The Cleveland Cavaliers have the second best record of the Eastern Conference. The Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets are two games under 500. The Toronto Raptors have won.

MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are currently in 7th place in the Eastern rankings with the New York Knicks.

What does all this mean? Nothing, it’s the third week.

The small sample theatre has earned a place in the NBA ranking. What do our experts think about hot starts in Cleveland, Atlanta and Phoenix, or the first speed bumps in Brooklyn, Toronto and Dallas?

Pay attention: During the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim McMahon, Dave McMahon, Eric Woodyard, Royce Young and ESPN’s Om Youngmisuk) evaluates the 30 teams from top to bottom to determine which teams are currently playing their best basketball and which are most likely to claim the title.

Previous reviews : Week 1 | Week 2

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 Record : 5-2 Previous Classification : 1

After finishing third in league history last season, the Lakers started this season with a 3-0 victory at the Staples Center with two games against the Spurs before limiting the Grizzlies to 58 points in the final three quarter finals in Sunday’s 108-94 victory. LeBron James is starting to look like the man who finished second in the MVP vote last season after a triple-double against the Spurs with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists against the Grizzlies. — McManaman.

This week: MEM, SA, CHI, HOO?

2. LA Clippers
2020-21 Record : 5-2 Previous Classification : 3

After a disappointing loss of 51 points to the Mavs, the Clippers beat Minnesota and Portland by 23 points. When they repaired Kawhi Leonard’s mask against Portland, the Clippers couldn’t overcome a bad start in Utah. Paul George, on the other hand, scored 39 points to keep a burning Phoenix side in check. Clippers always allow their opponents to cut big single-digit leads, but so far they have beaten the Lakers, Nuggets and Suns in these situations. -Youngomisuk

This week: AIRLOCK, GSW, CHI

3. Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 Record : 5-1 Previous Classification : 6


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The Sixers always look messy and have a very simple game plan, but this week they come into the game with the best defense in the NBA and the best record in the Eastern Conference. We’ll learn more about Philadelphia on Thursday as the Sixers play the Nets to start a five-game home series that also includes the Nuggets, Hawks and two games against the Heat. It’s a litmus test to see where things stand under the new coach Doc Rivers. — Good time.

This week: CHA, WHAT, @BKN, THE

4. Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 Record : 3-4Previous Assessment : 2

After a lightning start, the Nets cooled off and questioned their depth, defense and precise attack timing – the loss of one point to the Wizards on Sunday illustrated each of those points. The 122 points they scored – Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together for 58 of them – should have been enough, and their two stars had a chance to win the game in the final standings. But defensive errors and weak play from the bank hindered them. After a 2-0 start the Nets are 1-4, their victory is a game in which they have given up 141 points. — Young people

This week: YUTA, FI, @MEM, OKC.

5. Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 Record : 3-3Previous Assessment : 4

The Bucks feel better than their 3-3 record, but they are grateful for the different types of games they played in the beginning. They won two battles this week against Miami and Chicago, losing in the Heat 119-108. Milwaukee also started well on the other side of the bow – look at their record-breaking performance on Tuesday night against Miami. Milwaukee already has three matches over 20 points with three. The Bucks only succeeded twice last season. — Woodyard.

This week: DET, DET, UTA, CLE

6. Miami Heat
2020-21 Record : 2-3Previous Ranking : 5

The hangover was difficult for the Heat team, which beat the Bucks by 47 points in back-to-back games. The big problem is that Jimmy Butler didn’t take good care of his ankle injury at the beginning of the season. He didn’t shoot in 27 minutes in Friday night’s loss at the Mavericks. — Friedell.


7. Phoenix Suns
2020-21 Record : 5-2 Previous Classification : 11

Besides the loss of Sunday for the Clippers, the Suns show that they are in conversation with the top teams of the Western Conference. They kept winning, and they kept winning tight games. The scores of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have fallen this season, but the success of the team has been at the expense of a more balanced score. In addition, the Phoenix bench was led by two Cams, Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne, who proved themselves this season. — Lopez.

This week: TOR, @DET, @IND

8. Utah Jazz
2020-21 Record : 4-2Previous Layout : 8

Mike Conley’s move to Utah proved more difficult than expected last season, but it now has the impact the Jazz hoped for when they acquired the veteran point guard in a successful company. Conley leads the Jazz in points (20.3 points per game) and plus-minus (plus-57) and is second in assists (5.0) — McMahon.

This week: KN, NIK, MIL, DET

9. Indiana Pacers
2020-21 Record : 4-2Previous Layout : 10

Staying healthy is the key to the Pacers this season. But they’ve already taken a hit with forward T.J. Warren. He would miss much of the season by surgery to repair a stress fracture on his left foot. Indiana won three straight games to start the season and then went on to win this week with a 1-2 victory over Cleveland. — Woodyard.

This week: @NOP, HOU, PHX

10. Boston Celtics
2020-21 Record : 4-3Previous Assessment : 7

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Boston’s erratic start to the season continued this week, including a weekend in Detroit that was absorbed by the overwhelmed Pistons. Yes, Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown – especially the latter – have been remarkable. But if we have learned anything in the first two weeks of the season, it is that Boston, as built, is not deep enough, with or without Kemba Walker, to make the playoffs that the Celtics have experienced in recent years. — Good time.

