NBA Power Rankings For Week 3: Top Teams Heat Up

We're through the first two and a half weeks of the 2018-19 NBA season, and some of the top teams that started out slow are beginning to turn it around.

On the flip side, some of last season's playoff teams have shown little signs of turning a corner, and the trade rumors centering their star players are already swirling. It's already becoming now-or-never for some teams to start winning games.

Here is where all 30 teams stand as we enter week three of the 2018-19 campaign, with some major changes in the top 10.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-7)

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Head coach Tyronn Lue was fired, and now Kevin Love is out for at least six weeks after undergoing foot surgery. Good thing the Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Championship, or this team would earn a lot more sympathy from us.

29. Phoenix Suns (1-6)

"Trust the process" can apply to the Suns here. They have a promising young core - built around Devin booker, Deandre Ayton and Josh Jackson. Nobody can be disappointed with their woeful start. It was expected.

28. Washington Wizards (1-6)

Nobody could have expected John Wall and co. to get off to a horrible start like this. The defense is dreadful, and it's him and Bradley Beal doing most of the work. If things don't turn around soon, Scott Brooks could be the first head coach fired.

27. Houston Rockets (1-5)

The Rockets will definitely start turning it around once James Harden and Chris Paul are back on the court together. But we can't ignore this embarrassing start. Until the Rockets clean it up defensively and fix the three-point shooting woes, they'll remain near the bottom here.

26. Chicago Bulls (2-6)

Too many injuries for a team that was already expected to contend for a lottery draft pick. The Bulls fans wanted a rebuild, and they got it when Jimmy Butler was traded last year. It's going to be a long and frustrating process before they become relevant again.

25. Atlanta Hawks (2-6)

Rookie Trae Young is flourishing with 18.5 points and seven assists per game. Other than that, there hasn't been a lot for Hawks fans to cheer for.

24. New York Knicks (2-6)

Another predictable and frustrating year in New York. At this rate, their fans are probably just counting down the days until free agency - hoping Jimmy Butler and/or Kevin Durant bring their talents to the Big Apple.

23. Dallas Mavericks (2-6)

Maybe they won't be a playoff contender, despite what yours truly thought at the beginning of the year. At least Luka Doncic looks every bit as advertised, with 19.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.


22. Orlando Magic (2-5)

Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon are giving Orlando something to be excited about, but this was expected to be another long year. Not much Magic fans can do but hope for the No.1 selection this year.

21. Brooklyn Nets (3-5)

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The Nets are getting great production out of youngsters Caris Evert, D'Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie. Thanks to these three, the Nets will avoid the bottom of the East for once. But imagine if they didn't deal all those first-rounders to Boston...

20. Miami Heat (3-4)

The Heat are struggling at both ends of the court. Perhaps that will make the front office more aggressive in trading for Jimmy Butler? Josh Richardson and Goran Dragic need some help.

19. Charlotte Hornets (4-5)

The Hornets are hanging around, thanks to Kemba Walker's MVP-like start to the season (29.1 points and six assists per game). Now, the goal is to get him to sign a contract extension. They won't replace a player like him if they decide to deal Walker at the deadline.

18. New Orleans Pelicans (4-4)

A perfect 4-0 start has been wasted by four straight losses. The Pelicans aren't doing much to show Anthony Davis that he should sign a supermax contract. As usual, it's him doing all the work.


17. Los Angeles Lakers (3-5)

Luke Walton is on the hot seat, but you know LeBron James will do everything he can to claw out wins and protect his coach's job. Offense is not a problem for LA (121 points per game), but the defense needs a lot of work (121.3). But it's LeBron James, so they'll find a way to win 50-something games and make the playoffs.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-4)

Russell Westbrook is backing up his promise well, saying there was no need to panic after an 0-4 start. The Thunder have now rolled out three straight wins and look ready to fight for a top-four seed in the West.

15. Los Angeles Clippers (4-4)

Well, it's not as bad as people expected, considering they lost Austin Rivers and DeAndre Jordan in the offseason. The Clippers beat quality opponents like Oklahoma City and Houston early in the season, so we know they can win on any given night.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-4)

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Derrick Rose had an emotional Halloween night, scoring a career-high 50 points in Minnesota's win over the Utah Jazz. Was it one lucky game, or will head coach Tom Thibodeau bring out vintage Rose? Minny can only hope for the latter as a Jimmy Butler trade looms.

13. Detroit Pistons (4-3)

Just when it looked like Dwane Casey was going to turn this team around, the Pistons start to play like the mediocre unit from last season. Two blowout losses to Boston followed by a road loss to the lowly Nets. At least the weak East will allow them to hang in the playoff race all season.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (5-4)

Not the start we expected from last season's 52-win team, but they're bound to fix this. Remember, Philly has had a daunting schedule (losses to Boston, Milwaukee and Toronto). If Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz can start hitting three-pointers, they'll regain last season's form. Joel Embiid has been a unstoppable with 28.6 points and 11.9 points per game.


11. Memphis Grizzlies (4-2)

Well, this has been a pleasant surprise. But remember, three of the Grizzlies' victories have come against the Suns, Hawks and Wizards. That being said, Memphis has been a top defensive team, and that alone can help them hang around in the playoff race.

10. Utah Jazz (4-3)

The Jazz haven't played their best basketball yet, which is a scary team for the NBA. They had impressive road wins against the Rockets and Pelicans last week, however. Once their defense reaches its usual form, this unit will really take off.

9. Indiana Pacers (5-3)

The Pacers are two games above .500, thanks to their stingy defense. But keep in mind that three of their wins have come against the lowly Nets, Knicks and Cavaliers. Victor Oladipo will need some support on offense at some point.

8. Sacramento Kings (6-3)

Hard to envision Sacramento maintaining this hot start, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been fun to watch. Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox are one of the highest scoring duos in the league, with 19.8 and 19 points per game, respectively.

7. San Antonio Spurs (5-2)

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DeMar DeRozan is helping Spurs fans forget about Kawhi Leonard quickly. He's flourishing under Gregg Popovich, averaging 27.9 points and 7.3 assists per game. And people thought this team would miss the playoffs? They look poised for another 50-win season.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (6-2)

Three straight wins for Portland, who will vie for the second seed in the Western Conference this season. Damian Lillard is an early MVP candidate, averaging 29.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and six assists per game.

5. Milwaukee Bucks (7-1)

Losing a close road contest to the Boston Celtics hurts Milwaukee's ranking here. The defense was exposed, and it was a similar story of Giannis Antetokounmpo having to do most of the work. We'll find out if the 7-0 start was legitimate, or if they're bound for regression.

4. Boston Celtics (6-2)

Four straight wins for Brad Stevens' group after a slow 2-2 start. The Celtics own the NBA's best defense, and Kyrie Irving went on a tear this week. Expect Boston to be in the top-five all season long, barring any surprising setbacks.

3. Denver Nuggets (7-1)

The Nuggets' starting five has been on a roll to start the season. Nikola Jokic (19.4 points,  10 rebounds per game), and Gary Harris (18.8 points, 3.5 assists per game), front one of the league's most dynamic offenses. There's little reason to expect regression from this high-scoring unit.

2. Toronto Raptors (7-1)

Their lone loss came against the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks, and Kawhi Leonard was rested for that contest. The Raptors have been the most dominant team in the East thus far, and they'll be in a race for the top seed with the Celtics (and maybe the Bucks), throughout the season.

1. Golden State Warriors (8-1)

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What a week it was for the Warriors. Klay Thompson set a record with 14 three-pointers made against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, and finished with 52 points total. It's hard to see the Warriors losing the top spot at any point this season.


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