About a month of the season is over, so it’s high time for the first power ranking of the season! Department head Ole Frerks looks at all 30 teams and classifies them.
The stats in this article come from nba.com/stats, Cleaning the Glass and basketball-reference.com. The “Offensive Rating” is the number of points scored per 100 ball possessions, while the “Defensive Rating” is the number of points conceded per 100 ball possessions. “Net-Rating” calculates both against each other.
Click here for the last ranking before the season!
From 27th to 30th: Houston Rockets (2-12)
- From 27th to 30th: Houston Rockets (2-12)
- From No. 25 to No. 29: Detroit Pistons (3-12)
- From 17th to 28th: Los Angeles Lakers (3-10)
- From 23rd to 27th: Charlotte Hornets (4-11)
- From 30th to 26th: San Antonio Spurs (6-8)
- From 24th to 25th: Orlando Magic (4-10)
- From 21st to 24th: New York Knicks (6-7)
- From 12th to 23rd: Minnesota Timberwolves (6-8)
- From 26th to 22nd: OKC Thunder (6-8)
- From 22nd to 21st: Washington Wizards (8-6)
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Net Rating: -9.2 (29th place)
The Rockets have plenty of talent but look very similar to last season: No team produces as many turnovers, offensive order is generally a problem and defense is worse (28th), although Jae’Sean Tate’s absence doesn’t help . Offensively, many of the key talents are hitting badly, including Jalen Green (43 percent FG) and No. 3 pick Jabari Smith, who has yet to make it to the NBA (32 percent!). Overall, Houston ranks 27th in effective throw rate. After all: Alperen Sengün is really fun in a larger role (16 PPG, 9 RPG and lots of magic passes).
From No. 25 to No. 29: Detroit Pistons (3-12)
Net Rating: -10.9 (30th place)
Not a good start to the season for the Pistons. This is not surprising in itself, but it is a bit bitter that the defense has become a lot weaker than last year (currently 30th place). Bojan Bogdanovic helps a lot offensively (20 PPG, 42 percent threesomes), but so far there has been no major progress, also because Cade Cunningham is looking for consistency (45 percent eFG) despite good counting stats (20, 6 and 6). Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren are fun, Killian Hayes unfortunately mostly affects in the end (35 percent eFG).
From 17th to 28th: Los Angeles Lakers (3-10)
Net Rating: -5.9 (26th place)
If the Lakers had their own pick and could trade LeBron James, at least there would be a “reasonable” way out, and that was a rebuild. Unfortunately, neither is the case, so the champion of 2020 is stuck in an impasse. It will not be possible to trade to the top teams; You could get better, but you would have to sacrifice (even) more of your future. Unclear which bad option Rob Pelinka will pick (knowing his record: probably the wrong one!). Fun Fact: Russell Westbrook’s three-point ratio is (much) better than LeBron’s or Anthony Davis’.
From 23rd to 27th: Charlotte Hornets (4-11)
Net Rating: -6 (27th place)
As expected, the defense has improved significantly under Steve Clifford, which is also helped by the shocking renaissance of Dennis Smith Jr. Offensively things went in the opposite direction, which is no wonder, since LaMelo Ball was missing until a few days ago, as were Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward missed a few games again. As the season unfolds, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Hornets gravitate toward the lottery early on and shed a few veterans.
From 30th to 26th: San Antonio Spurs (6-8)
Net Rating: -7.9 (28th place)
The Spurs are slowly aligning themselves with the pre-season expectations. After five wins from the first seven games, only one of the last seven was won, the net rating is already tanktastic. Nevertheless, the Spurs are sometimes very entertaining: they play the most assists and with the third-highest pace, which sometimes hides the weak half-court offense. Especially Keldon Johnson (24, 5 and 4 at 57 percent eFG) and Devin Vassell (21, 4 and 4, 57 percent) make you want more.
From 24th to 25th: Orlando Magic (4-10)
Net Rating: -1.1 (21st place)
The Magic are not a good team as of now, but a very entertaining one. Paolo Banchero was a scoring machine from day 1, Bol Bol is suddenly a legitimate NBA player (12 PPG, 69 percent eFG, 2 BPG!) and Franz Wagner is increasingly developing into an on-ball weapon, even if he is currently a bit have to shoulder too much burden. The Magic may still be in need of backcourt help, but it seems they won’t be a lottery team much, at least. But this year it is.
From 21st to 24th: New York Knicks (6-7)
Net Rating: -2.2 (24th place)
New York actually started quite promising with three wins from four games, since then they have lost six by at least 10 points. The Knicks are one of the worst defensive teams in the league and Jalen Brunson hasn’t changed the fact that the starting five are regularly a handicap (net rating: -8.8!). The bench remains good, also thanks to Isaiah Hartenstein, but this imbalance is too extreme. Ian Begley (SNY) according to this is why Tom Thibodeau’s chair is shaking so slowly.
From 12th to 23rd: Minnesota Timberwolves (6-8)
Net Rating: -0.9 (19th place)
The start of the Wolves season can be adequately described with three letters: Uff! It could hardly be worse at the moment. It was almost always won against rather bad teams, against good ones there were a few packs. The starting five with a supposed Big Three (and an ex-All-Star!) has a net rating of -4.3. Minnesota is worse offensively AND defensively than last season, is rebounding with virtually no rebounds, and leads the league in lousy body language and passive-aggressive post-game comments. As I said: Uff…
From 26th to 22nd: OKC Thunder (6-8)
Net Rating: -0.6 (20th place)
There’s a good chance his team will phase him out sooner or later, but for now, enjoy Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: The 24-year-old remains one of the best drivers in the league, currently putting up 31.5 PPG despite not being still takes many threes… and although so does his team. Only four teams hit worse from outside, so SGA has very little space and is still unstoppable. In addition, defensive buy-in is back. The course will probably still be changed, currently OKC would even be a play-in team.
From 22nd to 21st: Washington Wizards (8-6)
Net Rating: -1.6 (23rd place)
The results are okay, but the overall impression of the Wizards is very stuffy. The offense is weak, which is not least due to the fact that hardly anyone hits threes. Washington hits more than 71 percent of his throws at ringside … and overall benefits from the fact that the rotation is full of useful NBA players. If none of the high-picked players from the past few years make a jump, which it doesn’t look like at the moment, this team will still be treading water for the time being.