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CBS Sports/Mike Meredith

Who would have thought the only undefeated teams almost a week into the 2020-21 NBA season would be the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic? But that, as they say, is why they play the games.

It's a difficult predicament for the first NBA Power Rankings of the season, because you want to reward the teams that have yet to lose, but you also know that some of the teams they're ahead of are better. Rather than just put the teams in order by their records (what fun would that be?), we tried to take into account the teams that they beat and/or lost to, and the nature of their performances.

With that, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets both end up on top this week. Despite suffering a loss each, they have the top two net ratings in the league and it's impossible to argue that any of those undefeated teams are better than them at this point. After that, things get a little wild in the rankings -- since it was a wild opening week to be sure.

Keep in mind that these are weekly Power Rankings based on the team's performance the previous week, not projections for the entire season. They will assuredly be different next week, but for now let's allow some unexpected teams to get their moment in the sun.

Biggest Movers
23 Cavaliers
16 Bucks
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Lakers The Lakers are clearly taking a cautious approach with superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis to start the season, but they still looked good in the first week with wins over the Mavericks and Wolves after an opening-night loss to the Clippers. Additions Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol are fitting in well, while limited minutes for Davis and James has allowed players like Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris and Talen Horton-Tucker to find a rhythm. The Lakers are clearly playing the long game this season, but they're so good that they might not even sacrifice many wins in the process. --11-3
2 Nets The Nets looked unbeatable in their first two games of the season, winning by a combined margin of 44 points, but they lost the top spot in the Power Rankings with a loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. You probably shouldn't read too much into it, though, and the good news for the Nets is that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving look incredible, averaging 27 and 29 points, respectively, over the first three games. With a deep roster and elite talent at the top, the Nets look like true title contenders. Now they just need to stay healthy. 38-6
3 Pacers The Pacers are one of five undefeated teams after the first week, with wins over the Knicks, Bulls and Celtics. The trio of Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon has combined for nearly 70 points per game, while the defense has been characteristically stingy. Indiana is just solid from top to bottom, and they should be right in the mix in the middle of the Eastern Conference for most of the season. 118-4
4 Hawks The new-look Hawks have not disappointed, destroying the Bulls in the opener before picking up a solid win over the Grizzlies on Saturday. Trae Young set a modern record by scoring 37 points on just 12 field goal attempts against Chicago, and Atlanta has showcased its newfound depth with seven players averaging double-figure scoring in the first two games. Whether they'll be able to defend enough to become true contenders remains to be seen, but the Hawks can score with the best of them. 135-6
5 Magic Orlando took down the Heat on opening night, then picked up back-to-back wins over the Wizards to remain undefeated. Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz have been solid in the starting lineup, while Terrence Ross has lit it up off the bench, averaging 23.3 points on 53 percent 3-point shooting over his first three games. The offense has been surprisingly potent, but playing two games against the Wizards always helps in that department. 166-7
6 Cavaliers So who else penciled in the Cavs for a 3-0 start and the league's second-best defensive rating? It might not last, but there's reason to be excited in Cleveland again, with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland looking extremely promising as the backcourt of the future. The wins over the Hornets and Pistons could be chalked up to poor competition, but Cleveland put an absolute whooping on the 76ers on Sunday to remain undefeated. We'll see how the Cavs fare when they play some more potent offenses, but they've been fun to watch so far. 236-7
7 Heat The Heat suffered a disappointing loss to the Magic in the season opener, but bounced back on Christmas to look the part of defending Eastern Conference champions in a sound win over the Pelicans. Jimmy Butler was forced out of that game with an ankle issue, but the Heat showed their depth by having eight players average at least nine points over their first two games. Duncan Robinson has picked up right where he left off last season, going 10 for 19 from 3-point range so far. 44-6
8 Clippers The Clippers were in the mix for the top spot in the Power Rankings to open the season after solid wins over the Lakers and Nuggets, and then it all came off the rails in Sunday's franchise-worst 51-point loss to the Mavericks. Kawhi Leonard missed the game, so we'll just chalk this up to a gigantic blip on the radar for the Clippers, who should be one of the league's best teams this season. 49-4
