TST’s NBA Power Rankings Week 4

After going 1-2 this week to fall to 2-7, the Los Angeles Lakers are in trouble, while the Milwaukee Bucks continue their perfect start to the season as the class of the NBA.

30. Houston Rockets, 1-9

The Rockets would love to see more progression from Jalen Green, who has started the year averaging just 19.5 points per game with a 3PT% of 29.3, an abysmal TS% of 48.7, and an even worse FG% of 32.2. Green was supposed to take a leap as one of the premier young stars in the NBA, but isn’t playing well at all. Even though rookies Tari Eason and Jabari Smith Jr. have shown flashes of extreme potential, the Rockets can’t solely rely on Kevin Porter Jr. to put the team on his back to win games. Porter Jr. is a gifted playmaker who can score as well, but if a team wants to win basketball games, Porter Jr. cannot be the primary option. As a result, the Rockets are 1-9 to start the year and rank close to last in every single metric.

29. Charlotte Hornets, 3-7

The Hornets are much worse than their record. The team ranks 27th in offensive rating at 106.2, 26th in both eFG% and TS% at 50.8 and 53.9 respectively. The Hornets also only have the 13th-best defensive rating in the NBA (110.7) because teams don’t have to score much to beat them. Without LaMelo Ball this team cannot produce offensively and the only positive signs for the Hornets are that P.J. Washington (15.6 points and 1.5 blocks per game) is filling into Miles Bridges’ role relatively nicely and Terry Rozier can keep the Hornets in games by himself (24 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists per game). Even when LaMelo Ball returns, the Hornets should make sure they are in the lottery to have a shot at Victor Webanyama to make this young core better.

28. Detroit Pistons, 2-8

The Pistons have seen flashes of superstardom from second year franchise cornerstone player Cade Cunningham (21.4 points, 6.3 assists, and 6 rebounds per game with a TS% of 51.4) but his inconsistencies on a nightly basis are hurting the team. Rookie Jaden Ivey (15.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game with a TS% of 53.1) and third year forward Saddiq Bey is knocking down a high percentage of his shots (16.2 points per game, 35.5% from 3, 61.5% TS%). The Pistons have the worst defensive rating in all of basketball (118.1) and their offensive rating isn’t too great either (106.8, 27th in NBA). Still, even with some of the worst metrics in basketball, they have the pieces to win some big games.

27. Orlando Magic, 2-8

Paolo Banchero has been the best rookie since Luka Doncic, averaging 22.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a TS% of 54.3 and second year point-forward Franz Wagner has taken a leap, averaging 17.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 1 steal per game with a TS% of 53.3. Those two guys are the core of the future for the Magic and they should be very happy about it. Bol Bol has also taken a leap averaging 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game with a TS% of 75.4. The Magic have the 23rd ranked offensive rating in the NBA at 109.1, the 18th ranked defensive rating at 113.3, the 20th ranked eFG% of 52.7, and the 16th ranked TS% of 57. These advanced metrics indicate that the Magic should improve their record over the next couple of weeks.

26. Golden State Warriors, 3-7

The Warriors have lost 5 in a row and it seems like Stephen Curry is the only player on the floor most of the time. Curry has been amazing, averaging 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game with a TS% of 66.2. This is Curry’s best start to the season since his last MVP year in 2016, but the other players simply aren’t producing. Jordan Poole is only shooting 30.4% from 3, Klay Thompson is only shooting 32.1% from 3, and Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman have been awful in the second unit off the bench.

Andrew Wiggins is playing well (17.4 points per game, 56.6 TS%) but the once elite Warriors defense (ranked 1st for most of the season last year) now ranks 28th in the NBA at 116.7. The Warriors will need to play better defense to piece together wins and truly contend for a championship. I am not pushing the panic button on this team yet, but they really need to turn around their season soon.

25. Los Angeles Lakers, 2-7

The Lakers went 1-2 last week and are 2-7 overall, but at least the offense improved. Unfortunately for the Lakers, their defense faltered giving up 130 points to the Jazz and 114 points to the Cavaliers in two straight losses to end the week. Their defensive rating fell from 2nd to 7th at 109.4 and their offensive rating of 103.4 still ranks 29th in the NBA (just in front of the Clippers). Russell Westbrook has been a great spark plug off of the bench, willing the Lakers back into games by himself, but this team simply needs to shoot better to win games.

