We're about one week into the NBA regular season, and let's just say some things haven't gone as expected. In particular, a team that was supposed to be tanking might just be 3-0 with victories over two of the better teams in the league. These new power rankings won't necessarily reflect how things are likely to stand at the end of the year, but mostly a combination of potential and how things played out during this crazy first week. All hail Small Sample Size Theater!
1. Philadelphia 76ers (3-0, Last week: 30)
I know they aren't the best team in the league. They're probably not actually any good. But I don't care. After an offseason full of tanking talk, the Sixers had three comeback victories over the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. So for one week, they get this lofty honor.
2. Indiana Pacers (3-0, Last week: 6)
Paul George got paid this offseason and became the Pacers' "Designated Player" in the process. Thus far, George has shown why he got all that paper, averaging 25.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three Pacers victories.
3. Houston Rockets (3-0, Last week: 7)
The Dwight Howard-Omer Asik frontcourt hasn't been all that successful, but the Howard-James Harden combination has been lethal. In 99 minutes on the court together, the Howard-Harden combo has a net rating of 16.3, per NBA.com's stats page.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-0, Last week: 12)
5. Miami Heat (2-2, Last week: 1)
Yeah, the Heat have already lost twice and were under .500 for only the second time in the Big Three era. But that's not enough to drop the two-time defending champs out of the top five.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (2-1, Last week: 2)
The Clippers, quite simply, embarrassed themselves in the fourth quarter of their opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, it has been all about the Point God himself, Chris Paul. CP3's 42-point, 15-assist, six-steal performance against the Golden State Warriors was the first of its kind since 1973-74, and the Clippers star has a PER of 37.66 in three games.
7. San Antonio Spurs (2-1, Last week: 3)
After sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals last year, the Spurs once again flexed their muscles against the Grizzlies in their opener. San Antonio split its next two games and wasn't all that impressive doing so, but Gregg Popovich is still on his sideline interview game, so that earns points in my book:
8. Golden State Warriors (2-1, Last week: 9)
The Splash Brothers have been absolutely ridiculous. Klay Thompson leads the team in scoring at 25.0 points per game, while Stephen Curry is shooting 59.3 percent from three on nine attempts per game. Just absurd displays of shooting.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1, Last week: 8)
Russell Westbrook scoffs at your healing timetables. After it was initially expected for Westbrook to miss four-to-six weeks of regular-season action, the point guard didn't even miss a week. With him back in the lineup, the Thunder are set to charge up the rankings.
10. Chicago Bulls (1-2, Last week: 4)
Here comes a string of three teams who should end up being much better than they have looked in the early going. The Bulls are off to a 1-2 start thanks to some uncharacteristically poor defense and some real bad Derrick Rose. The former MVP has a PER of just 1.76 in three games, making #TheReturn a flop thus far.
11. Brooklyn Nets (1-2, Last week: 5)
Sandwiched around an impressive victory over the Miami Heat were two lackluster performances, including an ugly loss to the Orlando Magic in Jason Kidd's coaching debut. The Nets will be fine, but not the most inspiring start.
12. Memphis Grizzlies (1-2, Last week: 10)
The Grizzlies' normally stout defense has had a few leaks, with opponents scoring 106.7 points per game. Considering Marc Gasol and Tony Allen are still around, expect that to improve very soon.
13. Detroit Pistons (2-1, Last week: 16)
The frontcourt trio of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond has been pretty darn good through three games. The only real negative is Smith's insistence on chucking threes, as he has already taken 22 on the season.
14. Portland Trail Blazers (2-1, Last week: 15)
15. Dallas Mavericks (2-1, Last week: 17)
Monta Ball has been prevalent this first week, and it has actually been quite successful. Ellis is averaging 23.3 points on 46.0 percent shooting overall and 37.5 percent from three.
16. New York Knicks (1-2, Last week: 11)
17. Phoenix Suns (2-1, Last week: 29)
Another allegedly tanking team that has actually played some pretty, pretty good basketball thus far. Eric Bledsoe is a star in the making, while Miles Plumlee is averaging a double-double. That's right. Miles Plumlee.
18. Atlanta Hawks (1-2, Last week: 13)
The Hawks are having little problems scoring the basketball, but they're having some big issues stopping opponents from putting the ball in the hoop. Kyle Korver has been en fuego, shooting 66.7 percent from long range.
19. Orlando Magic (2-2, Last week: 28)
The Magic lost their first two games, but then proceeded to blow out the New Orleans Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets. Victor Oladipo has had his rookie moments, but he has also done stuff like this:
20. Toronto Raptors (2-1, Last week: 21)
21. Los Angeles Lakers (2-2, Last week: 24)
The Lakers' bench put up a ridiculous 76 points in the victory over the Clippers on opening night. Xavier Henry appears to be salvaging his career, averaging 14.3 points. But the Lakers' defense ... it's bad.
22. New Orleans Pelicans (1-2, Last week: 20)
The Pelicans have been all over the map. But while the team has been inconsistent, Anthony Davis has been consistently awesome. Through three games, The Brow is averaging 23.7 points, 12 rebounds and 4.0 blocks.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2, Last week: 19)
24. Sacramento Kings (1-2, Last week: 22)
DeMarcus Cousins got off to a rip-roaring start to the year, posting two double-doubles and 54 total points in the first two games. But then Cousins followed that up with a clunker against the Warriors, playing only 18 minutes in a blowout loss.
25. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2, Last week: 23)
26. Charlotte Bobcats (1-2, Last week: 27)
The Bobcats' offense has been woeful thus far, with Al Jefferson's ankle injury not helping matters. The defense looks somewhat improved over past years, but Jefferson not playing in two of the games could help explain that.
27. Washington Wizards (0-3, Last week: 18)
The Wizards entered this year with a "Playoffs or Bust" mindset. So far, it has been an epic bust, as the defense has surrendered 108.3 points per game in three losses. Things should improve, but this isn't the start Randy Wittman and Co. were hoping for.
28. Utah Jazz (0-3, Last week: 25)
The Jazz have some nice young pieces, but they simply can't score the basketball at a high enough level to win many games. It certainly doesn't help matters that the stud rookie point guard got hurt before the season even started.
29. Denver Nuggets (0-2, Last week: 14)
The Nuggets will get better. I think. I'm not really sure what Brian Shaw is doing with his lineups, and Kenneth Faried doesn't appear to be too happy. It wouldn't be surprising if Faried is dealt in the very near future.
30. Boston Celtics (0-3, Last week: 26)
After calling out his team in the preseason, Gerald Wallace ranted again after the Celtics fell to 0-2, saying his teammates were more concerned about padding stats than winning. At least Vitor Faverani has looked good.