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NBA Power Rankings: Spurs and Knicks movin’ on up

Nov 5, 2012, 3:42 PM EDT

Fans celebrate as Knicks' Anthony sinks a three-point shot against Heat during NBA basketball game in New York Reuters

The first few power rankings of the year show the most volatility — we don’t have established patterns for teams and so if someone gets hot or cold for a few games there is no context yet to put that in. It’s Small Sample Size Theatre. The Magic are 2-0 but I don’t think they are good, the Nuggets are 0-3 but I don’t think they are bad. It’s just going to take time to see if that’s true.

But the NBA power rankings never stop, they are relentless march forward. So here are the week two rankings.

source:  1. Heat (2-1, last week ranked No. 1). LeBron James has picked up pretty much right where he left off — playing maybe the best basketball we’ve seen since Jordan. One loss this week was on an emotional night in New York so we let it slide, Ray Allen is hitting threes and this is still the best team in the land.

source:  2. Spurs (3-0, LW 7). The Spurs are very good in the regular season. Again. Shocking. And they got Manu Ginobili back on Saturday, so they should start to play better. Just don’t call them happy.

source:  3. Knicks (2-0, LW 11). Maybe the Knicks were playing with a lot of emotion for a home opener following Hurricane Sandy, but it’s still a win over the Heat. Followed a quality win over the Sixers. Carmelo Anthony at the four is working out well for New York, and we’ll leave the “what happens when Stoudemire comes back?” question for another day.

source:  4. Clippers (2-1, LW 4). Jamal Crawford’s tempo and scoring off the bench — combined with Eric Beldsoe’s play this season — is making the Clippers second unit tough to deal with. And they are still without Grant Hill or an in-shape Lamar Odom. This may be the NBA’s deepest team.

source:  5. Pacers (2-1, LW 8). The Pacers offense has been sluggish without Danny Granger in the lineup (and Gerald Green in his place), but they are getting by with defense and balanced scoring. Paul George has put up some nice numbers (14 points, 13 rebounds a game) to start the season.

source:  6. Thunder (1-2, LW 3). It’s going to take a while to adjust to not having James Harden dishing the rock and leading the second unit. That said, don’t think the early chemistry questions will last. This team is just fine. And Durant is starting to develop as more of a point forward, the man can pass the rock.

source:  7. Grizzlies (1-1, LW 9). Welcome to new owner Robert Pera. He’s going to bring change, but unless he brings a steady outside jumper I’m not sure he can keep this team keep winning this season.


source:  8. Celtics (1-2, LW 5). The should-be-improved bench of the Celtics has been unimpressive through the first three games. Jeff Green dominated the preseason but started out the regular season looking like Jeff Green. Small sample size alert, this unit should get better.  The other issue is they have to figure out how to defend when Kevin Garnett sits.

source:  9. Bulls (2-1, LW 13). They are exactly what we all expected sans Rose — Chicago is defending like beasts but struggling to score. They seem to have no threat from three and the starters are struggling to stretch the floor. But they win games.


source:  10. Nets (1-0, LW 10). They won their home opener. Nice, but not going to read much into it. There are much bigger things to worry about in the city right now anyway.


source:  11. Bucks (2-0, LW 17). The question has been where would the offense come from? The answer is Brandon Jennings, who has had 13 assists in both Bucks games, he dropped 21 on Boston and hit the game winner over the Cavaliers. Monta who?


source:  12. 76ers (1-1, LW 12). Despite Jrue Holiday’s best efforts, the offense has been unimpressive to start the season in Philly. Meanwhile, nobody speaks of Andrew Bynum lest his knee have another setback.


source:  13. Mavericks (2-1, LW 16). Dallas has scored without Dirk Nowitzki thanks to Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and some balance. We’ll see how long they can keep that up, but the answer is at least a week. If they can hold on until Dirk gets back they are tough to keep out of the playoffs.


source:  14. Lakers (1-3, LW 2). They looked strong against Detroit, but can they continue that against a better Jazz team this week (then the Kings and Warriors). No Steve Nash for a few weeks and the Lakers bench has been a disaster. The roller coaster is far from over at Staples Center.

source:  15. Warriors (2-1, LW 18). That Brandon Rush injury was a punch to the gut, we will see how they respond. But we also saw both Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut on the court making plays, and that’s a good thing in the Bay Area.


