Parity reigns early in the season as 20 of the 30 teams in the league are at or within one game of .500. Still, after everyone has played about four to six games, we are getting a picture of some possible contenders and those that will struggle in this superstar replay.
1. Philadelphia (5-0) Tendex: .701 — Week: W vs. Cleve Previous: #1
Philadelphia may have had just one game this week, but their dominance over the Cavaliers continued their hot start. They are now the only unbeaten left in this replay. New addition Joel Embiid adds depth to what is the league’s best starting lineup so far.
2. Houston (5-1) Tendex: .643 — Week: W @ St. Louis, W @ LA Lakers. Previous: #7
The addition of a much improved James Harden, along with their already formidable frontcourt of Olajuwon, Malone, and Sampson, and the Rockets made a statement with their road trip this week and allowed them to keep pace with their division’s other hot team.
3. Phoenix (5-1) Tendex: .638 — Week: W vs. Bos, W vs. Den. Previous #8
So much for the theory that a lack of a frontcourt would spell doom to the Suns. The Suns make up for their rebounding weakness by simply outscoring people. The Suns have hit 150 three times already.
4. Indiana (5-1) Tendex: .627 — Week: W @ Det, W vs. Chi, L vs. Buff. Previous #5
Of all the teams for the Pacers to stumble to, they did it to one of the league’s bottom dwellers. Still, the Pacers are already 3-0 against divisional foes, beating each by at least 19 points. Surely they are hoping to not get many more games in before Oladipo gets added to this mix.
5. Atlanta (4-1) Tendex: .614 — Week: W vs. SD. L @ KC. Previous #2
Atlanta can be forgiven somewhat since Dominique Wilkins left the loss at Kansas City with a minor injury. The Hawks are still playing above themselves, but it helps they are in the league’s weakest divison.
6. St. Louis (4-2) Tendex: .645 — Week: W vs. Bos, L vs. Hou, W vs. SD. Previous #3
St. Louis won their battle against old ABA upstarts San Diego. A 20 point drubbing at the hands of Houston marred the four game homestand, and it’ll be interesting if St. Louis can keep the start up when they begin some road trips.
7. Golden St. (3-3) Tendex: .627 — Week: W @ Ken, W @ SA. Previous #21
The addition of Kevin Durant helped offset the three game injury to Klay Thompson and allowed Golden St. to notch to impressive road wins.. The Warriors can score in bunches and have yet to net less than 128. Mullin, Curry, Durant, and Short all average over 20 points per game. Will there be enough shots to go around when Thompson returns? It’s a good problem to have.
8. Boston (4-3) Tendex: .624 — Week: L @ Pho, W vs. NO, W @ Vir. Previous #13
Welcome back, Boston. Of the two old guard teams, Boston looks to have righted their ship a bit sooner. They can be forgiven for their loss at Phoenix and commended for taking care of teams they are clearly superior to.
9. Kansas City (3-2) Tendex: .633 — Week: W vs. SA, W vs. Atl, L @ Por. Previous #19
Kansas City has managed to hide their defensive weakness through strong rebounding and shooting at an impressive .474 clip from behind the arc. Big wins over San Antonio and Atlanta have Kansas City believing they can contend all year.
10. San Antonio (3-3) Tendex: .656 — Week: L @ KC, W vs. Por, L vs. GS. Previous #6
Tough losses to good teams saw the Spurs slid back to the pack in a tough Southwest division. They are clearly a contending team, but the inability to close out games in their three loses is a concern. They could easily have been 6-0.
11. Seattle (3-3) Tendex: .625 — Week: W @ Vir, W @ Mia. Previous #18
The wins may have not been against the top teams in the league, but road wins in this league are very important. The Supersonics boast a talented team that can shoot and play tough defense. The lack of real support behind Sikma remains the biggest worry.
12. Charlotte (3-3) Tendex: .604 — Week: W @ NY, W vs. Buff, W vs. NY Previous #29
It may have come at the expense of New York (twice) and woeful Buffalo, but a 3-0 week was tops across the league. It’s impressive considering the massive trade to give Charlotte the current Hornet players while Pelican players went to San Diego. Many players swapped places but losing Chris Paul and Anthony Davis to get back Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson should have been a massive blow to Charlotte. Instead, Glenn Rice and Alonzo Mourning stepped up to fill the void with impressive weeks. It may be fleeting, but Charlotte enjoyed its moment in the spotlight.
13. San Diego (3-3) Tendex: .649 — Week: W @ Mem, L vs. Atl, L @StL. Previous #4
San Diego dropped two games this week by a combined three points. The addition of Anthony Davis means they now have frontcourt depth to rival Houston and the Lakers, with Davis joining Malone, Beatty, Jones, and Wise. But the Conquistadors lost considerable guard depth in their swap with the Hornets. This weakness came through when James Jones got into foul trouble against St. Louis.
14. Denver (3-3) Tendex: .613 — Week: W vs. Por, L @ Phoe, L vs. LAL. Previous #10
Like San Diego, Denver lost some steam with close losses to Phoenix and the Lakers. Denver seems to do a lot of things well, but nothing overly great. The brightest spot, though, is Calvin Natt, who averages nearly 25 off the bench.
15. Miami (3-3) Tendex: .651 — Week: W @ Buff, L vs. Sea. Previous #17
Miami’s relatively high tendex rating might be because they have played all but one game fairly tight this year. It probably also doesn’t hurt that their three wins come against teams that are a combined 3-13. It’s bound to make you look better than you may actually be.
