The Memphis Grizzlies are off to a fantastic start to the 2017-18 season and, as a result, the Griz are No. 1 in Fadeaway World’s first NBA Power Rankings.
Memphis (5-2) has accumulated just one loss through the first two weeks of the season for the first time since 2014-15 when they began the season with six straight wins. That year, the Grizzlies would go on to win 15 of their first 18 games.
But make no mistake, the Grizzlies team is not like any in the recent past. Yes, veterans Marc Gasol and Mike Conley still lead the way. But grizzled old vets Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Vince Carter have moved on.
Memphis has been benefitted from a scheduling quirk that has the Griz playing six of their first eight games at home. Although the Griz have not faced the easiest opponents. The Grizzlies began the season with a 12-point blowout victory over New Orleans. They followed that with a 10-point victory over Golden State.
Memphis also has two victories over Houston and one over Dallas. The Grizzlies’ lone setback was to the Mavericks in Dallas.
1. Memphis Grizzlies (5-2)
The Grizzlies have picked up their pace a little though they still are last in that category. The Griz also have improved their offensive production from last season, ranking 21st in scoring and 18th in shooting percentage. Last year, they were 29th in scoring and last in shooting percentage. The Grizzlies have reached the century mark in three of their first six games.
The most improved area of the team is there bench. The Grizzlies, who use a 10-man rotation, bench has outscored their opponents’ reserves 246-126. Their reserves are compiling 41.0 points a game while shooting 45% from the floor
Memphis is still a top-notch physical team defensively. The Grizzlies have held four of their six opponents to under 100 points. The Griz are ranked third in scoring defense, giving up 94.2 ppg, and fourth in defensive rating. They also have the sixth best point differential at +6.7.
Last night, they lost against the Hornets 104-99.
2. Houston Rockets (5-3)
The Rockets went 2-2 this past week with both setbacks coming against the Memphis Grizzlies as they were held to 89 and 90 points in those losses, the two lowest scoring outputs for the team under second-year coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston, second in scoring and offensive rating last season, has not been as impressive this season on the offensive end this year -- ranking 14th in scoring and 10th in offensive ranking. A big reason is that the Rockets are playing at a slower pace as they are 18th in pace rating after being fourth last year. They are shooting an NBA-high 44.2 three-pointers a game, although they have made just 13.3 triples a game for a 30.2 percentage.
The Rockets second-leading scorer Eric Gordon (24.8 ppg) sat out Saturday’s loss with an illness through the Rockets did get back starting small forward Trevor Ariza (bruised foot) after a two-game absence.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (4-2)
The Clippers loss to the Pistons on Saturday meant that no team will head into Week 3 of the season undefeated. Blake Griffin, who is averaging 24.9 points a contest, has made at least two three-pointers in five straight games for the first time in his career. Los Angeles has won three of its four games by at least 18 points, and they lead the league with a plus-13.2 point differential.
4. Golden State Warriors (5-3)
The Dubs have yet to find any real consistency, particularly at home, as they fell to 2-2 at Oracle Arena with Sunday’s loss to the Pistons -- the Warriors lost a total of five games at home last season after losing just twice in each of the two previous seasons. Stephen Curry tied his personal-best with 52 consecutive free throws before missing his first try from the charity stripe this season against the Pistons. Golden State, which scored a season-high 133 points on Monday, tops the league in most offensive categories.
5. San Antonio Spurs (4-3)
The Spurs started the season 4-0 for a second consecutive year, but they have since lost three straight leaving Gregg Popovich one victory short of matching Phil Jackson for sixth on the all-time wins list. LaMarcus Aldridge, off to his best start in three years with the organization, has scored at least 20 points in each of his first six games. San Antonio ranks last in three-point makes (6.2) and three-point attempts (20.3).
6. Washington Wizards (4-2)
The Wizards snapped a two-game losing streak and closed out their four-game (2-2) west coast trip with the 110-83 blowout victory over the Kings on Sunday night. Otto Porter, off to the best start in his five-year career, has made 10-of-his-last-15 three-point shots including a career-high seven triples in Friday’s loss to the Warriors on Friday -- the 24-year-old is shooting 51.7% from long-distance on the year. Markieff Morris, who is currently recovering sports hernia surgery, and reserve Carrick Felix were suspended one game by the NBA for leaving the bench area during Beal’s and Green’s skirmish on Friday.
7. Toronto Raptors (4-2)
The Raptors are in the midst of a season-long six-game road trip (Oct. 23- Nov.3), going 1-2 so far. Second-year big man Jacob Poeltl, who posted two double-doubles this past week, is fourth in the league with a 66.7% (20-of-30) shooting percentage. Toronto has doled out 20-plus assists in four of its first five games this season and they average 24.6 assists a game, which is the fourth most in the league.
