We have started our musical chairs of teams rising and sinking in our weekly NBA Power Rankings for the 2022-23 season. Here, we’ll look at our NBA Power Rankings entering Week 3. Some of the early risers have leveled off, while we see marquee squads like the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Phoenix Suns moving up. The surprising Utah Jazz are still, well, surprising, while the Portland Trail Blazers are also defying expectations. On the flip side, several highly touted teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and even Los Angeles Clippers have underwhelmed, while the Boston Celtics have fallen out of the top spot. Let’s take a glance at how each team has fared throughout this past week.
This is what makes the early part of the season so enjoyable. You must discard your preconceived biases and expectations because the performances speak for themselves. Things will vary from week to week, but for now, there are some surprises sprinkled throughout the list – and it’s difficult to argue that’s a negative thing.
We have also indicated how many rungs each team rose or sank based on their previous rankings in Week 2.
Now without further ado, let’s look at our 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings entering Week 3 of the new season.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (+2)
At this pace, Giannis Antetokounmpo may win MVP again. He’s averaging 34.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game, and the Bucks’ defense is improving. They have to be the title favorites right now, right? In addition, this is the only unbeaten team remaining in the season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo saying it's gametime with his first three-pointer of the night coming in the 4th quarter 🎯pic.twitter.com/zIAIThqWrS
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 27, 2022
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (+5)
Donovan Mitchell has taken over as the team’s leading scorer and playmaker, averaging 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game as Darius Garland continues to miss time. The improved defense that helped the Cavs take a step forward last season has also returned to early this season.
3. Phoenix Suns (+3)
So far, so good for the Suns, who have been pretty dominant to begin the season. Devin Booker is looking good, Mikal Bridges is everywhere, and even Deandre Ayton has been reliably consistent, though the big man will miss some time with an ankle injury. They only lost by two points to the Blazers and have defeated the Mavericks, Warriors, and Pelicans.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (+6)
The Trail Blazers have been one of the league’s finest teams this season. Damian Lillard was leading the way before suffering a calf injury that will keep him out for a few weeks, which could wind up dropping them in these rankings. Their defensive additions have been quite beneficial, and they will need that to stay among the top teams.
5. Utah Jazz (+4)
Isn’t this just incredible? Sure, Lauri Markkanen leads the club in scoring. However, it has been a collective effort from Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Kelly Olynyk, and even Collin Sexton. They may not win at this rate for the rest of the season, but we think they will actually be pretty competitive and earned their top-five spot in the Week 3 NBA Power Rankings.
6. Boston Celtics (-5)
Jayson Tatum’s scorching start of 30.8 points per game on 56/41/90 shooting splits has led the Celtics thus far. The defense, which has allowed 120+ points in three of their six games this season, might be an early warning flag, though. Get well soon, Timelord.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (-2)
Ja Morant is the most electrifyingly entertaining player in the league right now. He has just been dominating anything defenses have thrown at him. Meanwhile, Desmond Bane appears to be an All-Star possibility with Morant. I mean, 24.2 points per game?!
8. Denver Nuggets (No change)
Boring victories and stunningly crushing defeats. Yikes. That’s not really a pleasant combination. The Nuggets have, however, played one of the league’s tougher opening schedules. We expect them to go up quite a few positions in these NBA Power Rankings during the coming weeks.
9. Golden State Warriors (-7)
Stephen Curry has been outstanding, of course. Andrew Wiggins may also be in line for another All-Star appearance, while Draymond Green has appeared solid. On the other hand, their transition defense has been excruciatingly poor, and their player rotation looks a tad messy as Steve Kerr tries to work in young players. That’s why the Dubs have sunk seven spots in these Week 3 NBA Power Rankings.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (-6)
Is this a reasonable placement? Maybe it is. Perhaps we have too much faith in the triumvirate of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and John Wall. Two defeats to the Oklahoma City Thunder are bad enough, but this team’s only two victories have come by a combined eight points against the Kings and Lakers. Ugh, what are we doing? The Leonard injury situation is a bit troubling.
11. San Antonio Spurs (+8)
This team is the highest climber in our Week 3 NBA Power Rankings. Tre Jones has been rock solid and Josh Richardson is having a career year. Also, the trio of Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jakob Poeltl has looked like the real deal. There’s no way this will last, though, so let’s just enjoy it while we can.
12. Atlanta Hawks (-1)
So far, the DeJohnTrae combination has produced extremely favorable results. They’ve also made significant defensive improvements. That +4.0 point differential is nothing to scoff at, guys.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (+2)
The Pelicans have been extremely dominating when the trio of Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and CJ McCollum are all on the floor. Due to a few injuries, however, we may not see them for a few games. Still, the Pelicans appear very dangerous when their stars are all together.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (-2)
So far, the defense that Rudy Gobert was expected to help address has been mediocre. We expect it to significantly improve sooner rather than later. Also, although his stats are down, Karl-Anthony Towns is definitely still elite. Meanwhile, Anthony Edwards has scored at least 29+ points in four of the first seven games.
