Seven weeks into the year, the parity amongst NBA teams is almost unprecedented. While Toronto leads the way as the quickest team to reach 20 wins by far (the next closest team is 3.5 games back), there are a number of elite teams that hold similar records thus far.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of how recent streaks and trends have impacted the power rankings through seven weeks of action, starting with the team that comes in at 10th.
All records and stats are through games played Sunday, Dec. 2.
Last week’s ranking: 15
Overall record: 13-10
Last week: 3-0 (win at Pelicans, win vs. Cavaliers, win at Timberwolves)
This week: vs. Knicks, at Bulls
Boston is trending in the right direction, coming off of a perfect week in which it defeated New Orleans, Cleveland and Minnesota.
The most encouraging takeaway from the team’s current three-game win streak is Gordon Hayward‘s 30-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist performance in the win over the Timberwolves. As the Celtics have struggled to integrate all of their talented players, Hayward had not shown very many flashes of his All-Star level play prior to his game in Minnesota.
The C’s get the luxury of some rest this week, as they don’t take the floor again until Thursday when they host the Knicks. Two nights later, they’ll visit the Chicago Bulls to close their two-game slate for the week.
Last week’s ranking: 12
Overall record: 13-7
Last week: 3-0 (win vs. Knicks, win vs. Bulls, win vs. Warriors)
This week: vs. Thunder, at Bucks, vs. Sixers, vs. Pelicans
Winners of five straight and nine of their last 11, the Pistons head into the new week after earning wins over the Knicks, Bulls and Warriors last week.
While the frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin is proving to be one of the best in the NBA, fourth-year forward Stanley Johnson accepting a reserve role has played a major part in the Pistons’ surge. Johnson moved to the bench ahead of this 11 game stretch and is averaging 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from deep.
The upcoming week is full of tests for the Pistons, who host the Thunder Monday, visit the Bucks and return home to host the Sixers and Pelicans.
Last week’s ranking: 6
Overall record: 14-9
Last week: 3-1 (loss at Nuggets, win vs. Pacers, win vs. Mavericks, win vs. Suns)
This week: vs. Spurs, at Spurs, at Grizzlies
The Lakers aren’t an easy team to figure out, mainly because they’re still figuring a lot out themselves.
LA opened the week in Denver, where an abysmal shooting night (5-for-35 from 3-point range) resulted in a 32-point loss. The Lakers rang off three consecutive home wins over the Pacers, Mavericks and Suns, but were far from perfect in each contest.
In Thursday’s win over the Pacers, the Lakers blew a 24-point lead they built early and held on to win by just eight points. The Lakers trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half against the Mavericks before dominating the final three quarters to win by 11 points. Sunday was a similar story – L.A. trailed by 10 after one but outscored Phoenix 99-65 in the final three frames.
The inability to put together a complete game thus far is concerning, but LeBron James will continue to lead this talented young roster that is sure to learn from experience. The Lakers begin the week with a home-and-home series with the Spurs and close with a trip to Memphis.
Last week’s ranking: 3
Overall record: 15-9
Last week: 1-2 (win vs. Magic, loss at Raptors, loss at Pistons)
This week: at Hawks, at Cavaliers, at Bucks
Injuries have made the Warriors season hard to gauge thus far, but it’s safe to say the team’s best basketball is ahead.
Monday night, Golden State needed a 49-point performance from Kevin Durant to escape past Orlando, who led by as many as 18 points in the game. The Warriors then opened a five-game Eastern Conference trip with a loss to the Toronto Raptors. Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry returned from injury Saturday in Detroit, but it was not enough to get past the Pistons.
Reserve Alfonzo McKinnie is nearing his return, All-Star forward Draymond Green will not return during this road trip and All-Star centre DeMarcus Cousins will not make his season debut until after Christmas but the team was dealt another blow when it was announced that centre Damian Jones is likely out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle.
Golden State will look to get back on track this week as it visits the Hawks and Cavaliers before a huge road test in Milwaukee Friday.
Last week’s ranking: 2
Overall record: 15-7
Last week: 1-2 (loss at Hornets, win vs. Bulls, loss at Knicks)
This week: vs. Pistons, vs. Warriors, at Raptors
It wasn’t the best of weeks for Milwaukee.
The Bucks opened with a road loss at the hands of the Hornets and closed it with a tough overtime loss to the Knicks on the road. Sandwiched in between was a three-point win over the Bulls made possible by a game-winning 3-pointer from Khris Middleton.
This upcoming week presents three challenges for the Bucks, as they host the Pistons and Warriors before travelling to take on the Raptors. Milwaukee will lean on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 27.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game this season, as they will face a number of big names throughout the week.
Last week’s ranking: 9
Overall record: 15-7
Last week: 2-0 (win vs. Lakers, win at Trail Blazers)
This week: at Raptors, at Magic, at Hornets, at Hawks
It’s been a roller coaster ride of a year for Denver through its first 22 games.
The Nuggets opened the season with a franchise-record 9-1 start before losing six of their next seven games.
How have they responded to that slump? Five straight wins, including a 32-point drubbing of the Lakers and a gritty one-point road win over the Trail Blazers last week. Denver embarks on a four-game trip out East this week, on which they will visit the Raptors, Magic, Hornets and Hawks.
