Everything written about the league’s 30 teams after two or three games could include those two words, though the author doesn’t know if they go before or after the “but.” For instance, should it be…
“It’s early, but the Timberwolves have the league’s No. 1 defense.”
“The Timberwolves have the league’s No. 1 defense, but it’s early.”
In time, the Wolves will let us know which was the appropriate syntax. After Week 1 last season, the league’s top five defenses were those of the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans. The Suns finished the season at No. 6, but those other four teams all finished in the bottom nine defensively.
So the Nets had the league’s No. 1 defense, but it was early. And not the other way around.
Of course, every game that was played in Week 1 counts every bit as much as any game that will be played in February or March. Sample sizes are small and proper context is always needed, but it’s never too early to start mining the data and studying the film. History tells us that the standings after 20 games closely resemble the standings at the end of the season, and after Week 2, we’ll be about a third of the way to that 20-game mark.
It’s early, but the teams must be ranked every Monday. So, with the Milwaukee Bucks losing their second game by … [checks notes] … 42 points, they’re no longer in the top spot. And it’s three undefeated Western Conference squads that lead the way into Week 2.
But it’s early.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Charlotte (3-0) — A Sunday win in Brooklyn was a nice capper.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: New Orleans (0-3) — Largely responsible for the Wolves having the league’s No. 1 defense.
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East vs. West
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Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: Charlotte (+10), Denver (+8), Golden State (+8)
- Free falls of the week: Dallas (-8), Boston (-5), Four teams (-4)
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Week 2 Team to Watch
- Utah — The Jazz will face two of the other six undefeated teams this week, hosting the Nuggets on Tuesday and visiting the Bulls on Saturday. They’ll also be in Houston on Thursday and in Milwaukee on Sunday.
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Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averaged 101.5 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 106.7 points scored per 100 possessions in Week 1.
NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.