The NBA season started off with a gang of boos as former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving returned to his former teams’ arena to kick off the season. The Celtics guard scored the first two points of the regular season and the boos begin to increase in volume. You could feel the tension in the arena between Kyrie Irving and the NBA fans.
Only a few minutes into the game, the loud uproar of boos ended in a dramatic fashion. Attempting to complete an alley-oop pass, Celtics forward, Gordon Hayward landed awkwardly on the court, as the tip of his shoe stuck to ground and his momentum shifted his body the opposite way. Grieving in pain, Hayward’s ankle was awkwardly pointing to one side of his body. The medical staff came out and took him to the Cavaliers locker room and the highly anticipated season for Gordon Hayward came to a sudden halt.
The following game in Oracle Arena, had two superstars go down with injury. Chris Paul and Draymond Green. These injuries were not season-ending, but they affected the game for sure. The next evening, Nets’ guard Jeremy Lin, hurt his knee after driving to the basket. He is now done for the season. Before the season even started, Bulls forward Bobby Portis sidelined his own teammate Nikola Mirotic in an altercation at practice. Mirotic is out until Thanksgiving. Portis was also suspended eight games for his actions.
There have also been some key players who have gotten hurt for their respective teams:
- Myles Turner (Pacers) – Sore Neck/ Concussion
- Hassan Whiteside (Heat) – Knee
- Milos Teodosic (Clippers) – Foot
- Rajon Rondo (Pelicans) – Groin
- Derrick Rose (Cavaliers) – Ankle
If these injuries concerns weren’t enough for week 1 of the NBA, we also had a coach firing and we have a player on the trade block. The Phoenix Suns felt that a change was needed when they lost by 42-points to the Los Angeles Clippers and 48-points to the Portland Trailblazers. Head Coach Earl Watson was let go after a meeting on Sunday 10/22/2017.
Moments after the news was announced to the team, guard Eric Bledsoe went to his twitter account and said, “I don’t wanna be here”. It was reported on Monday by ESPN’s Woj that the Suns were actively shopping Bledsoe. So far, the Nuggets, Bucks and Knicks have expressed interest. The Suns are one of the worst teams in the NBA and they have been poorly run for the past 3 years. There is no doubt in my mind that Bledsoe has played his last game ever with the Phoenix Suns. But, can you really blame him for being frustrated? I can’t.
With all this exciting news though we have a lot of changes in this week’s Power Rankings. So, without further ado, here is the Week 2 NBA Power Rankings.
1. Golden State Warriors- While they took two losses last week, there is no reason to overreact here. This is still the best team in the NBA and they will be fine. However, Steph Curry needs to keep his mouthpiece in his mouth, and not throw it at officials. Everyone knows that kid growing up that always got his way and then the one time he doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit like a 4-year old. That’s what Curry did in my book. The Warriors are going to get the opposing teams best shot every night because they are the defending champions. They need to keep their emotions in check.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers- With the King on the Cavaliers there is no doubt that they are the best team in the East. Many NBA analysts want to pass the torch to anyone else because they think this Cleveland roster is too old to keep up with the Warriors. Well, let me tell you something. LeBron James is the BEST player in the game. If LeBron is facing the Warriors in the Finals for a 4th straight season, he’s got the best chance to dethrone them. Even though there are some Western Conference teams looking strong, they don’t have the kryptonite to the Warriors. That kryptonite belongs to the King.
3. Memphis Grizzlies- Well, I am one of those people who wrote Memphis off this season. I know it is only one week into the season but Memphis has looked impressive. In two home games, the Grizzlies managed to get under the skin of Demarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant who were both fined for their actions. They also spanked the Pelicans by 41-points and followed that up with a 10-point win against the Warriors. They then hit the road and beat the Rockets by 8-points. This team has already defeated what most are saying is the Top 2 teams in the West. For those of us who counted out Memphis before the season, shame on us.
4. San Antonio Spurs- The Spurs are undefeated three games into the season with wins over Minnesota, Chicago and Toronto. Not the toughest of schedules but with Leonard out this handful of games, it is nice to see Aldridge being the leader of this team. The Spurs have always been one of the grittiest teams in the NBA and while everyone is writing them off this season, I continue to press the cautious button on that claim.
5. Washington Wizards- With the injury to Gordon Hayward this gives the Wizards even more of a chance to take the 2nd overall seed in the East. They could even possibly challenge the Cavaliers for the 1st overall seed. John Wall and Bradley Beal have played outstanding these first 3 games scoring 143 points combined. This backcourt is the deadliest backcourt in the Eastern Conference and there is nothing but positive things to say about this team so far.
6. Houston Rockets- We saw the Rockets stun the Warriors on opening night with terrific play from newly acquired PJ Tucker. I had my doubts about this team but they are looking solid so far. The Chris Paul injury has many concerned because he is a key piece to their success. I believe that Chris Paul will be more effective in the playoffs for this team than in the regular season. The Rockets closed out the final stretch against the Warriors with Paul on the bench. Eric Gordon did a terrific job coming in and playing off-ball with Harden running the show. While I do have my concerns with Paul’s style of play meshing with what the Rockets are best at, I think they will figure this all out.
