1). Golden State Warriors - it really isn’t fear how incredibly talented this roster is. Durant, Curry and Thompson are just taking turns on who is going to go off each night and there is nothing any team can do to stop them.
2). Toronto Raptors - Toronto lost it’s first game to the Bucks in a contest that neither Kawhi or Giannis played. It’s hard to compare these two teams fairly without seeing the stars go head to head, but this Raptors team is darn good and they’ve really found something in starting Siakam and bringing Ibaka off the bench.
3). Boston Celtics - five straight wins and one of the leagues best defenses has propelled this team back into the 3rd seed in the East. Kyrie Irving went off against the Pistons and looked to be rejuvenated. Handing the Bucks their first loss of the season was a nice win for this team as well.
4). Denver Nuggets - the Nuggets took their first loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. It was just a bad night from Denver, so we can’t make too big of a deal about it. Millsap has struggled some this season, but Trey Lyles has been playing much better. I think Lyles might end up being the Nuggets starting power forward for the future.
5). Milwaukee Bucks - the Bucks finally took their first loss of the season to the Celtics on the road. They haven’t had the toughest schedule but that shouldn’t take away from their excellent play to start off the season. Aside from Coach Bud, the biggest addition this season is the return of Ersan Illyasova. His style of play has been fantastic for this team’s success.
6). Portland Trailblazers - Dame Lollard has been on fire this season. An early season East road trip isn’t the easiest way to start off the season, but only getting one loss on that road trip is a huge success. The Blazers need to move on from Meyers Leonard and insert Caleb Swanigan into the 2nd unit. Lastly, Zach Collins is the team’s best big man and we will continue to see this over the season.
7). San Antonio Spurs - I’m surprised by the Spurs recent success. With no point guard, an All-Star guard who can’t defend and LaMarcus Aldridge still hasn’t been playing his best basketball, this team is 5-2. I refused to have this team to miss the playoffs because I can never bet against Pop. It’s still early in the season, but the Spurs always find a way to succeed.
8). Indiana Pacers - it’s not been the best of starts for the 5-3 Pacers, but all three of those losses came to playoff teams from last season. They’ve played 5 of their games on the road and have three in a row of those. Tyreke Evans was suspended for being late to practice and in his two games back has not looked good. This is something to watch with the Pacers going forward. In addition to that, Domas Sabonis went 12/12 with 30-points Wednesday night against the Knicks, Saboins has been a huge part of the Pacers success over the last year and McMillan relies on Sabonis often late in the 4th quarter. Myles Turner and Sabonis aren't playing a ton together and with Turner extended before the season started, people nationally
9). New Orleans Pelicans - Anthony Davis missed a few games, but the Pelicans still played decent without him. In his return, the Pelicans took a 10-point loss to the Warriors, Wednesday night. While the record isn’t astounding (4-4), they’re playing like a playoff team that could cause problems. I give this team a pass without Davis, because when he is healthy, this team is dangerous. However, Davis' latest comments to reporters that he feels like he has to play his best every night for the team to win is a little puzzling for where exactly his head is. Is this a message to management to get more talent, or is it nothing? I will be monitoring Davis' comments for the remainder of the season, because he is arguably the most overall talented player in the league.
10). Utah Jazz - Utah has not played their best basketball lately but they’re still a team I don’t want to face. Their defense is always going to be good and they’ll constantly frustrate the heck out of you. Lastly, Rudy Gobert’s offensive presence is constantly overlooked. He is one of the best screen setters in the league and is an impactful offensive player with his passing and rebounding. This team will continue to improve as the season prolongs.
11). Oklahoma City Thunder - this team has quietly won three in a row after starting 0-4. I wasn’t ever that concerned with the Thunders slow start, because Russ was injured, PG had surgery and there is still no Roberson. They’ve still got plenty of room to improve, and the first thing might be making a play for Kyle Korver to add three-point shooting, which they desperately need.
12). Sacramento Kings - shoutout to the Sacramento Kings for their incredible start to the season. De’Aaron Fox is showcasing why he was the 5th pick overall last season in the NBA Draft, and that Buddy Hield Trade with DeMarcus Cousins seems to have been the right move. I don’t truly believe in this team yet, but they’re fun to watch and well coached.
13). Philadelphia 76ers - the 76ers are slowly figuring this thing out. They’re beating the teams they should and have losses to Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto and Detroit. While Detroit is probably worse than Philly, you can make cases for the other three teams being better. So, I don’t think Philly is ready to leap the Top 3 in the East this season, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t look to make a move to improve this team.
14). Memphis Grizzlies - the Grizzlies are quietly 4-2 but how good is this team? In the small sample size, I’d say they’re okay, but still going to be fighting for one of the last 2
Playoff spots. Their 4-wins came against subpar teams (besides the Jazz) and I need to see a larger sample size before I’m placing any stock into this team.
15). Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Rose scored 50-points off the bench to takedown the Jazz this week, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in the NBA for awhile. The Timberwolves still have so many wrinkles to iron out though for me to place them any higher. They’ve got the talent, but until they deal Jimmy Butler, that dark cloud will always be above their head.
16). Detroit Pistons - The Pistons fast start has cooled down with three losses in a row. Those losses came to Boston twice, and a one-point nail biter to the Nets on the road. I think Detroit is a surefire playoff team in the East, but they’ll be around the 6-8 range. I love what I’ve seen from Blake Griffin this season, but their roster just isn’t deep enough to be taken seriously.
