NBA Power Rankings

Updated: Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

By Mike Elworth. Follow Mike @MikeElworth24. For site updates follow @walterfootball.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks: 7-0, Previously 5
    The early story from Milwaukee, at least to me, is the defense. The team with the league's best record is allowing just 102 points per game, which is the best in the league by about four points.

  2. Phoenix Suns: 6-1, Previously 3
    The biggest early story with the Suns is the fact that Jae Crowder, arguably one of their five best players, is still on the team. They've been trying to deal him for awhile, and he hasn't seen the court this season.

  3. Boston Celtics: 4-3, Previously 2
    The early story for the Celtics is Jason Tatum becoming an MVP candidate. He is a superstar and can lead this team to a title. In his fifth NBA season, he is averaging 30.1 points, eight rebounds and 3.9 assists a game, and is currently shooting the historic 50-40-90 percent trio.

  4. Cleveland Cavaliers: 6-1, Previously 18
    The early story for the Cavaliers is that Donovan Mitchell appears to be a fantastic fit for them, and that they look like an excellent team. Mitchell is averaging 31.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists a game, but I do wonder how he will perform when all-star point guard Darius Garland is healthy.

  5. Memphis Grizzlies: 5-3, Previously 10
    The early story for the Grizzlies is Ja Morant. Like Tatum in Boston, the Memphis guard has become a legitimate MVP candidate. He is averaging a ridiculous 31.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists, while somehow shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 51.9 percent from three.

  6. Portland Trail Blazers: 5-2, Previously 18
    Portland looks like a true player in the West right now. I cannot say that I thought this would happen, but the Trail Blazers quietly have a really talented roster. With Damian Lillard, Josh Hart, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, Jerian Grant, they have five guys who can score 20 points per game and solid depth after them.

  7. New Orleans Pelicans: 4-3, Previously 9
    The early story for the Pelicans is one that I didn't see coming: C.J. McCollum becoming a franchise point guard. He played some point in Portland, but playing with Damian Lillard, he played a lot of shooting guard. Regardless, McCollum is averaging 20.7 points and 7.3 assists a game and is averaging just 1.6 turnovers, which is elite.

  8. Toronto Raptors: 5-3, Previously 19
    Toronto's early story is Pascal Siakam earning the right to be called the franchise player again. The former all-star is 28, but he is having by far his best season so far, averaging 25.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game.

  9. Philadelphia 76ers: 4-5, Previously 6
    The early story for the 76ers is Tyrese Maxey becoming a star. The third-year guard has become the Sixers' No. 2 scorer, averaging 24.2 points a game, with James Harden settling into the point guard role. At just 21, he also gives the 76ers a fantastic building block should they trade Joel Embiid.

  10. Dallas Mavericks: 4-3, Previously 12
    The only story for the Mavericks right now is Luka Doncic. As a true superstar and with not too much around him, it's the LukaShow! He is averaging 36.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and nine assists a game.

  11. Denver Nuggets: 5-3, Previously 9
    Jamal Murray is currently the key for the Nuggets. Murray missed all of last season, was hurt the previous season too, and he is struggling. Long considered their second star next to Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets need him playing like an all-star to be called contenders, but he is only averaging 15.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and three assists per game, and is shooting just 42 percent from the field.

  12. Atlanta Hawks: 5-3, Previously 13
    The early story for the Hawks is the fact they have no bench. Atlanta has an elite starting five, but all of them are all on massive contracts, and so the franchise simply cannot afford a bench. Onyeka Okongwu has been fantastic, but nobody after him is averaging more than 6.1 points a game.

  13. Chicago Bulls: 5-4, Previously 14
    With my Bulls, the story so far is Ayo Dosunmu. The second-year point guard won the starting job in camp - Lonzo Ball will likely miss the majority of the season - and the second-round pick from the Illini, who is from Chicago, has become a huge fan favorite and a stud on the court, averaging 12.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, while providing excellent defense.

  14. Miami Heat: 4-5, Previously 8
    The early story for the Heat is the fact that they simply aren't as talented of a team as they have been. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are all-stars, and Tyler Herro could become one, but the talent level after them - Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Dewayne Dedmon - is mediocre. The Heat are constantly trying to obtain stars, but for this season, they need at least one more excellent rotation player. Miami should be trying for Jae Crowder.

  15. Minnesota Timberwolves: 4-4, Previously 15
    The early story for the Timberwolves is despite possessing one of the best starting five's in the league, they need depth. The Timberwolves have no bench and very few assets after the Rudy Gobert trade, but they need to find a way to add two key bench players.

  16. Los Angeles Clippers: 4-4, Previously 7
    The Clippers' concern of the moment is that Kawhi Leonard not playing basketball. I have no issue with him coming off the bench, playing fewer minutes or not playing consecutive games, but missing so many games is weird; more so as we have no idea how his knee actually is. So far, he has only played in two games, and it looks like he will be missing a lot more.