9 Suns The new-look Suns picked up a solid opening night win over the Mavericks, then split a back-to-back with the Kings over the weekend. Chris Paul is still working to find chemistry with his new teammates, but Devin Booker has averaged almost 23 points over the first three games and Mikal Bridges looks to have made another leap on the offensive end in addition to his strong defense. The Suns should only get better as the season goes along. 67-4
10 Kings The Drama Kings picked up a walk-off overtime win against the Nuggets in the opener, thanks to Buddy Hield's last-second tip-in, then won another close game over the Suns before losing to Phoenix on Sunday. Sacramento has spread the wealth early, with eight players averaging eight points per game or more, led by De'Aaron Fox's 19 per game. Rookie Tyrese Haliburton has looked good so far, averaging 9.7 points and five assists while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. 135-8
11 Pelicans New Orleans beat the Raptors and Spurs this week, while suffering a Christmas Day loss to the Heat. Brandon Ingram has been incredible building off his All-Star season, and Zion Williamson has looked healthy and impactful in the first three games of the season. Good new for Stan Van Gundy's defense: The Pelicans allowed fewer than 100 points only four times last season, and they've already done it twice in three games. 84-7
12 Spurs After wins over the Grizzlies and Raptors to open up the season, the Spurs suffered their first loss on Sunday to the Pelicans. DeMar DeRozan has taken on a facilitating role, averaging nine assists over his first three games to go along with 21 points. Young players like Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson have looked solid in the young season, with Derrick White on the mend and hopefully re-joining the lineup soon. San Antonio has played well despite LaMarcus Aldridge getting off to a slow start, which is a good sign. 87-6
13 Timberwolves The Wolves' 2-0 start came to a screeching halt when Karl-Anthony Towns missed Sunday's 36-point loss to the Lakers. Towns suffered a dislocated left wrist, which is horrible news for him and the Wolves, but there's reportedly optimism that this won't be a long-term injury. It's pretty clear that Minnesota needs Towns to avoid being one of the worst teams in the NBA, so let's hope he gets back to full strength. No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards has averaged 16 points over his first three games. 133-8
14 76ers The 76ers picked up wins over the Wizards and Knicks to start the year, but were smacked in the mouth on Sunday without Joel Embiid by the undefeated Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the addition of Danny Green and Seth Curry this offseason to open up the floor, the Sixers offense has been an absolute slog, relying on Embiid's 28 points per game in the two wins. Doc Rivers (and possibly Daryl Morey) clearly have a lot more tinkering to do if the 76ers are going to move into the championship conversation. 59-4
15 Jazz Utah opened with a blowout win over the Blazers, then saw its comeback effort fall short against the Timberwolves on Saturday. The offense has looked good for the most part, with Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley off to hot starts, and Derrick Favors has made a seamless return to the franchise where he spent nine-plus seasons before playing for the Pelicans last year. With their ability to be elite on both ends of the floor, the Jazz should be a contender in the stacked West. 58-4
16 Mavericks Dallas lost a close opener to the Suns, then was blown out by the Lakers on Christmas before putting a 51-point beatdown on the Clippers on Sunday. The Mavs will be missing a huge piece as long as Kristaps Porzingis is out, but Luka Doncic is a one-man elite offense who will be able to keep them afloat on most nights, even if the defense struggles. 36-5
17 Celtics The Celtics could be winless if Jayson Tatum didn't bank in a 3-pointer and Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't miss a late free throw on opening night. They were blown out by the Nets, then lost a close one to the Pacers on Sunday, and they're clearly struggling to fill in the minutes vacated by Kemba Walker's injury and Gordon Hayward leaving for Charlotte. They faced two prolific offenses in the first two games, so the defense should get better as the season goes on. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are both averaging over 25 points per game to start the season, and it's likely going to be more of the same until Walker comes back in the new year. 108-3
18 Bucks It's one thing to lose to the Boston Celtics on opening night due to a banked-in Jayson Tatum 3-pointer, but it's quite another to get blown out by the New York Knicks. This is far from the start that Giannis Antetokounmpo was looking for when he signed his supermax extension before the season, and even the back-to-back MVP has underwhelmed out of the gates, shooting an uncharacteristic 47 percent from the field (he shot 55 percent last season). Khris Middleton has been excellent, and Jrue Holiday is slowly working his way into the system, so it should only be a matter of time before the Milwaukee machine is rolling again. 169-4