16. LA Lakers (3-4) Tendex: .597 — Week: L @ Dal, L @ Hou, W @ Den. Previous #14
The Lakers have a worse tendex than several teams below them here, but the lone win of the week is closer to what we can expect out of LA than the two disappointing road losses. The difference? The return of Magic Johnson. Magic had missed three games, all losses, but his 11 assists and court presence were the difference in Denver. The Lakers are 3-1 with him, so they are hoping he stays healthy from now on.
17. New York (2-3) Tendex: .642 — Week: L vs. Char, L @ Char. Previous #11
Are the Knicks sliding or can they simply not beat the Hornets? It may be the latter, as the Knicks boast a solid rating and have wins against some of the league’s better teams. For whatever reason, the Knicks simply couldn’t contain Rice, who scored 65 points in the two games.
18. Cleveland (3-3) Tendex .588 — Week: W @ Mil, L @ Phil Previous #16
Going 1-1 on that road trip was a good achievement for the Cavs. LeBron James’ Cleveland version is one of the league’s top players, averaging 30/6/5 after six games, but he will need more help. Only Mike Mitchell is above a .650 tendex among those in the regular rotation.
19. Milwaukee (2-2) Tendex: .600 — Week: L vs. Clev. Previous #9
Milwaukee was one of a handful of teams to play just once this week, and it was a disappointing home loss to the Cavaliers. Moncrief missed the game with a minor injury, so we may not have a clear picture of the Bucks’ potential yet.
20. Portland (3-4) Tendex: .593 — Week: L @ Den, L @ SA, W vs. Mem, W vs. KC Previous #20
Portland makes no moves this week because it’s hard what to think of them. They looked great in a home win against Kansas City but completely listless against Denver and San Antonio. No one is averaging over 19 ppg as the Trailblazers struggle to find consistency on offense.
21. New Jersey (1-3) Tendex: .692 — Week: W vs. NO Previous #24
Their four games have all been decided by less than 10 points, and they were relieved to finally win one against New Orleans. The Nets’ rating points to a contender. Yet, their loss to Virginia shows they may just be a very good, bad team.
22. Kentucky (3-3) Tendex: .598 — Week: L vs. GS, W vs. Dal Previous #15
Do everything Artis Gilmore (34 pts, 12 rebs) needs help for the Colonels to move up in the rankings. Only Kevin Love has shown any type of consistency. Win more games, and Gilmore could become a serious MVP candidate.
23. Detroit (3-2) Tendex: .531 — Week: L vs. Ind, W vs. Mem Previous #12
A winning team so low? The Pistons have held opponents to 117 ppg, the best in the league (which is good in a super league), but they have only scored 115 ppg in return. The lack of real offense is a concern going forward and a reason for such a low rating.
24. New Orleans (2-3) Tendex: .596 — Week: L @ NJ, W @ Chi Previous #26
It’s not impressive to get a win against the worst team in the league, but the Jazz have at least been playing competitive basketball. They gave Houston their only loss and showed a glimpse of their potential. But Karl Malone is their best player, and he’s fouled out of three of their five games. Without him, the Jazz struggle on offense.
25. Virginia (2-3) Tendex: .589 — Week: L vs. Bos Previous # 22
Even at 2-3, the Squires are probably playing above themselves. Only Memphis has less star power, but Virginia has enough firepower in the backcourt to keep them in a lot of games. They’ll surprise people here and there all year.
26. Dallas (2-4) Tendex: .563 — Week: W vs. LAL, W @ Mem, L @ Ken Previous #30
Two wins against Magic-less Lakers and hapless Tams are still wins in the standings. It was the first two of the year for the struggling Mavericks, who must keep Tarpley on the court to compete in a division stocked with great big men.
27. Washington (1-3) Tendex: .599 — Week: L vs. NJ Previous #13
The game against the Nets was one where both teams hoped to show they were better than their record, but a late collapse led to a three point home loss and a missed opportunity for Washington. Bradley Beal did manage a coming out game with 31 points and a sign things may not always be gloom in D.C.
28. Buffalo (1-5) Tendex: .578 — Week: L vs. Mia, L @ Char, W @ Ind Previous: 28
Who knows where the win against the Pacers came from, but Buffalo will take it after the losing three of the previous five by at least 18 points. Buffalo has improved after giving up 150 and 172 in the first two games, but allowing 135 in a win is hardly a great defensive effort.
29. Memphis (1-4) Tendex: .463 — Week: L vs. Por, L @ Det Previous #27
Their opening win against New Orleans is starting to feel like a distant memory. The eight point loss at Detroit was the first since the opener where Memphis managed to score more than 108 points, and that ray of light is enough to keep them out of the bottom spot.
30. Chicago (0-5) Tendex: .455 — Week: L @ Ind, L vs. NO Previous #25
Not only did Chicago become the first team in the league to fail to score 100 points (95 against Indiana), they did it again against the Jazz (97). Michael Jordan continues to prove he’s among the top players in the league (34/4/3), but he has had no help from his teammates at all. Pippen has been atrocious, shooting 42% and owning a paltry .400 tendex rating. Even with Rodman, the Bulls have been a poor rebounding team, and they rank near the bottom in assists as well. When nearly every team can throw a Hall of Fame caliber lineup at them each week, the Bulls will continue to struggle if Jordan has to go it alone.