15. Washington Wizards (+1)
We would have placed them higher if not for their last two losses. Still, Kristaps Porzingis appears to be in good shape. Also, Bradley Beal is competing on both ends, and Monte Morris has been a dependable point guard.
16. Charlotte Hornets (-2)
With LaMelo Ball missing all six games and Terry Rozier missing four, Gordon Hayward has taken over the scoring lead. He’s averaging 20.0 points per game, in fact. Despite their numerous injuries, however, the Hornets could have performed much worse.
17. Dallas Mavericks (-4)
Luka Doncic has been spectacular this season, averaging 36.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game. So far, new acquisition Christian Wood has also looked like a wonderful addition. He is definitely making the most of his sixth-man role. Now, if they can just string together some wins.
Absolute masterclass by Luka Doncic tonight. Makes it look easy. pic.twitter.com/qqiLGXQRIv
— Hilltop Hoops (@HilltopNBA) October 28, 2022
18. Philadelphia 76ers (No change)
The 76ers have had a tough start to the season, though back-to-back wins have prevented them from sinking any lower in these Week 3 NBA Power Rankings. Their tempo is among the slowest in the NBA, and the transition defense has been dreadful. Still, all of that could be offset if Joel Embiid can consistently play up to his standard.
19. Miami Heat (-2)
The Heat have already suffered a slew of defeats, thanks to some severe defensive stumbling from a normally strong squad. The silver lining is that they have played a difficult schedule to begin the season. However, they still need to work out certain issues in order to be a bone fide contender in the East.
20. New York Knicks (+1)
Give the Knicks credit for winning three of their six games. Of course, those victories were against poor teams, and the schedule for the following two weeks is going to be quite brutal. Still, it has been about as solid a start as Knicks fans could have hoped for.
21. Toronto Raptors (+1)
Pascal Siakam has had a terrific start to the season, averaging 25.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. The Raptors have also beaten the Cavs and Heat while splitting two games with the 76ers in their first six games.
22. Oklahoma City Thunder (+5)
The Thunder are climbing these Week 3 NBA Power Rankings. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has had an outstanding start to the season, averaging 31.0 points, 7.0 assists, and 2.4 steals in five games. They’ll be treading water as long as he leads this squad. Everything else will be inconsistent.
23. Chicago Bulls (No change)
The Bulls showed tenacity by rallying from a 19-point deficit to defeat the Celtics last Monday. That has been tempered by their last two losses, though. Meanwhile, Ayo Dosunmu has filled in brilliantly for Lonzo Ball in the starting lineup, averaging 12.5 points and 3.2 assists per game on 45.8 percent 3-point shooting.
24. Indiana Pacers (No change)
Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin form one of the league’s most dynamic young backcourts. They’ve also led the Pacers to back-to-back wins of late against the Wizards and Nets. However, their defense has seemed to be just as leaky as it was at the end of last season.
25. Brooklyn Nets (-5)
The Nets’ defense has been unwatchable, and Ben Simmons is absolutely lost. In addition, Kyrie Irving’s repeated failure to read the room has already attracted unwanted and unnecessary attention. We want to have faith in the Nets, but it’s a house of cards ready to fall anytime now.
26. Detroit Pistons (-1)
Cade Cunningham got off to a slow start this season, but he has exploded in the last few games, including just missing a triple-double in a win over Golden State. The Pistons won’t win too many games, but the young core is looking promising.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (-1)
It has been mostly an unmitigated disaster for one of the league’s most illustrious teams. Russell Westbrook has been a $47 million issue, Anthony Davis continues to suffer from a lingering back ailment, and the team’s total lack of shooting is awful. At least they finally broke into the win column Sunday at Denver’s expense, with Westbrook showing some life off the bench.
28. Sacramento Kings (+1)
Three of the four losses were tight, with just Thursday’s game against Memphis getting out of hand. On one hand, De’Aaron Fox is scoring nearly 28 points per game this season. On the other hand, he has committed 4.0 turnovers per game compared to 5.6 assists. Ouch.
29. Houston Rockets (-1)
Jalen Green is exciting and Alperen Sengun has been effective when available. Additionally, rookies Tari Eason and Jabari Smith Jr. have a ton of potential. When you put it all together, you have an extraordinarily youthful club that lacks experience and has just too many defensive flaws.
30. Orlando Magic (No change)
Top overall draft pick Paolo Banchero has been spectacular, but this team is still so far from contention and is dealing with a ton of guard injuries. There is quality here, but they need seasoning — a lot of it.