This week: GOAAL, MIA, WHAT, MIA…

11. Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 Record: 4-2Previous Layout : 16

Atlanta loses 145-141. Brooklyn could be an early contender for the Game of the Year award, and the Hawks quickly turned things around in that loss with an 18-point victory over the Nets two nights later. Atlanta’s offense has worked well so far this season, and with Trey Young emulating James Harden with 11.7 free throw attempts per game, the offense should continue to do so. — Lopez.

This week: NYK, CHA, @CHA

12. Portland Trail Blowers
2020-21 Record : 3-3Previous Assessment : 13

The Blazers had their ups and downs for two weeks, but they couldn’t do anything for Sunday’s game against the Warriors. After their victory, two days earlier in San Francisco, they played the Golden State again and saw Steph Curry become a supernova with 62 points. The Blazers’ bank is a problem, especially in the defense, with difficult minutes for Carmelo Anthony and Enns Kanter. One of the highlights of the season opener, however, is CJ McCollum’s aggressive play. McCollum, whose start is notoriously slow, came out very hot. — Young people

This week: CHI, MIN, @SAC

13. New Orleans Pelicans
2020-21 Record : 4-2Previous Layout : 14

After starting the week with a loss to Phoenix, the Pelicans bounced back with a 33-point victory over the Thunder and a narrow victory over the Raptors. New Orleans is playing a different style of defense this season under new coach Stan Van Gundy: They close off the paint and invite you to take pictures of the surroundings. In six games, the Pelicans have allowed 43.7 trios per game, but are in the top 10 in terms of opponent’s percentage points and in second place by allowing only 38.0 points per game. — Lopez.

This week: IND, OKC, CHA

14. Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 Record : 2-4Previous Assessment : 12

Luka Doncic did not look like an MVP candidate in the first weeks of the season. Soic is getting in shape after clearly not the same dedication to conditioning in the off-season as he did after his rookie season and during the pre-bubble holidays. My legs were very tired, but that’s no excuse,” Doncic said after a poor performance in losing to the Hornets after which he shot straight to the ground for 40 minutes. — McMahon.

This week: HELLO, DEN, ORL, NOPE.

15. Denver Nuggets
2020-21 Record : 2-4Previous Assessment : 9

The Nuggets’ difficult start to the season continued last week when the team lost Michael Porter Jr. for several races due to health and safety protocols. That’s after Porter had 30 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in the loss to Sacramento. But Nikola Jokic continues to average a triple, Jamal Murray finds his bubble rhythm and Jamal Green returns just in time. The Nuggets begin an eight out of eleven game series on Saturday. -Youngomisuk

This week: MIN, DAL, @PHI, @NYK

16. Orlando Magic
2020-21 Record : 4-2Previous Layout : 18

After the first 4-0 start in the history of the franchise, the magic fell to earth and lost two games in a row to the Sixers and the Thunder. After a good start to the season, Markel Fultz also calmed down, having played only 13 of his last three games. The Magic have a difficult future ahead of them with seven of their next ten away games. — Friedell.


17. Houston missiles
2020-21 Record : 2-2Previous Assessment : 19

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John Wall is the first player since the return of the Michael Jordan Wizards from a two-year break to score at least 50 combined points in the first two games of his return, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wall, whose competition debut with the Rockets was delayed a week due to health and safety protocols, averaging 25 points, 7.5 helps, steals 2.0 and 1.5 blocks in two wins over the Kings, displaying the rare athletics for which he was known before his Achilles tendon crack. — McMahon.

This week: DAL, @IND, ORL, LAL

18. Report of the Toronto Raptors
2020-21 : 1-4
Previous assessment : 15

Toronto could lead 5-0. Instead, the Raptors are 1-4 after losing another tight game in New Orleans on Saturday night. The balance and skill of the veterans who have characterized the Raptors in recent years is nowhere to be seen, and Pascal Siakam’s subgame returned at the beginning of the season. Toronto has had a difficult schedule and is likely to improve, but the beginning is disturbing. Monday’s game against Boston will be crucial. — Good time.

This week: BUNCH, PPHX, BAG, GSW

19. Cleveland Riders
2020-21 Record : 4-2Previous Layout : 22

Cleveland continued his flawless first week with a two-game sweep before putting together his most impressive performance of the season with a 96-91 victory over an in-form Hawks team. Collin Sexton scored 27 points against Atlanta and extended his run of 11 consecutive games with more than 20 points going back to last season. And J.B. Bickerstaff has a 9-8 record in his first 17 games as head coach of the Cavs. — McManaman.

This week: ORL, ORL, EMEM, MIL

20. San Antonio Spurs
2020-21 Record : 2-4Previous Assessment : 17

It was a historic week for the Spurs, as Becky Hammon took over as head coach from Gregg Popovich on Wednesday and became the first woman to take the position in the regular season of the NBA. On the night of Hammond’s story, Popovich said she deserved it. She’s qualified. She’s great at what she does. I wanted her on my team because of the work she does. And she happens to be a woman, which shouldn’t be a problem in principle, but in our world it isn’t, because we’ve seen how difficult it is for women to get certain jobs. For us it was business as usual. — Lopez.

