Pickswise 2018 NBA Power Rankings: Week 2
Well folks, the basketballs are being drained, the rebounds are being bounded, and the fists (and spit) are already starting to fly, and this was just the first week. See where your team ranks as it is time for Week two of Pickswise NBA Power Rankings.
1. Golden State Warriors Record: 2-1
The champs are wandering with a target on their back and are going to be challenged on a nightly-basis. You mix that with complacency and you have a team that has just gone 0-3 ATS so far. BUT, the Warriors can flip the switch just like that, so expect the same old from this historic team. Sometimes you just have to add a little drama ya know?
2. Toronto Raptors Record: 3-0
This Raptors team has it all, a superstar grouped with a couple of stars, a top-10 offense and defense, they play in the East, and they have started the season 3-0. The scary thing is, all of this is happening with Kawhi Leonard shooting just 40% from the field (career: 49.0 FG%).
3. Denver Nuggets Record: 3-0
Some may be shocked by the Nuggets sitting at third, but I don’t care. They own the most efficient defense and rank 2nd in Efficiency Differential with an 18.2 rating (that’s good). Oh yeah, they also took down the Golden State Warriors at home (thanks in part to Nikola Jokic’s perfect game). Keep an eye on these Nuggets.
4. Boston Celtics Record: 2-1
So far the Celtics own the 2nd most efficient defense in the league, but their offense currently ranks 27th in efficiency. Fret not, that number will surely improve as the season progresses once the vets and youngsters learn to mesh with each other.
5. New Orleans Pelicans Record: 2-0
Averaging 140 points in their first two contests to go with a 2-0 record and you probably couldn’t name three players aside from Anthony Davis who by the way owns a ridiculous MVP stat line of 28.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 7.0 APG, 2.5 BPG, and 2.5 SPG. The additions of Julius Randle (19 PPG & 11 RPG) and Nikola Mirotic (33 PPG & 9.5 RPG) have certainly bolstered this club.
6. Houston Rockets Record: 1-2
Not too much to like from this Rockets squad right now who will be without their star point-guard Chris Paul on Wednesday after the Saturday night debacle in Los Angeles. The talent on this team will overcome the adversity, but will Carmelo Anthony overcome his shooting inefficiencies (37.5 EFG%)?
7. Utah Jazz Record: 1-1
Utah currently owns the 5th most-efficient offense in the league, albeit we’re only two games into the season, but they rank 3rd in PPG behind Donovan Mitchell’s 21.5 PPG and the Aussie Joe Ingle’s 24.5 PPG. Now they need to put some focus back on their 22nd ranked defense.
8. Indiana Pacers Record: 2-1
Lets not forget about this Pacers squad that took Cleveland to seven games in the playoffs last season. This time around they’ll be even better with the additions of Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott contributing from the perimeters, which will open things up for studs Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner.
9. Philadelphia 76ers Record: 2-1
The 76ers have played inconsistently so far as they still get accustomed to Markelle Fultz who has contributed 20 points and 12 assists in his last two games. This team can afford to be patient as long as Joel Emiid is putting up 28.3 PPG and snagging 10.7 RPG.
10. Milwaukee Bucks Record: 2-0
There weren’t any questions about the Bucks offense coming into this season, but there were a lot about their 17th ranked defense from a season ago. Well, as of right now they have the 5th most-efficient defense in the league.
11. Portland Trailblazers Record: 2-0
The Trailblazers haven’t had any trouble putting the ball through the basket averaging 124.5 PPG, and even though their defense gave up an ugly 70 points in the paint against the Lakers, they redeemed themselves by nearly cutting that number in half giving up just 38 to the Spurs.
12. Los Angeles Lakers Record: 0-2
Aside from the scuffle with the Rockets, there is plenty to like so far from this Lakers squad despite the 0-2 start. They are getting solid contributions from Josh Hart (15.5 PPG & 4.5 RPG) who will be in the running for most improved player and JaVale McGee (14.5 PPG & 7.0 RPG). James and Rondo will help elevate Brandon Ingram’s and Kyle Kuzma’s already potent games. Even Lonzo Ball is shooting .417% from 3PT land. Bear with the King.
13. San Antonio Spurs Record 1-1
The Spurs have the 6th most efficient offense in the league thus far, but uncharacteristically rank 27th in defensive efficiency. With the 9th hardest schedule, they’ll need to improve that number if they are thinking about playoffs.