The Lakers have the worst eFG% and TS% in the NBA at 48.9 and 53.1 respectivley. Matt Ryan hit a big shot in the Lakers win against the Pelicans last Wednesday night, but he can’t solely be relied upon as the only 3PT shooter. Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker, and Kendrick Nunn need to step up to hit 3’s, but more importantly Lebron James, who has been killing them from beyond the arc (21% from 3, just 44.1% from the field in general) needs to play better offensively.

24. Sacramento Kings, 3-5

De’Aaron Fox came back from a one game absence and led the Kings to an overtime victory over the Magic on Saturday as he finished with 37 points and 3 assists. On the season, Fox is averaging 26.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game with a TS% of 64.8 and a PER of 24.66 (12th in the NBA). Domantas Sabonis is averaging 16 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists with a TS% of 59.8. The Kings have the 16th best offensive rating in the NBA at 112.5, but still are one of the worst teams in the league on defense (defensive rating of 114.4, 23rd in the NBA). Rookie Keegan Murray has had a rough start to the season, and if the Kings want to become a .500 team or close to that, Murray will have to show the promise he showed in the NBA Summer League.

23. Brooklyn Nets, 4-6

The Nets have been in the news for many things over the past week, but it wasn’t for their play on the court. Before winning two games against the Wizards and Hornets, the Nets were arguably the worst team in the NBA going nowhere fast. Ben Simmons has been awful (6.2 points per game, 45.6 TS%), Kyrie Irving is suspended, and Rocye O’Neal has been counted on to be the #2 option behind Kevin Durant. Although it was against two of the bottom 10 teams in the NBA, the Nets still finished the week on a 2 game win streak with momentum. Kevin Durant has put the team on his back this season averaging 31.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game with a TS% of 64.8. The Nets have the 13th ranked offensive rating at 113.5 and the 22nd ranked defensive rating at 114.3. With no timetable return for Kyrie Irving, the Nets will need more from Ben Simmons to continue to win games this week. We already know what Kevin Durant will do.

22. Miami Heat, 4-6

The Heat have severely underperformed this season as they rank 22nd in offensive rating at 109.3, 15th in defensive rating at at 111.1, 25th in eFG% 51.6, and 19th in TS% at 56.7. Jimmy Butler is yet again leading the way for this team (21.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists per game with a TS% of 60.3) but the rest of the team isn’t performing. Bam Adebayo has been too inconsistent, Tyler Herro only tries on one end of the floor, and the Heat simply don’t have a good enough offense to win games if their defense is ranked 15th. They didn’t have a particularly good offense last season either, but at least they were dominant defensively with a top 5 defense. Unless they get back to that, trouble will be brewing in South Beach.

21. Philadelphia 76ers, 4-6

The 76ers have been without Joel Embiid for a couple of games and now won’t have James Harden for a month, but it may be a blessing in disguise as Tyrese Maxey is continuing his breakout year (24.9 points per game with a TS% of 61). The 76ers have the 10th best offensive rating in the NBA at 114.1, the 19th-best defensive rating at 113.5, and the 5th ranked team eFG% and TS% of 55.7 and 59.9 respectively. Even when James Harden returns to the floor in a month, the 76ers flourish when he is primarily a playmaker while Maxey and Embiid are the top 2 scoring options.

20. Washington Wizards, 4-6

The Wizards rank 24th in offensive rating at 109.1, 24th in defensive rating at 114.5, and their prized rookie Johnny Davis was sent to the G league after an atrocious start to the season. Bradley Beal (21.6 points and 5.7 assists per game with a TS% of 61.5) and Kristaps Porzingis (19.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game with a TS% of 60) have been great as a duo, but third year players Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura haven’t played well as key role players when they were expected to step up this season in bigger roles. This team has the talent to make the play-in tournament, but its going be hard unless they get contributions from their bench.

19. New York Knicks, 4-5

The Knicks are off to a 4-5 start behind Jalen Brunson (19.3 points and 7.2 assists per game with a TS% of 57) and R.J. Barrett (19.3 points and 2.7 assists per game with a TS% of 52.6). Barrett hasn’t taken the leap the Knicks have wanted to see when they kept him instead of trading for Donovan Mitchell, but he has played better over the past 3 games and is getting more efficient from the field in each contest. Nonetheless, the Knicks are not a playoff team as they have a defensive coach yet rank 17th in defensive rating at 113. Anyone could have told the Knicks that giving a 6-0 point guard a huge deal would be a mistake as it would limit them defensively even more so than last season. It’s not even Thibodeu’s fault as he was only given Isaiah Hartenstein to bolster a defense that already had a slew of issues. Either way, it’s going to be difficult for the Knicks to be a playoff team with their defensive limitations.

