Good Morning to my fellow readers and NBA fans. Week one is officially in the book and we have already played 45 of 2,460 regular season games. We’ve seen everything from overtime wins, to blowouts, to multiple triple-doubles and even our first official fine. It’s always unpredictable in the regular season and it’s always a joy to watch.
Although there is much I will be diving into later, I want to start off today’s Power Rankings by telling you a little story. It isn’t too long, but I think you will enjoy this point of view.
So, for any of you that know me, you probably know that I love playing guitar and singing. I like to write songs on occasion and I always have a song in my heart.
It was a Saturday night not too long ago. I begin to feel melancholy about some certain things in my life and I wasn’t sure how to shake out of that funk.
So seeing it had been a few months since I had really tried to write a song, I decided to pick up my guitar and take my mind off the thoughts and emotions I had been dealing with.
As I placed my pick between my thumb and my finger, I started plucking out melodies. Sometimes I thought I had something, other times I didn’t.
As I continued to fiddle with my guitar I just wasn’t feeling anything. There were bits and pieces of a song in there, but the song as a whole wasn’t coming together.
Growing irritated, I packed my guitar back up in its case and turned on the television to break the frustrations inside of me.
A few days later, I felt rejuvenated to pick my guitar back up, hoping to finish the song I had started writing.
As I begin to strum the pattern of the first verse I could finally feel the groove I had desired. It was a great step in the right direction.
However, it was still an unfinished song with just pieces of it here and there. I had the melody and I had the groove, but I was missing the lyrics and the structure of the song. Instead of continuing the song that evening, I once again packed up the guitar in its case and found something else to do.
It was about a week later. I had been shuffling ideas in my head all day. I started to jot down lyrics that I felt would fit the tempo. So I pulled out my guitar from its case and began working.
It was no problem figuring out the first verse, but then came the chorus. The chorus is something you want to be your hook. You want to grab your listener’s attention with a catchy melody and have easy lyrics to sing along too. I felt like I had something there but time after time I would scratch it out, and come up with something new.
After a good hour, I finally was satisfied with the 30-second chorus I had created. It was everything I wanted it to be and I could hear the harmonies in my head. It truly was beautiful.
Then came the bridge and the ending of the song. Most of the time a song changes momentum with its bridge and then it picks back up with that familiar chorus. So that’s exactly what I was aiming for.
However, it didn’t come to me right away. So I laid my guitar on my bed and did some chores around the house.
About 45 minutes later, I came back and decided I had an idea that would really go well with my song. I implemented that idea into my bridge and we were rocking and rolling.
I came back into and the chorus after the bridge and ended my song by repeating the last line of the chorus twice. It reiterated the title of the song and it reminded you what the song was all about. Using that final hook at the end of the song seemed to be the icing on the cake. (You know, the part most people enjoy more than anything?)
The best thing about this song, though, was that I had finally completed it to the best of its abilities.
Everything was put together the correct way, and it made this once not-so-great mash up of chords, become a true work of art. It didn’t come together all at once, but over a month or so, I had finally captured its beauty.
So, after a month-long process of brainstorming, orchestrating, transcribing, dedication and focus, I had written my song. Was it the best song ever? No, it wasn’t. Was it the best one I personally had ever written? Eh, probably not.
But it was a song from the heart. It was a song that came together because of the time I put into it. It didn’t come together all at once, but after allowing it time to grow and develop it became a completed song. It took patience and it took hard work.
In many ways, a composer’s approach to writing a song is the same way a basketball coach and the organization’s front office assembles their team to work.
For instance, my Indiana Pacers have given us a lot to be excited about with their off-season moves but after three games they look like they have a lot of work cut out for them.
In songwriting, you gather a lot of different ideas throughout time and you place them together, you have to be flexible and work to find the right pieces to make it a completed song. The same way I had to go about writing my song, is the same way Nate McMillan has to deal with his roster.
He has to take his strengths and weaknesses and gel them together to orchestrate the best lineups he can, to make this team a success. Even if he had something in his head he felt would work, he has to be willing to make adjustments. Just like I had to when writing my song.
I use my Pacers as an example because it’s the team nearest to my heart. However, it applies to every NBA team. If you’re starting off hot now, you will face a time in the NBA season when things get frustrating. When you get to that point, you can remember reading this article and applying the analogy to your team. The coach is like the songwriter and the players are the tempo, chords, notes, lyrics, melody, harmonies and instruments.
