The 2021-22 NBA Season is not even two weeks old, but already there are a handful of teams where I’ve made a significant upgrade or downgrade to my own personal power rankings. That’s what I want to go over today.
Miami - The Heat figured to be a top six team in the East with the addition of Kyle Lowry. But so far they’ve played as well as anybody. Their record is 5-1 and they are outscoring opponents by a league-best 17 points per game. Ranking first in the league in defensive efficiency is always key and that’s where the Heat are right now.
Golden State - Again, the Warriors are a team I’d tabbed to finish in the top six in the West. But they have been better than advertised. They are 5-1 and playing like one of the best teams in the league. They have yet to lose in regulation.
New York & Chicago - I’m putting these teams together because coming into the year I thought they’d finish pretty close. One of them is probably going to get a top six spot in the East. Both have started 5-1. The Bulls did just lose Patrick Williams to a season-ending injury. The Knicks won’t be #1 in 3PT% defense again (like they were last season). So beware just a little bit. At the same time, note the Knicks are #2 in offensive efficiency and the Bulls are #4 in defensive efficiency.
LA Lakers - The Lakers have been a below average team in their first six games. That’s a downgrade from what was expected to be a top two team (along with Utah) in the Western Conference. Do I still expect LeBron and company in the top six? Of course. But this is not a deep team.
Boston - The way things are looking early on, the best the Celtics might be able to do is the play-in round. They’ve definitely been below average. Three of their games have gone to overtime and they’ve twice been a loser in double overtime games. Like the Lakers, Boston ranks in the bottom third in defensive efficiency.
Milwaukee - Well, when you come into the season ranked #1 in the power rankings, the best you can hope for is to maintain that ranking. The Bucks have dropped due to getting outscored by roughly five points per 100 possessions. They are even lower than the Celtics and Lakers when it comes to defensive efficiency - ranking 25th. While things are skewed due to an awful showing vs. Miami, the Bucks just lost to the T’wolves and Spurs.