As we head into the third week of the 2020-21 NBA season, it's becoming difficult to keep track of all that's going on.
It's hard not to overreact to some of the early returns but some pleasantly surprising teams have displayed sustainable models of success. And while some early favourites have stumbled out of the gates, they've still shown signs of being able to figure things out as the season rolls on.
How did the above impact this week's power rankings? Below, we've got you covered with a snapshot of the league's hierarchy after two weeks of action.
10. Atlanta Hawks
This week: vs. NYK, vs. CHA, at CHA
Atlanta had a busy week in which it took care of business against the Detroit Pistons before heading to Brooklyn for two games in three nights. After the Nets handed the Hawks their first loss of the season in a 145-141 shootout, Atlanta responded with an 18-point victory over Brooklyn less than 48 hours later.
And in that one, John Collins made his early submission for Dunk of the Year.
BRUHHHHH 🥴 pic.twitter.com/IsaAqcX5P8- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 2, 2021
The Hawks returned home, where they suffered a five-point loss on the second end of a back-to-back to a solid Cleveland Cavaliers team, which isn't worth overreacting to. A cause for concern is the health of Danilo Gallinari, who will miss significant time with a sprained ankle.
9. Miami Heat
This week: vs. OKC, vs. BOS, at WAS, at BOS
The reigning East champs went 1-2 over the past week, including a 47-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and a pretty poor offensive showing against the Dallas Mavericks but it's not time to overreact.
Jimmy Butler has been dealing with ankle issues this season and, outside of an opening-night loss to the Orlando Magic, has yet to look like himself. Butler also missed each of the games against the Bucks, which is notable considering the big loss as well as the way in which the team responded to win by 11 just one night later.
Based on what we know about Heat Culture, Miami will be fine in time. The team's got a few chances to prove itself as it gears up for two iterations of an Eastern Conference Finals rematch with the Boston Celtics.
8. Utah Jazz
This week: at BKN, at NYK, at MIL, at DET
Like always, the Jazz are quietly going about their business to start the season.
Utah went 3-1 on the week, bouncing back from a home loss to Phoenix with an impressive win over the LA Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back. The Jazz have put forth some impressive showings out of the gate and All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell isn't off to the best start, averaging 20.2 points on .371/.339/.762 shooting splits through six games, though he did look like himself in San Antonio.
📹| @spidadmitchell ⤵️- utahjazz (@utahjazz) January 4, 2021
22p | 9a | 5 3pm | 4r pic.twitter.com/X1HERsobx4
Mitchell's slow start certainly doesn't warrant an overreaction. At least not a negative one. It's fair to think that once Mitchell gets back to his normal level of play, this Jazz team has another level it can tap into.
7. Boston Celtics
This week: at TOR, at MIA, vs. WAS, vs. MIA
The Celtics, like many other teams, have had some early ups and downs to start the season.
This past week, for example, Boston handed Indiana its first loss of the season and three days later, became the first team to lose to Detroit this season. Thanks to the heroics of Jayson Tatum, the Celtics avenged the loss to the Pistons when the teams met for a second time to close the week but it was Jaylen Brown that shined brightest over Boston's most recent stretch.
☘️ Jaylen Brown career-high ☘️@FCHWPO goes off for 42 PTS, 7 3PM in just 3 quarters as the @celtics win at home! #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/frCkhfcPPo- NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2020
Brown's hot start is definitely worth an overreaction, as he is averaging 28.0 points per game while shooting 59.8% from the field and 42.5% from 3 to start the season, including a 42-point performance (on 15-for-21 shooting) in a win over Memphis and a 31-point performance (on 13-for-16 shooting) in a win over Detroit.
In Kemba Walker's absence, Brown is looking very much like Boston's second All-Star.
6. Brooklyn Nets
This week: vs. UTA, vs. PHI, at MEM, vs. OKC
After looking unbeatable to start the season, Brooklyn has now lost four of its last five.
But let's not overreact here.
First off, Brooklyn had a chance to tie or win the game in two of the four losses while another came in overtime. Additionally, the Nets are still in a feeling-out process, made tougher by a torn ACL that will sideline Spencer Dinwiddie for the remainder of the season. While Dinwiddie hadn't gotten out to a great start this season, Brooklyn's rotation has been impacted and first-year head coach Steve Nash has adjusted by inserting Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot into the starting unit.
