NBA Power Rankings: Which Team in Los Angeles Is Number One?
The first week of the 2019-20 NBA season is in the books, which means it’s time to check out where each team stands in our power rankings.
Teams will be ranked in terms of nERD, which is our efficiency algorithm based on in-game data. These ratings allow us to understand which teams and players are performing best.
Only seven teams maintained the same rank since the season began, which means there’s been a lot of movement. Let’s take a look at how each team stacks up.
|28||New York Knicks||1-3||31.0||26||-2|
|21||New Orleans Pelicans||0-4||42.3||20||-1|
Beating Memphis wasn't enough to bump the Chicago Bulls up. They did have an exciting moment, though, as it was discovered that Patrick Beverley led the entire state of Chicago in scoring while he was in high school.
After an offseason in which they "almost" acquired every superstar currently active in the NBA, the New York Knicks find themselves at 28th in our rankings. But hey, at least they still have Kristaps Porz...oh.
Things are looking up in Memphis, with Ja Morant playing like a star in a win over Brooklyn. That said, you can't lose to the Chicago Bulls on your homecourt and expect to move up in the rankings. The Grizzlies also have the third-worst offensive efficiency rating in the league.
At this point, it's safe to say that Michael Jordan's on-court skills haven't translated to managing an NBA franchise. The most recognizable name on the Charlotte Hornets' roster is probably Terry Rozier, which is just sad. None of Charlotte's three losses were abysmal, but there's very little about this franchise to get excited about. Their defensive efficiency rating of 116.2 is third-worst in the NBA.
Beating the Clippers and losing to the Nuggets and Jazz by a combined two points, all without Deandre Ayton, is an impressive feat. The Phoenix Suns currently have defensive and offensive efficiency ratings that are both inside the top 12 in the league. If Phoenix continues playing at this level, they'll shoot up the rankings in no time. As of now, they share the Biggest Riser Award with Dallas.
Led by Trae Young's 34 points per game, the Atlanta Hawks haven't been the pushover that many were expecting them to be. Atlanta was a possession away from beating the 76ers and starting the young season 3-0.
The Biggest Faller of the Week Award goes to the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento has started out the season playing puke-worthy basketball, resulting in them dropping a whopping 11 spots in our rankings. The Kings have the league's word offensive efficiency, at just 94.4, to go with a fourth-worst defensive efficiency of 113.7. Our models -- which gave the Kings a 37.3 percent chance of making the playoff before the season started -- currently have their playoff odds at 20.9 percent.
The Washington Wizards have started the season with three straight road games, and they’ve played respectable, yet unspectacular basketball thus far.
A tough schedule and the loss of Zion Williamson have contributed to the New Orleans Pelicans starting 0-4. However, Pelicans fans have to be encouraged by Brandon Ingram’s 27.3 points per game average, which is good for eighth in the league.
|19||Oklahoma City Thunder||1-3||46.2||22||+3|
|11||Golden State Warriors||1-2||54.8||5||-6|
The Indiana Pacers were never going to be a great team without Victor Oladipo, but that won't prevent them from getting this week's Most Disappointing Team Award. It's hard to sugarcoat two losses to the Pistons and a resounding beating by the Cavaliers as anything but disappointing.
The Detroit Pistons have beaten the Pacers twice, but that's not enough to overcome a 17-point loss to the Hawks on your homecourt.
One of just three remaining unbeaten teams through one week, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been nothing short of impressive. While it's not sustainable, Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 32 points per game to go along with 13.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 2.7 steals. Those are MVP numbers right there.
Kyrie Irving leads the league in scoring through his first three games with the Brooklyn Nets, but that isn't enough to prevent them from dropping in our rankings. Though they came by a combined two points, losses to the Wolves and Grizzlies won't help Brooklyn's standing.
Our co-winner of the Biggest Riser Award goes to the Dallas Mavericks. Through four games, the Mavericks' only loss came at the hands of the Blazers by a mere two points. Both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are averaging more than 22 points per game (25.0 and 22.3, respectively), and Dallas looks like it has a core to build around for years to come. Dallas' playoff odds have risen by 6.2 percent since the start of the season, according to our models.
