1. Golden State 4-0 (+0 from last week)
Let’s all take a step back and admire the genius of Luke Walton. At this point it’s pretty clear that Steve Kerr was holding them back from their true potential and shackling Steph Curry, unfairly denying the rest of us from unleashing his true genius. The Warriors are AVERAGING a 25 point margin of victory and they have played only Western Conference playoff teams from last year. Wait until they play some bad teams. This team is a juggernaut finally unleashed by the genius of Luke Walton. Please stay away Steve Kerr and let the Warriors erase that awful Bulls record for wins that they achieved when there were roughly 17 expansions teams in the terrible East. The Warriors have the best offense in basketball by a landslide. The Warriors also have the best defense in basketball. They are probably deep enough to survive an injury to anyone but Steph. If they can stay healthy they may win 74 games and the title.
1. Golden State 4-0 (+0 from last week)
It’s Golden State again! They are head and shoulders above the rest of the NBA and therefore get two #1 rankings. Steph Curry is a goddamn wizard. He has only been able to play 31 minutes per game because the Warriors are always up 40 points after 3 quarters but he is leading the NBA in scoring with 37 per game. His PER is 50. No, that isn’t a typo. We have never seen anything quite like him and he is getting even better. One of the most exciting things in sports is watching a guy go off for 20+ points in one quarter. Just go absolutely bananas. En fuego. Can’t miss. It’s so special because it happens so rarely, but it has already happened 4 times this season because Steph Curry has done it 3 TIMES IN 4 GAMES. ESPN put together a terrible video highlight package for the run that doubles as a Justin Bieber music video so I won’t share it here. I wish I was kidding.
2. San Antonio 3-1 (+0 from last week)
We haven’t learned anything about this Spurs team yet and we really won’t until February. Then we will all hold our breath and hope none of their old dudes get hurt. After an opening game loss to the Thunder they have very matter-of-factly taken care of business against the dregs of the East. No one, save for Luke Walton, is better at using their bench and distributing minutes to keep players fresh than Coach Pop. They have 8 players averaging between 20-32 minutes and David West’s $12.6 million worth of regret averaging 12 minutes. I can’t help but feel that he’s going to be forever haunted by the decision to pass on all that money for really good seats to watch the Warriors eliminate the Spurs in 6.
3. Cleveland 3-1 (+0 from last week)
I gotta admit, spending roughly $3.2 billion over the luxury tax did net them a very talented, deep basketball team. Once they get Kyrie back from injury they can go 10 deep with 9 legit NBA basketball players and Richard Jefferson. Every single analyst regurgitates “LeBron has had an insane minutes load most of his career” until you realize he is still only 30 and in his 12th year and that he hasn’t averaged 38 minutes a game in 5 years. He also misses an average of 8 games a year over that span. For some perspective, Kobe in his prime averaged 38 minutes 12 of 15 years, missing an average of only 6 games a year over that stretch. Listen, no one is calling LeBron soft, or a bitch, or lacking toughness, or a front-running glamour boy that runs out on teams whenever it suits him to play with whoever can take the most burden off his shoulders- but Kobe played almost 39 minutes a game in his 17th year while averaging 27, 6, 6 and missing only 2 games before rupturing his achilles with 1 game left. Lebron is only 30 and starting to break down? Needing all this extra rest? Laying flat on his back while out of the game like a 63 year-old Steve Nash? In 1990 Larry Bird played with his entire spine fused together (I’m not a doctor but if you look this up it’s true) in his 11th year at age 33. He played in 75 games and averaged 39 minutes in those games. He also averaged 24, 9.5, 7.5. Is LeBron already starting a serious decline? In NBA history none of the greats have played such reduced minutes at such a young age. We are all witnesses.
4. Los Angeles Clippers 4-0 (+0 from last week)
Sure, they are 4-0 and you can only beat the teams you play, but they haven’t played anyone yet and all but opening night in Sactown have been at home. Of note, Blake Griffin has probably been the third best player in the NBA so far this year. Again, it has only been 4 games but dude looks different. His scoring is way up- 8 points on only 1 more shot per game. He’s improved his below average rebounding at 9 per game (he averaged 12 per game as a rookie, I will never understand how that goes away from your game unless you are soft and don’t like that much contact) and he is the centerpiece for the franchise. FUN TO WATCH: how DeAndre Jordan reacts if he keeps only getting 4 shots per game. This was a huge point of contention for him and his fiasco this summer and now he has essentially been completely eliminated from the offense.
5. Oklahoma City 3-1 (+0 from last week)
This may be the most fun team to watch in the NBA outside of the Luke Walton led Warriors. They sure can fill it up, scoring 118 points per game thus far. Interesting subplot to watch: can Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant each average 30 as teammates in the same season? Kevin Durant gets the commercials and the press but Russell Westbrook is the draw here. He’s averaging 30 points and 10 assists but the real shocker is that he is pulling down 7.5 rebounds per game and he is about 6’1”. He’s listed at 6’3” but having stood next to him I doubt that is true. I love me some Russell Westbrook. He is a dominant force of personality and would take the city by storm in his hometown Los Angeles Lakers uniform.