source:  16. Blazers (2-1, LW 20). Damian Lillard, ladies and gentlemen. He has averaged 21.3 points and 9 assists a game in his first week in the NBA — and that was against Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and Jeremy Lin. This week it’s Chris Paul and Tony Parker. Enjoy.

source:  17. Rockets (2-1, LW 21). So, maybe that James Harden guy is pretty good. That said the Blazers held him in check (8-of-24 shooting) and you can bet defenses will be targeting him, which means Jeremy Lin and others will need to step up.

source:  18. Timberwolves (1-1, LW 19). The injury bug is becoming a plague in Minnesota, where J.J. Barea suffered a concussion and joins Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on the sidelines. Are you ready for the Alexey Shved show?

source:  19. Nuggets (0-3, LW 6). Wow the Nuggets have looked bad. One week, no panic button hitting in Denver, but it is a little stunning how bad they have looked on both sides of the ball. Losing to a Heat team that wants to run is one thing, but Orlando and a depleted Sixers squad? Ugh.

source:  20. Jazz (1-2, LW 14). Paging Derrick Favors, this is the year you step up and start to lead this team, not slide into the background. Mo Williams and Paul Millsap look good, but the Jazz didn’t look good in two road games so far.

source:  21. Magic (2-0, LW 29). Biggest surprise of the week — two wins, both by double digits, with Glen Davis and J.J. Redick putting up numbers. Yes it’s a small sample size but they are balling for Jacque Vaughn.

source:  22. Hawks (1-1, LW 15). Jeff Teague looked good in the first week, and not only when dunking on Durant — 15 points and 6 assists per game, shooting 59 percent. Tough week ahead for the Hawks with the Pacers, Heat and Clippers on the schedule.

source:  23. Hornets (2-1, LW 27). Impressive wins over the weekend against the Bulls and Jazz without Eric Gordon and with Anthony Davis playing only one half of one of those games. They can’t keep it up, but Monty Williams gets his guys to play hard.

source:  24. Cavaliers (1-2, LW 24). Kyrie Irving looks improved from last year’s Rookie of the Year campaign, and Anderson Varejao averaged 13.7 points and 15 boards a game last week. After that things drop off steep and far.

source:  25. Raptors (1-2, LW 22). Overlooked in the player of the week talk — Kyle Lowry and his 23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7 assists per game. He and DeMar DeRozan make a nice backcourt. As for the front court… not so much.

source:  26. Bobcats (1-1, LW 30). They are out of the cellar and deservedly so, beating the Pacers in their season opener. And now they may have Ben Folds Five as a house band. Things are looking up.

source:  27. Suns (1-2, LW 28). They had one of the uglier losses of the week to the Magic (without Jameer Nelson or Hedo Turkoglu). Their defense isn’t bad but it turns out Michael Beasley is an inefficient scorer. Who knew? (Oh, everyone.)

source:  28. Kings (0-3, LW 25). Look for things to turn around a little with Sacramento having a lot of home games the next three weeks, but even DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t looked good the first few weeks.


source:  29. Pistons (0-3, LW 23). This pretty much sums up the season so far: Rodney Stuckey is 1-of-23 shooting. And if you look ahead for the next week or so on their schedule you see two games against the Thunder, plus the Nuggets and Rockets. Not good.

source:  30. Wizards (0-2, LW 26). As expected, with John Wall and Nene out their offense has been a mess, and Bradley Beal (2-13 overall, 0-7 inside the arc) hasn’t been a help. It’s going to be a rough start to the season.

  1. michaeljordanseviltwin - Nov 5, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Miami’s defense is currently ranked 30th with the offense at 2nd in points per possession. I know it’s an extremely small sample size of games but I might be a little concerned about that porous D.

  2. theripster30 - Nov 5, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    How in the world are the Celtics 3 spots ahead of the Bucks? If you watched the game, Milwaukee blew out Boston right from the beginning. Boston was only able to close the margin when the bench warmers were in the game for the whole fourth quarter.

    • trevor123698 - Nov 5, 2012 at 8:41 PM

      because Boston is clearly better and just needs time to gel. And Im from milwaukee

  3. raidmagic - Nov 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    I realize it’s only one week and the Nuggets might be a better team but how you do place them ahead of the Magic when they were absolutly dismantled by the Magic just a few days ago?

  4. lucky5936 - Nov 5, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    For the same reason the Heat are ranked higher than the Knicks, a team that won impressively the other night. Kurt “Let it slide”. Seriously Kurt, why even have power rankings if you are going to ignore actual game results?