This week: LAC, LAL, MIN, MIN?

21. Sacramento Kings
2020-21 Record : 3-3Previous Assessment : 20

The Kings started the season 3-1 with two victories against the Nuggets, who were in the finals of the Western Conference a few months ago, and another against the Rising Suns, before falling to the Rockets twice in a row. Tyrese Haliburton’s strong start (10.6 points per race on 52.9% shots) is interrupted for at least a week as he recovers from a bruise on his left wrist. — McManaman.

This week: @GSW, CHI, TOR, POR

22. Golden State Warriors
2020-21 Record : 3-3Previous Assessment : 24

Stephen Curry always had a way of hiding the Warriors’ weaknesses. Scoring 62 points in Sunday’s victory at the Trail Blazers, Curry reminded the rest of the league that he can still wear this team if necessary – and that the Warriors still have a chance to get back on track after a bumpy start. To do this, Kelly Oubre Jr. has to find a way to better shoot from the outside. Oubre has only achieved 2 out of 30 points this season. — Friedell.


23. Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 Record : 2-4Previous Assessment : 23

The Grizzlies experienced the same injury problems as any other team in the championship, and maybe three of their main players were sidelined. Yeah Morant should be out three to five weeks after a grade 2 sprain on the ankle. Years Jackson Jr. (left knee meniscus surgery) and Justise Winslow (left hip dislocation) are still recovering from their blister injury. — McMahon.

This week: LAL, CLE, BKN

24. Minnesota Woodwolves
2020-21 Record : 2-4Previous Assessment : 21

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The momentum of the Wolves was completely disrupted by the wrist injury of Carl Anthony Towns. Minnesota has suffered four straight losses, the last of which 15 points to the Nuggets on Sunday. Wolves work patiently, knowing that this is a very young team that needs to develop and grow, and that it is all the more difficult for young players to have a player with a franchise agreement for an extended period of time. The defense was a problem for the Wolves for a while and it still is today. And without cities, they can’t outsmart anyone now. — Young people


25. Washington Wizards
2020-21 Record : 2-5Previous Assessment : 25

After a disappointing start to the season (0-5) with defensive questions, all Washington had to do was turn the calendar back to 2021. In January, the Wizards defeated Minnesota 2-0 on New Year’s Day without Russell Westbrook, who was spared for the second game in a row. And while Westbrook saw his early seasonal triple-double streak end after four games, the playmaker is happy to trade it for his first win in Washington, D.C., which came against former teammate Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. -Youngomisuk

This week: PHI, FOREST, MIA…

26. New York Knicks
2020-21 Record : 3-3Previous Assessment : 27

Tom Thibodeau always knows how to coach. Although some have already forgotten, Thibodeau reminded everyone how the Knicks started the season, including victories over the Bucks and Packers. A team without many quality defenders keeps people effective and Julius Randle plays at the highest level of his career. Yeah, the Knicks have a long way to go, and no, they’re not a play-off team. But Thibodeau builds identity and culture in New York. For a team that’s been missing both for a long time, it’s a good start. — Good time.

This week: @ATL, UTA, OKC, DEN

27. Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 Record : 2-4Previous Assessment : 28

Week 1-2 started clear for Charlotte as rookie LaMelo Ball scored 22 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and threw 5 assists in victory over the Mavericks. The problem is that this was followed by two losses in which the Hornets lost a total of 235 points to the Grizzlies and 76 points to the Grizzlies. — Friedell.

This week: PHI, @ATL, @NO, ATL…

28. Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 Record : 2-3Previous Ranking : 26

The first two weeks of Thunder went almost perfectly as planned. They’ve won a few games where their young players have had positive development moments (such as Darius Bazeley, who scored 19 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday against Orlando). Veterans like Al Horford and George Hill play well, which increases their business value. And the matches that Thunderbolt lost were close by for the most part. As the season progresses, losses for OKC are likely to increase, but maintaining a fighting spirit will be a valuable element in the difficult rebuilding phase. — Young people

This week: # MIA, NOP, NYK, BKN #

29. Chicago Bulls
2020-21 Record : 3-4Previous Assessment : 30

Chandler Hutchison, Thomas Satoranski and a member of the team’s support staff tested positive for VIDOC-19. Lauri Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono also remain suspended while they are subject to the league’s health and safety protocols, so draught is a problem for the Bulls. Chicago won two games in Washington this week. — Woodyard.


30. Pistons Detroit
2020-21 Record : 1-5
Previous assessment : 29

It was a tough fight for the Pistons. Forward Jerami Grant showed great intelligence and extended his career record with five straight games to over 20 points on Sunday, but Detroit won only once – a 24-point victory over Boston on New Year’s Day. He also tied Isiah Thomas for the fifth highest number of points by a Pistons player with 115 in the first five games. — Woodyard.

This week: @MIL, @MIL, PHX, UTA

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