to start the season. Keldon Johnson is averaging 23.9 points per game with a 3PT% of 43.5 and a TS% of 60.3, Devin Vassell is averaging 20 points per game with a 3PT% of 39.4, and Jakob Poeltl is one of the better two-way centers in the NBA already. Even without Dejounte Murray the Spurs are winning and Greg Popovich is doing an amazing job developing his young core. 

9. Utah Jazz, 5-2 

The Jazz are another team that was supposed to tank but have witnessed Lauri Markannen take a leap offensively. Markkanen is averaging 21.4 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists per game with a TS% of 56.3, and Jared Vanderbilt is continuing to establish himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. The Jazz have the 8th best offense to start the year but the 18th ranked defense. IT hasn’t affected their record yet, but if the Jazz cant improve their defense, that loss column will start adding up.  

8. Portland Trailblazers, 5-1

Even with Damian Lillard out, Anfernee Simons was able to step up and score 30 points in the Blazers’ victory against the Rockets on Saturday night. Rookie Sheadon Sharpe was also able to get some minutes and showed promise as a potential offensive star in the near future. The Blazers have beaten the Lakers, Nuggets, Suns, and Rockets, but also lost by 22 to the Miami Heat. Without Lillard this team will have a difficult week ahead and Simons will be relied upon to produce at an elite level offensively. It would also be helpful if Sharpe demanded the ball more and took some pressure off of Simons.

7. Denver Nuggets, 4-3 

Although its tough to view the Nuggets as a top 6 team after a week with double-digit losses to the Trailblazers and Lakers, they have as much talent as any team in the league. Nikola Jokic is picking up right where he left off averaging an absurd 21 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 8.4 assists with a TS% of 68.3 and a PER of 28.7. Michael Porter Jr. continues to hit 3’s at an elite level (over 45% with over 8 attempts per game from 3) and Jamaal Murray is still trying to get into a rhythm. Bruce Brown Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were two of the best pickups this offseason and the Nuggets will continue to be a very good basketball team if they can improve their 24th ranked defense, which they undoubtedly should be able to accomplish. 

6. Memphis Grizzlies, 4-2 

Ja Morant is averaging 32.6 points and 6.8 assists per game with a TS% of 66.8 and a 3PT% of 56.5%. Obviously it will be difficult for Morant to continue to produce at an elite level this efficiently from the floor, but if Morant can even finish the season above the 40% 3PT threshold, then he has a good chance to win MVP. Morant looks better this season and Desmond Bane has scored 30 points in each of his last two games played. Even bench players that are rookies such as David Roddy and Jake LaRavia are stepping up and hitting big time shots. This Grizzlies team has star power and is one of the deepest teams in the league. Beware of Memphis. 

5. New Orleans Pelicans, 4-2 

The Pelicans welcomed star Zion Williamson back on Sunday after missing two games. Williamson dominated the Clippers putting up 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in 31 minutes. Williamson is still ramping up and will improve drastically as the season goes on (since he was out for a year) but the Pelicans even beat the Mavericks without Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Herb Jones earlier in the week. Second-year forward Trey Murphy is hitting 51.7% of his 3’s and making the most of his opportunities while C.J. McCollom continues to be an effortless 3-level scorer.

Jonas Valancuinas remains one of the more underrated players in the league and Dyson Daniels continues to make an impact when hes on the floor. This Pelicans team has a run in it and I think it will happen in the postseason. They are a dangerous team that is contending for an NBA title sooner than people expected. 

4. Boston Celtics, 4-2 

The Celtics have an argument to be the #1 team in basketball but, after losses to the Cavaliers and Bucks, they have proven to be only the 3rd best team in their conference so far. Jayson Tatum has been fantastic averaging 30.8 points per game with a TS% of 69.5, Jaylen Brown is putting up 25.3 points per game with a TS% of 56.3, and Malcolm Brogdon is fitting in perfectly as an actor on both ends of the floor. This team won’t reach its peak until its best defender is back around January/February (Robert Williams III AKA the Time Lord) but they’ll still be an elite team in the meantime without him. 

3. Phoenix Suns, 5-1 

The Suns continue to play great basketball jumping out to a 5-1 Western Conference best record to start the 2022-2023 campaign. Devin Booker looks like he leveled up again averaging 29.3 points per game with a TS% of 63.3 while Mikal Bridges and DeAndre Ayton are producing on both ends of the floor, allowing Chris Paul to foley be a playmaker (10.8 assists per game despite only averaging 9.3 points). The Suns are the only team in the NBA to have both a top 4 offensive rating and defensive rating and should continue to dominate teams in the regular season. They also have the best NET rating (12.5) in all of basketball to start the season. Whether that success can transfer into the postseason is a whole different story as we saw what happened to them last year against Dallas. 

2. Cleveland Cavaliers, 5-1 

The Cavaliers are the 2nd best team in the NBA to start this season because of MVP candidate Donovan Mitchell 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game with a 3PT% of 48.8 and a TS% of 63.7. This is Mitchell’;s best start through 6 games of his career, and with stars Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley anchoring the defensive end, the Cavaliers have cruised to 5-1 record with the 2nd best NET rating (12) in basketball all without their star point guard Darius Garland. The Cavs rank 4th in offensive rating, 6th in offensive rating, 4th in team eFG%, and 3rd in team TS%. Once Garland comes back, this team will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference and are contenders to win the NBA finals. 

1. Milwaukee Bucks, 5-0 

The team with the best defensive rating in the NBA (102.6) belongs to the Milwaukee Bucks. As a result, it is no surprise that the Bucks started off 5-0. Of course, the 2nd best defense in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers, wish they could be even 2-4 not to mention 5-0. The Bucks only rank 21st in both team TS% and eFG%, and just 16th in offensive rating, but Giannis Antetoukounmpo has yet again been the best defender in the NBA and isn’t too shabby offensively either (34.4 points, 14 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 63.2 and a TS% of 64.5). It helps to have the best player in the NBA on your roster, and if the Bucks can continue to play like this without Khris Middleton, imagine how good they will be offensively when he returns. This team is on a fast-track to reach the NBA Finals.  

Note: Advanced Statistics used in this article are gathered from and and are updated as of October 31st

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