Power Rankings: Philly was the last unbeaten team


8:05 AM ET

  • ESPN.com

We’re two weeks into the regular season, which means it’s OK to start reading into teams’ starts to 2019-20.

That’s great news for the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers. Very, very bad news for the Golden State Warriors.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Andre’ Snellings, Royce Young and Bobby Marks, and The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings:Week 2 | Week 1 | Camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 5-0

Week 2 ranking: 2

The 76ers used the next-man-up approach in their road win at Portland. Without Joel Embiid — the big man was suspended two games for the altercation with Karl-Anthony Towns — the 76ers would get a combined 48 points from Tobias Harris and Al Horford, plus 43 points from their bench, including the game-winning shot by Furkan Korkmaz. The bench production is a result of four players on minimum contracts — James Ennis III, Kyle O’Quinn, Raul Neto, Korkmaz — and a fifth, Mike Scott, signed to the $4.8 million room mid-level exception. While much has been made about their starting five, GM Elton Brand went bargain shopping for reserves, and it has resulted in early season success. — Marks

This week: @PHX, @UTAH, @DEN, CHA


2. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 5-1

Week 2 ranking: 5

The Lakers have won five straight, and their 5-1 start is the best since the 2010-11 season, when L.A. didn’t lose until its ninth game of the season. LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Co. were the first team in the Western Conference to reach the five-win mark — they beat their Staples Center roommates by a few hours Sunday — but have tough upcoming games against surging Miami and defending champion Toronto this week. — Spears

This week: @CHI, MIA, TOR


3. LA Clippers

Record: 5-2

Week 2 ranking: 1

What separates the Clippers is the rare combination of top-tier superstar talent layered with high-level depth. And that was on full display against the Jazz, with 50 points from the bench to go with 30 from Kawhi Leonard. Even if they need to deploy more load management for Leonard throughout the season, they should be able to absorb his production. Oh, and have we mentioned Paul George should be back soon? — Young

This week: MIL, POR


4. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 4-2

Week 2 ranking: 3

The Bucks started the week with a tough road loss to the surging Celtics but came back with dominant performances against the Magic and Raptors. The Bucks’ offense is clicking on all cylinders, producing 119.2 points per game on 47.5% shooting from the field. The unit is running even more through Giannis Antetokounmpo thus far this season than it did last, with the Greek Freak averaging a team-high 7.7 assists per game. — Snellings

This week: @MIN, @LAC, @UTAH, @OKC


5. Boston Celtics

Record: 4-1

Week 2 ranking: 8

The Celtics swept the week at home with a comeback win over Milwaukee and a Jayson Tatumgame winner to beat New York. Because Jaylen Brown (illness) and Enes Kanter (injury) were out of the starting lineup, the Celtics have relied heavily on their starting five. In both wins, the combination of Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward, Tatum and Daniel Theis averaged 34 minutes, with only Theis playing less than 30 in both games. — Marks

This week: @CLE, @CHA, @SA


6. Utah Jazz

Record: 4-3

Week 2 ranking: 7

The good news is that all signs indicate that Donovan Mitchell is taking a major step toward superstardom by drastically improving his efficiency. He’s averaging 25.7 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3-point range. The bad news: The Jazz are still way too dependent on Mitchell despite offseason moves to upgrade the offense. Utah is averaging 107.3 points per 100 possessions with Mitchell on the floor, compared to a dreadful 82 when he rests. — MacMahon

This week: PHI, MIL


7. Denver Nuggets

Record: 4-2

Week 2 ranking: 4

The Nuggets’ defeat to the Mavericks was just that — a close loss to a quality team. But falling by 15 points on the road to the Zion-less Pelicans rang some alarm bells for coach Mike Malone. “We’re a great talk team,” Malone said after the game, which is an excellent burn from a coach. There’s the burden of expectation on Denver this season, and Malone is putting the early challenge to his young team. They responded with a solid win on the road against Orlando, but tests against Miami and Philly loom this week — Young