And, of course, the Nets have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on their side. That doesn't need any further explanation.
Kyrie (17) & KD (16) heat up in the 4th!@KyrieIrving: 25 PTS, 6 AST@KDTrey5: 33 PTS, 11 REB, 8 AST@BrooklynNets | #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/ghGnHTQchT- NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2020
5. Phoenix Suns
This week: vs. TOR, at DET, at IND
Through two weeks of action, the Suns are in a three-way tie atop the Western Conference. Just as we all expected, right?
Phoenix's hot start has been a reminder of just how special Chris Paul is.
CP3 lifts the @Suns to their 4th straight W! pic.twitter.com/1k5oStdEQw- NBA (@NBA) January 2, 2021
CP3 has quickly adjusted to a new team on the fly while head coach Monty Williams is placing Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton in great spots to be successful by playing off of one another.
While many teams with new pieces have struggled out of the gates, the Suns have done quite the opposite, which should give them a nice cushion down the line once some other teams begin to string together wins as the season progresses.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
This week: vs. DET, vs. DET, vs. UTA, vs. CLE
This past week saw the Bucks knock down an NBA-record 29 triples in a 47-point blowout win over the Miami Heat but I won't overreact and call Milwaukee the best 3-point shooting team ever … at least not yet.
👀 the BEST of the @Bucks NBA record setting 29 threes from their win vs. Miami! #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/FGOIEGsJp0- NBA (@NBA) December 30, 2020
The Bucks, who have become known for their regular-season dominance over the last few years, sit at .500 six games into the season. Considering this team was just one-game better at this point last year, history would suggest that a major win streak is coming very soon.
Of course, this season isn't about regular-season dominance for Milwaukee, as the team has its eye on the ultimate prize in the postseason. With a big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, it's already looking like this team will be difficult to beat four times in seven games.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
This week: vs. CHA, vs. WAS, at BKN, vs. DEN
The Sixers have taken care of business early on this season, getting out to the East's best record through two weeks of action.
Philly's busy offseason is paying dividends already as Seth Curry is averaging 16.2 points on 51.5% shooting from deep, which probably isn't sustainable but he'll still probably remain in the 40% range throughout the season. Ben Simmons is hitting 3s and recording triple-doubles, Tobias Harris is dunking on heads and Joel Embiid is dominating on the inside with averages of 25.0 points and 12.6 rebounds per game.
🎯 @BenSimmons25 for 3️⃣ #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/8FEINMotYI- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) January 1, 2021
First triple-double of the season. 29th for his career.- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 3, 2021
15 PTS | 12 REB | 11 AST
📹 presented by @IBX pic.twitter.com/tXYB6C7agh
Oh my, @tobias31. pic.twitter.com/8DXTWVw8Ot- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 3, 2021
To say the Sixers are the most complete team in the Eastern Conference would be an overreaction but new head coach Doc Rivers is getting the best out of his team early on and they'll have a great chance to prove themselves against the Nets and Nuggets in the coming days.
2. LA Clippers
This week: vs. SAS, at GSW, at GSW, vs. CHI
MVP-level Paul George is back!
While that might be an overreaction, we're definitely seeing George get back to what sets him apart as a player. The healthiest that he's been in years, George is averaging 25.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists on .508/.492/.929 shooting splits through seven games.
He closed last week with a 39-point performance in a narrow win over the Suns.
3⃣9⃣ points and 7⃣ threes for PG!@Yg_Trece goes off in the @LAClippers win. pic.twitter.com/gc3e50imGo- NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2021
MORE: Paul George 'using the noise' as motivation for resurgence
With George playing at this level and Kawhi Leonard being who he is, LA again looks like a very tough team in the West. Serge Ibaka has been an excellent fit in the frontcourt and the team could see better play from offseason acquisition Luke Kennard, which adds another dynamic to the team.
The way it looks now, the Clippers are only going to get better as time goes on.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
This week: at MEM, vs. SAS, vs. CHI, at HOU
After a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers that wasn't worth overreacting to, the Lakers closed the week with two wins over the San Antonio Spurs and a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The defending champs certainly aren't on cruise control to open the season but you do have to take into account that they and the Heat had the shortest offseason of all the NBA teams and, outside of newcomers, have to ease into things a bit more.