8. Boston Celtics (5-2)
The Celtics have won four straight as they have tightened up their defense, holding each of their last four opponents under 92 points -- the C’s are now fourth in the league in scoring defense (95.0) and second in defensive rating (95.1). Rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year pro Jaylen Brown, who are combining to average over 30 points and 12 caroms, became the first teammates 21-years or younger in franchise history to score 20-plus points in the same game when they did so on against the New York Knicks on Tuesday. As expected, Boston was granted an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Gordon Hayward and the organization has until March 10 to use the exception.
9. Milwaukee Bucks (4-3)
The Bucks earned their largest margin of victory in only their second away game the year, defeating the Hawks 117-106 on Sunday. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who leads the league with 34.7 points a game, has been the high-scorer in all six of the Bucks games. Milwaukee ranks last in offensive rebounding team (5.5) as well last in rebounding team overall (38.7).
10. Detroit Pistons (5-3)
This is the third straight year the Pistons have started the season with at least a 4-2 record. Andre Drummond, who has grabbed a combined 35 rebounds in wins over the Clippers and Warriors, has hauled in double-figure rebounds in all six games. Detroit is tied for first in the league in turnovers (13.9) and tied for second in steals (10.0).
11. Orlando Magic (5-2)
The Magic saw their three-game winning streak come as they scored a season-low 113 points in their loss to the Hornets on Sunday. Aaron Gordon has come back to earth, after torching Brooklyn (Tuesday) for a career-high 41 points, in his last two contests, combining for 33 points on 14-of-27 shooting. Orlando is second in several offensive categories such as scoring (117.1), made field goals (43.0) and 3pt percentage (43.5%).
12. Portland Trail Blazers (4-3)
The Blazers are 2-1 on their current four-game homestand. Damian Lillard, the 2016-17 Magic Johnson Award winner, reached the 9,000 point mark in the third quarter against the Suns on Saturday -- he accomplished the feat in 402 games which is the quickest a player has gotten to the milestone in franchise history. Portland, the top-rebounding team in the league (51.7 per game), has outrebounded its opponents in five of the six games this season.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-3)
The Timberwolves snapped a two-game losing streak with a 119-116 victory over the Thunder as Karl-Anthony Towns produced 33 points along with 19 rebounds and a season-high four blocks. Jimmy Butler, who led the way against the Thunder with 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting, returned after missing two straight games with an upper respiratory infection -- the Wolves are now 3-1 with the 6-7 wing in the lineup. Minnesota, which has surrendered 113 or more points in each of the last four games, ranks last in the NBA in defensive rebounding (29.2) as well as a defensive rating (114.3).
14. Utah Jazz (4-3)
The Jazz are unbeaten in three home games where they have won each game by at least nine points and have a plus-+12.0 point differential overall in games in Salt Lake City. Rookie Donovan Mitchell had a career-night against the Lakers on Saturday as he scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed a personal-high three rebounds. Utah is last in the league in free throws made (12.5) and free throws (15.8) though they are ninth in free throw percentage (78.9%).
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (4-3)
Russell Westbrook picked up his third triple-double of the season following his 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists performance against the Bulls on Saturday, becoming the first player to tally a triple-double against all 29 opposing teams. Westbrook has accumulated four double-doubles this season and leads the NBA with 12.8 dimes a game. OKC is second the league in steals per game (11.5) and fast break points (19.0).
16. New Orleans Pelicans (3-4)
The Pelicans have won three of four following their victory over the Cavaliers. DeMarcus Cousins became the fourth player in NBA history to record a 40-point, 20-rebound night and a triple-double on back-to-back nights when he accomplished the feat against Sacramento (Thursday) and Cleveland (Friday) -- Cousins joins Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor as players who have accomplished the feat. Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Anthony Davis and Cousins rank first and second in the NBA with games with 30 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks with 28 and 13, respectively.
17. Denver Nuggets (3-4)
The Nuggets will look to close out their four-game road streak with three straight victories when they play the Knicks at MSG. After a slow start, Nikola Jokic has picked up his play tallying at least 18 points and nine rebounds over his last four games -- he has three double-doubles during this period. Denver scored a season-high 124 points against Brooklyn on Sunday, marking the third time in their last four outings they have reached the century mark.
18. Charlotte Hornets (4-3)
The Hornets improved to 3-1 at home and evened their record overall while scoring a season-high 120 points in their victory over the Magic (Sunday). Dwight Howard looks rejuvenated as he has collected double-digit rebounds in each of his six games, which includes two 20-rebound games and is currently second in the league with 16.3 boards a game. Charlotte leads the league in defensive rebounds (41.2) and is last in steals (4.8).