Every season and every song is a process. You have to give it time to develop. You have to tinker with it to get the most out of it that you possibly can. So for my Indiana fans specifically, give it time before you’re ready to trade everyone but Paul George and Myles Turner. We know this team has holes, but Coach McMillan and the front office are going to work hand in hand to get this solved. Whether it’s a trade, a player changing roles or a player coming back from injury and being reinserted into the rotation, they’ll do whatever they can to get the best out of this roster.
This goes for any NBA team, though. Specifically, those who are struggling early on. (Orlando, New Orleans, Philly, and Phoenix).
The Magic and coach Vogel have a lot of talented pieces but their weaknesses have currently outweighed their strengths. Throughout Vogel’s coaching career, he tends to start off slow and finishes strong.
The Pelicans have one centerpiece and don’t have the right players around him to make them a legitimate threat. You can only do so much with a depleted roster. Coach Gentry is doing all he can.
The 76ers may have to put their playoff aspirations aside for a while until they figure out who exactly they want on this roster. They’re easing into Coach Brown’s system but continuity within the roster will help strengthen the process.
Lastly, the Suns have been extremely competitive but they’re an extremely young basketball team with a new head coach. In a few seasons from now, though, they will be a force in the playoffs.
Although that was a small sample size, the point is simply to be patient. The season is 82 games long. If you remember that number I listed at the beginning, I said we have played 45 out of 2,460 games this year. That means we still have 2,415 games left to play. Your favorite NBA team is going to be okay. They will continue to get better and you will see the growth of chemistry and youth. Remember to be patient and let things unfold before you’re ready to throw in the towel.
So because some teams have struggled early on, they could have easily been dropped in the Power Rankings. However, the teams that have impressed have rightfully been given a higher ranking this week. I hope that you enjoy my newest format of the rankings, as I break them down by conference, and then overall. Here is to Week 1’s Power Rankings.
- Cavaliers– The champions have looked like the most dominant team in the East since opening night. LeBron is making his case for MVP of the league and Kyrie Irving is riding shotgun next to him. Until further notice, the Cavs are atop of the East by a long shot.
- Raptors– Although Toronto doesn’t have the 2nd best record, they handled Detroit easily in the opener and almost took down the Cavs in game 2. DeRozan looks locked and loaded for a long season, along with the continuity of their roster with other teams making a lot of changes.
- Bulls– Chicago had two impressive wins at home to start the season over Boston and Indiana. People were counting the Bulls out so far but the Bulls have proved them wrong with their solid play.
- Celtics– it was good to see Boston bounce back against the Hornets after a tough loss to the Bulls. The Celtics are only going to get better this season.
- Hawks– with 2 dominant wins over the 76ers and the Wizards, Atlanta is starting this season off the way they wanted to. I had them missing the Playoffs, but if they keep this up I will gladly say I was wrong.
- Pacers– Indiana had a nice win to open the season but struggled mightily on the road against Brooklyn and Chicago. Team chemistry is going to be key for this new roster and the new coach.
- Hornets– I didn’t move the Hornets up or down this week. They beat the teams they’re better than and loss to a team better than them. Charlotte has good enough talent to be competitive against every team.
- Pistons– Detroit was embarrassed in game 1, but bounced back by dominating Orlando. It’s early and they’re without Reggie Jackson for a little while longer. This will be a tough stretch for them.
- Knicks– lack of depth is the thing holding New York back. They were humiliated in the season opener against the Cavaliers but rebounded well with a win over the Grizzlies. New York will be on the 6-12 bubble all season long.
- Bucks– after getting beat by the Hornets and barely passing the Nets, the Bucks are lucky to not be 0-2. John Henson hit the game winner for Milwaukee, but the bucks have it cut out for them this season.
- Heat– the Heat are a tough team to figure out this season. They have talent but it’s not good enough to earn them a playoff spot in my opinion. They beat the pathetic Magic but lost to Charlotte. Not sure what the Heat will look like in a few weeks, but a mediocre team is all I can see.
- Washington– the Wizards have talent but no depth. This is going to hurt them this season. Atlanta crushed them in the opener but Atlanta overall is a better team. The Wizards have got to change it up in order to move up in the power rankings.
- Brooklyn– very impressive effort in all 3 games the first week. Lost close games and beat the Pacers in their home opener. Brooklyn might be tougher than people think but not a serious threat.
- Philly– the 76ers really miss Ben Simmons right now. He’s going to take that team to another level. However, they have okay talent. Not moving up after the blowout to Atlanta though. 72 points in a game, is way too low.
- Orlando– the Magic have the weirdest makeup of any roster in the East. I hope they make a move or two because they’re going to have a very rough season with this team the way it’s put together now. Vogel said this team could make the Playoffs, however, that’s just wishful thinking.
