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NBA Power Rankings: Who Leads the Pack After a Wild First Week?

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NBA Power Rankings: Who Leads the Pack After a Wild First Week?
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It may have been a late start to the season, but the NBA hasn't disappointed since its return to the hardwood.

We've had some great games across the league and the game's biggest stars have come out firing, giving us moments that we'll be talking about all year long. 

After a whirlwind first week of the season, it's time to assess each team and see who has surprised and who has disappointed us in this early action.

If you have any thoughts, make sure to leave it in the comments and let me know where you think your favorite team should be ranked.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Ignore all the false hype about a feud between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and look at the standings. The Thunder are undefeated and have been impressive doing it, especially in late-game situations, a former weak point for this squad.

Durant is playing at an extremely high level and the buzzer-beater to beat Dallas is just the first clip in what is shaping up to be an MVP highlight reel.

2. Miami Heat

Sunday's beatdown of the Charlotte Bobcats was an exclamation point on an impressive week. The Heat have won two close games thanks to Dwyane Wade's heroics and look like a team on a mission to erase the memories of last year's Finals failure.

If Miami finds a way to execute consistently in crunch time, the entire league is on alert.

3. Chicago Bulls

While Kevin Durant has gotten the early MVP buzz, and rightfully so, don't forget about Derrick Rose, who looks even better than last year. D-Rose went toe-to-toe with Chris Paul and bested him, dropping 29 points and 16 assists in a win over the Clippers.

If the pieces around him can consistently step it up, the Bulls will be scary come playoff time.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

If you're looking for a sleeper team in the Western Conference, look no further than the Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge is still coming into his own in the frontcourt, and he has enough pieces around him to go toe-to-toe with the West's top powers.

In each of the first three games of the season, the Blazers scored at least 100 points. Sure, it was Philadelphia, Sacramento and Denver, but it was impressive nonetheless. The Clippers loss was a setback, but understandable, especially on the road.

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5. Orlando Magic

Lost in all the trade talk around Dwight Howard is the fact that the Magic have had a strong start to the season. D12 and the boys are 4-1 and the only loss was an opening day defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City.

The Magic haven't truly been tested, but this team could have crumbled under the preseason rumor mill. Kudos to Stan Van Gundy, who has kept this team focused.

6. San Antonio Spurs

I'm not telling you to buy the Spurs, but there is no denying that they've had a strong start. San Antonio has beaten the Grizzlies and Clippers and have the veteran talent to compete in the Western Conference.

However, don't be shocked when the grueling lockout-induced schedule takes its toll on Tim Duncan's aging body.

7. Denver Nuggets

Wins against Dallas and the Lakers headline Denver's early slate, but losses against Portland and those same Lakers hold its ranking back.

So far, the Carmelo Anthony trade has been working out for the Nuggets, defying most people's expectations.

8. Los Angeles Clippers

Lob City is a work in progress, and at the moment, it's a lot of sizzle, but not a lot of steak. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are providing a lot of YouTube-friendly highlights, but against legit teams, the Clippers are 1-2.

The win over Portland was a start, but I'll need to see more before I go all-in.

9. New York Knicks

Who would have thought that Carmelo Anthony would totally ruin Mike D'Antoni's system? Oh wait, everybody saw that coming.

The Knicks have talent, but the lack of a point guard and any defensive presence will really haunt this team. Tyson Chandler can't fix Amar'e Stoudemire's rebounding allergy.

10. Los Angeles Lakers

Sorry Lakers fans, Kobe Bryant's putrid 6-for-28 shooting performance on Sunday is not going to be an anomaly. On a day in which Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol shot a combined 15-for-27, the Black Mamba foolishly shot his team out of a winnable game against Denver.

Bryant clearly doesn't trust his supporting cast, and it shows. This Lakers team can be much better if Kobe can learn to pass the ball. Mike Brown will have to reel him in, but as we saw in Cleveland, he doesn't have that type of sway.

11. Boston Celtics

There was a lot of concern about this veteran bunch after a slow start, but the Celtics are 2-0 after Paul Pierce returned to the Boston lineup. The Truth is the engine of the franchise, and we got a good look at how much he means to his teammates.

If he can stay healthy and Rajon Rondo can continue to play well at the point, Boston will compete.

A word to the wise though, don't make Kevin Garnett angry. If you do, protect your neck, because the league won't.

12. Atlanta Hawks

Every year, the Hawks drift along between contention and mediocrity, and this year is no exception. Atlanta is 3-1, and not many people are taking Joe Johnson and company too seriously.

The Hawks haven't had many deep playoff runs, and it remains to be seen if they'll rise to the occasion. I'm not holding my breath, though.

13. Memphis Grizzlies

I'm not putting too much stock into Sunday night's pathetic 40-point blowout against Chicago. Without Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies collapsed, but this is still a talented bunch if they can get healthy. 

