If you had told someone before the season that the Los Angeles Lakers would start the season 8-0 and be one of two undefeated teams left in the NBA, not many people would be surprised. They are the defending champions and they still have one of the best players in the league in Kobe Bryant. Now, if you had told the same person that the other undefeated team would be the 7-0 New Orleans Hornets, you probably would have gotten laughed out of the conversation. The Hornets were due to rebound following a very disappointing 2009-2010 season, but no one expected them to start off this well.
All records are accurate as of Wednesday, November 10. Here are my complete Power Rankings heading into Week 3 of the NBA season (last week’s ranking in parentheses). I will only be giving commentary on the top 15 teams in the league for now:
1 (1) Los Angeles Lakers (8-0)
Looks like the Lakers took major exception to the new-look Heat being proclaimed the best team in the NBA without having played a game together.
2 (10) New Orleans Hornets (7-0)
The Hornets are off to a blistering start and look a lot more like the dangerous playoff team of three years ago than the team that didn’t even sniff the playoffs last year.
3 (4) Orlando Magic (5-1)
Outside of that awful performance against Miami, the Magic have been taking care of business once again and are on pace for yet another 50+ win season.
4 (5) Boston Celtics (6-2)
Rajon Rondo is slowly raising his stock from “improved” to “one of the best point guards in the NBA.”
5 (6) Atlanta Hawks (6-2)
The Hawks have cooled off since starting 6-0, but still aren’t willing to give up their place as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference yet.
6 (9) San Antonio Spurs (5-1)
Did the Suns move to San Antonio? The Spurs have been one of the top scoring teams in the league (106.7 points per game), but are also giving up a ton of points (103 points per game allowed).
7 (2) Miami Heat (5-3)
The Heat have oscillated between dominance and mediocrity so far this season. They still need to figure out how to best use LeBron, Wade and Bosh, but when they do, we’re going to see a lot more dominance and a lot less mediocrity.
8 (3) Portland Trailblazers (6-3)
The news that Brandon Roy’s knees will limit his minutes (and production) for the rest of the season has to be a major concern for the Blazers. Without Roy, Portland isn’t going to make it very far in the Western Conference.
9 (8) Dallas Mavericks (4-2)
Brendan Haywood’s $55 million contract is going to be a millstone for the Mavs if he doesn’t get his act together. Paying nearly $10 million a year for a backup center isn’t normally the key to a championship run.
10 (11) Chicago Bulls (3-3)
It’s tough to tell which Bulls team is going to win out this season: The team that fights strong and comes away with the win or the team that hangs in with anyone but loses out in the end. The only consistent thing is that Chicago doesn’t give up, but that sometimes just isn’t enough.
11 (18) Golden State Warriors (5-2)
The Warriors have responded well to their new coach, although their only matchup against an elite squad (the Lakers) ended with Golden State losing 107-83.
12 (17) Utah Jazz (4-3)
Perhaps I wrote the Jazz off a little too soon after they started 1-2. Utah’s in the middle of a four-game road trip, but their stunning overtime win over the Heat to start the road trip showed a level of resilience that I wasn’t sure this year’s Jazz team had.
13 (13) Denver Nuggets (4-4)
I hate to beat a dead horse, but Carmelo Anthony has been Denver’s leading scorer in six of their eight games so far this season and he still doesn’t want to stay. The Nuggets are obviously in no hurry to get rid of Anthony, but they need to make sure that they get something in return for his departure and not hang onto him the entire season and end up getting nothing.
14 (7) Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3)
Like a lot of people, I thought the Thunder were going to take another step forward this year and become one of the top teams in the Western Conference. So far, Oklahoma City has looked like the same “high potential, low consistency” team that lost in the first round of the playoffs last year to the Lakers.
15 (15) Indiana Pacers (3-3)
I don’t expect the Pacers to put up 54 points in a quarter every week, but it affirms the fact that this year’s Pacers team is a lot better than last year’s Pacers team.
16 (12) Memphis Grizzlies (4-4)
17 (23) Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3)
18 (21) Sacramento Kings (3-3)
19 (14) Milwaukee Bucks (3-5)
20 (16) Phoenix Suns (3-4)
21 (22) New York Knicks (3-4)
22 (20) New Jersey Nets (2-5)
23 (29) Philadelphia 76ers (2-5)
24 (19) Houston Rockets (1-5)
25 (24) Toronto Raptors (1-6)
26 (30) Detroit Pistons (2-6)
27 (25) Washington Wizards (1-4)
28 (27) Charlotte Bobcats (1-6)
29 (28) Los Angeles Clippers (1-7)
30 (26) Minnesota Timberwolves (1-7)
All stats and standings from espn.com