    • michaeljordanseviltwin - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      Kurt realizes that the Heat & Knicks reached a gentlemen’s agreement that the Knicks would win their home opener to the delight of a suffering city, while the Heat would be guaranteed a win the next time. Happens in sumo wrestling all the time.

    • jolink653 - Nov 6, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      I love all the Heat fans saying that they gifted that win to the Knicks because of the hurricane…What a stupid thing to say; call it what it is: the Knicks absolutely blew the doors off the Heat because they executed better that night and will not be the walkover team the Heat dismantled last year…To say the Heat gave them that game is an insult to the effort and hustle the Knicks put forth to win that game

  5. packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    How can a team that was blown out by 20 points be #1 when San Antonio has won all three games?

    For the first week of this NBA season the top 3 are

    1. SA
    2. NYK
    3. MIA

    • zerole00 - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM

      San Antonio never gets any respect. They may have age working against them, but their discipline, teamwork, and time management is second to none. I’m not a Spurs fan per se, but I love watching them quietly win championships.

    • kavika6 - Nov 5, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      Especially after the Spurs pounded the Pacers tonight. Wait until the Heat and Knicks start to play some tough western teams. OKC will definitely improve also.

      • borderline1988 - Nov 6, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        If you go directly with wins and losses, you’re right. The Knicks and Spurs should be the best. Might as well throw the Magic in there also.

        But no one in their right mind actually thinks the Knicks or Magic are better than the Heat. It’s the same thing in the NFL…would you have taken the Vikings over the Packers a few weeks back? Do you think the Colts are actually better than the Broncos, when the spread in net points between them is almost 100, over just 8 games? (Colts PF/PA is -32, Broncos = +60)

  6. sportsfan83 - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Please don’t tell me Kurt you’re like 98% of Heat fans and think the Heat let us win as a gift to the city of New York. A wins a win but it’s more deserved when it’s by 20 points. Good to see NY at # 3 though,also Melo belongs at the 4,might be a small PF but I think he’s much better there.

  7. nokoolaidcowboy - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    I’m flattered to see th Knicks at number 3, but come on…This is useless.

    You’re doing power rankings before these teams have played 10 games?

  8. mvp43 - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Go Buck’s……………….

  9. zerole00 - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Wow, this is the first time I think I’ve seen mention of the Bucks on PBT in 2012. Anyone else forget that they were an NBA team?

  10. buffalowned - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Regular season power rankings are meaningless because there are still only a handful of teams with a legitimate shot to win the title. Yes Kurt can let that heat Knicks game slide because I’m not sure Dwayne wade actually ran at any point in the game. The players don’t care about the regular season why should we? Watch a playoff game and then try to tell me that the superstars and good teams are putting in the effort during the season

    • lucky5936 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:13 AM

      If you run Power Rankings based on personal bias and preseason hype, then yes they are meaningless. If you use actual game results and adjust the rankings accordingly, then they are useful in giving fans an idea of when important match-ups take place. I am not saying the Heat won’t be ahead of the Knicks at some point during the season, but this week the Knicks were better than the Heat. I don’t care if Wade didn’t run during the game. That is not why they lost. That is just the reason why they were dominated by 20 points.

  11. lemfaxx - Nov 5, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    WHAt?? #6 thunder 1-2 better than #11bucks 2-0
    Whatt??? #14 lakers 1-3 better than #23 hornets 2-1
    What? #1 miami 2-1 better than #3 ny 2-0 despite ny beat the hear

    What is your basis? The line-up or their current achievement. Common men. You better put La #1 charlotte#30 up to the end of the season so your not wasting your time!!!

  12. magicbucs - Nov 5, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    These power rankings are based on the 1st week of play??? Or Kurt rub off list? This list has teams 1-3 (lakes) ranked above undefeated teams(magic)

    Kurt this list just proved you have no substance to what you write lol

  13. Mr. Wright 212 - Nov 5, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Knicks have the best defense in the league.

    Now getting scoring from a half dozen guys also… BEFORE Stoudemire comes back? I’ll take it. Keep trying to hand things to Boston and Miami…

  14. pariseinminnesotabichez - Nov 5, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Wow the Timberwolves are underrated…. Wow

  15. davidly - Nov 6, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    “The first few power rankings of the year show the most volatility — we don’t have established patterns…”
    Translation: We had no business putting the Lakers anywhere near the top of the pre-season power rankings.

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