18. Indiana Pacers, 4-5

The Pacers continue to see Tyrese Haliburton (21.9 points and 9.3 assists per game with a TS% of 63.5) and Bennedict Mathurin (20.7 points per game with a TS% of 62.1) flourish in the backcourt as this team is continuing to win games despite being projected to “tank” this season. The Pacers rank 12th in offensive rating at 113.7, but 26th in defensive rating at 115.4. Buddy Hield is shooting lights out and Myles Turner is playing great on both ends of the floor. Let’s see what they can do against the Pelicans, Nuggets, and Raptors this week.

17. Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-5

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be heading to his first All-Star game this season if he continues to average 30.5 points and 5.9 assists with a TS% of 62.5. Gilgeous-Alexander is winning the Thunder games by himself and although this team is nowhere close to contending, their young star is finding ways for the team to stay in games against better teams. The Thunder have also benefited from Lu Dort’s elite perimeter defense as he is anchoring the 5th ranked defense in the NBA (defensive rating of 109.2). If the Thunder continue to play great defense, they will be in every game this season. Maybe they are further along in the rebuild than we originally had thought?

16. Minnesota Timberwolves, 5-5

The Timberwolves have plenty of issues, but when Rudy Gobert stands at the 3PT line and starts to attempt 3’s, the team needs to have an intervention. Spacing has been another issue for this team as Anthony Edwards and other players don’t know what to do when both Gobert and Karl Anthony-Towns are on the court. The Wolves traded their two best perimeter defenders in Jared Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley for another interior defender when they simply didn’t need one. Karl Anthony-Towns is averaging 22 points 8.6 rebounds per game with a TS% of 60.7, but Gobert is taking away a lot of Towns’ production on both ends of the floor.

As a result of the spacing issues, the Wolves rank 20th offensive rating at 110.5, and 8th in defensive rating at 110.1. The Wolves only have a top 10 defense because of their interior defensive acumen, but if you watch the team play basketball, they struggle immensely on the perimeter. Besides Jaden McDaniels and Anthony Edwards the team lacks depth defensively and that will continue to plague them as the season goes on. The Timberwolves experiment with Gobert hasn’t worked so far and it could be detrimental in the long-term considering how much young talent and assets they gave up for him.

15. San Antonio Spurs, 5-5

The Spurs reverted to the mean last week going 0-3 with a 43 point loss to the Raptors. Still, the Spurs have looked good enough to stay in most of the games they have played and are benefiting from both Keldon Johnson (23.1 points per game with a 59.6 TS%) and Devin Vassell (21.3 points per game with a 62.3 TS%) having breakout years. The Spurs don’t have the best metrics ranking 22nd in offensive rating at 110.2 and 29th in defensive rating at 117.9, but Greg Popovich is finding a way with these players to win games. Let’s see how they do this week against the Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Bucks in a brutal stretch.

14. Chicago Bulls, 5-6

The Bulls have lost to plenty of good basketball teams, but they only have one signature win against an elite team so far this season in a 120-104 win over the Celtics on October 24th. DeMar DeRozan is averaging 25.1 points per game with a TS% of 61.7, Nikola Vucevic is averaging 16.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game with a TS% of 57.2, and Zach Lavine is averaging 20.7 points per game with a TS% of 56.6. All of their stars are playing great, but like I mentioned in last weeks power rankings, depth is the issue for this team. Patrick Williams, Coby White, Ayo Donsunmu, and others aren’t producing enough to take pressure off of the big 3. As a result, until Lonzo Ball comes back this team will hover around .500.

13. Los Angeles Clippers, 5-5

The Clippers have had to rely on Paul George to single-handedly win them games. This was supposed to be the “deepest team in the league” yet the bench isn’t producing and no one is able to shoot with consistency besides George. The Clippers are the worst offensive team in the league (yes worse than the Lakers) as they have the 30th ranked offensive rating in the NBA at 103 and they have the second worst TOV% in the NBA at 16.8%. Kawhi Leonard being out for an undisclosed amount of time is a whole other issue, but the Clippers need Robert Covington, John Wall, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, and Reggie Jackson to produce off of the bench if they want to go on a run at some point.