17). Los Angeles Clippers - I can’t forgive the Clippers for giving Austin Rivers a tribute video. Since that video they’ve lost two in a row, and I’m going to keep track of their record since that loss. In all seriousness though, I do love what I’m seeing from Harrell and SGA. This team has so much potential, and if not for this season, for the next few years to come.
18). Houston Rockets - it feels so wrong to put this team down so low but they’re playing absolutely terrible. With James Harden injured, Chris Paul going through a funk and the lackluster performances of Carmelo Anthony this team is in dire need of a spark. Hopefully the month of November is kinder to them compared to the woeful October they had.
19). Charlotte Hornets - excluding the blowout loss to the Raptors, the Hornets have been in every game they’ve lost this season. They’ve won some close games too. I think they’re a .500 ball club, that’ll be competing against their division foes Miami and Washington for the 6th seed in the East. They’re good enough to win on any given night, but they’re not talented enough to overcome the top dogs in the league in a 7-game serious. Still, a really fun team to watch and root for.
20). Miami Heat - I don’t really know what to think about this team. I don’t want to keep bringing up the Jimmy Butler rumors because I don’t want Miami to trade for him. This team is who we thought they were. They’re talented, but their best player is Josh Richardson. That’s not a knock on Richardson at all, but it showcases they’re not deep enough to be a top 5 team in the East.
21). Los Angeles Lakers - it feels wrong to put any LeBron James team this low, but they’re just not playing good basketball right now. As the season prolongs, I think they’re going to figure this out. They’re too talented and LeBron won’t be able to embrace this many losses for the remainder of the season. Lance looks to be playing good minutes off the bench, but I want to see more of Josh Hart and less of KCP.
22). Brooklyn Nets - Spencer Dinwiddie saved the day Wednesday with a spectacular performance. I really like Allen, LeVert and Harris on this team. Dinwiddie is a good player for this team, but I would like to hear less about how he got robbed of the Most Improved Player award. Just keep playing like you did Wednesday Spencer and you’ll get the attention you want. Overall this Brooklyn team isn’t too far behind the Heat, Pistons and Hornets group and could push for the 8th seed this season.
23). New York Knicks - I love what I’m seeing from this team early on. No they’re not resulting in wins, but Tim Hardaway Jr has been on fire this season. Noah Vonleh looks like he has overcome his early career demons and found his game. Trier has also impressed off the bench. Once Kevin Knox is ready to return from his injury, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this team as they develop for the future.
24). Orlando Magic - the Magic aren’t playing good basketball right now, but they’re young and that’s what you should expect. Especially without a reliable point guard, you’re going to struggle throughout an 82-game season. I wouldn’t worry though because with their new coach and their front office, the future is brighter than it was just a few years ago. Rebuilds take time, and that’s exactly where the Magic are.
25). Atlanta Hawks - this team doesn’t play a lick of defense but their offense is a joy to watch. I can’t turn my tv off when I see Trae Young playing at a high level and I think that Atlanta is exactly where they want to be. These young pieces are talented, but they need more star power. I wouldn’t want them to, but I could see the Hawks trade Prince or Bazemore before the Trade Deadline this season.
26). Dallas Mavericks - Luka mania is so much fun. Rick Carlisle doesn’t have a great team here, but he has so much to work with going forward. I know they’ve lost 5 in a row, but they’re only going to get better. We shouldn’t overlook Dennis Smith Jr either. He’s going to have ups and downs this season as he takes on a different role, but he played extremely well against the Jazz and the Spurs.
27). Washington Wizards - did we not say at the beginning of the season that the Wizards would be the laughing stock of the league? They’re hoping that Dwight Howard’s return rights the ship? If you thought this couldn’t get any funnier, you’re wrong. The guys are already showing discord in the locker room and it’s just an ugly hot mess. They could go on some stupid run and get to .500 this month, but right now, they’re playing awful.
28). Chicago Bulls - similar to the other teams above the Bulls, they’re clearly developing players for the future. I don’t believe Fred Hoiberg is the right guy for this team, but I do think their lead assistant Jim Boylen is.
29). Phoenix Suns - losing six games in a row has the Suns down at 29. I think they’re more talented than most of the teams rebuilding and developing young guys, but they’re still a few pieces away. Ayton is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a game. I think he’s the front runner for Rookie of the Year. Phoenix fans should hope this 5-game homestead turns out better than their 30-point loss to the Spurs. They’ll play Toronto, Memphis, Brooklyn and Boston. That won’t be an easy task.
30). Cleveland Cavaliers - Dan Gilbert is something else. They fired Lue six games in to the season. Their assistant head coach Larry Drew won’t take on the interim coach position without being paid. They’re testing the trade market for Kyle Korver and JR Smith has publicly said he wants to be traded. With Kevin Love sidelined and Colin Sexton struggling early on, this team is in a horrible situation. LeBron’s absence really shows the discord in this franchise.
Alex Golden is the creator and founder of UpAndUnder.net. Throughout the season, Alex Golden will breakdown what's going on in the association. Make sure to checkout his weekly Power Rankings (in the Power Rankings page) during the season as well.