As we enter our second week of the Eastern Conference Power Rankings, a lot has changed over the past seven days. Two things that haven't changed? The Cleveland Cavaliers winning games and the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers losing them. Somewhere in between that, the chaos begins. Welcome to week two!
15. Brooklyn Nets (0-7)
Think of any synonym for "bad," and it would accurately describe the Nets this year. They can't score, they can't defend and they can't shoot threes, even if they don't exactly take too many of them. And they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers at home. Fortunately for them, Brook Lopez's foot injury wasn't serious and he didn't miss any games. Unfortunately for them, Jarrett Jack is still their starting point guard and he's been forced to play every game for them.
14. Philadelphia 76ers (0-7)
We're currently in year three of #TheProcess, and the Sixers haven't inched any closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. They do have a nice complementary front court in Nerlens Noel and rookie Jahlil Okafor, but it's hard to win games when there's only three-to-four actual NBA players on the team. They did look competitive in their three of their last four games, but we're not ones for moral victories.
13. Orlando Magic (3-5)
Aside from a 13-point road loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Magic had a pretty good week. They beat the Toronto Raptors at home and the Sixers on the road, and went blow-to-blow with the Houston Rockets on the road and were a Dwight Howard missed field goal away from beating them. Victor Oladipo and Evan "Don't Google" Fournier have given the Magic a good scoring combo to go alongside Nikola Vucevic.
12. Charlotte Hornets (3-4)
The numbers tell me that the Hornets have the sixth-highest offensive rating in the NBA so far this season. The numbers also tell me that the Hornets have failed to score 100 in more games (4) than they've scored at least 100 (3). I guess scoring 130 points in a game can help skew those numbers. Either way, the Hornets did take two out of three on the road this past week and Jeremy Lamb is starting to look like a quality NBA player. Progress!
11. Boston Celtics (3-3)
Here's a stat that I have no idea what it means but seems alarming: the Celtics have four perimeter players shooting under 39 percent from the field. I'm not an expert, but that doesn't sound good. Now here's a stat that I know what it means and it does sound good: the Celtics have the fourth-best defensive rating in the league. What a topsy-turvy six games it's been for them.
10. New York Knicks (4-4)
No matter how you want to put it, there's one thing that can be said about this Knicks team: they're watchable! Carmelo Anthony is bullying people in the post; Kristaps Porzingis has dunked on half of the population; and they have a solid young back court in Langston Galloway and rookie Jerian Grant. What could make this team any worse to watch? Oh, that's right, playing Sasha Vucevic 23 minute more per game than he needs to be.
9. Milwaukee Bucks (4-4)
In a vacuum, the Bucks have won four of the their last five games, In context, the Bucks beat the Nets twice, the Sixers and the Knicks and lost to the Celtics by 15 at home, all in their last five games. Greg Monroe has played like the guy they thought he would be when they signed him this summer and Giannis Antetokounmpo is ready to take "the leap." The problem? Defense and rebounding.
8. Indiana Pacers (4-4)
Raise your hand if you thought Paul George would be this good, this early? No hands? That's would I sort of expected. Even more surprising than George's return to his star status after his semi-year off are the Pacers in general. Despite not having a quality big man on their roster, Hickory High has won three out of their last four, with their lone loss coming on the road to Cleveland in a game the Pacers led with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Don't sleep on the Pacers.
You would have thought after Bradley Beal hit LaMarcus Aldridge with the most vicious jab step in recent memory to free himself up for the game-winner against the San Antonio Spurs that things would start to look way up for the Wizards, right? Wrong. Not only have they lost three straight, they've lost three straight by at least 15 points. I don't think that's going to help convince Kevin Durant to go there.
6. Toronto Raptors (3-4)
Oh how quickly have things changed. After starting 5-0, the Raptors have lost three straight and none of the losses have been encouraging. They failed to score 90 against both the Magic and the Miami Heat, then lost at home to the Knicks. They do have a fairly easy schedule this week, but you could've said the same about this past week. At least DeMar DeRozan has become a better midra-- (looks at his shot chart) -- never mind.
5. Chicago Bulls (5-3)
I have no idea what to think of the Bulls right now. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler combined to score 55 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game they won. Then they score zero points in overtime against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game in which Rose and Butler combined to shoot 7-of-28 from the field. It's only been seven games, so there shouldn't be any worry, but this team has yet to form an identity of who they are.
4. Miami Heat (5-3)
Is Justise Winslow the steal of the draft? Actually, let me rephrase that: is there any question that Justise Winslow is the steal of the draft? He's locked up every player he's guarded not named LeBron James and has been surprisingly good on the offensive end, showing flashes of similar left-handed perimeter player. Let's also not forget about Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, who are both playing extremely well and are a big reason the Heat have won three of their last four games.
3. Atlanta Hawks (7-2)
Outside of an abysmal first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves this past week, the Hawks have pretty much left off where they ended last regular season. The ball is moving just as much as it did last year and both Jeff Teague and Paul MIllsap are playing like All-Stars. The problem early on for them? Defense, which isn't quite as strong as it was last year and will probably be all season until they find a way to replace DeMarre Carroll's perimeter defense.
2. Detroit Pistons (5-2)
Hopefully there's still room on the the Andre Drummond bandwagon, because I just bought my ticket and am shoving my way toward the front. This man is a beast. Him and point guard Reggie Jackson have been a killer duo so far this season and were the reason they were able to stage an incredible fourth quarter comeback against the Portland Trail Blazers this past week. And don't forget about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has been the only person this year to keep Steph Curry in check.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-1)
They haven't looked as dominant over the past week as the schedule would have suggested they should have been, but the Cavs have done the only thing that matters: win. Both the Pacers and Jazz provided a challenge at home for the Cavs, but not enough to halt their current winning streak, which stands at seven. Also, a new Uncle Drew skit this week gives them 100 percent of my first place vote.