Speaking of the newcomers, Dennis Schröder has looked great early on, averaging 16.3 points and 4.9 assists to open the season while Montrezl Harrell is averaging 12.9n points and 7.6 rebounds off the bench. Wesley Matthews has stepped up in the past week, shooting 6-for-6 from 3 in one win over the Spurs and 4-for-6 from deep in a win over the Grizzlies.
Six shots. Six treys. Say hello to Wesley Matthews. pic.twitter.com/UsLWadnWR5- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 31, 2020
And, of course, LeBron is being LeBron and AD is being AD.
In the first of two wins over San Antonio, James set an NBA record with his 1000th consecutive regular-season game scoring in double-digits, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists on the night. Davis finished with 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, bringing the duo to 60 points, 22 boards and 15 dimes.
A scoring streak fit for a king. Congrats on making history, @KingJames 🙌👑 pic.twitter.com/NPRtaiG93Q- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 31, 2020
It's going to take more than losing on the second night of a back-to-back for the defending champs to get dethroned from the top spot.
King of the logo three.- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 4, 2021
(📺: @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/4VyjVicI2U
The Rest of the NBA
11. Portland Trail Blazers
Overreaction: LeBron James might have made the chase-down block popular but Derrick Jones Jr. has perfected it.
BLOCKED BY JONES pic.twitter.com/03bHMykrmo- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 29, 2020
Not really … but he did give LeBron a taste of his own medicine. Jones continues to prove why he was a big pick up for the Blazers. His defence will be huge for Portland in the postseason.
12. Houston Rockets
Overreaction: The way John Wall looks early on (25.0 points, 7.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds through two games), he and James Harden are an All-Star backcourt that can lift Houston towards the top half of the West alongside future Most Improved Player Christian Wood.
13. Denver Nuggets
Overreaction: Denver is the best team to ever start out 2-4.
Seriously, the Nuggets' slow start is nothing to be too concerned over, as they're sure to begin stringing together wins sooner rather than later. They've also been on the wrong end of a few bad bounces early on.
14. Indiana Pacers
Overreaction: Indiana is in danger of falling off after a hot start now that the injury bug has bitten. The Pacers' offence will flounder without T.J. Warren and a number of guys will need to step up to replace his production.
15. New Orleans Pelicans
Overreaction: Brandon Ingram for MVP!
Ingram has again taken another leap early on in the season, making more improvements as a playmaker and finding ways to get to the line. In doing a little bit of everything for this Pelicans squad, it's pretty clear that he is the guy.
16. Dallas Mavericks
17. Orlando Magic
18. Toronto Raptors
Overreaction: The Raptors are out to a 1-4 start for the first time since the 2012-13 season - the last year they failed to qualify for the postseason. If Toronto can't make the most of an impending tough stretch, its seven-year postseason streak will be in serious jeopardy.
19. Sacramento Kings
20. Golden State Warriors
Overreaction: Steph Curry's 62-point performance will spark a third MVP campaign.
🔥 Career-high 62 points for Steph Curry! 🔥- NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2021
WHERE ELSE does a 2-time #KiaMVP and 3-time NBA Champion continue to push the limits of what's possible? #OnlyHere pic.twitter.com/NAtwSGMNyr
In reality, it won't be the last big scoring night we see from Curry this season, as the Warriors will need it to remain in contention for a playoff spot. Is that worth of MVP consideration? We'll see.
21. San Antonio Spurs
22. Cleveland Cavaliers
23. Washington Wizards
24. New York Knicks
Overreaction: The Knicks have the best young core in the Eastern Conference.
RJ Barrett is figuring it out, as is Mitchell Robinson and the league really hasn't gotten a real look at Obi Toppin or Immanuel Quickley just yet. New York is in the process of building something special.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves
26. Memphis Grizzlies
27. Oklahoma City Thunder
28. Charlotte Hornets
Overreaction: It's time to get LaMelo Ball into the starting lineup.
Handles for days 🗣@MELOD1P | @HornetsOnFSSE pic.twitter.com/LIZrL2DmDW- Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 2, 2021
In reality, Ball's playmaking and presence are extremely valuable to Charlotte's second unit. It also keeps things balanced, allowing Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham to continue to play as they did last season, which worked very well.
29. Chicago Bulls
30. Detroit Pistons
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