12. New Orleans Pelicans, 5-4

The Pelicans had an up and down week losing to the Lakers, beating the Warriors, then losing to the Hawks in overtime. In fact, both of the Pelicans losses last week were dealt in overtime. On the bright side, the Pelicans welcomed Brandon Ingram back from injury and Zion Williamson is starting to play better looking more like himself (22.7 points, 6.9 rebounds per game with a TS% of 55.4). The Pelicans are one of the few teams with a top 10 offensive and defensive rating and their NET Rating of 5 is the 6th best in the entire NBA. This team is still a wagon and if they can fix their ability to close out games, they will be a force to be reckoned with the Western Conference.

11. Toronto Raptors, 6-4

The Raptors have looked better than their record and its because of their dominant defense. The Raptors have a defensive rating of 108.5 (5th in the NBA) and a lot of that dominance is attributed to OG Anunoby, who is averaging 16.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game with an absurd 3.1 steals per game as well. Anunoby has 40 blocks+steals so far this season, by far the highest mark in the NBA and he is locking up every opposing star as the Raptors are piecing together wins. It hurts losing Pascal Siakam at least for two weeks, but the Raptors have the depth in Gary Trent Jr., Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Otto Porter Jr. and others to tread water. When Siakam comes back, the Raptors are immediately a top 5 team in the Eastern Conference.

10. Atlanta Hawks, 6-3

The Hawks traded a lot of their assets for Dejounte Murray and so far it is paying off. Murray is averaging 22 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 2 steals per game with a TS% of 54.1 to start the season and is coming off of a triple double in the Hawks win against the Pelicans on Saturday night. Trae Young hasn’t been particularly efficient from the field (40.6 FG%) but it’s hard enough to average 28 points and 9 assists in the NBA regardless, so that’s impressive in of itself.

Clint Capela is averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds per game, and De’Andre Hunter is putting up 14.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game with a TS% of 56.1. The Hawks rank 12th in offensive rating at 113.2, 16th in defensive rating at 112.5, 23rd in team eFG% at 52.4, and 22nd in team TS% at 56.1, all of which indicate that the Hawks are not as good as their 6-3 record to start the year. Unless they Hawks shoot better from the field and raise their offensive rating, they will struggle to beat good basketball teams.

9. Portland Trailblazers, 6-3

Jerami Grant took it upon himself to defeat the Phoenix Suns last Friday night without Damian Lillard or Anfernee Simons. Grant scored 30 points and willed the Blazers to victory, but unfortunately, the next day the Suns came back and destroyed them by 20 points. Anfernee Simons is balling with Lillard out (22 points per game, 40.4% from 3) and Jusuf Nurkic is continuing to dominate the glass and score inside averaging 14 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. The Blazers have the 11th ranked defensive rating in the NBA at 109.5, but only the 20th ranked offensive rating at 110.3. They are 17th in team eFG% at 53 and aren’t elite on either side of the court. As a result they will likely revert to the mean and be a .500 basketball team at best at some point this season despite their hot start.

8. Dallas Mavericks, 5-3

Luka Doncic has scored 30+ points in each of his first 8 games and is averaging 36 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game with a TS% of 62.9 to start the season. If Doncic continues to put up those numbers for the whole season, he will unanimously win the MVP award and have one of the best seasons in NBA history. Christian Wood is the perfect compliment to Doncic as a stretch 4 who can hit 3’s (16.8 points and 8 rebounds per game) while Spencer Dinwiddie has picked up where he left off from last season (17.3 points and 4.3 assists per game with a TS% of 59.4). The Mavericks are tied with the Celtics for the best offensive rating in basketball (118.4) and have become one of the few juggernauts in the Western Conference.

7. Denver Nuggets, 6-3

Nikola Jokic is still playing at an MVP level, averaging 20.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game with a TS% of 71. Jokic hasn’t needed to score as much this season with Michael Porter Jr. averaging 17.1 points per game on 48.7% from 3 and Jamaal Murray finding his stride offensively (20+ points in two of the past three games).

The Nuggets haven’t had the dominant offense they envisioned having this season yet (116.1 offensive rating, 5th in the NBA) but that should come as Jamaal Murray gets into a groove throughout the year. The Nuggets are already the best shooting team in the NBA (2nd in TS% at 60.1, 1st in eFG% at 57.8) but are only 5th in offensive rating because of their 21st ranked TOV% of 15.1%. If the Nuggets can take care of the ball more and continue to see the trio of Jokic, Porter Jr., and Murray get better as the year goes on, they could finish as the 1st seed in the Western Conference.

