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PBT NBA Power Rankings: Pacers, Rockets, T-Wolves and Sixers on top

Nov 4, 2013, 2:04 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

The first few weeks of the Power Rankings see crazy fluctuations — teams that aren’t really that good start off hot, teams that are good start cold, so teams bounce up and down the rankings like they are on a bungee cord the first few weeks. Eventually things find their level. But this week was one of the hardest I’ve had to do in this ranking.

1. Pacers (3-0, Last Week No. 5). Through three games Paul George is averaging 25.7 points a game on 48.1 percent shooting overall and 43.5 percent from three — all big jumps from last year. He may not sustain that but he looks to be making another leap forward. Also early, but they have the best defense in the NBA so far.

2. Rockets (3-0, LW 7). So far, so good — they have the best point-per-possession differential in the league (+13.8 per 100 possessions). However, the Dwight Howard/Omer Asik pairing has struggled, -1.4 per 48 minutes so far. Expect that combo to go the way of the Dodo soon.

source:  3. Timberwolves (3-0, LW 12). Kevin Love is averaging 29.7 points a game (on 50% shooting, plus 14.7 rebounds), but there is a balance to the Wolves offense with six players averaging at least 9 points a game. The defense also has been surprisingly strong so far this season.

source:  4. 76ers (3-0, LW 30). No, I don’t think they will be this high up in the rankings for long, however, but they beat the Heat and the Bulls so here they are. They are playing at the fastest pace in the NBA. It’s too early to say Michael Carter-Williams is a Rookie of the Year frontrunner, but he has put himself in that conversation. The award usually goes to a guy with the ball in his hands who puts up numbers — MCW fits that mold.

source:  5. Spurs (2-1, LW 2). Just grinding along, doing their thing, even in the first week of the season. Tim Duncan out for a night, they win in Los Angeles anyway. Popovich in-game interviews remain the highlight of any nationally televised Spurs’ game.

source:  6. Clippers (2-1, LW 4). Through three games they have the statistically best offense in the NBA (113.3 points per 100 possessions) and the worst defense (108.9). Doc Rivers was hired to fix the second one of those numbers.

source:  7. Warriors (2-1, LW 10). You knew their offense was going to put up points because Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s can knock down jumpers from the second they step off the team bus. But their defense has been good, too — Andrew Bogut shut DeMarcus Cousins down over the weekend.

source:  8. Thunder (2-1, LW 6). Russell Westbrook was back Sunday after missing just two games, and with him the Thunder offense looked better. Not good yet, but better. This team has some work to do to get where it wants to get.

source:  9. Heat (2-2, LW 1). The game against Washington Sunday sums up Miami: They were by far the better team, moving the ball well (86 percent of buckets came on assists), they were up 23… then they took their foot off the gas. Washington went on an 18-5 run and outscored Miami 29-16 in the fourth to make it a 10-point game. Expect the lack of focus to continue.

source:  10. Mavericks (2-1, LW 13). Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are running the pick-and-pop well (each is averaging 23.3 points per game) to lead Dallas to the third best offense in the NBA so far this young season (108.9 points per 100 possessions).

source:  11. Trail Blazers (2-1, LW 17). That was a quality win over the Spurs Saturday night, even if Nicolas Batum wasn’t exactly classy at the end. Strong offense to start the season for the Blazers.

source:  12. Suns (2-1, LW 29). They have done it with defense — opponents are shooting 43.1 percent overall and 30 percent from three. However their entire season goes, if Jeff Hornacek can build a good defensive foundation it will be a success.

source:  13. Nets (1-2, LW 9). That was a quality win over the Heat Friday night and their offense had a beautiful fluidity that night — the ball moved and players moved well off the ball. Then Sunday night against Orlando they did none of that. They settle for too many jump shots, they need to attack. Good test vs. Pacers this week.

source:  14. Bulls (1-2, LW 3). Lots of drama in the Windy City — Rose off to a rough start, and the front office is telling Tom Thibodeau how to distribute minutes. However, the biggest concern is that their defense has been average. We wait for them to find their stride, but can they do that against the Pacers this week.

source:  15. Knicks (1-2, LW 11). New York played really good defense through their first two games, then Kevin Love and Minnesota showed up and drilled them. Hopefully the defense returns — and speaking of returns J.R. Smith should be back this week.

16. Pistons (2-1, LW 15). Brandon Jennings returned Sunday, and with a very Brandon Jennings line: 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Tough tests this week against Indiana and Oklahoma City.

source:  17. Raptors (2-1, LW 22). Great starts from Amir Johnson and Landry Fields this season… not so much for Rudy Gay and his 32.7 percent shooting on the season. If that keeps up the Gay trade rumors will ramp up (even as his trade value goes down).

source:  18. Lakers (2-2, LW 19). You get the feeling that first week is what we will see a lot of from the squad — a great win over the Clippers with Xavier Henry stepping up, followed by a mess in Golden State. Close win over Hawks, close loss to Spurs (without Duncan). Expect a season of this roller coaster.

source:  19. Grizzlies (1-2, LW 8). Normally a slow start to the season wouldn’t worry us, but the Memphis defense has not been good. Second worst in the NBA so far. That is worrying. They should turn it around, but if this little slump continues too long the road through the playoffs in a deep West just gets that much harder as you slip down the seedings.

source:  20. Magic (2-2, LW 27). No Tobias Harris, no Glen Davis and yet the Magic have looked solid. They play good defense and get some spinning dunks out of Victor Oladipo.

