Far more surprises and stat lines than predicted. The bulk of the season is starting to begin and some teams are establishing themselves as playoff favorites while others are looking towards the lottery. Lots of new rises and falls as we saw a crazy week in the league. Who cracks the top 10 this week? This season is turning into a good one through November.
No. 30: New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are the latest product of poor injuries. Zion Williamson has yet to play coming off surgery from the off-season on a fractured right foot. Brandon Ingram is also nursing an injury on his right hip. Without their two stars, the Pelicans look to make a return to the lottery.
No. 29: Houston Rockets
The highlight of this Houston team is the number 2 pick Jalen Green. Green through 11 games is averaging 14.5 points per game and brings excitement on the court. Center Christian Wood leads the team in scoring with 17.7 a game. The Rockets are exactly where they were projected, heading towards the lottery.
No. 28: Detroit Pistons
Currently last in the eastern conference, Detroit is a young team to look out for in the future. Number one pick Cade Cunningham has five games under his belt after dealing with injury and is starting to grow comfortable being the lead playmaker. Jerami Grant has been a highlight for the Pistons, leading the team with 18.7 points including a 35 point performance in a win over Houston.
No. 27: Oklahoma City Thunder
The projected last team in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder has been interesting to watch this season. The clear intention is to get to the lottery, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been balling. He’s averaging 22.6 points per game and led the team to a huge comeback against the Lakers which included a dagger three-pointer from the logo.
No. 26: Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota’s a young fun team to watch, but that isn’t translating into success on the court. Second-year guard Anthony Edwards is proving to be one of the best in the league, averaging 25.9 points per game. Karl-Anthony Towns continues to perform at an all-star level as well. While this team is filled with young stars, they’re still a couple of pieces away from making the playoffs.
No. 25: Orlando Magic
Adding to the list of young and upcoming teams, we see Orlando landing at 25 on our list. 3-9 on the year, they will be a good team in years to come. Cole Anthony leads the team in scoring and is supported by one of the steals of the draft, Franz Wagner. Wendell Carter Jr is having a great resurgent year on the Magic averaging a double-double with rebounds. Jalen Suggs is getting more comfortable too as the season goes on.
No. 24: Atlanta Hawks
This past week Atlanta went 0-4, bringing their losing streak to five. Despite the 4-8 start, the Hawks have a young and explosive core to get back to the playoffs. Trae Young is doing Trae Young things, leading the team in scoring as expected. The last three games going against top teams in the west, they now look to the Denver Nuggets before facing the defending champions, Milwaukee Bucks.
No. 23: Indiana Pacers
Missing the playoffs would be a huge failure for the Pacers this year. Indiana is a well-balanced team led by Malcolm Brogdon and has great support from all-star Domantas Sabonis. Along with Chris Duarte and Caris LeVert, the Pacers have the tools to get back to the playoffs. After dealing with some minor injuries, they look to get back on track.
No. 22: Charlotte Hornets
Poor defensive performances have led to five straight losses before a win vs the Memphis Grizzlies. LaMelo Ball followed up his strong rookie campaign by averaging 19.8 points per game along with 6.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists. Miles Bridges is the main offense weapon, but with support from Ball, Gordon Hayward, and company, Charlotte could get to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.
No. 21: Sacramento Kings
Sacramento kicked off the week with a 30 point thumping over the Hornets, before losing three straight. Harrison Barnes is playing great basketball and De’Aaron Fox has found his form after a slow start. While the defensive side of the ball is an issue, the offensive side could make up for it.
No. 20: San Antonio Spurs
The youngsters are leading the way in the new-look Spurs team. The backcourt duo of Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson have performed well for San Antonio. They enter a tough week including playing both Los Angeles teams and Dallas.
No. 19: Toronto Raptors
The Raptors were predicted as a middle-of-the-pack team in the east this year and that proves correct as they are 7-6 so far. An overall balanced attack led by OG Anunoby. Scottie Barnes has been performing well in his first season and they will be at full strength once Pascal Siakam is back to 100 percent.
No. 18: Portland Trail Blazers
After a slow start, all-star Damian Lillard is finally getting back to a pace that we know he can perform at. CJ McCollum leads the team in points but the Portland defense has a long way too if they’re going to make a post-season run.