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4)
The Cavs have lost four of five games with their last two setbacks coming by a combined 41 points. Coach Tyronn Lue has used five different starting lineups so far. LeBron James, who became the franchise all-time leader in games played this week, has been held to less than 20 points in consecutive games for the first time since January 2016 -- he recorded 18 and 16 points, respectively against New Orleans and New York, the last two games.
20. Miami Heat (2-4)
The Heat, who went 51-31at American Airlines Arena the last two years, are just 2-2 at home to start the season as they are currently on a six-game homestand to begin the season. Hassan Whiteside has missed four straight games with a bruised knee and it is unknown when he will return. Miami is second to last in the league in free throws made a game (13.0) as well as in free throw attempts (16.6) though they are 11th in free throw percentage (78.3%).
21. Indiana Pacers (4-3)
The Pacers got their first victory when scoring less than 130 points when Victor Oladipo knocked down a three-pointer with 10 seconds left, giving them a 97-94 victory over the Spurs on Sunday. Domantas Sabonis, who has hauled in double-digit rebounds in four straight games, recorded his third double-double of the year as he had 22 points and 12 boards against San Antonio. Indiana has been without center Myles Turner (concussion) the last five games and it is unknown when he will return.
22. Brooklyn Nets (3-5)
The Nets suffered its first home loss (3-1) in their 124-111 defeat at the hands of the Nuggets on Sunday. Reserve guard Spencer Dinwiddie has been solid this week, producing 48 points along with 21 assists and nine rebounds while turning the ball over only four times. Brooklyn’s reserves lead the league in several categories including scoring (50.1), assists (10.7), defensive rebounds (15.7) and rebounds (22.0).
23. Los Angeles Lakers (3-4)
Defense is expected to be the Lakers biggest bugaboo all season, but over the last three games they have looked better as they have only given up more than 100 points once and are currently 21st in scoring defense (108.8). Rookie Kyle Kuzma has scored in double-figures in four of his last five games, and notched his first double-double of his career against Toronto. Los Angeles ranks 29th in both offensive rankings (94.5) and turnovers per game (19.2).
24. New York Knicks (3-3)
The Knicks, the last team to win a game, have won two in a row following their 114-95 victory over the Cavs on Sunday. Tim Hardaway and Kristaps Porzingis, who contributed 32 points and 12 rebounds, combined for 66 points against Cleveland, marking the fourth time that Porzingis has topped the 30-point plateau. New York will play its first back-to-back game of the season on Monday when they host the Nuggets.
25. Philadelphia 76ers (3-4)
The 76ers won two games this past week, both coming on the road. Joel Embiid had a pretty good week, averaging 24.6 points along with 8.0 rebounds for the week, as he scored at least 21 points and hauled in six rebounds in each of the three games. Philadelphia has had 42 of its shots blocked by opponents and has been whistled for 24.7 fouls a game, both league highs.
26. Sacramento Kings (1-6)
The Kings, who are the only winless team at home with at least three contests there, have dropped four straight games. 25-year-old rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic made his debut this week and increased his production in each game -- tallying double-figures every game including a season-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting against the Wizards on Sunday. Sacramento’s reserves are producing the second most points (48.7) and second most assists (10.0) of all benches in the league.
27. Atlanta Hawks (1-6)
The Hawks currently hold the distinction of having the longest losing streak in the league at five games. Rookie John Collins has looked good so far, compiling two double-doubles and scoring in double-figures four times. Atlanta ranks first in free throw shooting (85.8%) although they rank 28th in field goal percentage (42.4%).
28. Dallas Mavericks (1-7)
The Mavericks have the most losses (tied with Hawks) on the season overall and most losses at home (1-4). Dirk Nowitzki -- who became the seventh player in NBA history to play in 1,400 games earlier this week -- knocked down three treys in the 112-110 loss to the Sixers on Saturday to give him 1,789 for his career, moving him past Rashard Lewis for sole possession of 13th place on the NBA all-time three-point list. Dallas is the worst rebounding team in the league, grabbing just 45.6% of all available rebounds.
29. Phoenix Suns (3-4)
The Suns fired head coach Earl Watson and promptly won their first two games under Jay Triano. Point guard Eric Bledsoe made public his displeasure with the team and is unlikely to play the rest of the season for the team again, meaning that the franchise will be even younger than expected. Phoenix was a plus-3 in point differential over the last three games, however, they still rank last in the league at a minus-14.2 a game.
30. Chicago Bulls (1-4)
The Bulls earned their first victory on Thursday, taking down the Hawks 91-86. Point guard Kris Dunn made his Bulls’ debut on Saturday, tallying 8.0 points to go along with four rebounds as well three assists and three steals before leaving with a finger injury though everything is reportedly fine. Chicago is the lowest scoring team in the league with 89.6 points as they are shooting a league-worst 38.5% from the field.