  17. Golden State Warriors: 3-6, Previously 1
    The early story for the Warriors is despite having one of the NBA's best offenses, Klay Thompson isn't himself. Shooting 36.4 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from three, Thompson is scoring just 15 points a game. It's true that he has missed a lot of time, but he needs to improve his game; actually, all non-Stephen Curry Warriors need to help more.

  18. Utah Jazz: 6-3, Previously 30
    So far, the Jazz are a lot more fun than anyone thought they would be. Expected to be a tanking dumpster fire, the Jazz are red hot. Led by Lauri Markkanen, who is averaging 21.7 points and nine rebounds a game, Utah has a really strong group of veterans and young talents. I still think the Jazz want to lose and think that Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Rudy Gay, Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Clarkson could all easily be traded for more losses and assets.

  19. San Antonio Spurs: 5-3, Previously 23
    The early story for the Spurs is that Gregg Popovich is still the best coach in the world. Only Popovich and the Spurs could avoid rebuilding by showing the rest of the NBA that he already had his next stars: Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell. Johnson (23) is averaging 24 points, five rebounds and four assists a game, while shooting 43.5 percent from three. Vassell (22) is averaging 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, while shooting 39.4 percent from three.

  20. Washington Wizards: 4-4, Previously 21
    The Wizards' big men are the early story for them. I did not think the Wizards would start Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma, but it is working so far, as they are the second and third options after Bradley Beal. Porzingis is averaging 21 points and 8.5 boards a game, and Kuzma is averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 boards.

  21. New York Knicks: 3-4, Previously 20
    The early story for the Knicks this season is that their so-called Big Three of R.J. Barrett, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson isn't close to being a Big Three; the Knicks don't actually have a Big One. All three guys have fine qualities, and R.J. Barrett could be an all-star at some point, but none of them is averaging more than 18.4 points or shoot the three at more than 32.1 percent. New York gave basically $300 million to three strong starters; the team really should have made that Donovan Mitchell trade.

  22. Charlotte Hornets: 3-5, Previously 28
    The early story for the Hornets is that they lack direction. They have too much veteran talent to tank, and if I were making the decisions, I would trade any player not named LaMelo Ball for picks and young talent, lose now, and start a proper rebuild led by Ball.

  23. Indiana Pacers: 3-5, Previously 25
    The Pacers so far they have one of the best sets of young talent in the league and just need to keep developing them. Indiana has a franchise talent in Tyrese Haliburton and several potential studs in Bennedict Mathurin, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson and Chris Duarte.

  24. Sacramento Kings: 2-5, Previously 22
    The early story is that the Kings are who they've been and who we thought they would be; a low win team with some nice young talent and almost no chance at the playoffs. The drought continues for Sacramento fans.

  25. Brooklyn Nets: 2-6, Previously 4
    A number of things could be the top story for the Nets at this point. They fired Steve Nash, hired Ime Udoka, and have Ben Simmons struggling, just two wins, and then there is Kyrie Irving being himself. The short summary is that this team is a mess.

  26. Oklahoma City Thunder: 4-4, Previously 29
    The early story is Shai Gilgous-Alexander becoming a star. He has been a stud guard for quite awhile, but he looks like an all-star this season, averaging 31.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. The question is, do they trade him for younger assets and try harder to tank? Or do they want Gilgous-Alexander to be the player to lead them to relevance again?

  27. Detroit Pistons: 2-7, Previously 27
    The early story is former No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham becoming the franchise talent the Pistons hoped he would become. The second-year guard is averaging 21.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game.

  28. Orlando Magic: 2-7, Previously 28
    Pablo Banchero already becoming their best player as a rookie has to be the story for the Magic right now. The No. 1 pick is a scoring machine and should easily become the Rookie of the Year. Orlando nailed the pick, bravo.

  29. Los Angeles Lakers: 2-5, Previously 11
    The early story for the Lakers is that they are trash, but we need to talk about the shooting. We were all aware they had a poor shooting roster, but it's actually hilarious, truly. LeBron James is shooting 22.6 percent, Anthony Davis is at 18.2 percent, Russell Westbrook is at 20.8 percent, and the team is at 26.7 percent.

  30. Houston Rockets: 1-8, Previously 26
    The early story is that the Rockets have a ridiculously talented young roster, but in a developmental season are struggling. Wins are very hard to get, but that's not the issue; their young cornerstones are struggling. Jaylen Green (20), Jabari Smith Jr. (19), Kevin Porter Jr. (22) and Alperen Sengun (20) are the foundation pieces, but Green, Smith Jr. and Porter Jr. need big improvement. The trio generates about 50 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists a game, but Green is shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three, Smith Jr. is shooting 30.5 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from three, and Porter Jr. is shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three.


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