NBA Power Rankings: Are The LA Clippers, OKC Thunder For Real?

Nov 5, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; LA Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) dunks the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In this week’s edition of our NBA Power Rankings, we explore whether the Oklahoma City Thunder and LA Clippers are for real

When watching the LA Clippers through two weeks of this season, you may notice something different about them. They aren’t the same old Clippers.

These aren’t the same Clippers that are going to outscore you night in and night out. Instead, these are some Clippers that will lock you down on the defensive side of the ball, and then use that to open up the offensive end.

Through Monday, the Clippers had the NBA’s best defense – only allowing 90.7 points per 100 possessions. If LA can continue to play this level of defense this season, they’re going to be a pain come April and May.

Another team in the Western Conference that has looked almost equally as impressive is the Oklahoma City Thunder, which comes as a bit of a surprise.

After losing Kevin Durant in the summer, many expected the Thunder to take a HUGE step back. Instead, almost the opposite has happened. Led by Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have gotten off to a 6-1 start.

As the Clippers and Thunder both trend up, we jump into this week’s installment of our NBA Power Rankings.

Oct 26, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the first half at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 26, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the first half at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

30

Philadelphia 76ers

0-6

Last week: 0-4
Last rank: 30

The Philadelphia 76ers may be the most impressive 0-6 team you’ve ever seen. Heck, this team nearly pulled off an upset over the Cleveland Cavaliers a few days ago.

(Note: if you haven’t seen the Joel Embiid block on LeBron James, go check it out)

The Sixers don’t have many appealing pieces on the court right now – with Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel both recovering from injuries – but anytime Joel Embiid is on the court, he’s a much watch.

You can actually make the argument that he could be the best center in the NBA already. Just wait until he gets the minutes restriction pulled off.

Nov 2, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 2, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

29

New Orleans Pelicans

0-7

Last week: 0-4
Last rank: 28

The New Orleans Pelicans are 0-7. Anthony Davis doesn’t deserve this. Heck, Pelicans fan don’t deserve this. But, here we are.

New Orleans is bad. Really bad. And there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of this year’s tunnel. Perhaps the biggest disservice here is that there’s absolutely nothing that Davis can do about it. He’s locked under contract until the end of the 2019-20 season.

Yup. Get used to this. Davis is going to put up great numbers, but will continue to lose. Hopefully, the Pelicans can figure this out. The last thing we need is for Davis to waste away his prime years for a 10-72 team.

Oct 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (40) shoots over Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (40) shoots over Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

28

Dallas Mavericks

1-5

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 25

The good news is that the Dallas Mavericks are no longer winless. The bad news is that they’re still bad. Really bad. And with the expectation that Dirk Nowitzki will miss some time with an injury, this could get a lot worse before it gets better.

Thankfully, Dallas managed to best – if that’s what you want to call it – the Milwaukee Bucks, who possess issues of their own.

Dallas has a lot of decisions to make this season, electing to tank should be one of them. The Mavs will probably miss the playoffs this season, and that’s OK. Dirk has to decide if it is with him, though.

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets guard Marco Belinelli (21) in the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Hornets win 99-95. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

27

Brooklyn Nets

2-4

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 29

Credit the Brooklyn Nets. For a team that was picked to finished with the worst record in the NBA – not one of the worse records, THE WORST – they actually aren’t that bad.

Even without Jeremy Lin for a while, the Nets have proven that they’re going to compete night in and night out. They have two wins on the season – over the Pacers and Pistons. Not bad.

The Nets don’t have much to look forward to this year, but the fact that Sean Kilpatrick is averaging 17 points on 41 percent shooting from three is nice. Also, keep an eye on this team potentially moving Brook Lopez. It’s been rumored in the past, and this team really needs to regain some of its lost assets.

Nov 6, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (6) during a NBA game at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Suns 119-108. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

26

Phoenix Suns

2-5

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 27

Devin Booker is phenomenal. I don’t ‘think anyone can argue that. He has this silky-smooth jump shot that has helped him develop into a natural scorer. Heck, in just his last two games, he’s scored 38 and 39 points respectively.

Oh, and he’s only 20 years old. The man is going to be an absolute monster in this league. Booker is barely scratching the surface of what he can really be in the NBA. As long as the Suns don’t stunt his growth and continue to surround him with good young talent, this team’s future is bright. They won’t win many games this season, but this team will continue to be one of the better watches in the league this season.