This week: MIA, PHI, @MIN


8. Miami Heat

Record: 5-1

Week 2 ranking: 12

The Miami Heat are to be taken seriously. Back-to-back wins over the Hawks (without Trae Young, for full context) were nice, but the complete destruction of the Rockets has put everyone in the Eastern Conference on notice. Games at Denver and at the Lakers this week provide a couple of more tests, but regardless: The roster is balanced, the coaching is terrific, the bench is deep and the out-of-nowhere emergence of undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn is one of the best early storylines of the season. — Young

This week: @DEN, @PHX, @LAL


9. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 4-2

Week 2 ranking: 9

The Spurs rank second in the NBA in offensive efficiency (112.4 points per 100 possessions) despite ranking second to last in 3-pointers made (8.3 per game) and attempted (25.3). Another statistical oddity: San Antonio ranks second in rebounding percentage (53.7) despite the fact that a skinny point guard on a minutes restriction is leading the Spurs in rebounding, with Dejounte Murray grabbing 8.6 boards in only 23.3 minutes per game. — MacMahon

This week: @ATL, OKC, BOS


10. Toronto Raptors

Record: 4-2

Week 2 ranking: 11

The Raptors remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference on the strength of their defense, which has held opponents to only 40.1 percent shooting from the field through the first two weeks of the season. Pascal Siakam was the best defensive player on the Raptors by many analytics last season, and he is supported by former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and plus defenders across the board to form a stellar unit, even with two-time DPOY Kawhi Leonard on the West Coast. — Snellings

This week: SAC, @NO, @LAL


11. Houston Rockets

Record: 3-3

Week 2 ranking: 6

The Rockets have been a defensive disaster early, similar to their start last season. But there are no easy solutions this time. They can’t recruit assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of “retirement” again to run their defense, considering he’s now on the Pelicans’ staff. And there isn’t a Carmelo Anthony on the roster to exile. Houston, which luckily escaped a 317-point battle Wednesday night in D.C., has allowed 40-plus points in a quarter four times in three games on this road trip. — MacMahon

This week: @MEM, GS, @CHI


12. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 4-1

Week 2 ranking: 15

Karl-Anthony Towns made headlines this week as his scuffle with Joel Embiid spilled over into social media and led to both players being suspended. The Timberwolves blew out the Wizards on Saturday even with Towns serving the first half of his two-game ban, and thus end the week on top of the Northwest Division. They face a serious test to start this week in their second game without KAT, though, as the Bucks come to town featuring reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. — Snellings

This week: MIL, @MEM, GS, DEN


13. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 4-2

Week 2 ranking: 13

Players under 21 have produced 14 25-plus-point triple-doubles in NBA history, according to Basketball Reference. Luka Doncic has half of those, including one in each of his past two games, when he joined Jason Kidd as the only player in Mavericks history to dish out at least 15 assists in back-to-back games. You have to wonder whether Doncic (26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 9.5 assists per game) can join Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook in averaging a triple-double for a season. — MacMahon

This week: ORL, NY, @MEM


14. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 3-3

Week 2 ranking: 10

Zach Collinsshoulder injury is a big one for the Blazers because interior depth was already a concern coming into the season. And the game against the 76ers highlighted that issue, as Portland struggled to find a workable front line against Al Horford and Tobias Harris. There’s no timetable on Collins yet, but there was belief the Blazers were already going to look at frontcourt upgrades on the trade market, and that plan might accelerate now. — Young

This week: @GS, @LAC, BKN, ATL


15. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 2-4

Week 2 ranking: 14

The Nets followed up their most complete win Friday against Houston with a clunker at Detroit one night later. Without Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier, a Pistons backcourt of Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard outplayed Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert. Despite a 16-point performance from Spencer Dinwiddie off the bench in Detroit, the guard has struggled in the early part of the season. Through six games, Dinwiddie has shot 38.9% from the field, 24.1% from deep and a career-high 3 turnovers per game in 24.5 minutes on the court. Speaking of turnovers, the Nets rank second to last in turnovers per game at 19.3. — Marks

