NBA Power Rankings After Week 1: Surprise Teams At The Top

by | Dec 30, 2020 | NBA | 0 comments

We’re officially a week into the 2020-21 NBA regular season, so it’s time for our first NBA power rankings of the season. This will be our weekly look at the state of the league and which teams are moving up or down in the rankings.

Unbelievably, we only have four undefeated teams remaining already, and they all reside in the Eastern Conference. Though it’s hard to put all four on the top of the rankings, they do each get at least some credit for winning their first three games of the season.

Here’s a look at our first NBA power rankings of the season (records through Dec. 28):

NBA Power Rankings #1-10

1. Indiana Pacers (3-0)
Last week: N/A
Of the four unbeatens, we like the Pacers’ wins the most so far, particularly a home win over Boston. Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo look to be back and healthy, and this team could be dangerous in the East.

NBA Power Rankings
Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. Finally healthy.

2. Atlanta Hawks (3-0)
Last week: N/A
It’s not like Atlanta has played a murderer’s row of opponents, but 3-0 out of the gate is pretty darn good. The Hawks’ offseason moves look like they’re paying off.

3. Portland Trail Blazers (2-1)
Last week: N/A
The Trail Blazers may have a loss on their record, but they also have a win at Los Angeles over a full-strength Lakers squad. Damian Lillard looks determined not to need a play-in game to get back to the playoffs this season.

4. Phoenix Suns (2-1)
Last week: N/A
Yes, the Suns split two games at Sacramento, but they also topped the Mavericks this week. It might take a little time, but Phoenix is shaping up to be a contender in the West.

5. Orlando Magic (3-0)
Last week: N/A
Another of the unbeatens that hasn’t exactly hit the hard part of its schedule, Orlando got a home victory over Miami to open its season. Two wins at Washington aren’t the most impressive, but they’re better than losses.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-0)
Last week: N/A
The Cavs are here because I don’t like an undefeated team not getting credit in polls, even if they weren’t rated high to begin with. Cleveland’s toughest opponent so far has been Philadelphia, though we’re unsure how good the 76ers are at this point.

7. Utah Jazz (2-1)
Last week: N/A
The Jazz have been interesting, losing at home but winning twice on the road. A blowout victory over Portland in its opener has been Utah’s best victory.

8. Sacramento Kings (2-1)
Last week: N/A
A season-opening buzzer-beating victory at Denver certainly was a nice start for Luke Walton’s bunch. Splitting with Phoenix isn’t bad either, as Sacramento is showing some life in the early going.

ENJOYING NBA POWER RANKINGS? HERE’S MORE: Sports 2.0 NBA Prediction Series: Rookie of the Year

9. New Orleans Pelicans (2-1)
Last week: N/A
A Christmas Day blowout loss to the Heat aside, New Orleans is healthy and will be tough on both ends of the floor. Having Zion Williamson from the start certainly helps.

10. LA Clippers (2-1)
Last week: N/A
Yes, it was without Kawhi Leonard, but losing by 50 at home to Dallas at halftime? Really? If not for wins over the Lakers and Nuggets, the Clippers would be much lower in the rankings for that one.

NBA Power Rankings #11-20

11. Los Angeles Lakers (2-2)
Last week: N/A
Four games in seven days, including a back-to-back. The NBA folks not like the Lakers anymore? Maybe it will allow the team to rest more as the playoffs get closer.

12. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1)
Last week: N/A
Winning at Utah was a nice highlight of the first week of the season for the Timberwolves. But things get real in a hurry, with a loss at the Lakers followed by a game against the Clippers coming off their humiliating loss on Tuesday.

13. San Antonio Spurs (2-1)
Last week: N/A
San Antonio just continues to get wins under Gregg Popovich. Winning at Memphis and against Toronto is good, but so is a three-point loss at New Orleans. Watch out for the Spurs.

14. Philadelphia 76ers (2-1)
Last week: N/A
There’s just something off about the 76ers this season. A 24-point loss at Cleveland shows there is definitely some work to do for Doc Rivers.

