The Bet Central NBA Power rankings are upon us and they are a thing to behold at this very early stage of the season. There are a couple of unbeaten teams to start the first ranking week, some highly-rated teams who’ve taken some shock losses and teams who feel as if they haven’t even started the season. In order to get to our ranking, we will look at team results and weigh those up against the expectations the teams have for the season.
1 – Golden State Warriors (3-0)
The Golden State Warriors have started the season like a house on fire and with a 3-0 beginning to the season they top the power rankings. They haven’t had a 3-0 start since 2014 and Stephen Curry and the rest of the Dubs are looking like a well-oiled machine. The Warriors are 4th in Offensive Rating, 6th in Points Per Game and have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings to complete the opening ‘California Sweep’. Steve Kerr’s troops are cooking.
2 – Chicago Bulls (4-0)
The Chicago Bulls haven’t made a 4-0 start to the season since Michael Jordan was playing for them. We are seeing ‘Last Dance’ numbers in Chi-Town as they sit 13th in Offensive Rating, 6th in Defensive Rating and 4th in Net Rating. The quality of the opposition hasn’t been great, but you have to play who’s in front of you and Chicago has beaten them all. Is it time to buy stock in the Bulls? Maybe. But that stock could plummet very quickly as the schedule gets harder.
3 – Denver Nuggets (2-1)
The Denver Nuggets have a solid record at the end of the first week in the NBA. A win over last season’s losing finalists the Phoenix Suns has established them high up on the rankings for sure. Denver are 5th in Defensive Rating and have been more than solid when it comes to restricting their opponents from scoring. Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic is still the man and the Nuggets will ride his production all season long. He has a solid cast of players around him who are ready for the battle ahead.
4 – Milwaukee Bucks (3-1)
Giannis Antetokounmpo and his fellow NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks began the season with a hugely impressive win over the Nets, beating them 127-104. A massive thumping at the hands of the Miami Heat followed that, they lost 137-95. A bounce-back victory over the San Antonio Spurs, as well as a 119-109 win over the Indiana Pacers, has them sitting with a 3-1 record. Looking at the way the team is constructed it would be negligent to dismiss them and push them lower down the rankings despite that one hammering. They are 6th in Offensive Rating and 8th in Points Per Game. This Bucks team has desires on a repeat title and you cannot count them out so early, especially with Giannis fired up and ready to go.
5 – Brooklyn Nets (2-2)
How can a team that is 21st in Offensive Rating, 18th in Defensive Rating and 23rd in Net Rating be so high up the rankings? When you’re the Nets you can. Brooklyn still have Kevin Durant, James Harden, and for now, Kyrie Irving is still on the roster. KD has been darn good this season, even in the losses. He is averaging 31 points per game and 9.8 rebounds a game. The Nets are still one of the favourites to win it all and that hasn’t changed because of some early season aberrations. They have a lot to work on and Harden will need to come to the party, as well as everyone else in the team. There is loads of season left to be played and they won’t be panicking.
6 – Utah Jazz (2-0)
Last term’s Number 1 ranked team in the NBA standings are back with a bang with two opening victories. Donovan Mitchell has looked good, as has Mike Conley and even Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. This is what the Jazz do though, they make the regular-season look easy. Utah are the best defensive team in the league allowing only 93.5 points per game, they are 2nd in Defensive Rating and in Net Rating. Quin Snyder has them ticking on the defensive end and that is translating to wins. So far so good.
7 – Los Angeles Lakers (1-2)
The Los Angeles Lakers are a better team than their record and stats have shown them to be. It’s been a train wreck of a start to the season, but the recent victory over the Memphis Grizzlies has gotten them back on track. Minor scuffles on the bench and poor displays from players not named LeBron James or Anthony Davis have made this a rough beginning. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and the Lakers will improve. Russell Westbrook needs time to adjust further, Carmelo Anthony seems to have found his shooting touch and the rest will fall into place.
8 – Phoenix Suns (1-2)
The Suns have had an up and down start to their campaign, beginning it with a loss to the Nuggets but then they bounced back with a statement win over the Lakers. The loss to the Portland Trail Blazers has the yo-yo on the downswing again, but they remain a very impressive team. Chris Paul has picked up where he left off last term and has been skilful and eye-catching, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton have provided him with much needed scoring and defence. The roster is settled but just lacks a little finesse. They’ll get their groove back as the season wears on.
9 – Charlotte Hornets (3-1)
The surprise package high up on this list are the Charlotte Hornets, they most likely will not occupy such a lofty spot on the power rankings all season. Well, that’s what conventional wisdom tells us. But, an impressive 3-1 start that includes a victory over a highly rated Brooklyn Nets team has them sitting pretty. Charlotte are 3rd in Offensive Rating and 9th in Net Rating. This exciting team are going to give many a fancied team a nose bleed. Rookie of the year LaMelo Ball has been lighting up the league and could be an early candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year.
