As we entered the fifth week of the 2017-18 NBA season, teams are starting to rise to the top, settle in the middle, and fall to the bottom. The Celtics, Rockets, Warriors, and Pistons look dominant, while the Mavericks and Bulls looks completely lost. Then there are a number of squads, like the Nuggets, Thunder, and Timberwolves, that are trying to figure out the chemistry of their new teams. Let’s take a look at where we have everybody ranked this week.
- Boston Celtics (12-2): The Celtics continue to have the most intriguing story of the season so far. After losing Gordon Hayward to injury, they can’t seem to lose any games. Let’s see how long they can keep this train rolling.
- Houston Rockets (11-3): Isn’t it crazy that the top two teams are winning without a key player? Turns out, James Harden didn’t need Chris Paul after all.
- Golden State (10-3): The Warriors have really bounced back after their rough start to the season. The reigning champs have won 9 out of their last 10.
- Detroit Pistons (10-3): Detroit is still shocking me every single week. I’m not sure if it’s too early to buy in on it. The Pistons have a solid supporting cast and a point guard who can lead them in Reggie Jackson.
- San Antonio Spurs (8-5): The Spurs are another team waiting for their star player to return from injury. They are hanging in there at the moment, but desperately in need of Kawhi Leonard on offense and defense.
- Denver Nuggets (8-5): The Nuggets are on top of the Northwest Division and are coming off of an impressive win over the Magic. Denver could be a team that shakes up the West this season.
- Orlando Magic (8-5): The Magic have been impressive throughout a couple weeks. We will found out if this team is legit when they play the Warriors next.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (7-5): Minnesota strikes me as a team that no one would really like to matched up against in the post season. They have a bunch of guys who are playing their roll perfectly and not trying to do too much.
- Memphis Grizzlies (7-5): The Grizzlies dropped a tough one to the Rockets and will be looking to bounce back against the Bucks. Memphis needs some solid wins to remain in the top 10.
- Washington Wizards (7-5): The Wizards have struggled going 5-5 in their last 10. I still feel like they are deserving of a top 10 spot. They have an opportunity for a win with the Kings coming up next.
- Boston Celtics (12-2): 12 wins in a row is impressive alone, but doing it without arguably your best player in Gordon Hayward is downright incredible. Add to it that Kyrie Irving had to miss yesterday’s matchup with the Raptors due to a facial fracture, and this team looks nearly unstoppable.
- Houston Rockets (11-3): Chris Paul has yet to return, but James Harden is playing his best basketball lately. During their six-game win streak, the Rockets have won all but one game by double digits.
- Golden State Warriors (10-3): After losing to the Pistons at home, the Warriors have rolled off six solid victories, winning by an average of 21.5 points per game. They’re not just beating teams, they’re destroying them.
- Detroit Pistons (11-3): Perhaps the most shocking team of the NBA season so far, the Pistons have won five games in a row and eight of their last nine. Their competition lately hasn’t been that stiff, but their winning at this rate has been impressive all the same.
- San Antonio Spurs (8-5): Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker have yet to play this season, but the Spurs still look pretty good. It will be interesting to see just how good they are once they’re healthy.
- Denver Nuggets (8-5): After a 1-3 start, the Nuggets have won seven of their last nine games. Perhaps their success could be attributed to six-game homestand, but they look like they are starting mesh.
- Orlando Magic (8-5): The Magic aren’t impressing quite like they did to start the season, but they’re still winning more than they’re losing, and for a team that lived near the bottom of standings last season, they’ve looked incredible this year.
- Memphis Grizzlies (7-5): Memphis got off to a hot 5-1 start to the season, but they have been below average since then. Of their losses, however, only one has come by double digits, so it’s not like the Grizzlies aren’t playing close games.
- Toronto Raptors (7-5): Toronto has been kind of lost in the middle of the weird Eastern Conference so far this season, but they are starting to figure some things out. They don’t really have any standout wins so far, but they don’t have any terrible losses, either.
- New York Knicks (7-5): I had the Knicks pegged as a Bottom 5 team to start the season, but they have been quite the surprise in the East. Their schedule has not been all that difficult so far, but Kristaps Porzingis is looking more and more like a viable MVP candidate.
3 To Watch
- Oklahoma City Thunder (6-7): The Oklahoma City Thunder may finally be hitting their stride. I definitely think this team finds their way into the top 10 in the next week or two.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (6-7): The Cavs are in a similar spot as the Thunder. They have lots of talent, but can’t figure out how to get it all to work together.
- New Orleans Pelicans (7-6): The Pelicans will be scary if they can make the post season. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye out on New Orleans as they have the best big men in the league.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (7-5): The Timberwolves looked like they were ready to challenge for a top-3 spot in the West, but two losses this last week, specifically the one to the Phoenix Suns after two days of rest, drops them out of the Top 10 for me.
- Washington Wizards (7-5): The Wizards are grossly underperforming based on preseason expectations. Five of their wins are against .500+ teams, but only one of their losses is against a team with a winning record. They have some things to figure out before they get back into the Top 10.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (6-7): Speaking of underperforming, Oklahoma City has been far from where they should be. After dropping games to Sacramento and Denver this last week, they appear to have figured some things out after wins over the Clippers and the Mavericks. They need to string together some solid games to prove how good they can consistently be.
- Dallas Mavericks (2-12): The Mavericks are simply a shadow of what they once were. It’s gonna be a long rebuilding process for the Mavs.
- Atlanta Hawks (2-11): The lack of star power in Atlanta is hurting the team. The Hawks need someone to step up in order to turn things around.
- Chicago Bulls (2-9): Everyone knew the Bulls would struggle this year. After a tough off season, they’re just tying to make it to draft night.
- Sacramento Kings (3-9): The Kings won’t be in playoff contention this year, but I do expect them to pick up some momentum after the All-Star break.
- Phoenix Suns (5-9): The Suns are another team with tons of young talent. Once all the drama is sorted out in Phoenix, this team may work their way out of the bottom.
- Dallas Mavericks (2-12): This team is just not good. They’re young and inexperienced in one way, but old and slow at the same time. They’re lottery-bound for sure.
- Chicago Bulls (2-9): This team is a mess. They looked like they might actually put up a fight against some teams, but they’re just not good.
- Atlanta Hawks (2-11): The Hawks have played some teams surprisingly close, but that doesn’t really matter if they keep on losing. I’m not really sure what the bright side is for this squad.
- Sacramento Kings (3-9): The Kings had a decent week, picking up wins against a struggling Thunder squad and a mediocre 76ers team. It’s going to take a little more consistency for them to climb out of the Bottom 5, though.
- Phoenix Suns (5-9): Trading Eric Bledsoe may have been a good decision for morale, but it did not help their talent level at all. They had a nice win against Minnesota on Saturday, but they had lost four games in a row before that.
Article written by Craig Hofeld and Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.