There have been a lot of disappointing teams as we pass the first quarter of the season -- like most of the lowly Eastern Conference. Among clubs starting with high expectations, count the Timberwolves, Warriors and Clippers among the most disappointing.
Timberwolves (No. 12): While Minnesota has had one of the league's most brutal schedules, the Wolves' defensive backslide has coincided with a drop-off on offense. They've hung tough in a lot of games vs. elite Western teams, but as the cliché goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Only a hand grenade is more accurate than Ricky Rubio's jump shot.
Warriors (No. 11): Golden State looked like a contender for the league's best team early. Then Andre Iguodala's injury happened and their defense fell apart (15th in points allowed per possession over the past two weeks). Can one player, as good as Iguodala is defensively, really mean that much to a team? If the answer is yes, doesn't that show something about how fragile the team construction is?
Clippers (No. 8): They look fine on the surface. The Clippers (16-9) rank among the top 10 in offense and defense. So why do I, a guy who trusts numbers, not trust them? Because watching them you always have the sense that they're getting by on talent vs. inferior teams and scheduling quirks vs. the good teams. They can't protect the rim despite DeAndre Jordan's improvements, and their half-court offense still seems easy to solve. They look like a great regular-season team, but their preseason goals were playoff-based.
Is there time to fix all this? Absolutely, just like there's time for the Knicks and Nets to climb out of the sewer. But these three teams have fallen well short so far.
And with that, here are the rest of this week's power rankings.