1. Golden State Warriors (3-0) – OK, so there appears to be no Finals hangover for Stephen Curry. The Warriors superstar shooter looks like he’s just throwing a ball into the ocean so far. He’s averaging a staggering 39.3 points per game through three games, including a 53-point performance on Halloween. Have mercy.
2. San Antonio Spurs (2-1) – Spurs are gonna Spur. It really doesn’t matter what their regular season record is. If they’re healthy going into the playoffs, they’re the most dangerous team. Adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West to an already proven lineup makes this the team to beat along with Golden State.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) – As long as LeBron James is healthy for the Cavaliers, this team is going to be in it until the end. It’s that simple. That’s why Kevin Love chose to re-sign, right?
4. Los Angeles Clippers (3-0) – There’s no questioning the Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA this season. DeAndre Jordan returned and they added Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith. Doc Rivers is going to have his hands full with the personalities in that locker room – but he’s the man for the job.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-0) – So much focus has been on whether or not Kevin Durant will leave OKC at the end of the season. Hopefully that doesn’t take away from what looks to be a good season for the Thunder.
6. Toronto Raptors (3-0) – “We the North” is the Toronto Raptors’ slogan, and they’re starting the year north in the standings. Signing DeMarre Carroll was huge. But the word is Amir Johnson was the heart and soul of that squad. With him in Boston, it’ll be interesting to see how the Raptors handle adversity.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) – A 30-point blowout lossat home against the Cavaliers is no way to start the season, and extremely uncharacteristic of a team that’s been a tough matchup over the last few seasons.
8. Chicago Bulls (3-1) – The Bulls have the talent – they always have. But the question is whether or not they can stay healthy. Between Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol, that won’t be an easy thing to do. New head coach Fred Hoiberg is going to need a lot out of Jimmy Butler.
9. Washington Wizards (2-1) – Kevin Durant or not, the Wizards are set up for a nice future behind the guard play of John Wall and Bradley Beal. That said, there’s no excuse to lose to the Knicks at home. It gets a lot harder with the Spurs coming into town next.
10. Houston Rockets (0-3) – OK, what’s going on with the Rockets? They’ve lost three games all by 20 points. The first two came at home, and the latest one against the Heat after they led by 21 points in the second half. That’s a 41-point second-half turnaround – almost impossible to do.
11. Atlanta Hawks (3-1) – The Hawks were an unstoppable machine last year during the regular season. But like most machines, when a piece breaks the whole thing shuts down. Injuries hurt Atlanta in the postseason. They’ve also lost DeMarre Carroll to Toronto.
12. Miami Heat (2-1) – The Heat are one of the sneaky good teams this year. They’re a veteran squad that gets Chris Bosh back and added Gerald Green. And they may have gotten the steal of the draft with Justise Winslow falling to them with the 10th pick. They’ll make some noise.
13. Detroit Pistons (3-0) – Marcus Morris the new face around Detroit, and so far they like what they see. Morris is leading the team in points per game (19.3). Meanwhile, Andre Drummond is averaging a whopping 16.3 rebounds per game. Sure doesn’t seem like they miss Greg Monroe.
14. Dallas Mavericks (2-1) – It’s gotta kill Mavs owner Mark Cuban to look and see that Zaza Pachulia is starting at center and not DeAndre Jordan. Mavs fans should enjoy Wesley Matthews if the Achilles injury doesn’t hinder him, but the jury is still out on what Deron Williams has left.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (0-3) – The trendy pick amongst NBA pundits, the Bucks haven’t gotten off to a good start. I’m still not even close to sold on Jason Kidd the head coach so this season will be a good indicator of what he’s about. We’re still awaiting Jabari Parker’s 2015-16 debut.
16. Utah Jazz (2-1) – Eight of Utah’s first 10 games are on the road, but this is no longer a team that lets opponents walk all over them. After a strong second half to the 2014-15 season, there are some thinking the Jazz could sneak into the playoffs.
17. Boston Celtics (1-2) – Brad Stevens has about 10 reliable bench players. The problem is he doesn’t have any great starters . . . yet. The hope is that Marcus Smart takes a big second-year leap. We’ll see.
18. Sacramento Kings (1-2) – Wild card team. It’s hard to know what to expect out of this bunch. They certainly have the talent between DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and now Rajon Rondo. It’s early, but Willie Cauley-Stein looks like a real player, too.
19. Phoenix Suns (2-1) – The Suns retired Steve Nash’s number Friday, which made for a nice night. It’s just too bad they didn’t have it later in the season as to give Suns fans something to look forward to.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (1-2) – Life without LaMarcus Aldridge has begun in Portland. The team looks much different as C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Mason Plumlee are all starters. So far, McCollum looks ready for the call (22.7 points per game).
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0) – The Timberwolves might actually be a pretty fun team to watch this year. It’s a shame that Flip Saunders passed away before he could see it, but the T-Wolves looks to be playing some inspired basketball to begin the season.
22. Orlando Magic (0-3) – This is a team clearly on the up, but still not ready to compete with the best of them. They spent big bucks to keep Tobias Harris there, and now need the rest of their youth to fill out around him and Nikola Vucevic.
23. Indiana Pacers (0-3) – The good news: Paul George is healthy this season. The bad news: The Pacers are going to need much more than Paul George this season. Hopefully Monta Ellis can snap out of an early funk.
24. New Orleans Pelicans (0-3) – Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the NBA and would probably be the first player taken in an NBA draft consisting of every player. That said, it’s hard to justify MVP consideration if his team doesn’t sniff the playoffs this year.
25. New York Knicks (3-2) – I just don’t see it ending well at all for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. We’re still early in the season, but when the Knicks struggle, expect plenty of drama. Kristaps Porzingis will be a good player in this league, but it’s going to take some time.
26. Denver Nuggets (1-2) – Not many rookies can come into a better situation than Emmanuel Mudiay when it comes to playing time. The point guard is starting and getting plenty of minutes for the Nuggets. Whether or not they win those games doesn’t really matter much.
27. Charlotte Hornets (0-3) – Yeesh. It’s a good thing North Carolina has strong college basketball teams, because there might not be much of a reason to watch the Hornets this year. Tough blow losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist before this season began. But hey, Frank Kaminsky!
28. Brooklyn Nets (0-3) – When the Nets gave 26 draft picks to the Celtics for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, most people thought the Celtics made out like bandits. Seeing as the C’s own this year’s Nets first round pick, it’s very obvious they did.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (0-3) – The Lakers season is starting off almost exactly as everybody thought it would. They’re losing games and Kobe Bryant is chucking up shots. Already he’s taken 29 three-pointers through three games. He’s hit just six. Oh boy.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-2) – Trust the process? Trust the process?! Why should Sixers fans trust what’s going on in Philadelphia? Where’s the proven track record? If I’m a Sixers fan, I’m afraid.