This week: NO, @POR, @PHX


16. Indiana Pacers

Record: 3-3

Week 2 ranking: 19

The Pacers started off the season with three straight losses but have bounced back with three straight wins to get back to .500. The additions of Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren are leading Indy’s perimeter attack with a combined 48.7 points and 12.0 assists through the first two weeks to support their already strong interior game. — Snellings

This week: @CHA, WSH, DET, @ORL


17. Phoenix Suns

Record: 4-2

Week 2 ranking: 22

Suns center Aron Baynes has been holding down the fort for suspended center Deandre Ayton, who is out for 25 games for violating the NBA’s drug policy after testing positive for a banned diuretic. Baynes is averaging 15.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the surprising Suns. The Australian also made a career-high four 3-pointers during a win over Memphis on Saturday night. — Spears

This week: PHI, MIA, BKN


18. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 2-3

Week 2 ranking: 16

Hawks guard Trae Young is listed as day-to-day after suffering a sprained ankle on Oct. 29 at Miami. Young had been averaging 26.8 points, 7.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game while nailing 50 percent of his 3-pointers before the injury. Atlanta rookie guard Cam Reddish started in Young’s place during a loss to Miami on Halloween, earning nine points, six rebounds and four assists. — Spears

This week: SA, CHI, SAC, @POR


19. Orlando Magic

Record: 2-4

Week 2 ranking: 18

The Magic have struggled on offense this season, averaging only 93.5 points on 39.7 percent shooting from the field through their first six games, both marks dead last in the NBA. The Magic still aren’t getting much production from the point guard position, with no player on the team averaging more than 4.3 assists. They have started to look toward the future of the position, starting 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz for the first time in their last outing against the Nuggets. — Snellings

This week: @OKC, @DAL, MEM, IND


20. Detroit Pistons

Record: 3-4

Week 2 ranking: 23

The Pistons bounced back from consecutive losses with a win over the Nets on Saturday. With Blake Griffin still ailing, Andre Drummond has absolutely dominated the interior with three straight 20-20 points-rebounds efforts. He leads the league in rebounds, which isn’t unusual, but he is also second in the league in blocks. — Snellings

This week: @WSH, NY, @IND


21. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record: 2-4

Week 2 ranking: 20

Some things change, like playing against Russell Westbrook. But some things stay the same, like Damian Lillard icing the Thunder in crunch time. It’s a developing theme for OKC: Close, competitive and right in it until the end, but a lack of cutting edge in the closing moments is keeping the team from winning games. It might feel like an offensive issue, but in reality the Thunder’s otherwise-stout defense is crumbling in the clutch. They are second to last in the league (behind only the Wizards) in clutch time defensive rating, allowing 142.5 points per 100 possessions in the final five minutes of a game within five points. — Young

This week: ORL, @SA, GS, MIL


22. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 3-3

Week 2 ranking: 27

Raise your hand if you thought the Hornets would be 3-3 two weeks into the season. After being ranked dead last (again) in the most recent NBA Future Power Rankings, the Hornets have found early success with a duo of former second-round picks (Devonte’ Graham and Dwayne Bacon) and four players selected in the first (PJ Washington, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges and Cody Zeller). Stuck on the treadmill of mediocrity for years with veterans on bloated contracts (Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo and Nicolas Batum), there may finally be a foundation in place in Charlotte. — Marks

This week: IND, BOS, NO, @PHI


23. Chicago Bulls

Record: 2-5

Week 2 ranking: 24

A silver lining in the Bulls’ slow start is that Zach LaVine joined rare company when he passed 2,000 career points in his 93 games with the team during a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. LaVine now has 2,020 points in his career with the Bulls; the only other Bulls player to score over 2,000 in fewer games was Michael Jordan (73 games) and Derrick Rose (86). — Spears