Oct 30, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) scores a basket past San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Spurs won 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 30, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) scores a basket past San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Spurs won 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

25

Miami Heat

2-4

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 22

The Miami Heat have been exactly what we all should’ve expected them to be. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Heat have beaten the two bad teams on their schedule – the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings – and have lost to the good teams on their schedule – the Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder.

With that said, again, none of this should come at a surprise. The Heat are one of those teams – and now we know through two weeks into the season – that this is a team that will beat the bad teams and lose to the good teams. Nothing more, nothing worse.

However, I’m concerned about Justise Winslow’s jump shot. If he indeed put in work the entire summer to fix it, the fact that he’s shooting 34 percent overall and only 17 percent from three, isn’t great.

Nov 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky (31) shoots the ball as Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Rockets won 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

24

Washington Wizards

1-5

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 21

Despite having John Wall, the Washington Wizards still leave a lot to be desired – and I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Maybe it’s because Bradley Beal, who is shooting sub-40 percent from the field, hasn’t developed as many expected him to by now, or maybe it’s because this team’s talent simply isn’t up to par with many of its contemporaries.

Either way, the bottom line is that the Wizards simply aren’t that good. At least not yet.

If you want to shed some positive light on Washington, though, go no further than how well Markieff Morris has performed this season. He’s off to a solid start.

Oct 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) shoots a three pointer against the Miami Heat during the second half at Amway Center. Miami Heat defeated the Orlando Magic 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) shoots a three pointer against the Miami Heat during the second half at Amway Center. Miami Heat defeated the Orlando Magic 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

23

Orlando Magic

3-4

Last week: 3-2
Last rank: 26

So maybe the Orlando Magic aren’t so bad after all. After opening the season with three straight losses, the Magic have won three of their last four with their lone loss coming against the Chicago Bulls, who have been really good so far this season.

Orlando still has a ton of questions, but this team does have talent to make a run once they’ve figured it out. My question is whether they have enough in the backcourt to keep up in today’s NBA.

Is Elfrid Payton really the future point guard of this team? I’m not so sure.

Nov 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dribbles the ball as Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) plays defense in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dribbles the ball as Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) plays defense in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

22

Minnesota Timberwolves

1-4

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 20

The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the weirdest team in the NBA right now. Before the season started, the Wolves were easily one of the trendiest picks in the NBA.

However, at 1-4, it’s pretty evident that the Wolves simply aren’t going to be that 50-win team that many expected they’d be. Interestingly, the statistics tell another story.

Minnesota is top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. They’re also top 10 in net rating. Yet, this team has only won one game. So, there could be two things working here. Either the Wolves are a lot better than their 1-4 record indicates, or this team is a stat-stuffing machine. Either way, it’s something to follow.

Dec 19, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) react after a shot by Porzingis (6) during second half against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls 107-91. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 19, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) react after a shot by Porzingis (6) during second half against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls 107-91. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

21

New York Knicks

2-4

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 19

After an impressive victory over the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks nearly spoiled Gordon Hayward’s return. However, the better team prevailed Sunday afternoon – and I don’t think anyone would argue with that assessment.

With that said, I don’t think the Knicks should necessarily declare this season lost just because they lost to the Utah Jazz on a Sunday afternoon in November.

The Knicks have proven, at different points this season, that this team does have talent to compete. Though, they’ve had real trouble in putting it all together.

New York needs time to gel, there’s no question about it. Question, once they gel, will it be enough?

Nov 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) defends Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) in the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) defends Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) in the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

20

Sacramento Kings

3-5

Last week: 1-4
Last rank: 17

The Sacramento Kings have won three games this season – against the Suns, Timberwolves and Raptors. Yup, that pretty much sums up what the Kings are in a nutshell.

DeMarcus Cousins is one of, if not the, best centers in the NBA, and he’s – for the most part – being wasted away in, as Rudy Gay references it, Basketball Hell.

I don’t want to play the will they/wont they game again when it comes to this team moving Boogie, because they never do the smart thing anyways.

Expect the Kings to pick in the top 10, again, in the 2017 NBA Draft, inject false hope in their fans and then fall flat on their faces again.

Jan 28, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) blocks a dunk attempt by Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Nuggets won 117-113. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 28, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) blocks a dunk attempt by Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Nuggets won 117-113. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

19

Denver Nuggets

3-3

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 18

Many have questioned Emmanuel Mudiay over the course of this season. At least for one game, he answered the call. In their impressive win over the Boston Celtics earlier this week, Mudiay scored 30 points on only 18 shot attempts.