source:  21. Cavaliers (1-2, LW 16). Andrew Bynum is out there on the court, but there are other issues. Like Anthony Bennett not having scored yet. Charlotte tried to take the ball out of Kyrie Irving’s hands at the end of the game, and it worked. It shouldn’t.

source:  22. Pelicans (1-2, LW 18). Anthony Davis told me that the Pelicans took preseason seriously (they were 7-1) but that hasn’t translated to the season so far. However, Davis has looked good averaging 23.7 points and 12.3 rebounds a game

source:  23. Hawks (1-2, LW 20). Kyle Korver has started the season on fire but so far the Hawks defense has not, which is why the below .500 record. They need to pick up wins this week against the Kings, Magic and Nuggets.

source:  24. Kings (1-2, LW 23). Fantastic opening night crowd, atmosphere and win. However, the losses to the Clippers and Warriors showed how far this team needs to go. Six of their next seven games are at home.

source:  25. Bucks (1-2, LW 24). As our man D.J. Foster noted in The Extra Pass, new coach Larry Drew is benching Larry Sanders and John Henson in favor of Zaza Pachulia, and Ersan Ilyasova. That is not how you develop a young team, fireworks could follow.

source:  26. Bobcats (1-2, LW 25). Al Jefferson pushed to get back for the first game, shot 6-of-19, then shut it down again. Without him the Bobcats offense is exactly what you think it is.

source:  27. Nuggets (0-2, LW 14). Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler are out which hurts the offense, and while Brian Shaw was brought in to play JaVale McGee more the young center is showing why George Karl limited those minutes.

28. Celtics (0-3, LW 26). I don’t know what Gerald Wallace thinks he’s doing by calling this team out publicly, but it’s not helping. Welcome to the NBA, Brad Stevens, isn’t this fun?

source:  29. Wizards (0-3, LW 21). Yes John Wall has struggled with his jump shot (9-of-29 outside the paint so far this season), but the bigger concern is the team defense, which has been terrible through three games (108.1 points per 100 possessions) was torched by the Heat Sunday. Is Randy Wittman’s seat getting warm?

source:  30. Jazz (0-3, LW 28). They’ve come close to getting wins but coughed the ball up at the end against the Thunder and blew a 16-point lead against the Rockets. Oh, and they didn’t reach an extension deal with Gordon Hayward. Rough week.

  1. allday420ap - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    T Wolves are the truth

    • illogic87 - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      I had a chance to watch the Wolves with my free League Pass trial last night. DANG those dudes can SCORE!!!

  2. cbking05 - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    I thought Paul Pierce was the Truth

  3. Youknowimright - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Best thing this regime in Philly did was to ignore the media in Philly. I love them for it. the sensationalist, over-reacting radio anaylsts are what fuels this town. It is what makes people go from fans to seething idiots who eventually beat their teams down so much that they don’t want to play for them anymore. Good job Sixers. Don’t let these media-types get into the heads of these Sixer fans. you know what you’re doing and you have a plan. Keep it rolling, but just stay off of the airways. People don’t come to games becasue of radio interviews. They come to see winners. This regime will produce a winner.

  4. davidly - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    MC-W1 is the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, as in he’s in front of the pack at the moment. As are the Pacers. Which is nice.

  5. JMClarkent - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    I think it is good that the Jazz did not work out an extension deal with Hayward, who reportedly wanted a deal in the double-digit millions.

    He wants “star” money, when on a good team he is simply a “nice” player. I think that he will find the open market unkind, and thus the Jazz will get him much cheaper as a RFA than they would have otherwise.

    • valeb2012 - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM


  6. bougin89 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    “As our man D.J. Foster noted in The Extra Pass, new coach Larry Drew is benching Larry Sanders and John Henson in favor of Zaza Pachulia, and Ersan Ilyasova. That is not how you develop a young team, fireworks could follow.”

    Ersan is even playing less. Drew’s rotations have really confused me so far. Sanders and Henson should not be riding the pine as much as they have been(especially if they are not in foul trouble). G-Po has also been just buried on the bench. Frustrating.

  7. johngalt1783 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Re Heh Heh It’s Rudy Gay – Raptors are more concerned with their team defense which is allowing the fifth fewest PPG though their pace is slightly slower. Gay is also averaging 9.3 rebounds per game. His improved rebounding allows the Raptors to play small ball with Gay, Johnson and Fields. Lowry is shooting over 40% on his 3FGA and DeRozan over .360 so their small ball unit does have some three point shooting.

    Gay’s rebounding also allows the Raptors to get out in transition a lot more effectively.

    I doubt any of the Raptors’ starters will be traded during the season.

  8. reasonablemindsays - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Michael Carter Williams will become first player in NBA history to win both ROY and MVP.

    Thaddeus Young will win DPOY.

    Tony Wroten will win Sixth Man of the Year.

    Brett Brown will win COY.

    76ers will not lose another game, going 82-0. Then will sweep through the playoffs on the way to their first NBA championship since 1983. Carter-Williams will proceed to lead the Sixers to 7 straight championships, surpassing the legacies of both Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. By 2030, there will be unanimous agreement that MCW is the greatest basketball player to ever live.

    You heard it here first.

  9. jzone954 - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    “Power rankings” after 3 games if pretty silly…..

  10. jerdogthompson - Nov 4, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    After the Clipps take down Houston tonight I think a #3 spot is warranted.

    However, I would agree a power ranking list after three games is a bit silly.

  11. jimsjam33 - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    How silly ,

    One day after your “Power Rankings ” the number 2 , 3 , and 4 teams go down . Too early for such ranking because after only three or four games we only have a snapshot of what’s to come .

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