The Warriors are the NBA’s top team once again
The Golden State Warriors are annihilating opponents like it’s 2015. Stephen Curry is an early favorite for MVP, they are dominating third quarters, and everyone else is trying — and failing — to keep up.
This Golden State team is already money and they are only going to get better. They stand alone atop ESNY’s NBA Power Rankings. Where does everyone else fall?
30. Houston Rockets (1-14)
The post-James Harden era in Houston is an unmitigated disaster so far. Sure, there are a lot of young guys on the roster, but 1-14 is a dismal record no matter how you slice it.
29. New Orleans Pelicans (2-14)
Speaking of dismal, then there’s the New Orleans Pelicans. Zion Williamson is going to return this season. Well, maybe? Who knows what the hell is going on as David Griffin tries to convince the world he is a very smart person.
28. Detroit Pistons (4-10)
The Detroit Pistons are another young team, but they have shown a semblance of a pulse this year. Their games aren’t pretty, but at least they look like an NBA basketball team for stretches. That’s more than we can say for the two teams below them.
27. Orlando Magic (4-11)
The Orlando Magic fall under the same category as the Pistons and Rockets — a young team trying to figure itself out. Franz Wagner is showing flashes of brilliance and Mo Bamba is putting the pieces together.
26. San Antonio Spurs (4-10)
Fans who grew up watching the San Antonio Spurs of the 2000s and 2010s won’t recognize this team anymore. Gregg Popovich’s squad has seamlessly transitioned from a perennial contender to a bottomfeeder.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-8)
Do you think Sam Presti is happy that the Oklahoma City Thunder are winning? The GM is obsessed with draft picks and his Thunder are playing much better than expected.
24. Sacramento Kings (6-9)
Luke Walton is on the hot seat and a blockbuster trade to blow up this team feels inevitable. The Sacramento Kings are in a “Groundhog Day” scenario where they are bad every single year, but no one cares enough to pay attention.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-9)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are actually trying to win, but somehow have a worse record than the Thunder. Anthony Edwards is too good for this Timberwolves team to be too bad for too long. I guess that’s the silver lining for what is going to be another losing season in Minnesota. Nice win over the lowly Kings on Wednesday night.
22. Indiana Pacers (6-10)
Injuries took a toll on the Indiana Pacers early on in this season, but that’s no excuse for this talented team. Can they turn it around or is this who they are? We honestly have no idea.
21. Portland Trail Blazers (8-8)
The Portland Trail Blazers tell us every year that this season will be different, but they never make any considerable changes to shake up the roster. They tinker with it in the offseason before running it back. Yawn.
20. New York Knicks (8-7)
It’s hard to believe the New York Knicks are above .500 this season. They have a few bad losses on the resumé as the starting lineup continues to struggle. Is this a team poised to turn it around or was last season a fluke?
19. Toronto Raptors (7-8)
Everyone wrote off the Toronto Raptors entering this season, but we forget a few things — there is still talent on the roster, Nick Nurse is still an excellent coach, and Scottie Barnes is legitimate Rookie of the Year material.
18. Boston Celtics (7-8)
This Boston Celtics season has been anything but smooth. Internal strife swept through the locker room, but Boston appears like they are steadying themselves. The Celtics are 5-3 in their last eight games after a 2-5 start.
17. Atlanta Hawks (7-9)
Even though the Atlanta Hawks are underperforming this year, we can’t drop them too far down on our list. Trae Young is still Trae Young and the Hawks are still going to be a playoff team in the East.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-7)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the definition of the walking wounded. They are missing Collin Sexton, Lamar Stevens, Lauri Markkanen, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley. Sheesh.
15. Charlotte Hornets (9-7)
The Charlotte Hornets are cooling off after a scorching hot start. Still, Miles Bridges’ leap forward combined with LaMelo Ball’s budding stardom have positioned the Hornets to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (7-7)
Ja Morant is a bad man. His big night from the field helped the Memphis Grizzlies snap a three-game losing streak. He is well on his way to an All-Star Game with his career-high 25.9 points per game.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (8-7)
We won’t really know what the Philadelphia 76ers are going to be until they trade Ben Simmons. Until then, they are going to be an inconsistent team. COVID is ravaging this roster as Joel Embiid will miss his sixth game on Thursday due to Health and Safety Protocols.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (9-5)
The Los Angeles Clippers started the season 1-5, but have rallied to win eight of their last nine. Even without Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers are a dangerous team. Paul George is quietly having the best season of his career.
11. Denver Nuggets (9-5)
The Denver Nuggets aren’t going to be at full strength until Jamal Murray returns at a much later date. Still, Nikola Jokic is putting together another MVP-like season as the Nuggets continue to make noise in the West.
10. Dallas Mavericks (9-5)
The Dallas Mavericks might be the most difficult team in the NBA to suss out. They are fourth in the Western Conference but have a negative point differential. Luka Dončić is currently dealing with knee and ankle issues that are sidelining him.
9. Los Angeles Lakers (8-8)
The Los Angeles Lakers are managing to keep their heads above water as LeBron James works his way back from an abdominal issue. The age and health questions won’t go away, but the Lakers are still one of the best teams in the league.
8. Milwaukee Bucks (7-8)
The Milwaukee Bucks feel like they are on the cusp of a massive breakout. Sure, the defending champions are under .500, but does anyone expect that to continue for long. By the way, Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 47 points on Anthony Davis’ head on Wednesday night.
7. Utah Jazz (9-5)
The Utah Jazz can’t really answer any existential questions about themselves until the postseason. With that said, they are still a dynamite regular-season team.
6. Miami Heat (10-5)
Kyle Lowry doesn’t fit like a glove on the Miami Heat. He’s more like a pair of brass knuckles. The Heat have two big games against the Washington Wizards this week, the second of which kicks off a four-game road trip.
5. Brooklyn Nets (11-5)
If you listened to the talking heads and hot-takers, you would think the Brooklyn Nets are in danger of missing the playoffs entirely. That is not the case. Kevin Durant is having the best season of his career and James Harden is starting to show signs of life.
4. Chicago Bulls (10-5)
There were questions about the cohesion and chemistry of this team entering the season. The Chicago Bulls are answering all of those questions in a resounding fashion.
3. Washington Wizards (10-4)
I will be the first to admit that I did not see the Washington Wizards coming out of the gate this hot. They are first in the Eastern Conference and are showing no signs of slowing down.
2. Phoenix Suns (11-3)
I expected an NBA Finals hangover of sorts for the Phoenix Suns, but I was wrong. Phoenix is bludgeoning teams on their way to another year of the playoffs.
1. Golden State Warriors (12-2)
Overall, this list is as subjective as it gets. There could be an argument to move almost every team up or down a few notches, depending on your point of view. That’s not the case here. The Golden State Warriors are the undisputed No. 1 in the NBA right now.