7. Milwaukee Bucks- Have we got a show for you? The Greek Freak is the real deal and the most enjoyable player to watch this season. He recently lost his father in an emotional, unexpected passing. After recording 44-points against the Portland Trailblazers, Antetokounmpo dedicated his game ball to his father. We know the Bucks are only going as far as Antetokounmpo takes them and with this inspired brand of basketball, the Bucks are going to be one of the toughest teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves- They lost on opening night to the San Antonio Spurs but have bounced back to win the next two games. The most recent win against the Oklahoma City Thunder was a statement for the recently extended, Andrew Wiggins. The Thunder went up by one after Carmelo Anthony drained a three-point shot. With time winding down, Wiggins was freed up by an illegal screen from KAT and he drilled a three from WAY-Downtown to win the game. Jimmy Butler has struggled early on this season but I feel confident that he and Wiggins will figure this out sooner rather than later.
9. Toronto Raptors- The Raptors have played some terrific basketball this season with their only loss coming to the Spurs. The Spurs had to claw their way back into the game late in the 4th to hold off the visiting Raptors. The Raptors have been a team many have over looked because of their post-season failures. Even though DeRozan and Lowry have been a dominate force in the regular season, we are left with that bad taste in our mouth of being dominated in the post-season. This team has made a few subtle changes, and this will benefit them going forward. Having a player like CJ Miles will help spread the floor. Also, rookie OG Anunoby will continue to develop the more minutes he gets. His athleticism could be pivotal for this team come April.
10. Los Angeles Clippers- considering who the Clippers have played, you would be a little disappointed with the results if they weren’t undefeated. With that said, I believe in Blake Griffin and this Clippers’ team. Pat Beverly is a lot of fun to watch when he is pestering the daylights out of opposing point guards and the collective group of guys they have are talented and scrappy enough to win games. If the Clippers can take care of business, they are a shoe in for the Playoffs.
11. Utah Jazz- many of you know that I had the Jazz as the 11th best team in the Western Conference when I predicted my standings. I have a feeling that I completely underestimated this team. The Jazz are one of the best defensive units in the league and they will continue to pester other teams. While we will see the Jazz struggle offensively at times this season, they have enough talent to win some ball games. Rudy Gobert is on a mission to win Defensive Player of the Year and the Jazz are reaping the benefits of their best overall players desires.
12. Portland Trailblazers- the Blazers will be a fun team to keep an eye on this season. They have a talented backcourt that can put pressure on opposing teams but they need to figure out their bench rotation. Also, the drafting of Zach Collins looks skeptical so far this season. There were so many better players ahead of Collins and I don’t like his fit at all here in Portland. Nurkic must be better if this team wants to make the playoffs though. Too often this season have I seen him seem unmotivated and frustrated on the court. Hopefully, he can stay out of foul trouble and be what he was last year at the end of the season.
13. Boston Celtics- without Gordon Hayward this team still has playoff aspirations. I do believe that Danny Ainge can make another trade that will give them more depth, but I also like what I have seen from Jaylen Brown. The Celtics will still be a Top 5 team in the East, but their chances of taking over the East are all but over.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder- I still believe in this team even though they have been bad through week one. There are always going to be growing pains for new teams and this is to be expected. Give them a few more weeks to hit their stride and things will be okay. I am still not sold on Carmelo Anthony with this team, but I still want to see them play more. Paul George has been struggling as well trying to find his niche with this group. Lastly, I would like to see Westbrook with the ball in his hands more. He needs to get his shot attempts up and focus on the way he plays. The fact that the MVP is having to sacrifice the way he plays for them to fit in doesn’t make sense to me. This is Westbrook’s team. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony need to adjust to his game.
15. Orlando Magic- Talk about a team that has been surprising, the Orlando Magic have impressed early on this season with wins over the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Magic will eventually find their level as the season progresses but I am riding the hot hand while I can. Vucevic has looked impressive this season and it’s only increasing his trade value. We will see what the Magic decide to do with this roster, but if they keep this up, they could be in contention for a playoff spot in the East.
16. Denver Nuggets- The Nuggets have struggled early on but I fully expect them to right the ship. I am hoping that they can find a way to snag Bledsoe from Phoenix and solidify their starting point-guard position. They did face a pesky Utah defense and battled the Wizards down to the wire so their losses aren’t terrible. They just have to continue to form chemistry and figure out ways to win close games.
17. Miami Heat- The Heat lost to the Orlando Magic on opening night, a team they always seem to struggle against. They did rally to beat Indiana and Atlanta without center Whiteside to bring their record over .500. The Heat are a solid basketball team but I am not in love with this roster. They’re scrappy and physical, but they also struggle with putting teams away. Dragic is a solid starting point guard for them but they will need more help to be a viable threat come playoff time.
18. Detroit Pistons- The Pistons are a .500 ball club through four games this season and I think this is what we should expect going forward. They do have talent on this roster but is this talent good enough to make the playoffs in the East? I think it is, but they have to play their cards right. If I was Detroit, I would be making a hard push for Eric Bledsoe. I think Reggie Jackson is an okay point guard but there are issues with him and coach Stan van Gundy. Andre Drummond is a monster on the glass but his game has limitations too. This is a mediocre team that will play mediocre basketball all season long.