14. Golden State Warriors

Give Mark Jackson credit for the work he's done with the Warriors. This looks like a group that has bought into an enhanced commitment to defense, even if the returns have been less than overwhelming.

Golden State will be a fun team to watch, and Stephen Curry's ankle will be the key to its season.

15. Philadelphia 76ers

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This is a young team with a lot of potential, but poor late-game execution will hold it back. In the opener against Portland, Lou Williams carried Philadelphia down the stretch, but it was Andre Iguodala who got the crucial look for the tie.

Mark it down, the Sixers will lose at least five games thanks to Iguodala and his awful step-back shots in crunch time.

16. Houston Rockets

Right now, Rockets fans still have to be smarting over the failed three-team Chris Paul deal that would have injected some life into this franchise, but the current group is still fighting hard.

Wins over Boston and Atlanta should be commended, and defeats at the hands of Orlando and Memphis are understandable. Houston isn't a poor team, but it isn't a contender, either.

17. Indiana Pacers

Losing to the Pistons is inexcusable, especially less than a week after manhandling them to start the season. It was an uninspired performance by a team that has the potential to be so much more. 

18. Milwaukee Bucks

Remember when the Bucks were an exciting playoff team on the rise? It seems like a long time ago, and despite a 2-1 start, I'm not buying Milwaukee.

Those wins were over Minnesota and Washington, two squads that are already eying up summer vacation destinations. Come back to me in a week and we'll have a better idea.

19. Sacramento Kings

The Jimmer and company do have a win over the Lakers to their credit, but three blowouts at the hands of Portland, Chicago and New York drag the Kings towards the bottom.

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20. New Orleans Hornets

Give credit where credit is due: the Hornets didn't roll over and die in the wake of the Chris Paul trade. It would have been easy to do so, and we've read that story plenty of times.

A win over Boston drew some attention, but losses to the Suns and Kings cannot be ignored.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers

While this team isn't nearly as bad as last year's unit, I'm not going to sound the alarm for wins over Detroit and New Jersey. Kyrie Irving is a truly special player and has to be the odds-on favorite for the Rookie of the Year award.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Ricky Rubio Era is here, and it's glorious. He isn't the most consistent player in the league, but he's fun to watch and have given Timberwolves fans a reason to cheer.

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If you have League Pass, you'll immediately gravitate to his games and you won't be disappointed.

23. Dallas Mavericks

I'm as shocked as you are. I tried to justify putting this team higher, based mostly on merit and talent on paper, but right now, this team looks old and inconsistent.

A win over Toronto seemed to right the ship, but Sunday's loss to Minnesota only adds more doubt around this group. This rough patch won't last long, but for now, the Mavericks have to be near the bottom of the list.

24. Toronto Raptors

A win against Cleveland and not much else to talk about. Andrea Bargnani is still a small forward in a center's body and Raptors fans are waiting for Jonas Valanciunas to arrive. Patience is a virtue, I suppose.

25. Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats went from giving the Heat a run from their money to getting massacred by 39 points by the same Miami team on Sunday.

There is a lot of inconsistency on this roster, and not a lot of scoring options to speak of. Throw in a long-term project in Bismack Biyombo, and you have the recipe for a long season in Charlotte.

26. Phoenix Suns

Steve Nash deserves better than this, but give the man credit for his loyalty. Nash has refused to demand a trade and continues to play with sub-par talent in Phoenix. You think the Knicks could use him right now? Just saying. 

27. New Jersey Nets

When Brook Lopez went down with an injury, there was a lot of talk about how it would hurt his trade value in a possible deal for Dwight Howard. Oops.

Lopez has never looked more valuable now that the Nets have been pushed around by most of their competition. This horrendous start hasn't been a selling point for Deron Williams as he heads into free agency.

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28. Detroit Pistons

What a mess. The Pistons got their first win against Indiana, but Lawrence Frank still looks clueless in terms of rotations, and Joe Dumars didn't do him any favors by re-signing Rodney Stuckey.

Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe have been the lone bright spots for this once-dominant franchise. 

29. Utah Jazz

Quietly, the Jazz have had a putrid start to the season. Other than a surprising victory over Philadelphia, Utah has been bullied by its competition, losing three games by a combined 57 points.

Jerry Sloan isn't walking through that door and there isn't much established talent on the roster. It's time to play for ping pong balls in Salt Lake City.

30. Washington Wizards

It has been a rough start for John Wall and the boys, and it's hard to see a real direction for the Wizards.

Wall has plenty of potential, and Jan Vesely is a dynamic prospect, but he hasn't even been able to get on the court with a hip injury. This isn't the rebuilding process Washington fans had in mind.

Follow me on Twitter @TomKinslow 

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