1. Miami Heat (+2)
So far, the Heat have shown to be the most complete team in the NBA. They’re currently 4th in points per game, 5th in FG%, 2nd in points allowed, 5th in offensive efficiency, 1st in opponent FG%, 1st in point differential (+17), and 1st in defensive efficiency. That's just the team stats. The Heat also have 3 players averaging over 20 ppg giving them a lot of room for error on any given night.
This team hasn’t lost this year in regulation, with their only loss coming in overtime on the road in Indiana, in a game where Jimmy Butler had a layup blocked that would have given them the lead. Their next 7 games are against teams that made the playoffs last year, with 5 of those being on the road. However, with convincing wins over playoff hopeful teams like Memphis and Charlotte this past week, as well as having wins against Milwaukee and Brooklyn in the first two weeks of the season, that's good enough for us to have them as the unanimous number 1 team this week.
2. Golden State Warriors (-)
While Miami's numbers (rightfully) jump off the page, Golden State is also humming along with a top 10 offense & defense of their own to boast about. Damion Lee and Jordan Poole (the latter's fall back down to earth has been more a product of the basketball community collectively making a knee jerk reaction that Poole had fully replaced Klay, which was unfair.) have both cooled off a bit, but continue to be solid third and fourth contributors for this team while Andrew Wiggins' scoring numbers continue to be consistent as the (current) number two option.
Steph Curry now sits just a little over 100 3's from the All-Time record and he will be getting his splash brother running mate back later this season. As the Warriors get healthier, they will get better. Hard to imagine a better start to the season for Steve Kerr's squad.
3. Utah Jazz (+2)
Any team that can go into Milwaukee and leave with a victory will grab our attention. Couple that with a stifling defense and a rebounding monster in Rudy Gobert and you understand why they must be so high on this week’s rankings. The Jazz shoot from beyond three more often than any team in the league, while leading the league in FG% inside the arc. This Jazz team also gets to the free throw line more times per game than any, other team, which is always nice when your team is one of the most accurate FT shooting teams.
They did finally dropped a tough game on the road against Chicago, but they almost came back from double digits down in the 2nd half to put the pressure on the Bulls down the stretch. What is scary, however, is that even though Donovan Mitchell is shooting well below his career average, he is still leading the team in scoring. He does still has some room to improve with turning the ball over, however. Don’t get us wrong, though, with an On Court +/- of +18.5, Mitchell can’t be ignored, and neither can the Utah Jazz.
4. New York Knicks (NR)
This is one of the league's best defenses, as is expected from a Thibs team. What isn't expected is the fact that this team is an offensive behemoth (2nd in ppg and 3P%, while being 4th in points per game). Julius Randle continues to play at an all-star level, R.J. Barrett is making big strides and they have a big shooter in Evan Fournier.
Speaking of arrivals, “Garden Kemba” arrived this past week, and is returning to his All-Star form. He’s now shooting 4th in 3P% at 57.9% on 6.3 attempts per game, and is one of five players who have shot better than 50% on at least 25 three points attempts. The Basketball world is more fun with this Knicks fan base going crazy, and we are here for it.
5. Chicago Bulls (-1)
What early season chemistry issues? While there are some that would still like to see Zach Lavine get the late game looks, there's no denying that DeMar DeRozan is showing people exactly why the Bulls brought him in this offseason. Their only loss, so far, is a one-point loss in a game against the New York Knicks that showcased both teams as proper, early forces in the Eastern Conference. The loss to the Knicks pushes them back, but they did have a great win over the Jazz. Their big question now is how do they replace Patrick Williams as the Bulls schedule grows much tougher over the next few weeks.
6. Charlotte Hornets (+4)
Charlotte continues to be an absolute juggernaut, offensively, but they had a bit of a "come back down to earth" moment against the Heat on Friday night. This team is playing at a blistering pace and is the 3rd most efficient team, offensively, in the league. Miles Bridges has emerged (as talked about in Kyle Brandon's article from last week) putting up back-to-back-to-back 30-point games and has done an excellent job making the Hornets regret not giving him the extension.
They are the best second half team in the league by a wide margin. They need every point they can get with how much of a concern their defense continues to be.
7. Washington Wizards (NR)
Color us impressed with this Wizards team. While we already gave them their roses for turning John Wall into Russell Westbrook into a plethora of contributors, none of us expected this blistering start for Washington and it hasn’t been the prettiest basketball. Often times slow paced with little ball movement (this team is middle of the pack in both offense and defense), it does have us cautious, but this team has caught early season magic, and has them near the top of the leaderboards. We're not 100% certain that the Wizards will keep playing this well, but it's clear to see that, so far, this roster fits well together.
8. Denver Nuggets (+1)
After surviving a brief scare with Jokic's injury the other night, Denver's offense continues to hum right along. They're still shooting astronomically well at 47.9% (3rd in the league), but it's all coming from within the 3pt line. This team's 3-point shooting is abysmal, and it's leading to the Nuggets being near the bottom of the league in ppg. So what has them 3rd in the West, right now? Their defense. They are currently 3rd in defensive efficiency, 1st in oPPG, and 6th in oFG%. The Nuggets have play two games in Memphis this week before coming home for the Rockets. Should at worst be 2-1 this week.
9. Milwaukee Bucks (-8)
The defending champs have been hit with the ever-common post-title-run injury bug, and it could not be happening at a worse time in their schedule. They only have 2 games this week, so the extra time off the court may be the exact medicine they need to get healthy before getting into a stretch that sees them play Washington, Philly, New York, Boston, Atlanta, and the Lakers in 6 straight games.
10. Brooklyn Nets (-2)
James Harden returned to the free throw line and back into the scorer we’re used to seeing with 19 FTA against the Pacers, which was more than his first five games combined. This team is still figuring out lineups, but an (on paper) easier upcoming schedule of Atlanta, Detroit, and Toronto this week should help this team get on the right track.
Other teams receiving votes: Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers
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