Now, the question is if he can find some sort of consistency. The talent is there, clearly. He just hasn’t been able to put it all together.

As for the Nuggets, they’ve shown potential. They’re 3-3, and what they’ve been six games into the season is likely what they’re going to be the rest of the way. They’re going to be OK, pretty good – just not good enough to make things interesting in the West.

Oct 14, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Myles Turner (33) celebrates after he dunks against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Indiana Pacers 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 14, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Myles Turner (33) celebrates after he dunks against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Indiana Pacers 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

18

Indiana Pacers

3-4

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 15

The Indiana Pacers have all the pieces. Looking at their roster, it’s easy to see why many NBA heads – myself included – believed they’d be better than the 3-3 record that they’ve posed through six games.

At the same time, when watching the Pacers it’s easy to see why they’ve struggled thus far. Their defense stinks, and that’s putting it nicely. It’s almost as if Frank Vogel took the team’s ability to play defense when he made the move to Orlando. Maybe he did.

The Pacers are 26th in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing nearly 109 points per 100 possessions. Perhaps more troubling, Indiana has allowed at least 100 points in all of their games except one.

Oct 30, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) celebrates after making a three point shot in overtime against the Washington Wizards at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Washington 112-103. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 30, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) celebrates after making a three point shot in overtime against the Washington Wizards at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Washington 112-103. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

17

Memphis Grizzlies

3-4

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 12

The Memphis Grizzlies have lost to two non-playoff teams and two playoff teams so far this season. No matter how good Marc Gasol has looked, this team isn’t anything better than mediocre at this point in the season.

After the big money that they fed Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, that has to be considered disappointing. In fairness, Parsons is barely making his way back from injury. He’s played 21 minutes in a Grizzlies uniform. He will get better. So should the Grizzlies.

So far, though, this doesn’t look like a team that is going to make much noise in the West. Just looking at their roster, that isn’t great.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Nov 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after a basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the fourth quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Bucks defeated the Pelicans 117-113. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

16

Milwaukee Bucks

4-3

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 23

The good news for the Milwaukee Bucks is that they’re shown the ability to beat bad teams. After getting off to a shaky start to the season, the Bucks have won three out of their last four games – save for an embarrassing effort against the Dallas Mavericks.

Perhaps the better news is that Rashad Vaughn has looked better than OK through the first two weeks of the season. When the Bucks needed shooting most, after losing Khris Middleton for the season, Vaughn has shown the ability to be a consistent chucker from distance.

Vaughn is shooting over 40 percent from the field from three. Oh, and Giannis is really good. Scary good.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

15

Los Angeles Lakers

4-3

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 24

Here are the top three scoring teams in the NBA: the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers – wait, what?

These aren’t last year’s Lakers. They’re almost the polar opposite of what they were last season. They’re interesting, exciting and can score points (and hit threes) – everything that last year’s team wasn’t.

Is it all Luke Walton? Probably not. The departure of Kobe Bryant? Probably not, either.

But you can’t deny the fact that this team actually looks like they’re having fun on – and off – the court, something that you simply couldn’t see last season.

Nov 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) defends in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Rockets won 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

14

Houston Rockets

4-3

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 13

The Houston Rockets have a great offense. Specifically, they’re ranked sixth in offensive rating. Problem is, they’re dead-last in the NBA in defensive rating, and check in with a negative net rating.

At the end of the day, if Mike D’Antoni can’t get this team even to play just average defense, the Rockets aren’t going to do much winning. They’re 4-3, sure. But they’re not going to win the games they need in order to make a serous case for a playoff push.

James Harden can put all the insane numbers he wants – at this point, he’s averaging 32 points and an NBA-best 12 assists per game. However, if the Rockets can’t fix their issues on the defensive end, all of those stats will feel empty.

Apr 6, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) greets fans in the locker room tunnel against the Orlando Magic after a basketball game at Amway Center. The Pistons won 108-104. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 6, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) greets fans in the locker room tunnel against the Orlando Magic after a basketball game at Amway Center. The Pistons won 108-104. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

13

Detroit Pistons

4-3

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 11

The fact that the Detroit Pistons have not only managed to stay afloat but look good while doing so without Reggie Jackson is a great sign for this team moving forward. Stan Van Gundy has managed to coach around without their best point guard, and the fact that Tobias Harris – who is averaging 19 points and five rebounds per game – is leading the way is another pleasant surprise.