Last week’s ranking: 4
Overall record: 15-7
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Suns, win at Kings, loss at Mavericks)
This week: at Pelicans, at Grizzlies, vs. Heat
A 2-1 week kept the Clippers atop the West as their 15-7 record places them in a virtual tie with the Denver Nuggets for first place in the conference.
LA continues to do it by committee, as there were three different leading scorers in each of its three games last week. Behind 28 points from Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers took care of business at home against the Suns before beginning a four-game road trip that began with a win in Sacramento. Tobias Harris paced the Clippers with 28 points in the team’s win over the Kings.
Reserve big man Montrezl Harrell led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the team’s four-point loss in Dallas, which is just the team’s second loss in its last 11 games. The Clippers continue their road trip this week with visits to New Orleans and Memphis before returning home to host the Heat.
Last week’s ranking: 7
Overall record: 17-8
Last week: 3-0 (win vs. Knicks, win vs. Wizards, win vs. Grizzlies)
This week: at Raptors, at Pistons
The Jimmy Butler effect is real.
Since acquiring the All-Star swingman, the Sixers are 8-2 and have won their last four games, including a perfect 3-0 record this past week. Philadelphia earned three home wins over the Knicks, Wizards and Grizzlies, improving its dominant home record to 13-1.
Philly’s ability to get a win on the road will be put to the test this upcoming week, as it visits the Raptors on Wednesday and travels to Detroit on Friday.
Last week’s ranking: 5
Overall record: 14-7
Last week: 2-0 (win vs. Cavaliers, win vs. Hawks)
This week: at Pistons, at Nets, at Bulls
After its 0-4 start to the season, OKC has emerged as a top team in the Western Conference thanks to its defensive supremacy. The Thunder boast the league’s top defence with a Defensive Rating of 101.4
OKC opens the new week with a tough test in Detroit before travelling to take on the Nets and Bulls.
1. Toronto Raptors
Last week’s ranking: 1
Overall record: 20-4
Last week: 3-0 (win at Grizzlies, win vs. Warriors, win at Cavaliers)
This week: vs. Nuggets, vs. 76ers, at Nets, vs. Bucks
A perfect week brought Toronto’s league-leading win streak to eight games, and its record to a league-best 20-4.
Toronto opened the week with an impressive road victory over Memphis, who led by as many as 17 points in the game. The team returned home to defeat the defending champion Warriors in overtime, overcoming a 51-point performance from Kevin Durant. The league’s hottest team wrapped the week with an 11-point victory in Cleveland while All-Star guard Kyle Lowry was sidelined with a back injury.
It gets no easier for the Raptors, who host the streaking Nuggets and Sixers to open the week. Toronto closes the week with a visit to Brooklyn before returning home to take on Milwaukee, who is responsible for one of the team’s four losses this season.
Rest of the NBA
13. Houston Rockets
Houston has been up-and-down this season but CP3 is back, and things are looking up for last year’s No. 1 seed. In Paul’s first game back from injury, he finished with 14 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in a huge win over the Spurs. He followed that performance with 12 points and 13 rebounds in a win over the Chicago Bulls.
Veteran big man Nenê made his season debut against the Bulls and Paul told reporters that the 17-year vet gives the team confidence. With Paul running the show, Houston embarks on a three-game trip this week and will visit Minnesota, Utah and Dallas.
14. Dallas Mavericks
16. Sacramento Kings
17. Orlando Magic
The Magic were 1-2 this past week, but pushed the Warriors and Trail Blazers to their limits in their two losses. Orlando has proven to be no slouch this season – it has already swept the L.A. Lakers, spoiled Jimmy Butler’s Sixers debut and nearly completed a comeback win over the Raptors earlier in the season.
Centre Nikola Vucevic (21.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.8 apg) is playing at an All-Star level, Aaron Gordon is much improved and second-year forward Jonathan Isaac has made great strides. If the 11-12 Magic can continue to hover around .500, they could be a dark horse contender for the East’s eighth seed.
Above all else, they’re pretty fun to watch:
Rewind the top ten plays in November 📽 pic.twitter.com/krWe2B9fjM
– Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 2, 2018
18. Indiana Pacers
19. Utah Jazz
The Pelicans split four games in a busy week, with their two losses coming to the Celtics and Heat and wins over the Wizards and Hornets. Anthony Davis was unreal last week, averaging 33.0 points, 14.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.8 steals in the four games.
– New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 3, 2018
The team lauded its defensive communication following a 10-point win over Charlotte Sunday and look to carry that on in the upcoming week when it hosts the Clippers, Mavs and Grizzlies before closing the week in Detroit next Sunday.
21. Miami Heat
25. New York Knicks
After opening the week with two losses, the Knicks earned a tough overtime win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Saturday evening. Four different players scored in double figures (Damyean Dotson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox and Emmanuel Mudiay) and Mario Hezonja scored his only points in emphatic fashion.
Halftime Highlight ✨
Let’s take another look shall we… pic.twitter.com/cYXMyWJogj
– NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 1, 2018
26. Brooklyn Nets
27. Atlanta Hawks
28. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have lost six straight, but their fortune should soon take a positive turn with 2018 All-Rookie First Team selection Lauri Markkanen making his return to action Saturday night. The second-year forward was a bit rusty, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting in 26 minutes of action, but will make the team much better moving forward as he returns to form.
– Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 2, 2018
30. Phoenix Suns