Another week, another edition of Sampson’s NBA Power Rankings. There’s been more movement in the Western Conference. But we’ll start out East.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers
Jimmy Butler just had his second game winning 3-pointer in the last eight days. They finally lost a game at home, but are up to 4-7 on the road. It remains to be seen how long they’ll be without Markelle Fultz, who is seeing a specialist for a wrist issue, but the 76ers are better with Fultz off the court. Word is that they’re seeking a first rounder for the former number one overall pick.
#2 Milwaukee Bucks
They beat the Blazers by 43 points last Wednesday in a statement game. Giannis and Khris Middleton have made been a devastating duo from the inside out. Giannis is on pace to shatter the unassisted dunk record with the way he’s getting into the paint. Brook Lopez said a dubious record last week when he went 0-12 from beyond the arc, but it seems little can slow Milwaukee down at the moment.
#1 Toronto Raptors
They just keep rolling. 17-4, five wins in a row, and a balanced attack that starts with Kawhi Leonard. They’ve firmly established themselves as the favorites in the east.
#3 Denver Nuggets
Denver had been slumping in last week’s rankings, but they’ve won three in a row to jump back into the number three spot in this week’s power rankings. The key? Nikola Jokic is playing defense this season. Something that seemed unimaginable just months ago. In fact the Nuggets are allowing the third-fewest ppg in the NBA to date. Mike Malone was rumored to be on the hot seat this summer but he’s earned a contract extension and has his team playing well.
#2 Golden State Warriors
They beat the slumping Blazers by 27 last week without Steph Curry and Draymond Green. With both players on their way to coming back, the Warriors hope that their troubles, on and off the court, are behind them. They’ve won two in a row now, not great, but it’s a start. It’s also good enough to put them back into second place in the Western Conference.
#1 L.A. Clippers
We have a new number one this week. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan are gone, but the Clippers are getting production across the board. They’re led by the 1-2 punch of forwards Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari, who combine to average more than 40 ppg. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has seized the starting point guard spot as a rookie, and Lou Williams continues to be 0ne of the best scorers in the league off the bench. The Clips are all alone in first place at 13-6.
Make sure to catch me on The Last Quarter after every Blazers game this season – your chance to sound off on the Blazers and the entire NBA – on 102.9/750 The Game. Can’t listen live? Subscribe to the commercial-free podcast by searching “The last Quarter with Peter Sampson” in Apple Podcasts/iTunes/Stitcher/Google/Spotify/Tunein.