We’re going to find a little more about this team this week. The Pistons hit the road this week for four games, including meetings with the Clippers and Spurs.

Can the Pistons continue to show that they’ve made progress this summer?

Nov 20, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after scoring a three point shot against the Los Angeles Clippers at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 20, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after scoring a three point shot against the Los Angeles Clippers at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

12

Portland Trail Blazers

4-3

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 9

In an early-season road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers passed with flying colors – well, maybe not that high. But, they passed. Don’t get me wrong, the loss to the Phoenix Suns was disappointing. However, they did recover to beat the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.

The thing with the Blazers is that I’m not sure if they’re necessarily good enough to be a “thing” in the Western Conference. I mean, they’re awfully fun to watch. I’ll give them that. And Damian Lillard is insane.

Problem is, beyond Lillard, this team doesn’t necessarily much more in appealing assets. C.J. McCollum is nice, but this team still hasn’t discovered who their third option is going to be this season. And Evan Turner has been an utter disappointment.

Oct 31, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots the ball as Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris (12) defends during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 31, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots the ball as Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris (12) defends during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

11

Chicago Bulls

4-3

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 8

This is so Chicago Bulls – at least so much of what we’ve come to know from them over the last few years. After opening the year with three-straight wins, the Bulls have dropped their last three – against the Celtics, Knicks and Pacers.

While neither of those games are actually “bad losses”, this isn’t a good sign for this team moving forward.

The good news for this team is that Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are still shooting roughly 48 percent from three-point range. If they can keep those numbers up, which according to history seems unlikely, the Bulls will be fine and will look more like the team that won their first three games.

If not, this team could fade really quickly.

Nov 6, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

10

Boston Celtics

3-3

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 6

For all the hype that was surrounding the Boston Celtics to begin the season, they’ve somewhat disappointed this season. After getting off to a hot 3-1 start, the Celtics have dropped two-straight games.

In fairness, the Celtics only have one really bad loss so far – against the Denver Nuggets. However, it’s still not great. Perhaps most concerning, the Celtics are still getting beaten up on the boards. They’re the third worst team in the NBA in rebounding and the second-worst team (statistically) in defensive rating.

The only saving grace for the Celtics this season has been their second-ranked offense. Can they afford to lean on that for an entire season, though?

Oct 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) dribbles as Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant (39) defends during the fourth quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Atlanta Hawks won 104-72. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) dribbles as Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant (39) defends during the fourth quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Atlanta Hawks won 104-72. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

9

Atlanta Hawks

4-2

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 7

After opening the season with three-straight wins, the Atlanta Hawks followed their hot start with two bad losses – against the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards.

Even though they managed to get back on track win a win against the Houston Rockets, the verdict is still out on the new-look Hawks.

It’s going to be interesting to keep an eye on Bud’s squad this week, as they travel to Cleveland to play the defending champs and then play host to the Chicago Bulls.

Oct 5, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) and forward Gordon Hayward (20) talk mid court during the first half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Phoenix Suns 104-99. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) and forward Gordon Hayward (20) talk mid court during the first half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Phoenix Suns 104-99. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

8

Utah Jazz

5-3

Last week: 4-1
Last rank: 16

Gordon Hayward made his return to the Utah Jazz lineup Sunday, when they defeated the New York Knicks. Not only did Hayward return to the lineup, but he did it the only way he knew how to – in a big way.

In his first game back, Hayward finished with 28 points and five rebounds. The Jazz had already gotten off to a solid start even without Hayward in the lineup to begin the season. He’s return will only help this team even more. Without a doubt, this is definitely a playoff team in this year’s watered-down West. Question is, are they the top 4 team that many expected them to be?

With Hayward now back, we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

Oct 28, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) yells to the fans in action against the Phoenix Suns during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 28, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) yells to the fans in action against the Phoenix Suns during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

7

Oklahoma City Thunder

6-1

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 14

Looking at the standings, the Oklahoma City Thunder stick out. They’re 6-1 and are currently on top of the Western Conference. However, if you saw how this team looked compared to the Golden State Warriors, it was no question difficult to watch.

Russell Westbrook and his big stats are going to look awfully pretty on SportsCenter and in the stat sheets. However, they’re not good enough to take this OKC roster anywhere near the level of some of the better teams in the West.

