NBA Week 3 power rankings: Spurs, Knicks top early-season list

Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

The San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks top this week's NBA power rankings.

We just finished Week 2, and it feels like we're juuuust starting to scratch the surface of teams' identities. For many, massive injury issues are complicating matters. As usual, if any of these rankings strike you as out of order, you're probably right. I deny any responsibility and blame my questionable upbringing.

Rank Team

Record

Last Week
SB Nation Blog
1
San Antonio Spurs
6-1
W: IND, SAC, POR; L: LAC
Pounding the Rock
Gregg Popovich's latest trick: Inoculating his stars with a stomach flu to get the bench to play more meaningful minutes. It's all playoff preparation.
2
New York Knicks
4-0
W: PHI, DAL
Posting and Toasting
The Knicks have hardly played any games, but the ones they've played, they've won. By a lot. While it's still easy to question how sustainable New York's success is, beating the Mavericks handily despite playing at a much faster pace than they're accustomed to and cooling off a bit from the perimeter bodes well. Ball control has been key in both directions, as the Knicks are first (Well, last. Least. You get it.) in the league in turnover rate and first in forcing 'em, too.
3
Memphis Grizzlies
5-1
W: UTA, MIL, HOU, MIA
Straight Outta Vancouver
OK, guys. Relax. OK. We get it. You're pretty good. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are both dominating up front and the bench looked terrific this week (shrinking Carlos Boozer and slotting him at backup point guard was an inspired move, Memphis). My only worry is that they used up all their three-pointers for the season whilst throttling the Heat on Sunday. You can stop now, Wayne Ellington.
4
Los Angeles Clippers
5-2
W: SAS, POR, ATL; L: CLE
Clips Nation
It's really, really convenient to have a second unit that's just as likely as your first to liven up a bad game and dig the team out of a deficit. Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe seem like they're taking turns feasting on opposing reserves. We'll know a lot more about this team -- and about their defense in particular -- over the next week or two, as they've got the Heat, Bulls, Spurs and Thunder coming up. ("Heat, Bulls, Spurs and Thunder" is also the name of my Wild West-themed nightclub.)
5
Oklahoma City Thunder
5-2
W: TOR, DET, CHI, CLE Welcome to Loud City
While the defense has been fine, the offense is graaaaaadually stretching back into form. Eric Maynor and Kevin Martin are leading a productive bench unit and Serge Ibaka's enjoying more inside scoring opportunities while the stars get back in the swing of things. Sunday's win over the Cavs felt like the first instance of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Ibaka and the bench all contributing like they're expected to.
6
Miami Heat
5-2
W: PHO, BRO, ATL; L: MEM
Hot Hot Hoops
The Grizzlies were an extreme and unstoppable force in that game on Sunday, but even still, we got a look at how grim things can be for the Heat right now if that murderous offense doesn't feel like murdering on a given night against even halfway-decent opposition. One can assume the defense will wake up, but it's still very much asleep. They're unusually beatable at the moment.
7
Chicago Bulls
4-2
W: ORL, MIN; L: OKC
Blog a Bull
Here you have a team that still looks terrifying defensively. Here you have a team now relying heavily on Nate Robinson for offense. Here you have a team that's quietly kind of hilarious and also good, somehow.
8
Philadelphia 76ers 4-2
W: NOH, BOS, TOR; L: NYK
Liberty Ballers
Doug Collins has no idea where his points are coming from on any given night (or at least I don't, and I'm pretty much Doug Collins), but he can be certain his team's going to defend and/or have funny haircuts.
9
Boston Celtics 3-3 W: WAS, MIL; L: PHI Celtics Blog
Boston's letting opponents shoot uncomfortably well, especially when Kevin Garnett isn't around to babysit. Saturday's win over the Bucks felt important, though. Jeff Green finally brought some defense off the bench and Jason Terry continued to score efficiently in a starting role. Doc Rivers and company have quite a bit to figure out, but the fact that they're scrapping out close wins even while playing pretty poorly is encouraging.
10
Milwaukee Bucks 3-2 W: WAS; L: MEM, BOS Brew Hoop
So far this year, the Bucks are the team I love to watch but don't remotely understand. They're fast-paced, they're inconsistent, they're strong off the bench, they're weird and wild up front, and they don't like it when you foul their teammates. Those are some things I think I know at this point. One thing I do not know is whether the Bucks are any good.
11
Minnesota Timberwolves
4-2
W: BRO, ORL, IND; L: CHI
Canis Hoopus
There are no Timberwolves left. Rick Adelman's starting lineup for Minnesota's next game is a wheelbarrow, a desk lamp, two turnips and Andrei Kirilenko. They'll all score in double figures.
12
Denver Nuggets
4-3
W: DET, HOU, UTA, GSW
Denver Stiffs
One of the best parts of living with dogs is that you can eat snacks haphazardly knowing full well they'll clean up any crumbs that don't make it into your mouth. This more or less applies to Denver's offense with Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee down low. Denver had a nice bounce-back week after a horrid start.
13
Brooklyn Nets
3-2
W: ORL, ORL; L: MIN, MIA
Nets Daily
Brooklyn's offense has been sharp even without Deron Williams and Joe Johnson cohering perfectly, which was to be expected. Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries are earning their money (well, they're earning some money) and someone off that bench is bound to have a solid performance each night. Still need to see how they fare against some better teams, because the Minnesota and Miami games were rough.