6. Memphis Grizzlies, 7-3

Everyone talks about Ja Morant and rightfully so but Desmond Bane has averaged 30 points per game in his last 6 games and is shooting 52.5% from 3 with a TS% of 62.1 overall on the season. Steven Adams continues to be a man amongst boys on the glass (11 rebounds per game), while rookies David Roddy, Jake LaRavia, and Kennedy Chandler have been great off of the bench instantly for the Grizzlies. Despite having only the 20th ranked defensive rating at 113.9, the Grizzlies have the 6th ranked offensive rating at 115.8 and are showing no signs of slowing down. This team has the talent and depth to go all the way, especially with the lethal tandem of Desmond Bane and Ja Morant.

5. Utah Jazz, 8-3

The Jazz obliterated the Lakers “elite defense” pouring 130 points on them with Lauri Markkanen (22.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game with a TS% of 61.5) leading the way as always. At this rate, Markkanen will be heading to his first All-Star game, and Jared Vanderbilt is already a top 10 perimeter defender in the NBA. Jordan Clarkson is averaging 17.4 points per game with a TS% of 53.2, while Collin Sexton, even in limited minutes, is averaging 13.4 points per game with a 3PT% of 43.5 and a TS% of 60. The Jazz rank 8th in offensive rating at 114.4 and 12th in defensive rating at 109.6. One of the most balanced teams in the NBA, the Jazz play with a chip on their shoulder and there hot start may not be a fluke after all.

4. Boston Celtics, 6-3

The Celtics have been incredibly worse defensively this year (22nd in defensive rating at 113.7) than last year (1st in defensive rating at 106.2). Part of that fall off in defensive efficiency is the absence of star defender Robert Williams III, who won’t return to action until at least January. Because of that, the Celtics have to give extensive minutes to Grant Williams at the 4 and the 5, while also pushing 36 year old Al Horford down the stretch of games too. Williams III provided elite interior defense and a motor patrolled by few in the NBA.

Nonetheless, Jayson Tatum is off to an MVP start (30.3 points and 8 rebounds per game with a tremendous TS% of 65.6) and is silencing all of the haters that called him inefficient from the field. Malcolm Brogdon has fit in perfectly with the Celtics (14.9 points and 3.8 steals per game with a 61.4 TS) and Jaylen Brown is continuing his leap as a two-way star (25.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game with a 56.8 TS%). The Celtics’ offense is the best its ever looked (offensive rating of 118.4, tied 1st in the NBA) and once Robert Williams III comes back, this team could become unbeatable.

3. Phoenix Suns, 7-2

The Phoenix Suns yet again are the best team in the Western Conference with an offensive rating of 116.4 (3rd in NBA) and a defensive rating of 105.1 (also 3rd in the NBA). The Suns are also top 10 in both TS% and eFG%, but just lost arguably their best shooter in Cam Johnson (torn meniscus) for an extensive amount of time. Devin Booker is averaging 27 points and 5.1 assists per game with a TS% of 59.4, while Deandre Ayton is averaging 15.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game with a TS% of 60.9. If those two young stars can continue to produce, that will do enough in Cam Johnson’s absence to stay a top 6 seed in the West.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers, 8-1

The Cavaliers are 8-1 and have an argument as the best team in the NBA with their 12.3 NET Rating (1st in the entire NBA), 2nd overall defensive rating of 103.2, 7th overall offensive rating of 115.5, and 4th overall team TS% of 59.4. Donovan Mitchell is having the best year of his young career averaging 31.4 points and 6.5 assists per game with an unreal TS% of 62.4. Darius Garland has only played in two full games so far this season, but has averaged 26 points and 9 assists in those games.

Evan Mobley hasn’t taken the leap many GM’s and scouts thought he would take (14 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game), but he hasn’t needed to with the stellar play of Donovan Mitchell. Either way, with Jarrett Allen (13.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game) building off of his All-Star season last year, and Kevin Love and Caris LeVert providing elite bench depth, the Cavaliers are poised to make a deep playoff run.

1. Milwaukee Bucks, 9-0

The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a perfect start without arguably their 2nd best player in Khris Middleton. The Bucks have the best defensive rating in the NBA at 100.6 and have witnessed Giannis Antetokounmpo yet again dominate on both ends of the floor (32.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game with a TS% of 60.6).

As good as Antetokounmpo has been, Jrue Holiday may be the teams most important player right now as he’s off to a scorching start averaging 20 points, 8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game with a 3PT% of 41.6 and a TS% of 54.1). Holiday is still the best on-ball guard defender in the NBA and both Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez are playing the best defense of their lives as well. This team is the easy favorite to win the title 3 weeks into the NBA season.

NOTE: Advanced Stats used in this article are gathered from and and updated as of November 7th.

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