19 Trail Blazers Coming into the season with plenty of hype due to a revamped roster, we got a reminder this week that the Blazers still have a long way to go to incorporate their new parts. They were completely stifled on opening night in a blowout loss to the Jazz, then needed a 44-point effort and a game-winner from CJ McCollum to hang onto a close win over the severely undermanned Houston Rockets. The defense will need to significantly improve if the Blazers are going to get back into the top tier of the Western Conference. 77-5
20 Nuggets There were concerns about the Nuggets defense heading into the season, so it's a bit alarming to see them giving up 118 points per 100 possessions in an 0-2 start. Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. have looked good offensively and Paul Millsap appears rejuvenated, but they're going to need to figure things out on the defensive end as the season goes along if they're going to remain contenders. 146-6
21 Raptors The Raptors struggled mightily on the offensive end in their season-opening loss to the Pelicans, then gave up 119 points in a loss to the Spurs on Saturday. Chris Boucher has been a bright spot early, putting up a monster game of 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in the loss to the Spurs while filling in for Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who the Raptors lost in free agency. Toronto should remain competitive this season, but it looks like the starters will once again bear a significant minutes load with a short rotation. 134-8
22 Rockets All you can do is laugh at James Harden. The guy skips camp, breaks protocols, shows up out of shape, then all he does in his first game is drop 44 points and 17 assists in a narrow loss to the Blazers with nine healthy Rockets on the roster. Christian Wood looks like the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Harden, and it makes you wonder if Harden might want to stick around once Houston gets its full complement of players. 64-7
23 Knicks The Knicks lost handily in their first two games, only to shock the world with a 20-point win over the Bucks on Sunday. Julius Randle has been a monster so far, averaging 23.7 points and 10 rebounds per game, but his facilitating has really stood out. The big man is averaging 6.3 assists on the young season, after never averaging more than 3.6 for his career. New York has also gotten a boost from offseason signing Alec Burks, who is averaging over 20 points per game while making 10 of 15 from 3-point range. 55-8
24 Thunder The only team in the Western Conference not expected to be in the playoff race went out and won its first game against the Hornets, thanks to late heroics from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who looked more than ready to take the reins as the team's lead playmaker. With him, George Hill and Al Horford (for now), the Thunder should be able to remain competitive in most games, even if they don't end up winning many of them. 66-6
25 Hornets The Hornets lost to the Cavs and Thunder to start the season -- not great -- but bounced back to pick up a win over the Nets on Sunday. Terry Rozier hit 10 3-pointers en route to 42 points on opening night, and is averaging nearly 27 points over the first three games. Gordon Hayward has earned his contract so far, putting up 22.7 points, seven assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. LaMelo Ball has been streaky so far in 17 minutes per game, averaging 6.3 points with nearly as many turnovers as assists. --6-8
26 Grizzlies The Grizzlies are sorely missing Jaren Jackson Jr. to start the season, giving up 131 points to the Spurs in the opening-night loss, then 122 to the Hawks on Saturday. Ja Morant has been phenomenal, but the Grizzlies haven't been able to get stops consistently in the early season. 85-6
27 Warriors After losing their first two games by the second-largest combined margin in NBA history, the Warriors finally picked up their first win Sunday on Damion Lee's game-winning 3-pointer, and they celebrated like they had just won the NBA title. Draw your own conclusions there. Steph Curry has gotten little help, with Andrew Wiggins shooting 33 percent from the field and Kelly Oubre Jr. yet to make a 3-pointer in 17 attempts. It's been ugly for Golden State, but the silver linings are James Wiseman's impressive early play and the fact that Draymond Green will hopefully soon make his season debut. 166-6
28 Wizards Still winless on the season, Washington's worst loss came on Sunday when they allowed 43 fourth-quarter points to the Magic to lose a 17-point lead. Russell Westbrook has put up triple-doubles in each of his first two games, and Bradley Beal is averaging 33 points in the first three, but this team won't be able to win consistently until it proves it can defend. 63-8
29 Pistons Detroit lost to the Wolves and Cavs to start the season, but Blake Griffin and offseason signing Jerami Grant have both played well so far. Mason Plumlee has thrived with extra playing time and an expanded offensive role, averaging 10 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists over the first two games. 22-9
30 Bulls The Bulls trailed by as many as 40 points in their opening night loss to the Hawks, then fell behind by 30 to the Pacers in their next game. They looked to be on the verge of their first win before dropping a heart-breaker to the Warriors on a 3-pointer with seconds remaining. It's been ugly on both ends for Chicago, as roster tweaks seem inevitable after the rough start. Perhaps shifting Coby White back to the bench might be a place to start, since he and Zach LaVine have yet to find their rhythm together. 64-8