- Spurs– They’re 4-0 to start the season. They beat the super Warriors by 29 on opening night in Golden State. Watch out NBA, Pop, and the Spurs aren’t going anywhere.
- Clippers– LA took care of Portland and Utah to start off 2-0. Portland and Utah are two teams chomping at the bit, ready to move into the 2-4 seeds in the West. But CP3 and Blake had other plans.
- Warriors– so far, the Warriors haven’t looked great but they’ll get it together. They lost handily to the Spurs but won against New Orleans and Phoenix. Although those two teams are no real threat, they took care of business.
- Thunder– OKC and Westbrook have started out with a hot 3-0 start. It’s a small sample size because the teams they have beaten are in the bottom tier of the NBA (76ers, Suns, and Lakers), but wins are wins. Westbrook is averaging 38.7 points, 12.3 boards, and 11.7 assists through 3 games. Wow.
- Blazers– Dame Lillard has looked MVP like himself. Scoring 39 in the home opener win against the Jazz. They lost a close one to LAC but beat the Nuggets late because of Dame. So the Blazers are a tough out because of this man and they’re staying in the Top 5 in the West.
- Kings– here is a surprise team so far. Boogie Cousins is playing some great basketball and a locker room full of veterans is helping the morale of this team. I don’t know if the Kings will keep it up but they are 2-1 with a close loss to the Spurs. Maybe Open Court’s NBA Analyst Isaiah Thomas wasn’t so wrong with his prediction on the Kings after all?
- Jazz– the Jazz aren’t 100% healthy and it’s showing. Only scoring 75 points against the Clippers isn’t ideal. Tough loss to the Blazers of wasn’t too much of a knock on the Power Rankings, but the Kings had to move up. That’s why the Jazz took a step down. They’ll be fine once Gordon is back at the 3.
- Grizzlies– wasn’t a fan of their loss to the Knicks at MSG, but it’s still early in the year. A new coach and a few new pieces will cause for some adjustments, but nothing too major. I just don’t think Memphis is all that talented this year.
- Rockets– the heartbreaking loss to open on the road against the Lakers but two wins against the Mavericks were big. Especially since those are division wins. I think this offense will kick in sooner than later.
- Nuggets– there is a lot of good talent here but is it really going to win them enough games for a playoff spot? I don’t know yet but I like the guys on this team. Fun to watch and they play with energy. (I wouldn’t mind a few of them on my Pacers) Anyway, they’ve played tough games so far and that’s how it’ll be all season.
- Timberwolves– so they’ve lost by 4, and 3 to Memphis and Sacramento. Don’t worry, Coach Thibodeau has them right where he wants them. They’re close to putting a tally in that win column. Not sure if they are really the 11th overall team in the West after it’s all said in done, but right now they are.
- Mavs– 3 heartbreaking losses to Indiana and Houston back to back but they’re better than their record shows. Still too early to say they’re not good. Because I think they might push for a playoff spot.
- Lakers– it was great seeing Clarkson close the game out against Houston on Wednesday night. The future is bright in LA but they’re still a team in the making. They did lose to OKC by 17.
- Suns– despite their home opener against the Kings, they matched up really well with OKC & GS. Much like the Lakers, the Suns are young and they’re on the rise. But it’s a work in progress. Be patient Suns fans, I like this group. They’re just not ready yet.
- Pelicans– When your best player scores 95 points in the first 2 games and you still lose, you’re in a heap of trouble. Anthony Davis can only do SO much. Unfortunately, this Pelicans team lacks depth and they’re wasting another year of the great Anthony Davis. It’s not a matter of “if they’ll overhaul the roster”, but when they will.
Overall Power Rankings
The Final Thoughts: Today was the final day for rookie contract extensions. The following NBA players below are ones who received contract extensions today: Gorgui Dieng (4 year – $64M), Victor Oladipo (4 year – $84M), Cody Zeller (4 year – $56M), Rudy Gobert (4 year – $102M) and Steven Adams (4 years – $100M). Congratulations to the fans who get to keep these players around. These players have been fun to watch since they entered the league and I am sure all of their fans are thankful to have them locked up for another four years.
Every year there are teams that let down their fans, and there are teams that bring more excitement than anticipated. We all wish the best for our teams, but sometimes things pan out different than expected or hoped for. The Power Rankings are harder to do then I expected. You don’t want to overreact and put someone too high or too low after week one, so you just have to trust your gut (and the stats). I hope that my team is not any lower than they were this week, and I can’t wait to see what Week 2 of the NBA has in store for us.
NBA Lead Writer