The Thunder will probably make the playoffs, but this team shouldn’t instill fear in any team once they get there. They simply don’t have enough talent. And that’s OK.

Dec 26, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford talks with guard Nicolas Batum (5) and guard Kemba Walker (15) during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hornets defeated the Grizzlies 98-92. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 26, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford talks with guard Nicolas Batum (5) and guard Kemba Walker (15) during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hornets defeated the Grizzlies 98-92. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

6

Charlotte Hornets

5-1

Last week: 3-0
Last rank: 10

The Charlotte Hornets, being 4-1, should not be a surprise. Even though I didn’t expect them to get off to such a strong start, this team has enough talent to be one of the four best teams out East. I just didn’t expect it to happen. I believed that losing Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson would hurt this team more than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would help it. I was wrong.

The Hornets are going to be one of those teams that will beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and split the games against the good teams. That should be good enough for this team to carve out a nice playoff spot out East.

Kemba Walker has been insane this season. He’s averaging 24.4 points on 47 percent from the field and 42 percent from three – all career highs.

Nov 4, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives for a basket past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) in the second half at Air Canada Centre. DeRozan scored 34 points in a 96-87 win for Toronto. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 4, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives for a basket past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) in the second half at Air Canada Centre. DeRozan scored 34 points in a 96-87 win for Toronto. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

5

Toronto Raptors

4-2

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 5

The Toronto Raptors have been the second-best team in the East through two weeks. I can confidently say that. And a big part of that has been DeMar DeRozan and his amazing start to the year.

DeRozan is averaging 34 points and five rebounds per game this season. He’s also shooting it at an efficient 52 percent from the field. Even though it’s unfair to expect DeRozan to play this well for the length of the season, it’s a good sign that he’s gotten off to such a good start.

October 25, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with guard Stephen Curry (30) against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

October 25, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with guard Stephen Curry (30) against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4

Golden State Warriors

5-2

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 3

For better or worse, through two weeks, the Golden State Warriors have proven that they will indeed be human this season. Of course, that’s assuming that Klay Thompson continues to shoot 38 percent from the field and 20 percent from three-point range.

If that doesn’t change, this team will continue to look beatable on some nights. That’s exactly what we saw in their game the other night against the Los Angeles Lakers. It also didn’t help that they were fresh off an emotional victory the night before.

The bad news is that the Warriors will only get better as the season continues to unwind. Their best basketball is yet to come. Believe that.

Nov 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after a shot against the Utah Jazz during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after a shot against the Utah Jazz during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

3

San Antonio Spurs

5-2

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 2

After their hot start to the season, starting the year 4-0, the San Antonio Spurs’ schedule hit a bit of rough patch. They played the Utah Jazz twice and then hosted the LA Clippers.

The Spurs went 1-2 through that stretch. For a team that looked like the class of the Western Conference – at least until the Golden State Warriors figure things out – losing two out of three is never a great sign.

Perhaps more concerning, when LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are on the court together, the Spurs are being outscored 25 points. Not great.

December 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

December 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2

LA Clippers

6-1

Last week: 4-1
Last rank: 4

These are not the same old LA Clippers. These are the Clippers that are going to try to outscore you on a night-to-night basis. The Clippers are in the middle of the pack in offensive rating (16th) and the BEST defensive team right now.

LA is only allowing 90 points per 100 possessions.

To put that into perspective, the Clippers allowed 101 points per 100 possessions last season. That’s quite the improvement.

Even though it’s almost unrealistic to believe that the Clippers will continue to post historic defensive numbers, the fact that they’ve been this good on that side of the ball for about two weeks has to be considered a really good sign. These aren’t the same old Clips.

Nov 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) reacts to a three point score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 102-101. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

6-0

Last week: 3-0
Last rank: 1

The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off winning their first NBA Championship, are off to their best start since the 2000-01 season. The Cavs are 6-0 and can make the case for being the best team in the NBA right now, especially with how up-and-down the Golden State Warriors have looked thus far.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Cavs don’t look like a total train-wreck when LeBron James isn’t in the game. And that’s quite the development, considering that this year more than ever LeBron was going to need his teammates to step up in a big way.

So far, so good. This is definitely a great sign for this team moving forward.

Do you agree with our NBA Power Rankings this week? Are the Cleveland Cavaliers the team to beat through two weeks? 

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