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NBA Power Rankings: Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, Raptors take the lead

Stephen Curry and the Warriors look like the best team in the NBA through the first cGetty Images

1. Golden State Warriors (5-1, Previous: 6) - Are the Warriors legit? You bet. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will continue to splash shots from all over, and a healthy Andrew Bogut could be the difference-maker this season.

2. Los Angeles Clippers (4-2, Previous: 1) - Doc Rivers ripped his team after an embarrassing loss to the Warriors (and a slow start to the season). They responded with a big win over the Trail Blazers a few days later. That's the mark of a coach who has his locker room.

3. Houston Rockets (6-1, Previous: 5) - The absence of Dwight Howard (flu) really showed his value to the Rockets this past weekend as Houston lost its first game of the season, to the Warriors. With Howard, this team makes a case for tops in the NBA.

4. Toronto Raptors (6-1, Previous: 11) - The guys up North are looking down on everybody in the East standings. All this good basketball may keep Drake out of the studio - I'll let you decide if that's a good thing.

5. San Antonio Spurs (2-3, Previous: 2) - Gregg Popovich isn't putting too much stock into some of these regular season games, instead resting his veterans for the games that really count. That's when the Spurs show up in every sense of the word.

6. Miami Heat (5-2, Previous: 13) - No LeBron? No problem. Well, let's not go that far. But the Heat are absolutely East contenders with Chris Bosh now in the driver's seat.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (6-1, Previous: 12) - A bit of a surprise out of the gates. The Grizzlies are designed to be a good team - but Western Conference elite? What isn't a surprise is the gritty defense they're playing, allowing just 87.6 points per game, tops in the NBA.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-3, Previous: 3) - In the words of LeBron James, who quoted Aaron Rodgers: "relax." The problem? LeBron created most of this hysteria to begin with! Nonetheless, there's no reason to panic in Cleveland right now.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (4-3, Previous: 7) - This remains one of the best starting lineups in the NBA. No wonder four of their five starters average at least 33 minutes per game.

10. Chicago Bulls (5-2, Previous: 8) - The Rose-less Bulls lost to the Rondo-less Celtics this past weekend, but we can't put too much stock into that one. You also can't put too much stock into the wins Chicago has accumulated early (Philly, Milwaukee, Orlando, Minnesota, New York). A close loss to the Cavs may be the most telling game so far.

11. Washington Wizards (5-2, Previous: 9) - Smoked by the Raptors last Friday, the Wizards haven't beaten a good team yet this season. Two wins over the Pacers would look good last season, but not now.

12. Dallas Mavericks (4-3, Previous: 10) - Early on in this season, Dallas finds itself in the same position as last season - teetering on the edge of playoff contention. Of course, the Mavs' goal is to be much better than that after adding Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler this year.

13. Phoenix Suns (4-3, Previous: 14) - Whether it's the plethora of guards the Suns trot out, or the Morris brothers (Markieff and Marcus), the Suns are a fun team to watch. They beat up on the Warriors without Klay Thompson on Sunday. That counts for something.

14. Sacramento Kings (5-2, Previous: 24) - Nothing says "the beginning of this NBA season is whacky" like the Kings starting off 5-2. Sacramento's front office wanted to win now, and so far so good. DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 23 and 11.

15. Brooklyn Nets (4-2, Previous: 17) - The good news: Brook Lopez has returned to the Nets. The bad news: Lionel Hollins has already removed him from a game (Brooklyn's win on Sunday over the Magic) due to his lack of defensive effort. They won because of the benching, too.

16. Charlotte Hornets (3-4, Previous: 15) - There is no excuse for being the first team to lose to the Lakers this season. Through seven games, Al Jefferson is averaging just 7.3 rebounds, his lowest amount since 2005-06 - when he averaged half the minutes. Get on the boards, Big Al.

17. New Orleans Pelicans (3-2, Previous: 20) - Anthony Davis just putting up ridiculous stat lines to start this season. This dude is averaging 4.4 blocks per game to go with 24.4 points and 12.8 rebounds. It's also looking like Tyreke Evans is set for a career year.

18. Atlanta Hawks (2-3, Previous: 18) - No team is hitting more 3-pointers in the NBA right now than Kyle Korverat 3.8 per game. In fact, he just hit another one as you read this.

19. Boston Celtics (3-3, Previous: 22) - Going into Monday, the Celtics ranked third in points per game (106.3) and first - first! - in assists (25.0). These are truly remarkable statistics when you consider the offensive struggles this team had last season.

20. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-5, Previous: 4) - The Thunder are in danger of falling too far in back of the pack while they await the returns of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The West waits for no one. But if they can squeak into the playoffs . . . look out.

21. Utah Jazz (3-4, Previous: 26) - The Jazz kicked off a five-game road trip with a win over the Pistons. The trip will end with a game in Toronto on the second night of a back-to-back. Now that'll be a tough test for Gordon Hayward and Co.

22. Milwaukee Bucks (3-3, Previous: 27) - Brandon Knight is the guy for Jason Kidd's Bucks right now and Jabari Parker looks like an overwhelmed rookie. It's also good to see Larry Sanders doing basketball things.

23. Denver Nuggets (1-5, Previous: 19) - Five straight losses for a Nuggets team that doesn't look very interested in playing defense. They're allowing 108.0 points per game - ranked 29th in NBA. You can't win games that way.

24. Detroit Pistons (2-4, Previous: 21) - Oh Detroit, picking up the disappointment right where it left off. I'm already tired of this team.

25. New York Knicks (2-5, Previous: 23) - You can prevent Carmelo Anthony from winning games and NBA titles, but you cannot prevent him from wearing ridiculous hats after games. The bar has been set very high early on this season.

26. Orlando Magic (2-5, Previous: 28) - No Victor Oladipo to start the year, but upon his return the Magic have a nice, young team in the making. They still don't figure to win much in 2014-15, but they're trending in the right direction.

27. Indiana Pacers (1-6, Previous: 16) - You can sum up the start of this Pacers season in one word: Disaster. Already without Paul George for the season, the Pacers will be without George Hill for another month, and have been without David West, too. Nothing going right for them.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-4, Previous: 29) - Andrew Wiggins is averaging 9.2 points so far in his rookie season. That certainly isn't going to drive attendance, but give it some time. The Wolves are used to looking to the future - it's the present that never seems to satisfy.

29. Los Angeles Lakers (1-5, Previous: 25) - Fear not, Lakers Fans. Nick "Swaggy P" Young is on the mend. It'll be high comedy with Young and Kobe Bryant fighting for shots every night. Nobody takes shots from Kobe.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-7, Previous: 30) - They should be called the Philadelphia 30's, because there is little chance they ever leave this spot. OK, maybe the Lakers will give them a run for it.

 
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