NBA Power Rankings: Bing Bong, the Knicks are climbing the standings

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The NBA season continues to keep fans on its toes with yet another week of strong performances as some teams begin to separate themselves from the pack after nearly two weeks in the books.

The Milwaukee Bucks started off strong but have since fallen a bit after losing three straight games. Meanwhile, the excitement and hype in the Big Apple are reaching insane levels following the New York Knicks’ play to open the season.

To make sense of it all, Rookie Wire took a look at the NBA and ranked each team from worst to first. We will come back each week and provide our latest assessment on the best teams and those that are rising.

Oklahoma City Thunder (1-5)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Thunder picked up an impressive win over the Los Angeles Lakers last week, overcoming a 26-point deficit in the process, which equaled the largest in team history. They played the Golden State Warriors tough one game and then lost to them later in the week. Josh Giddey has been fun to watch, though.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Orlando Magic (1-6)

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Last Rank: 28

Cole Anthony has been off to a hot start this season, leading the Magic in scoring with 17.7 points per game. They have lost four straight but have had a chance to win late in each of their last three contests. Orlando is one of the youngest teams in the league and is still learning how to close out games, something that will likely be a theme this season.

Houston Rockets (1-5)

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 26

The Rockets have been competitive during some recent losses but have lost four straight. Jalen Green has had a difficult start to the season and struggled last week after scoring a career-high 30 points on Oct. 24. He averaged 10 points on 22.5% shooting from the field in three games last week.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

New Orleans Pelicans (1-6)

AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

Last Rank: 27

New Orleans picked up its first win of the season last week but has since dropped three straight by a combined 13 points. The team has received some nice contributions from rookie Herb Jones, who recently earned some praise from head coach Willie Green.

Indiana Pacers (1-6)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 20

The Pacers have struggled to start the season and have dropped four straight. Caris LeVert made his debut over the weekend, perhaps the only positive for Indiana at the moment.

Detroit Pistons (1-5)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

The team finally got Cade Cunningham back as the No. 1 overall pick made his debut on Saturday in a win over the Magic. His stat line didn’t jump off of the page but that was to be expected after missing so much time. However, he showed glimpses of his potential with the team.

Los Angeles Clippers (1-4)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

The Clippers have dropped two straight since picking up their first win last week. However, they will face the Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves twice this week and could get back on track. There could be trouble brewing in L.A. if not.

Boston Celtics (2-4)

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 22

Boston has struggled at times to finish out games, and has lost two straight. With the exception of playing the Magic on Wednesday, they have a rather tough schedule on the horizon with matchups against the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

San Antonio Spurs (2-4)

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 24

Despite just a 2-4 record, the Spurs have a plus-1.7 point differential, which could be an indication of how competitive they can be this season. They are coming off of an impressive win over the Milwaukee Bucks and, with a relatively easy schedule upcoming, could pile up some wins.

Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 23

The Cavaliers have a chance to finish off their five-game road trip with a winning record if they can beat the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. They posted impressive wins over the Denver Nuggets and Clippers on that trip and looked to close those games out well. Evan Mobley continues to impress after producing a career-high 23 points versus the Lakers on Friday as he earned some praise from LeBron James afterward.

Phoenix Suns (2-3)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

They nearly came back and defeated the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday but ultimately fell late. Phoenix looks to build on its win over the Cavaliers with some winnable games coming up this week versus the Pelicans and Rockets.

Atlanta Hawks (3-3)

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

Atlanta has mostly won the games they should win but has struggled against tougher competition, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards. They have a tough schedule this week (vs. WAS, @BKN, vs. Utah, @PHX) and could continue to slip in the standings.

Toronto Raptors (4-3)

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Last Week: 25

After starting 1-3, the Raptors have suddenly won three straight games. Scottie Barnes continues to impress to start the season, and is likely your early Rookie of the Year front-runner.

Sacramento Kings (3-3)

AP Photo/Randall Benton

Last Rank: 21

Sacramento went 2-1 last week but nearly coughed up the win over the Suns on Wednesday and needed a game-winner from Harrison Barnes to seal it. They wrap up a four-game road trip on Tuesday before starting a four-game homestand.

Portland Trail Blazers (3-3)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

The Trail Blazers continue to move along, playing .500 basketball to begin the year. Considering the way that Damian Lillard has struggled, that start seems rather positive. They should improve as Lillard finds his way again.