10 – Philadelphia 76ers (2-1)
The Philadelphia 76ers are playing some good basketball, despite all of the off the court drama with Ben Simmons. The will he stay or will he be shown the door soap opera could have been a huge distraction for the players, but it hasn’t really stopped them from performing. Joel Embiid has been a central reason for that as he’s averaging 21 points per game (ppg). More is expected from Doc Rivers’ team and they can deliver.
11 – Memphis Grizzlies (2-1)
The Memphis Grizzlies are flying high at the moment, much like their fearless young star Ja Morant. The Grizz have a good record and have looked like a scary prospect for any team coming up against them. They lead the league in Offensive Rating and are 11th in Net Rating. Speaking of Morant, he has been sensational and is averaging 35ppg and 8 assists per game. With an able-bodied cast of side-kicks, this Memphis team are ready to battle anyone.
12 – Miami Heat (2-1)
Miami is looking more and more a real prospect this season. They have a winning record and a roster made to compete at the highest level. Their thrashing of the Bucks to start the season was so one-sided you’d think they were spinning in circles. The addition of Kyle Lowry has just made them more well-rounded in both offence and defence and Tyler Herro has been phenomenal off the bench. The Heat are 14th in Offensive Rating but are 1st in Defensive Rating and in Net Rating. Keep an eye on this team as the season progresses, they look like a real rankings climber.
13 – New York Knicks (2-1)
The New York Knicks are rocking Madison Square Garden again and this is good news for the NBA. When the Knicks are good then the league feels more intense. New York are 5th in Offensive Rating, 12th in Defensive Rating and 7th in Net Rating. Julius Randle hasn’t missed a beat from last season and has been the central cog to the workings of this hard working Knicks team.
14 – Atlanta Hawks (2-1)
When Trae Young is averaging 25 points and 10 assists as his regular-season stats double-double then Atlanta is in good shape. The Hawks will need their young superstar to keep playing at a high level in order to rack up the wins and thus a high seeding. As is, the Hawks are 12th in Offensive Rating 3rd in Defensive Rating and 3rd in Net Rating. Nate McMillan has his troops rolling right now. They could also be climbing up the power rankings soon if their form persists.
15 – Dallas Mavericks (1-1)
The Dallas Mavericks are sitting on a .500 record at the moment with a win and a loss, but that isn’t a bad thing. For one, they are finding their feet under new head coach Jason Kidd. They still have Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis is contributing more already. They could go on a run of victories to shake things up in the league. There isn’t anything spectacular about the Mavs right now, but with Luka on the roster fireworks can’t be too far off.
16 – Boston Celtics(2-2)
The Boston Celtics have started the season on a promising note with 2-2 record after their first four games. After replacing Kemba Walker with Dennis Schroder in the offseason, they have added more defensive prowess in the backcourt to add to very motivated rising stars Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown. With a new coach in Ime Udoka, they look poised for a great regular and post season.
17 – LA Clippers (1-2)
The LA Clippers were a Kawhi Leonard away from reaching the NBA Finals last season, having made it to the Western Conference Finals and unfortunately, they find themselves in a similar position in the 2021-22 period. They are currently seventh in the West but with the addition of veteran guard Eric Bledsoe to their arsenal, they still have the potential to impress. They are 11th in Offensive Rating, 8th in Defensive Rating, and also hold the 8th position in Net Rating.
18 – Sacramento Kings (1-2)
The Sacramento Kings are young and energetic and can only get better this season. They have started the season 1-2, but still have much to come from D’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and sharpshooter Buddy Hield, as well as Tristan Thompson who looks rejuvenated after his trade from Boston. Offensively, they rank 16th in the league, while defensively they are 15th, and their Net Rating puts them at 12th in the NBA.
19 – Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2)
The Cleveland Cavaliers have started off the season as a .500 team after their first four outings. Their energetic backcourt of Colin Sexton and Darius Garland looks to have carried over their momentum from last term, while big man Jarrett Allen leads the league in field goal percentage, and veteran guard Ricky Rubio is fourth in assists per game. They also acquired Lauri Markkanen in the offseason, who was a needed and efficient addition to their back court. Expect more surprises from this team with rookie Evan Mobley, the 3rd overall draft pick in the 2021 draft, showing why he was so highly rated.
20 – Washington Wizards (2-1)
The Washington Wizards could be in for a turbulent ride this campaign. They currently sit in 11th position in the combined league standings and have won two of their first three games, but lack the pieces for a positive rating throughout the season. They’re 22nd in Offensive Rating, 8th in Defensive Rating, and 17th in Net Rating. With a slew of guards that include Bradley Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Spencer Dinwiddie, the squad lacks size with no real bigs.