14. Charlotte Hornets Record: 2-1
This Hornet’s offense currently sits ahead of the Warriors in efficiency, while their defense sits at number four overall. They still have a lot to prove, but as long as they have the Wizard that goes by Kemba Walker (35.3 PPG & 5.3 APG), then this team should have playoff aspirations.
15. Detroit Pistons Record: 2-0
With the duo of Blake Griffin (29.5 PPG & 10.0 RPG) and Andre Drummond (17 PPG & 16.5 RPG) playing together for a full year, really anything is possible with this team in the East. The Pistons could be sneaky dark horses, but they’ll be working with the 3rd toughest schedule.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves Record: 1-2
This is a very talented Timberwolves squad, but with all the preseason drama still looming like a black cloud, it is hard to predict what will become of them. One things for certain though is Karl-Anthony Towns needs to be a focal point in this offense and average more than 10.6 shots per game.
17. Los Angeles Clippers Record: 2-1
Doc River’s is coaching with less than he ever has and is doing a solid job so far, but eventually attrition will overcome heart and this scrappy bunch isn’t talented enough to overcome that.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder Record: 0-3
Dead last in offensive efficiency, although the return of Westbrook will correct that. Still, this just feels like the Thunder will make-or-break on Westbrook all-season. Two questions, can Westbrook go full throttle for the next 79 games? And will Paul George wreak of regret for not going to the Lakers when its all said and done?
19. Phoenix Suns Record: 1-1
The Suns have a great blend of youth and experience, while Devin Booker has planted himself into the early season MVP race averaging 30.0 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 3.0 RPG to go with a 24.2 Player Efficiency Rating. Can the 20 year-old Deandre Ayton season up and become the defensive force this team desperately needs?
20. Miami Heat Record: 1-2
This is a well-balanced Heat team that has five players averaging 11 or more PPG, while their best defensive player Hassan Whiteside is averaging 10.7 PPG and 14.3 RPG. This squad is missing that star piece to get them over that hump. Maybe somebody such as….Jimmy Butler?
21. Washington Wizards Record: 0-2
It is very possible for this Wizards team to move to 0-4 on the season when they make a road trip to visit the Trailblazers and the Warriors. Their big free-agent pickup Dwight Howard is severely needed, but the buttocks injury that has held him out so far probably has him feeling like the butt of the joke in this one.
22. Dallas Mavericks Record: 1-1
Does DeAndre Jordan’s 16.5 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.00 BPG and 28.8 Player Efficiency Rating make you a believer in second chances? Also keep an eye on the duo of Dennis Smith Jr. and rookie Luka Doncic who have combined to average 34 PPG and 9 APG.
23. Memphis Grizzlies Record: 1-1
A once mighty Grizzlies defense currently ranks 19th in efficiency. Usually teams like to counter their weaknesses with some strengths, but the Grizzlies countered their counter with a 23rd ranked offense.
24. New York Knicks Record: 1-2
They may have a losing record right now, but don’t turn your nose to this Knicks squad that blew out the Hawks and lost by single possessions against the Nets and Celtics all while going 3-0 ATS.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers Record: 0-3
This is a team filled with mediocre talent and bad defense (25th in efficiency), but if we could get the Kevin Love of old where he’d get a high amount of points and an insane amount of boards, then well, that’d be pretty neat.
26. Brooklyn Nets Record: 1-2
The Nets are an intriguing team now that they have someone to light up the scoreboards (Caris LeVert: 24.7 PPG) in losing efforts.
27. Orlando Magic Record: 1-2
Couldn’t tell you much about this Magic team other than they rank 29th in offensive efficiency, Nikola Vucevic their center leads the team in assists, and I live an hour away from them and have never seen a Magic game.
28. Chicago Bulls Record: 0-2
The Bulls offense isn’t talented enough to camouflage their 25th ranked defense, while their -10.1 Efficiency Differential indicates that the Bulls are one of the least efficient teams; meaning they should be competing for the lottery from the get-go.
29. Sacramento Kings Record: 1-2
Marvin Bagley III was given an opportunity and he made the most of it against the Pelicans where he posted 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 33 minutes off of the bench. If they can get him going then the Kings could be flirting with mediocrity.
30. Atlanta Hawks Record: 1-2
Trae Young and Taurean Prince is all this team really has to look forward to this season. On the bright side, they will be able to get plenty of minutes to improve they’re respective games.