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Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings: Week 5

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @TommyBeer

 

1. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 12-2
We’re going streaking! After dropping their first two games of the season, and losing Gordon Hayward within the first five minutes of the season opener, the Celtics have remarkably reeled off 12 straight wins. A few interesting facts related to this current streak: Boston is just the second team in NBA history to win 12 consecutive contests after starting a season 0-2. This is also the Celtics’ first winning streak of 10 or more games before Thanksgiving in 45 years. Lastly, the C’s are the first team in league history to record a double-digit winning streak with six rookies appearing in at least one game.

 

2. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 10-3
When the Warriors are firing on all cylinders, it looks like they are the varsity scrimmaging against the JV, regardless of who the opponent is. Golden State has won six straight games, all in blowout fashion, all by at least 17 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, “only one other team in NBA history won six straight games, each by a margin of 17-or-more points: The Suns won six successive games in that manner in January of 1990. That Phoenix team, coached by Cotton Fitzsimmons, featured a starting five of Kevin Johnson, Jeff Hornacek, Tom Chambers, Kurt Rambis and Mark West.”

 

3. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 11-3
James Harden is carrying Houston while playing at an incredible level. Over the Rockets six games in November, Harden is averaging 35.8 points, 11.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 5.7 treys, and 1.7 steals. Houston has won each of those six contests. It's hard to argue that anyone has had a more significant impact on their team over the first month of the season.

 

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4. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 10-3
The Pistons are enjoying their best start in over a decade. The last time they won at least 10 of their first 13 games was 2005-06, when they jumped out to a 15-3 mark. That was in the heart of a stretch when Detroit dominated the East. Those Pistons teams advanced to at least the Eastern Conference six years in a row, from 2002-03 to 2007-08. This Detroit team has a long way to go before being considered conference championship contenders, but they are off to an undeniably impressive start.

 

5. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 8-5
The Spurs started the season winning their first four games. Then dropped four in a row, and have now won four of their last five. It’s notable that San Antonio never dipped below .500. Amazingly, since 1997, the Spurs have had a losing record for just 48 days. That’s by FAR the fewest in the league. The team with the second fewest days owning a losing record over that span is the Dallas Mavericks, at 778 days. The Spurs play at Dallas on Tuesday.

 

6. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 7-5
After allowing opponents to score at least 110 points in each of their first five home games this season, the Wiz have allowed an average of just 94.5 points in each of their last two games inside Capital One Arena. Unsurprisingly, Washington won both contests.

 

7. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 7-5
Despite Kyle Lowry getting off to a sluggish start, the Raptors have been as good as expected. They’ve lost five games, but each of those five defeats has been to a team that currently is at least two games above .500 (Spurs, Warriors, Nuggets, Wizards and Celtics).

 

8. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 7-5
Yes, the Grizz have dropped four of their last six games, but they are also on the verge of having their full complement of players for the first time all season. Both Ben McLemore (right foot surgery) and Wayne Selden (right quad) made their season debuts on Saturday, and JaMychal Green (ankle) is expected to return to the lineup this week. Assuming Mike Conley can shake off his early-season slump, Memphis should be able to make a move.

 

9. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 8-5
After a shaky start in October, the Nuggets have won five of six to improve their record to 8-5 on the year. It’s the first time they have won eight of their first 13 games in a season since 2012.

 

10. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 7-5
The Wolves were riding a five-game winning streak before getting beat in the Bay by the Warriors on Thursday. A road loss to Golden State is always understandable, but then Minny lost on Saturday night in Phoenix, which surely left coach Tom Thibodeau surly. The Timberwolves continue their road trip on Monday in Utah.

 

11. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 8-5
The Magic’s surprisingly strong start is directly attributable to their vastly improved offense. In 2016-17, Orlando ranked 29th in offensive efficiency, 29th in True Shooting percentage and 28th in field goal percentage. This season, Orlando is eighth in offensive efficiency, fourth in True Shooting percentage and sixth in field goal percentage.

 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 6-7
OKC had lost four in a row before beating the Clippers and Mavs at home over the weekend. The difference in those two most recent wins has been the superlative play of Paul George. PG-13 averaged 39.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 5.5 treys in those two victories. He had a total of just 25 points and four assists in the Thunder’s two prior games combined.

 

13. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 6-6
Eric Bledsoe provided precisely what Milwaukee was looking for during his first week with the Bucks. Bledsoe had brought top-tier speed to the Bucks backcourt and has helped Milwaukee push the pace. He’s scored in double-figures in his first two games with his new team, and the Bucks won both.

 

14. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 6-7
Remarkably, the Cavs have yet to string together consecutive wins since the first two games of the season. Their defense continues to be incredibly porous. Cleveland held their opponents under 100 points in each of those first two games this year, but have yet to do so since. The Cavs rank dead last in Defensive Efficiency, allowing 112 points per 100 possessions.

 

15. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 7-6
The Pels have won four of five and are above .500 for the first time this season. However, it’s important to note the quality of the teams they’ve beaten and those they have lost to. New Orleans is undefeated (7-0) against teams that currently have a losing record, but they have yet to record a single victory (0-6) against teams with a winning record.