6. Memphis 3-2 (+1 from last week)
Outside of a 50 point beatdown at the hands of the Warriors (FIFTY POINTS!) they aren’t playing… terrible? Feeling pretty shaky about having them ranked so high, let’s see how they perform on this upcoming road trip. Here’s a fun fact- despite all the “grindhouse” talk about their home-court advantage in Memphis, the Griz have actually been a top 5 road team each of the past 3 seasons.
7. Houston 1-3 (-1 from last week)
I took a lot of joy in watching the Rockets lose each of their first 3 games by exactly 20 points because their style of play makes most basketball fans want to pour bleach in their eyes. I am not going to over react though. Let’s remember that their coach is Kevin McHale and he may not be the best motivator and they started 5-4 two years ago and still reeled off 54 wins. Also one of the losses was to the Warriors and they just beat an excellent OKC team.
Or... its the Khloe curse!
Who goes out on a date wearing a Nike jump suit? I mean other than Allan Houston?
That should probably be an Adidas sweat pant combo next time, Chief.
8. Dallas 2-2 (+1 from last week)
I caught some flak for ranking the Mavericks this high and now, despite a middling start to the season, I am moving them up a spot. A couple reasons why- 1, they are getting Chandler Parsons back from injury although I expect that to take some time. 2, they have a lot of depth and are well suited to manage the 82 game grind. And C, their coach is Rick Carlisle who is still somehow underrated and one of the best coaches in the league. The Mavs have continuity and that is worth at least a couple wins this year. They aren’t that great but they are good and can you honestly trust any of the below teams over them?
9. Toronto 4-0 (+4 from last week)
I am a believer that margin of victory is a very important factor in determining how good a team is. More so in football because NBA garbage time does strange things, but it can tell you a lot more about a team vs teams with similar records. Well the Raptors are 4-0 and are winning by 12 points per game, including an impressive double-digit road victory in Dallas.
Jonas Valanciunas is blossoming into a legitimate NBA center, averaging a solid 15 and 10. This is his 4th year in the league and the dude is only 23. He’s shooting 59% from the field and is a career 78% free throw shooter. I like him. Toronto has sorely lacked a definitive presence in the middle for years. If he can be their anchor Toronto could be frisky until they choke in the first round like they do every year.
10. Miami 2-2 (+0 from last week)
I’m not going to penalize them for a road loss to the Cavs in Cleveland. This team still has the most potential to challenge Cleveland than any team in the East, which is to say that they have no chance whatsoever. I like Josh McRoberts though and I think this team will be more interesting than most expect. Let’s talk about Gerald Green going crazy though.
It’s sad but the dude has always been a bit of a nutjob. Remember, he completely fell out of the league a few years ago amongst rumors (unsubstantiated) of drug use, unprofessionalism (substantiated) and was released by teams in both Russia and China before reviving his career with the Suns. Maybe moving to a party town like South Beach wasn’t the best idea for a guy like that. Here’s hoping that he is okay and can get back on the court soon.
11. Atlanta 4-1 (+0 from last week)
“Atlanta is off to a 4-1 start! How can you not have them ranked higher!” said all
12 11 Hawks fans. Well, because they beat the Knicks and the Hornets twice. I get it, they will rack up way more regular season wins than you or I or anyone else would predict but they just aren’t that good. But who cares- let’s watch coach Bud keep coaching his players that clearly don’t give a shit and walk away right in the middle of the play call.
12. New Orleans 0-4 (-4 from last week)
I can forgive getting crushed by the Warriors twice. I get it, I really do. The Warriors are pissed off and feeling disrespected and the P-cans ran into an all-time great buzz saw. What I cannot abide by however is losing by 18 at horrible Portland and then by 9 to Orlando AT HOME. Serious red flags here, including they very slow start from Anthony Davis. I will give Gentry some more time but they are my biggest losers of the week, hands down. Speaking of point differential, they are -14 per game, 3rd worst in the Association.
13. Chicago 3-2 (-1 from last week)
I love Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol. Those two guys are warriors and great basketball players. What concerns me though is that Joakim Noah has dropped off a cliff. Just 2 years ago I though he was one of the best players in the NBA, capable of dropping triple doubles and the anchor of the best defense in the league. I am surprised by the fact that he is already 30 but he is essentially irrelevant now. It’s just kinda sad. Oh check this Bulls fans-
Derrick Rose is totally prepared to become a free agent in 2017 and get himself some of those big dollars that they are giving out. This is a man that inspires leadership. You can try and trade him I guess. (no one wants his contract, you’re fucked Chicago).
14. Utah 2-1 (+2 from last week)
Utah is playing unbelievable defense, in their only loss they held the Pistons to 92. I need a break after these last few, take it from here Wikipedia: The Utah Jazz is an American professional basketball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Jazz compete in the National Basketball Association as a member team of the Western Conference Northwest Division.
15. Washington 2-1 (+0 from last week)
It’s so hard to determine the quality of these Eastern Conference teams when they only play each other in the beginning of the year. Putting the Wizards as middle of the pack in the NBA sounds about right. They receive negative points for having the worst coach in the NBA.