19. Charlotte Hornets- the Hornets just need to bide their time until Nic Batum returns from injury. The defensive potential of this team is a real threat in the Eastern Conference but it is all anchored on how motivated Dwight Howard is. Clifford is an underrated NBA coach for sure, but the talent on this team is just average. While Kemba is an All-Star level player you counter that with Michael Carter-Williams backing him up. There is a just a huge drop off when you get into the bench here and I think this will hurt them from being a top 6 team in the East.
20. New Orleans Pelicans- as much as I want this team to be good, I just don’t know if they are good enough to make the playoffs. With Rondo’s injury and the basket case that is Demarcus Cousins, I am concerned. The addition of Jameer Nelson gives me optimism about this team for one thing only, leadership. I think having solid veterans around this ball club will-will them to a fighter’s chance come April. I also am keeping my eyes open for all Cousins’ rumors if I am a Pelicans fan.
21. Philadelphia 76ers- Are they talented? Yes. Are they good enough to get into the playoffs? Yes. The 76ers are just experiencing early-season growing pains from a young unit. I do like their chances to figure this out after seeing Embiid’s 30-point effort. Lastly, Simmons posted a triple-double in the 76ers first win of the season. The future is bright but there is a reason I placed them outside the playoffs.
22. Indiana Pacers- The Pacers are my favorite team in the NBA. I appreciate your sympathy. I know there is not a lot of talent here on the roster but they still have a group of guys that will give you a 100% effort every night on the court. The looming injuries to Glenn Robinson III and Myles Turner are big knocks to this teams’ success. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing Sabonis, Oladipo and Collison this season though. They have been the bright spots for sure.
23. Brooklyn Nets- No Jeremy Lin for the Nets means that the Nets will be a better defensive team with LaVert in the starting lineup. It also means that Russell will be the primary ball handler. I like what I have seen so far this season and I hope that we continue to see this team win games. They are a fun unit to root for.
24. Atlanta Hawks- If you thought the Hawks were going to lay down and flat tank, think again. The roster construction of this team is not the best, but they have fun players to watch. I personally love watching Prince play and John Collins was someone I have had my eyes on since the Draft. This team is talented enough to win some games, but I am still not sure what their ceiling is. Dennis Schroder also must stay healthy if this team is looking for any success.
25. Sacramento Kings- despite their loss to the Nuggets, the other losses have been close. They lost to Houston opening night by 5-points and the lost by 2-points to a motivated Suns team who had just lose their coach. The Kings are surrounded by veterans who will help mentor these young players into professionals but with that task in mind, there will be learning curves. The Kings are a few years away from playoff contention but watching them grow together is fun.
26. Los Angeles Lakers- I think it is safe to say that the Lakers will struggle this season. I know that Lonzo Ball is a talented player but he is going to be harassed every game by opposing point guards. At the end of the day Lakers fans should be happy with the development of this team. Whether you like Lonzo or not, he is talented and I believe that once he settles in to his role this season, the Lakers will be fine. They’re nowhere near playoff contention but this is all about the development of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
27. Dallas Mavericks- I hate to see the Mavericks winless but they’re just not a good team defensively. Dennis Smith Jr. will need time to develop. Being a rookie point guard in the Western Conference isn’t easy. The Mavericks will once again need to use this season as a chance to develop players. I would also be interested in seeing if the Mavericks do try to move either Wes Matthews or Harrison Barnes. Both are overpaid players that could benefit from playing for a franchise that is built to win games. I think Dallas should play the tank game this season while they allow Dirk to ride out his amazing career.
28. New York Knicks- I don’t expect much of anything positive to come out of New York this season. I am fascinated that they are looking to acquire Bledsoe from the Suns, but this team is just a mess. I hope that New York uses this year to develop their rookie point guard and they can get another piece to go with Porzingis. New York hasn’t been a place for good basketball since Patrick Ewing left and it’s really getting old hearing about the Knicks on every podcast in the summer. The collapse of Knicks’ basketball is a shame. They used to be one of the best teams in the league to watch and now you can barely get through one of their games without wanting to turn it off.
29. Chicago Bulls- When you have teammates punching teammates before the first game of the season starts, you already have problems. There is not much to say about Chicago. They have played two solid teams and have taken losses in those games. Losing will be a common thing in Chicago this season.
30. Phoenix Suns- three games into the season and you fire your coach? What in the world. The Suns might be the most laughable franchise in the NBA right now. You go from Dragic, Thomas and Bledsoe to trading all three of them? I seriously can’t fathom what it must be like to be a Suns fan. I know they won an emotional game over the Kings but that emotional win will be the only win they get for a while. I hope they get something from Bledsoe that is worth their time, but if the Knicks are rumored to be a frontrunner for Bledsoe, I am scared to think of what they are getting in return. Best of luck to all the Suns’ fans. I am sure this has got to be hard to endure. Maybe we will get to see Booker go for 81-points this season?
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