ENJOYING NBA POWER RANKINGS? HERE’S MORE: Sports 2.0 NBA Prediction Series: Lakers Repeat As Champs

15. Brooklyn Nets (2-2)
Last week: N/A
Is Brooklyn going to be the Clippers of the East, resting their stars to their detriment in the standings? The Nets’ win at Boston was good, but even a blowout win at home over Golden State isn’t looking very impressive.

16. Miami Heat (1-1)
Last week: N/A
Miami bounced back from an opening loss to Orlando with an easy victory over New Orleans on Christmas Day. Getting three days off in the first week of the season? Isn’t Miami weather enough of a luxury for these guys?

17. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1)
Last week: N/A
Every year we seem to count the Thunder out of winning many games. And every year, it seems like the Thunder are competitive. It’s only two games, but a 1-1 record with the loss being by one point to the Jazz? Most Oklahoma City fans are happy with that.

18. Denver Nuggets (1-2)
Last week: N/A
Nikola Jokic. This man needs to be featured more on national television because he is a joy to watch. Eighteen assists for a big man? So much talent and he’s only 25.

nba power rankings jokic
Nuggets big man, Nikola Jokic.

19. Boston Celtics (1-2)
Last week: N/A
Boston just can’t seem to get into a good rhythm, despite a season-opening win over Milwaukee. Losing big to former Celtic Kyrie Irving is bad, but then Boston lost on the road to Indiana as well.

20. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2)
Last week: N/A
Here’s a fun fact: Last year’s Milwaukee Bucks squad, which was 52-8 at one point, started the season 2-2. In other words, no worries just yet for Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks.

NBA Power Rankings #21-30

21. Dallas Mavericks (1-2)
Last week: N/A
Yes, the Mavericks’ huge win over the Clippers came without Kawhi Leonard playing. But Dallas has been without Kristaps Porzingis all season long, so it’s not like it was at full strength. And I don’t care how many people are sitting out for the opposition, to dominate like Dallas did was impressive.

22. Charlotte Hornets (1-2)
Last week: N/A
You have Miles Bridges, who has hit three triples in 15 seconds to tie the game against Oklahoma City, and you don’t pass him the ball on the final play? The Hornets must get better at the little things like finding the hot hand. 

23. Memphis Grizzlies (1-2)
Last week: N/A
Would like to say the Grizzlies are going to build on their win at Brooklyn on Monday night, but the news that Ja Morant is gone for a few weeks while Jaren Jackson Jr. has yet to play this season says this might be trouble for Memphis.

24. New York Knicks (1-2)
Last week: N/A
New York did not start the year well, falling to Indiana and Philadelphia by 14 and 20 points, respectively. But the Knicks showed their potential with a 20-point home win over the Bucks. Can they live up to it more, though?

25. Golden State Warriors (1-2)
Last week: N/A
This could be another rough year for the Warriors, who just can’t seem to stay healthy. James Wiseman has some potential, but Stephen Curry could be worn out by the end of January from carrying this team.

ENJOYING NBA POWER RANKINGS? HERE’S MORE: Sports 2.0 NBA Prediction Series: NBA MVP

26. Toronto Raptors (0-2)
Last week: N/A
The Raptors have been known for their defense, but through two games, they’ve allowed 116 points per game. The losses of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are going to be felt all season long.

27. Houston Rockets (0-2)
Last week: N/A
This team is a mess. James Harden looks like he just wants to wreck havoc until the team trades him, and they’ve already missed one game due to COVID-19 and been shorthanded in their other games because of it.

28. Detroit Pistons (0-3)
Last week: N/A
The Detroit defense has been atrocious, giving up 128 points to both the Cavaliers and the Hawks already. While the Pistons are scoring — averaging 113.3 points per game — they won’t get wins until they shut the opposition down.

29. Washington Wizards (0-3)
Last week: N/A
Speaking of no defense, Washington hasn’t held a single opponent under 113 points this season. The acquisition of Russell Westbrook didn’t do the team any favors on that end of the floor.

30. Chicago Bulls (0-3)
Last week: N/A
Three home games. Three losses, with two of them by at least 19 points. Chicago just has no direction right now and no defense either. The Bulls seem like they’re going to be at this end of the NBA power rankings all season long.

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