14
Dallas Mavericks 4-3
W: POR, TOR; L: NYK, CHA Mavs Moneyball
The Mavs finally hit a bit of a wall shooting-wise against the Knicks and Bobcats and, in both games, fell off considerably in the second half (though the very slow start in Charlotte was equally worrisome).
15
Houston Rockets
3-3
W: DET; L: DEN, MEM
The Dream Shake
It was a lot more fun when James Harden hit all his shots. Right now the Rockets are just shooting terribly and turning the ball over like it's a buttered water balloon. What do you mean you've never buttered a water balloon? How do you keep your water balloon pot pie from getting soggy?
16
Los Angeles Lakers
3-4
W: GSW, SAC; L: UTA
Silver Screen and Roll
Well, I had all sorts of top-shelf Bernie Bickerstaff jokes to make, but we've now learned that Mike D'Antoni will be reuniting with Jordan Hill, Chris Duhon, and ... nobody else of note in Los Angeles, which promises to be outright madness and a whole lot of fun. I still think Bernie deserved a chance. :-( Meanwhile, I have no idea where to put the Lakers, so they'll just sit here in the middle.
17
New Orleans Hornets
3-2 W: CHA; L: PHI
At the Hive
Greivis Vasquez is trying his darnedest, but the Hornets aren't pushing fast enough or moving the ball crisply enough to get the best options looks in useful spots. New Orleans is last in the league in pace right now and it's not even close (that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm not sure it suits them). Obviously, injuries aren't helping.
18
Atlanta Hawks
2-3
W: IND; L: MIA, LAC
Peachtree Hoops
Larry Drew's team is having an understandably difficult time choosing a lineup he likes post-Joe Johnson. No matter the unit, the offense has been fairly effective despite not getting nearly enough looks at the rim or trips to the free throw line for a team with a decent mix of floor-spreaders and interior finishers. That may just be a matter of chemistry at this point.
19
Portland Trail Blazers 2-4 L: DAL, LAC, SAS Blazer's Edge
Portland's suffered a tough schedule to open the season, but that bench isn't looking qualified to hang with any opponent of any caliber.
20
Utah Jazz
3-4
W: LAL, PHO; L: MEM, DEN
SLC Dunk
The Jazz have had a rough start, but look to me like they'll be rather average. In a way, I kind of wish they were worse so Tyrone Corbin would just throw his hands up and let Derrick Favors/Alec Burks/Enes Kanter/Jeremy Evans play 35 minutes apiece every night. Kevin Murphy, too. Sure. (Favors will probably get to spin more soon either way, right?)
21
Indiana Pacers
3-4
W: WAS; L: SAS, ATL, MIN
Indy Cornrows
Paul George has been productive and Lance Stephenson has been a surprise, but with no Danny Granger and a struggling Roy Hibbert, the Pacers have merely been hanging with bad teams.
22
Golden State Warriors 3-4
W: CLE; L: SAC, LAL, DEN Golden State of Mind
The Warriors are not unlike the Nuggets in that they've been playing uptempo and missing a lot, but without Andrew Bogut, they don't have the interior presence to gobble up rebounds and level things out with attempts at the rim. In that excruciating double overtime loss to those Nuggets, though, it was missed free throws that did Golden State in. They ought to work on those, because one thing they've succeeded at is getting to the line.
23
Toronto Raptors
1-5
L: OKC, DAL, PHI
Raptors HQ
The Raptors strike me as better than their record, and they occasionally have mid-game spasms in which they look way better than that record, but only for a few minutes at a time. Recent injuries haven't helped, of course. For now, it'd help if Toronto stopped fouling people so much. Keep your hands to yourselves, Raptors.
24
Phoenix Suns
3-4
W: CHA, CLE; L: MIA, UTA
Bright Side of the Sun
The Suns have all the wild inconsistency and flimsy defense of a team stocked with brand new players, and it looks like they'll be pretty bad. Phoenix can score a lot of points very quickly, though, and they seem like they'll steal a handful of wins off good teams that come in unprepared to contain them.
25
Cleveland Cavaliers
2-5 W: LAC; L: GSW, PHO, OKC
Fear the Sword
The Cavs' bench is as awful as Kyrie Irving is wonderful and Kyrie Irving is EXTREMELY wonderful.
26
Charlotte Bobcats 2-3
W: DAL; L: PHO, NOH Rufus on Fire
When that deep backcourt is really humming like it was against Dallas, the Cats are pretty lovable and apparently capable of winning (at least against the Mavs), too.
27
Orlando Magic
2-4
L: CHI, MIN, BRO, BRO
Orlando Pinstriped Post
Here is your answer to "What happens if you take an already pretty weak rebuilding team and remove several key players?"
28
Sacramento Kings
2-5
W: GSW, DET; L: SAS, LAL
Sactown Royalty
That was pretty bad when Thomas Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins ripped out Jonas Jerebko's throat and threw it at Sean Elliott or whatever.
29
Washington Wizards
0-5
L: BOS, MIL, IND
Bullets Forever
It might be a good thing in the long run for all these youngsters to be getting big, meaningful minutes in close games. For now, it's losing Washington all those close games.
30
Detroit Pistons
0-7
L: DEN, SAC, OKC, HOU
Detroit Bad Boys
Andre Drummond's getting some minutes now (alongside Greg Monroe, too) and he's been a whole lot of fun. No need to worry about anything else.
31 Juneau FrostDonkeys 0-0 ---
None yet
After this week's team-wide outbreak of food poisoning (related: the 2013 season-opening seal bake has been preemptively canceled), the Donks still haven't been able to play a game. Meanwhile, head coach/hound Marv Biscuits spent the weekend in prison for two counts of trespassing and one of grand theft ham. There would be a silver lining here if GM Aibo Lewis Jr. hadn't traded Juneau's first rounder for free snorkeling lessons (only to get electrocuted and pass away during said snorkeling lessons. RIP Aibo Lewis Jr.)
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