 

16. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 7-5
The surging Knicks have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in five consecutive games. (Per Elias, that's the longest such streak by New York in over 20 years. The last time they made at least half their field goal attempts in five straight contests was back in March of 1997 under Jeff Van Gundy in his first season as head coach.) Dating back to October 27th, since their 0-3 start, the Knicks rank third in the NBA in Offensive Efficiency (110.6 points per 100 possessions), behind only the Warriors and Rockets.

 

17. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 6-6
The Sixers were playing their best ball in recent memory before dropping a disappointing road game in Sacramento and running into the buzzsaw that is the Warriors offense in Golden State. Prior to the Kings game last Thursday, the Sixers had won five straight games. Previous to this most recent run, Philly’s last five-game win streak began on December 31, 2011.

 

18. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 6-6
The Blazers were generating positive buzz over the first ten games of the season. However, they took a step back last week when they failed to take advantage of home games and extended rest (only two games over seven days), losing to the Grizz on Tuesday and the Nets on Friday.

 

19. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 6-7
Miami was determined to get off to a good start to avoid digging themselves a massive hole as they did in 2016-17. However, they are still under .500. Yet, if Miami can escape November, they should be in good shape to make a push. The Heat’s schedule this month is brutal. Not only do they play 16 games over 29 days, but 11 of those 16 contests are on the road.

 

20. Los Angeles Clippers
2017-18 record: 5-7
The Clippers were one of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises over the first week of the 2017-18 campaign. They were one of the league’s last undefeated teams after winning each of their first four games. Since then, they’ve dropped seven of eight, with their only win coming against the lowly Mavs.

 

21. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 5-7
The Hornets have lost four straight, but it should be noted that all four losses were on the road against teams with winning records (at San Antonio, at Minnesota, at New York, and at Boston). The Hornets return home Wednesday to take on Cleveland and expect to have Nicolas Batum (elbow) back in the lineup. Batum’s versatility on both ends of the floor allows him to be a real difference-maker for Charlotte.

 

22. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 6-7
Utah received devastating news over the weekend when it was announced that Rudy Gobert is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks of action with a bone bruise in his right knee. Gobert’s defensive dominance and offensive efficiency are incredibly difficult to replace. The Jazz will merely attempt to keep their heads above water before Rudy is ready to return. The schedule doesn’t do Utah any favors. They host the Timberwolves on Monday and then embark on a four-game East Coast road trip.

 

23. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 6-8
When the Pacers beat the Cavs back on November 1, they were two games above .500 (5-3). Since then, they’ve lost five of six and dropped towards the back of the pack in the East.

 

24. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 5-8
Lonzo Ball has garnered infinitely more attention and coverage than his rookie teammate, Kyle Kuzma, but Kuz has been impressively consistent and productive over the first month of his NBA career. He has four 20-point games and four double-doubles this season. In five games as a starter, Kuzma is averaging 15.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 37.5 minutes. Among rookies, he ranks second in scoring (15.2), tied for fourth in rebounding (6.8), and ninth in field goal percentage (.516).

 

25. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 5-8
With Jeremy Lin (knee) out for the season and Spencer Dinwiddie dealing with a hamstring injury, the loss of D'Angelo Russell for an extended period would be devastating. It appeared that might be the case Saturday night, when Russell limped off the floor and toward the locker room late in Brooklyn’s loss to Utah. However, D'Angelo is reportedly only dealing with a contusion. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Russell is expected to miss “several games.” If he is in fact projected to be back on the floor next week, that would certainly qualify as good news for the Nets.

 

26. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 5-9
The Suns won four of their first five games after firing Earl Watson and installing Jay Triano as the interim head coach. However, following that enjoyable honeymoon period, they then proceeded to drop five straight, four those defeats by double-digits. Yet, the Suns showed some more fight this weekend and surprisingly smacked the Wolves 118-110 on Saturday night in Phoenix.

 

27. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 3-9
The Kings managed to do something in Tuesday’s win over OKC that had never before happened in the history of the league: Sacramento’s bench scored 29 points before one of the team’s starting five recorded a point. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most points ever scored by a team before a member of that team’s starting scored a single point.

 

28. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 2-9
The Bulls offense has been awful for much of the season, but Bobby Portis returned to action and surprisingly supplied a boost last week. Portis averaged 19.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 treys over Chicago’s last three games. However, the Bulls lost all three, and the situation in the Windy City will only get more complicated as Nikola Mirotic (face) inches closer to his return.

 

29. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 2-12
This is not the way Dirk Nowitzki envisioned starting his 20th (and possibly final) NBA season. Things won’t get any easier for Dallas either. Their next seven opponents are San Antonio, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Boston, Memphis, Oklahoma City and San Antonio once again.

 

30. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 2-11
If you are looking for the primary reason the Hawks have struggled so significantly and rank last on this list, focus on their team defense, or lack thereof. Atlanta has allowed at least 110 points in seven consecutive games and ranks 26th in the league in Defensive Efficiency.