NBA Power Rankings: Warriors still stuck behind Cavaliers, Clippers


The start to the NBA season has been more competitive than most expected. It started with the Warriors’ opening night loss to the Spurs at Oracle, and has carried through this first month of play. The Warriors’ offense is great, but part of why Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are putting up such crazy numbers is that Golden State is in close games late over and over, like its win against Milwaukee Saturday night.

Meanwhile, every division is competitive so far. No one has separated themselves in the Northwest or Southeast divisions, and the Southwest looks really tough still with the Spurs, Grizzlies and Rockets all in the top 10 of this week’s rankings.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2016-17 record: 10-2
Previous ranking: 1

The Cavs, when they’re in the mood, are a sight to behold. LeBron James is averaging the most taken-for-granted 23, 9 and 8 in NBA history, everyone knows their roles, and suddenly Channing Frye is emerging as more of a contributor than you anticipated. The concern, if you want to manufacture one, remains Cleveland’s depth. The lack of a seasoned backup point guard is hard to ignore, but we ask again: Who in the East can really make the Cavs pay for that shortcoming?

2. LA Clippers
2016-17 record: 12-2
Previous ranking: 2

The Clippers are allowing a ridiculously stingy 91.4 points per 100 possessions when DeAndre Jordan is on the floor compared to 106.1 points per 100 possessions when Jordan is sitting. J.J. Redick has been as hot as any Clipper in the opening month, which is just one more reason these guys are off to a franchise-best unbeaten start on the road at 6-0. There’s too much goodness going on, in other words, to drop the Clips after one narrow misstep at home against Memphis.

3. Golden State Warriors
2016-17 record: 11-2
Previous ranking: 3

The offense is humming now to such a degree — better ball movement, gorgeous looks galore, Kevin Durant producing with unfair efficiency, Klay Thompson finding his groove — that it’s almost a relief Golden State still has plenty to sort out on the defensive end. If the D was anywhere close to this same level in mid-November, with the Warriors up to seven 120-point eruptions already after just three at this same stage last season, hope would be quickly draining away leaguewide.

4. San Antonio Spurs
2016-17 record: 10-3
Previous ranking: 7

No team in the league is unbeaten at home. The Spurs, by contrast, are a tidy 7-0 on the road and take a five-game win streak overall into Monday night’s reunion with their old friends from Dallas. To the Spurs, who’ve been able to field their first-choice starting five only four times thanks to Danny Green’s lengthy absence, it’s no accident that the current unbeaten run coincides with a return to the lineup for Tony Parker, still a key steadying hand even with Pop limiting Parker to 25.9 MPG.

5. Atlanta Hawks
2016-17 record: 9-4
Previous ranking: 5

The Hawks awoke Sunday ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency, ninth in PPG allowed and feeling pretty proud of what they’re doing on D because they’re also playing at a top-five pace, which naturally means more possessions to defend. Pride then turned to anger when Atlanta looked so lackluster in a Madison Square Garden matinee defeat to the Knicks, who have actually won four in a row at home but, according to Paul Millsap, shouldn’t have caused the trouble they did.



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