16. Detroit 3-1 (+3 from last week)
Who is our biggest riser over the past week? That’s right baby! Our favorite coach in the league! STAN VAN PANIC in Detroit. They have three nice wins over legitimate competition as well. I recently saw the stat that Andre Drummond has grabbed 60% of all missed shots in the league this year, even in games he isn’t playing in. Dude is BEASTING. How you ask? Probably by FORMING A FUCKING WALL!
17. Phoenix 2-2 (+0 from last week)
I guess… they went 2-0 against Portland in back to back games and 0-2 against decent teams. I’m worried about them and see them as the biggest candidate to make a precipitous decline in the coming weeks. As much as I like the Tyson Chandler pickup (seriously, Cubes?) I really don’t get Brandon Knight and there just isn’t any depth on this roster. One or two injuries could send them into a total tailspin.
18. Boston 1-2 (+0 from last week)
Not much to say here other than they should contract the Eastern Conference. They beat the awful Sixers and lost 2 games they were supposed to lose. They are in the East so they will probably make the playoffs, which will be about as competitive as the Spanish League’s. The real key to their season is how bad Brooklyn is. They get Brooklyn’s unprotected first round pick that will probably be top 4 overall.
19. Milwaukee 1-3 (-5 from last week)
Barf. It is early, sure but man they have had some of the ugliest losses in the league thus far. For a team looking to take the next step you don’t start the season by losing at home to the Knickerbockers by 25. Jabari to the recue? The moment he steps onto the floor he’s their 2nd or 3rd best player on a team that made a surprising trip to the playoffs.
20. Indiana 1-3 (+0 from last week)
The thing I love so far about the second ratings column is how right I was in the original rankings. There are some out there mocking my low ranking of the terrible Pacers. Well now you get to watch them play and bore you to death with terrible basketball. You like apples?
21. Sacramento 1-3 (+0 from last week)
Just an unbelievably brutal opening schedule. I would like to be the 300th person to formally request, nay, DEMAND a Sacramento Kings reality TV show. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t be surprised if they hang around playoff contention until Rondo and Cousins shank George Karl with a filed down toothbrush while waiting for the team plane in Milwaukee mid-February. Something like this:
22. Charlotte 1-3 (+0 from last week)
Smart move by Jordan selling his house. No matter how much money you are worth when you are losing $50,000 a hole you have got to be sure to have plenty of cash at all times. It’s totally fine to be a compulsive gambler if you have the money granted you don’t compromise the safety of yourself and your family.
23. Orlando 1-3 (+0 from last week)
They are a disappointing 1-3 but to be fair they have had a crazy difficult schedule for an Eastern Conference team, namely they are playing almost all Western Conference teams. On the plus side they have been extremely competitive in every single game against serious competition.
24. Minnesota 2-1 (+0 from last week)
Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers… probably the easiest schedule a Western Conference team could possibly have through 3 games. Karl Anthony-Towns though! Averaging 17 and 10!!! I think he is a runaway as the best player in the draft. Rubio has a jumpshot. I call bullshit on that though. Dude can’t shoot and didn’t magically pick it up in 3 months after 8 years as a pro in Spain and the NBA.
25. Denver 2-2 (+2 from last week)
“That Mudiay kid should be kinda fun to watch. GALINARI FOR COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR!” I was totally right so far after 7 days. That Mudiay kid IS kinda fun to watch and Danilo Gallinari is looking frisky! Malone is a far better coach than he gets credit for and Vivek is a lunatic for firing him considering he is the only coach that Boogie has ever liked playing for.
26. New York 2-2 (+2 from last week)
2 road wins already! They only had 7 all of last year. Also of note- Porzingis has shown flashes of not being a corpse. And it’s time to ditch the old “euro” definition of soft tall guys that like to sit around the perimeter. International cultures etc have been largely torn down by the internet. The Zinger (that’s what we’ll be calling Prozingis from here on out) grew up watch world star hip-hop and following American culture and loves to bang in the post.
27. Portland 2-2 (+2 from last week)
I’m more than a little surprised that this team has managed to play some okay basketball thus far. I do not expect it to last. Big ups to CJ McCollum though, you cant blame him for having a heavy usage rate on this team and he is somehow averaging over 21 a game.
28. Los Angeles Lakers 0-4 (-3 from last week)
It can’t get any worse. I don’t think it can get any worse. Please don’t let it get any worse. It’s one thing to be 0-4, it’s an entirely different thing to be 0-4 against possibly the lightest schedule in the NBA thus far. They haven’t left California yet and are about to embark on a 5 game road trip. In any rational world Kobe would just pull the rip cord and retire but he simply cant do that because the Lakers are paying him $25 MILLION in an effort to keep their Time Warner Cable ratings up as is contingent upon their contract. The Lakers need to finish with a top 3 pick or it goes to Philadelphia.
29. Brooklyn 0-4 (-3 from last week)
They were 0-4 when I started writing this and are 0-5 now. I can’t even begin to describe the nightmare that is Brooklyn.
30. Philadelphia 0-4 (+0 from last week)
Hinkie is a disgrace to the NBA.