Kawhi are the Raptors up to 13th in our rankings? Kawhi haven't they been losing without Kawhi? Kawhi does Toronto have the fifth-best defensive efficiency rating in the league? Kawhi are the defending champs not in the first part of our list? I could do this all day, but Kawhi would I when all of you will stop reading? On a serious note, the Toronto Raptors have been impressive defensively, but their three wins have come against the Zion-less Pelicans, the Bulls, and the Magic. It remains to be seen if the Raptors can beat a formidable opponent.
Many a tear will not be shed, but the Golden State Warriors are no longer the juggernaut we've grown accustomed to watching. Due to their offensive prowess, Golden State's defensive abilities were often overlooked -- but the team that used to give opponents fits on both ends has the worst defensive rating in the league through three games. They lost Kevin Durant and are without Klay Thompson, but they still have three all-stars and a former Defensive Player of the Year. They need to pick their play up in order to keep from dropping even more in our rankings.
|10||Portland Trail Blazers||2-2||55.2||9||-1|
|9||San Antonio Spurs||3-0||56.1||11||+2|
|2||Los Angeles Lakers||3-1||70.1||2||0|
|1||Los Angeles Clippers||3-1||77.0||1||0|
Each of Portland's two losses have come to teams that are ranked ahead of them, which explains why they still find themselves inside our top-10.
Three things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and the San Antonio Spurs churning along near the top of the standings. The Spurs are just one of three remaining unbeaten teams after beating the Blazers on Monday. It's worth noting that San Antonio has started out with each of their first three games at home. A road game against the Clippers on Thursday will be a true test for Gregg Popovich's club.
After losing to the 76ers on opening night, the Boston Celtics have bounced back in the form of back to back wins against the Raptors and Knicks. Four players are averaging more than 16 points a game for Boston, with Kemba Walker leading the bunch at 22.0.
The Denver Nuggets started the season with an impressive 108-100 victory in Portland. Since then, the Nuggets have beaten the Suns and Kings, while ceding their most recent game to Dallas.
Wins over the Celtics, Pistons, and Hawks have the Philadelphia 76ers as one of the three remaining unbeaten teams in the NBA. Offseason trade acquisition Josh Richardson leads the teams with a +/- of 14.7. Philadelphia's defensive efficiency rating of 95.5 is second to only the Jazz.
Our highest-rated team from last season -- the Milwaukee Bucks -- find themselves in our fifth spot one week into the 2019-20 season. Milwaukee is inside the top-five in offensive rating, but their defensive efficiency is just 14th in the league. Look for Mike Budenholzer's squad to pick it up on that side of the ball.
Each of Houston's first three games have been within six points, and all three have been at home. The Rockets lost their opener to the Bucks but have since beaten the Pelicans and Thunder to improve to 2-1. At 24.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 9.7 assists, Russell Westbrook is once again in triple-double territory for the season. Meanwhile, fellow teammate and former MVP James Harden is shooting just 28.6 percent from the field and 15 percent from three.
With an efficiency rating of 91.6, no team has been better defensively than the Utah Jazz. However, the Jazz won't maintain their high rank if they can't improve on their 98.9 defensive efficiency, which is fourth-worst in the league.
The new-look Los Angeles Lakers opened their season with a loss -- albeit a competitive one -- to the clearly superior Clippers. They have since won three in a row to improve their record to 3-1. The fact that the Lakers have both defensive and offensive efficiency ratings inside the top-10 in the league is quite encouraging -- and a sign of a true Finals contender.
Coming in at number one in our rankings are the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi are they number one? It's simple. Kawhi Leonard is the reason Kawhi. Kawhi is showing the league Kawhi he was worth all of the offseason drama. Leonard is averaging 27.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and what would be a career-high 7.5 assists per game. Los Angeles' 77.0 nERD is 3.6 points higher than Milwaukee's league-leading rating at the end of last season. The Clippers have beaten the Lakers and Warriors already without Paul George, which might have teams asking themselves Kawhi they should even bother playing.
For the record, I can totally see you rolling your eyes -- and that's exactly Kawhi I won't stop.