NBA Power Rankings: Pacers, Thunder, Heat, Spurs in driver’s seat

Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook
The mood has been light in Oklahoma City since Russell Westbrook, right, returned. Credit: Getty Images

1. Indiana Pacers (8-0) - They’re playing the best defense in the NBA, and Paul George is proving his worth (24.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.50 spg). Also, they’re undefeated, so …

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1) - Russell Westbrook returned weeks ahead of schedule, and the Thunder haven’t lost since. This is your team to beat out West.

3. Miami Heat (5-3) - So many things had to go wrong for the Heat to lose to the Celtics Saturday night. But in the end, it all just felt so, so right.

4. San Antonio Spurs (7-1) - For what seems like the 20th straight season, the Spurs should have another great regular season. But that isn’t the ultimate goal.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (5-3) - Clippers get the next three games in Staples Center (Thunder, Nets, Grizzlies). But it’s OK because they cover up the Lakers banners with massive pictures of themselves!

6. Houston Rockets (4-3) - Have lost twice to the Clippers already this year, but so far no signs of Dwightmare occurring in Houston. The season is still young.

7. Golden State Warriors (5-3) - The Warriors are one of the funnest teams to watch this season. But Stephen Curry needs to consider robotic ankles.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-3) - We don’t want to jinx anything going on in Minnesota right now, but the T-Wolves definitely look good. Kevin Love is averaging 26.4 and 15.0!

9. Chicago Bulls (3-3) - Back-to-back blowout wins (one vs. the Jazz) is something to build off of. Big game Saturday in Chicago vs. the Pacers. Predicting a Bulls win here.


10. Brooklyn Nets (2-4) -
How is it that the Celtics share the top spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Nets share the bottom? Oh yeah, we’re only a couple weeks into the season.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (3-4) - Will travel to California over the weekend for the start of four big games. We should learn something about their make-up.

12. Atlanta Hawks (4-3) - The Hawks lead the NBA in assists per game (28). Rookie guard Dennis Schroder leads the NBA in crotch shots (one, on DeMarcus Cousins).

13. Portland Trailblazers (5-2) - Three straight wins with three very beatable teams coming up (Phoenix, Boston, Toronto). There’s just not much depth.

14. Dallas Mavericks (5-3) - Not a bad record, but they’ve lost to the Rockets, Thunder, and Timberwolves – all teams they’ll need to beat eventually.

15. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-5) - Kyrie Irving is shooting just 37.7-percent from the field through eight games. That will need to change if the Cavs have a prayer this season.

16. Detroit Pistons (2-5) - The Pistons’ trip out west started with a loss to the Trailblazers on Monday. Here’s an early candidate for disappointing team of the season.

17. New Orleans Pelicans (3-5) - They’re still a couple years and pieces away, but having one of the NBA’s best young big men in Anthony Davis is a great start.

18. Washington Wizards (2-5) - John Wall and Bradley Beal make up a very strong, young backcourt. But D.C. as a whole needs to pick it up on the defensive end (106.8 points allowed per game).

19. New York Knicks (2-4) - Does anybody believe in the Knicks? Like, anybody at all? Playoff contender: yes. Title contender: no.

20. Denver Nuggets (2-4) - A bad start to the season just got worse as starting center Javale McGee is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his lower leg.


21. Boston Celtics (4-4) -
The streak is great, but Celtics fans would be better off just watching the replay of Saturday’s win over the Heat 74 more times this season.

22. Toronto Raptors (3-4) - The Raptors are exactly where an NBA team doesn’t want to be: Somewhere in the 15-22 range. No chance in postseason, no chance in lottery.


23. Phoenix Suns (5-2) -
One of the major surprises this season so far. Eric Bledsoe is going to get a very large sum of his money over the offseason.

24. Los Angeles Lakers (4-5) - Jodie Meeks leads all Lakers in points per game with… 12.8? Kobe can do that with a torn Achilles.

25. Philadelphia 76ers (4-4) - Philadelphia has already won more games than people thought they would win all season.

26. Milwaukee Bucks (2-4) - Larry Sanders gets a $44 million contract extension, then gets a smaller role on the team, and now will miss six weeks after tearing his thumb ligament in a nightclub incident.Huh??

27. Orlando Magic (3-5) - Wins over the Nets and Clippers have quickly been erased by two losses to the Celtics and one to the Hawks. At least it’s warm there.

28. Charlotte Bobcats (3-4) - They’ve been trying to get by without Al Jefferson to start the season. Now back, the hope is that he can provide some offense.

29. Sacramento Kings (1-5) - DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas are doing their share. Perhaps Andrew Wiggins will do his next season?

30. Utah Jazz (0-8) - The quest for 0-82 is still alive in Utah.


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