This week: LAL, @ATL, HOU


24. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 1-5

Week 2 ranking: 21

The poor Pelicans still seem cursed when it comes to injury, despite poaching renowned athletic trainer Aaron Nelson from the Suns over the summer. Brandon Ingram‘s early exit from Saturday’s loss to the Thunder due to a head injury meant four of the Pelicans’ five projected starters have already missed time because of injury. That, of course, includes No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, whose highly anticipated NBA debut is still more than a month away. — MacMahon

This week: @BKN, TOR, @CHA


25. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 2-4

Week 2 ranking: 28

We had pegged veteran Tristan Thompson as a player likely traded before the deadline because of his expiring contract and with the Cavaliers in a full rebuild. However, as evident by his 23-point, 10-rebound performance in a win against Chicago, the veteran might not only be a keeper but in contention for an All-Star spot in February. For the season, Thompson is averaging career highs of 17.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game while shooting 56.9% from the field. — Marks

This week: BOS, @WSH, @NY


26. Washington Wizards

Record: 1-4

Week 2 ranking: 26

The Wizards’ defensive numbers may never fully recover from the game against the Rockets, but giving up 131 to a Karl-Anthony Towns-less Timberwolves team is probably a lower moment. In their last eight quarters, the Wizards have allowed 35 or more points six times. Coach Scott Brooks is praising the effort and competitive spirit of his group, which suggests their defensive problems might be an infrastructure issue. So maybe it can get better? — Young

This week: DET, @IND, CLE


27. Golden State Warriors

Record: 1-5

Week 2 ranking: 17

The injury-plagued Warriors are 1-5 for the first time since the 2000-01 season and will be without All-Star Stephen Curry (hand) for at least three months, as the two-time MVP joins Klay Thompson, who is out for the foreseeable future as he continues his recovery from an ACL tear (Golden State is 2-10 in games both have missed, according to the Elias Sports Bureau). To make matters even worse, Draymond Green will likely miss the next few games with a torn ligament in his finger. — Spears

This week: POR, @HOU, @MIN, @OKC


28. Sacramento Kings

Record: 2-5

Week 2 ranking: 29

Sacramento is off to a slow start, so it’s no surprise the team is being careful with the return of one of its young cornerstones. Injured Kings forward Marvin Bagley III told ESPN’s The Undefeated that he expects the franchise to err on the side of caution with his return. On Oct. 24, the Kings said that Bagley would be out four to six weeks with a nondisplaced fracture in his right thumb. The No. 2 overall pick in 2018 averaged 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his first season in the NBA. — Spears

This week: @TOR, @ATL


29. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 1-4

Week 2 ranking: 25

Jaren Jackson Jr. leaving Saturday’s loss to the Suns with a knee injury merits concern in Memphis. The 20-year-old franchise cornerstone, who missed 24 games as a rookie, needs minutes to continue his development and to establish chemistry with prized rookie point guard Ja Morant. Only three of Jackson’s buckets have been assisted by Morant through five games. — MacMahon

This week: HOU, MIN, @ORL, DAL


30. New York Knicks

Record: 1-6

Week 2 ranking: 30

The Knicks started the week with a 28-point Bobby Portis performance in a comeback win against Chicago, and ended it on a Jayson Tatum last-second shot in a loss to Boston. Sandwiched between was a 12-point loss at Orlando that saw New York get outscored 53-39 in the second half. Because of injuries at the point guard position and Dennis Smith Jr. out for personal reasons, New York has already featured four different starting lineups within the first two weeks of the season. In the loss to the Magic, rookie RJ Barrett started at the point and posted a team-worst minus-20 when he was on the court. — Marks

This week: @DET, @DAL, CLE

Story first appeared on ESPN.com


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