21 – Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1)
Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging a 29-point, 10.3 rebound double-double, while Anthony Edwards continues to impress with 25.3 points per game, as the Timberwolves once again try to shake the reputation as the “early postseason exit team”. They haven’t been to the playoffs in years, 2018 to be exact, and they’ll be keen to change that. They have youth and athleticism on their side, but inexperience keeps showing up in their regular season performances. They are 23rd in Offensive Dating, but an impressive fourth in Defensive Rating.
22 – Portland Trail Blazers (1-2)
In recent seasons, the Portland Trail Blazers have been a superstar away from a deep postseason berth, but sadly that trend continues with their back court remaining the same with Damian Lillard and CJ McCullum. However, improved performances from the likes of Norman Powell, Anfernee Simons and a healthy Jusuf Nurkic could see the squad do better this term. All of this remains to be seen though with Lillard struggling to fire the Blazers to victories to start this term. Offensively, they are rated 17th in the league, while defensively, they are 16th.
23 – San Antonio Spurs (1-2)
The San Antonio Spurs have been rebuilding since the end of the Tim Duncan era and seem to have never gotten their groove back, and their struggles continue. Without a notable superstar on their roster, it is expected that they will battle to perform in the loaded Western Conference. Although the team does not boast a top-20 player in its line-up, it is still rated 8th offensively, 15th defensively, with a Net Rating of 12th overall.
24 – Houston Rockets (1-2)
The last five seasons have seen the Houston Rockets change their starting line-up literally every season. With a relatively young roster lead by the high-flying Jalen Green, the Rockets will look to lean on the veteran experience of John Wall (if and when available), Eric Gordon and Daniel Theis. There is however a great energy in Houston which could see the young Rockets put up some impressive performances this season.
25 – New Orleans Pelicans (1-2)
They are 26th in Offensive Rating, 17th in Defensive Rating and 25th overall, it looks like it will be a long season for the New Orleans Pelicans. With young star Zion Williamson out of commission due to a foot injury and subsequent surgery, fifth-year forward Brandon Ingram will have to do a lot of the initial carrying of the squad. There has been some good assistance from Devonte Graham, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, as well as veteran centre Jonas Valanciunas. The Pelicans are in limbo again and time is running away from them with Zion growing ever impatient with the franchise’s lack of success.
26 – Indiana Pacers (1-3)
Indiana can be forgiven for having a somewhat tough start to the season as they look to figure things out with new head coach Rick Carlisle. The former Mavs mentor has his work cut out for him on his third homecoming to Indianapolis. There are some positives despite their 1-3 start. Two of their losses have been by a single point with the loss to the Bucks being by the largest margin. They are 7th in Offensive Rating and are 3rd in the Eastern Conference in points per game. The Pacers won’t be too down on themselves but they have work to do.
27 – Toronto Raptors (1-3)
The Toronto Raptors are in a tussle right now and it is a fight they might not win. Having finally gone back to Canada since their pandemic-enforced move to Tampa Bay last season, the Raps are in trouble. From player personnel changes, with Lowry having left the franchise, to injury side-lining Pascal Siakam and everything in-between, its hard in the North. They did beat the Celtics but that is the only bright spot in the ledger. On court the team is still searching for their identity. They have a real prospect in rookie Scottie Barnes and if they can continue grafting on defence, they should have a fighting chance. Toronto is 7th in Defensive Rating and 4th in the Eastern Conference in Opponents Points Per Game. It’s the offensive end that needs the most work.
28 – Orlando Magic (1-3)
The Orlando Magic are definitely a work in progress and this season will be one where the franchise learns a lot about the young talent in its ranks. The likes of rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner join sophomores Cole Anthony, R. J. Hampton and Chuma Okeke. They are young and they look it, but that means that there is definite room for growth and improvement across the season. They are in the bottom 5 or 6 in the NBA when it comes to Defensive Rating, Net Rating and Offensive Rating. Orlando looks likely to be back in the lottery come the end of the season, but this will give the novice players a lot of space to develop.
29 – Detroit Pistons (0-3)
The Detroit Pistons are woeful this season. Not many people expected them to be any different though. They have a real mix of players on the team that could and should be doing better, but aren’t. Rookie Cade Cunningham hasn’t made his league debut yet due to an ankle injury and so the only reason for optimism hasn’t been available. With an 0-3 start it is no surprise that they have the worst Offensive Rating in the NBA. Defensively they aren’t a total horror show, but it isn’t pretty to watch. Many questions will be asked of the players on the roster and many of those questions will be answered as the season wears on.
30 – Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3)
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