Minnesota Timberwolves (3-2)

Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

Since starting 2-0, Minnesota has gone 1-2 with its win coming against the Milwaukee Bucks. They have an easy matchup on Monday against the Magic that they’ll need before hosting the Clippers for two games later this week.

Memphis Grizzlies (3-3)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 6

After a hot start, the Grizzlies have lost three of four games. Ja Morant continues to take a leap this season and is tied with Stephen Curry for the early scoring lead. The Grizzlies should continue to perform well as long as Morant can carry them.

Dallas Mavericks (4-2)

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

The Mavericks have won three of four and appear to be rolling right now. Luka Doncic leads the team in scoring but hasn’t needed any signature 30-point efforts to get it done. They look to be getting good contributions with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson stepping up.

Brooklyn Nets (4-3)

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

Brooklyn is coming off back-to-back wins over the Pacers and Pistons, two teams near the bottom of the standings. They will be tested later this week when they begin a six-game road trip, a trek that could show just how good they can be.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Los Angeles Lakers (4-3)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

Outside of an embarrassing loss to the Thunder, in which they blew a 26-point lead, the Lakers look to be rounding into form after winning four of five games. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, the Lakers are also getting strong contributions from Carmelo Anthony, who has seemingly turned back the clock.

For more coverage on the Lakers, visit LeBron Wire

Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

The Sixers are plugging along without Ben Simmons and have managed to still remain dangerous in transition. They have the top offense in the league, scoring 114.9 points per 100 possessions, and have the third-best net rating at plus-8.5.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Miami Heat (5-1)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

Miami has the longest winning streak in the NBA at four games, thanks in large part to Jimmy Butler. He was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 28 points, eight rebounds and 5.3 assists in four games.

Milwaukee Bucks (3-4)

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

The Bucks have lost three straight after winning three of their first four games. They are relying more on Giannis Antetokounmpo with several players out with injuries but figure to eventually bounce back and stay near the top of the Eastern Conference.

Denver Nuggets (4-2)

Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

Denver won the first two games of the season, then lost the next two before pulling out two straight wins. They avoided a major setback after Nikola Jokic suffered a knee injury last week but all appears to be well with the reigning MVP.

Washington Wizards (5-1)

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Wizards are one of six teams atop the standings with a 5-1 record. They are coming off a thrilling double-overtime win over the Celtics after Bradley Beal poured in 36 points and Kyle Kuzma had 17 points and 17 rebounds. They are flirting with being a top-10 team in offense and defense, a sign that Washington could be legit this year.

Charlotte Hornets (5-2)

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

Miles Bridges has been on an absolute tear to start the season. He is averaging 24.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists through the first seven games of the season. He already has more 30-point games (3) than he did all of last season (2), and wouldn’t you know it? He is in a contract year! Bridges is a man on a mission this season after he was low-balled by the Hornets.

New York Knicks (5-1)

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

Sitting atop the league standings with a 5-1 record is awfully nice for New York but it also makes their lone loss to the Magic look very odd. But we’re not here to dwell on the past, the Knicks are looking really good now and have the third-best offense in the league. Also, we’re basically contractually obligated to say Bing Bong at least once when discussing the Knicks.

Chicago Bulls (5-1)

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

Chicago was still undefeated last week up until losing to the Knicks on Thursday. However, they bounced back with a nice win on the road over the then-undefeated Utah Jazz on Saturday. They have an extremely difficult schedule on the horizon (@BOS, @ PHI, vs. PHI, vs. BKN) so we are going to know rather quickly whether or not the Bulls are for real.

For more coverage on Lonzo and the Bulls, visit Lonzo Wire

Golden State Warriors (5-1)

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Last Rank: 1

Golden State was one of the last teams undefeated before losing in overtime to the Grizzlies. They look to be playing very well behind Stephen Curry and Draymond Green while the emergence of Damion Lee and Jordan Poole has given them steady production. Jonathan Kuminga even debuted over the weekend, a good sign for his potential role on the team.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Utah Jazz (5-1)

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Jazz are off to a 5-1 start behind the brilliant play of Rudy Gobert. He was named the Western Conference Player of the Week after posting 16.3 points and 15.5 rebounds on 77.8% shooting from the field. He has totaled 98 points, 103 rebounds and 10 blocks, the third time a player has registered at least 90 points, 100 rebounds and 10 blocks through their first six games of a season since 2001-02.

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