No. 17: Boston Celtics
One of the bigger disappointments of the season, the Celtics are on the outside looking in after 11 games. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are doing their thing on the offensive end, but poor defensive performances have been their identity this season. Boston will meet Milwaukee Friday before playing Cleveland back to back.
No. 16: Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis opened the week with a 28 point loss to the Wizards. Despite the big loss, the Grizzlies are battling in the conference, currently with the eighth seed. They will continue to look to Ja Morant who’s averaging 26.5 points per game.
No. 15: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are riding a two-game win streak thanks to big performances from Anthony Davis and Malik Monk. While still missing LeBron James, the Lakers look to rely on veteran leadership as they enter the bulk of their season.
No. 14: Milwaukee Bucks
Off to a 6-6 start, the defending champions have been hit with the injury bug early in the season. Both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have only seen six games this season. Middleton was placed on COVID-19 protocols while Holiday is coming off an ankle injury. Brook Lopez has been dealing with back issues too, only seeing the court once. Giannis Antetokounmpo is continuing his MVP form averaging a double-double with 26.6 points and 11.8 rebounds.
No. 13 Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are playing good basketball and it shows with their current five-game winning streak. They’re doing a great relying on strong defensive play, even while missing Kawhi Leonard. Strong offensive play from Paul George and Reggie Jackson has made them into a great balanced squad.
No. 12: Cleveland Cavaliers
Another surprise to start the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been a fun team to watch. Despite losing Collin Sexton for the foreseeable future due to a meniscus injury, strong guard play and an interior presence have led to success. Jarrett Allen was recently named eastern conference player of the week and Evan Mobley has been playing sensational so far in his rookie season.
No. 11: New York Knicks
The Knicks look to continue their success last season but their defense has proven to be an issue. The good thing, however, their offense is firing on all cylinders. Julius Randle has been great offensively along with RJ Barrett and new additions Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.
No. 10: Miami Heat
After a 6-1 start to the season, the Heat have turned their fortunes around as they sit 7-5. Miami suffered terrible losses to the Celtics and Nuggets and finally lost to the Lakers after a Jimmy Butler exit. Many offensive weapons can get the Heat back on track.
No. 9: Philadelphia 76ers
Very impressive start for Philly despite their depleted roster. Joel Embiid entered health and safety protocols, Tobias Harris just coming out of it. Replacing Embiid during his time away was Andre Drummond who averaged 15.5 points along with 22.5 rebounds. Philly looks to make another playoff run.
No. 8: Dallas Mavericks
The highlight of the week was Luka Doncic hitting a game-winning three-pointer against the Celtics. He’s been putting on a show this season averaging 24.5 points per game. Kristaps Porzingis returned to the lineup and looks to keep their early success going.
No.7: Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are playing fun exciting basketball. The offensive is fueled by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. With a supporting cast of Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
No. 6: Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant is doing his thing averaging 29.5 points per game and James Harden looks to be coming out of his early-season slump. The Nets went 3-1 this last week, with a lone loss coming to the Bulls. LaMarcus Aldridge has also been playing well for the nets during the stretch.
No. 5: Utah Jazz
The 8-4. Jazz are off to another hot start. This past week Utah beat Atlanta twice before losing to Miami and Indiana. While Donovan Mitchell is leading the team, the offense is well-rounded with veteran scorers. They have a five-game homestand, hosting some eastern conference opponents next.
No. 4: Washington Wizards
Another shocker of the season, the Washington Wizards are 8-3 to start the season. Washington is now on a three-game winning streak and Bradley Beal is having fun. The Wizards have done a great job from the Russell Westbrook trade turning the team into a well-rounded squad.
No. 3: Denver Nuggets
Denver is on a three-game winning streak thanks to good offense and defense. The MVP Nikola Jokic is performing well to start the season, despite the flagrant foul against the Heat. Defensively over the win streak, they’ve held all three opponents under 100 points.
No. 2: Phoenix Suns
No. 1: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors over the years have been known for explosive offense but it’s the numbers on the defensive end that have the attention around the league this year. The Warriors hold the Number 1 defensive rating in the league with 99.2. Stephen Curry is second in the league in points per game with 27.4 and looks to lead the Warriors before Klay Thompson returns.
Follow Kole Emplit on Twitter @KoleEmplit
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images