May 24, 2024

The 2023-24 NBA campaign is officially in full swing, and in the first two weeks, we’ve seen some surprises and a few teams struggling out the gate.

The 4-0 Denver Nuggets continue to dominate as one of the few undefeated teams left in the league, along with the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, both 3-0. And in the highly competitive Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers sit squarely at .500, as they continue to find their rhythm in managing LeBron Jamesminutes.

The Philadelphia 76ers remain in the top 10 despite the drama surrounding James Harden that came to a head on Tuesday, as Harden was traded to the LA Clippers.

And although it’s early, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets have yet to find their groove as the only teams without a win.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Post-Finals | Week 1

Jump to a team:
ATL | BOS | BKN | CHA | CHI | CLE
DAL | DEN | DET | GS | HOU | IND
LAC | LAL | MEM | MIA | MIL | MIN
NO | NY | OKC | ORL | PHI | PHX
POR | SAC | SA | TOR | UTAH | WAS

1. Denver Nuggets
2023-24 record: 4-0

  • Previous ranking: 1

  • Next games: @ MIN (Nov. 1), vs. DAL (Nov. 3), vs. CHI (Nov. 4), vs. NO (Nov. 6)

The champs are rolling and quickly reminding everyone that they are a top team in the NBA despite all the exciting offseason moves by teams like Phoenix, Boston and Milwaukee. Not only do the Nuggets have the best player in the league in Nikola Jokic, who seems primed for a third MVP, but they boast the best starting five. Jokic, Jamal Murray & Co. have been dominant at times, as they showed against Oklahoma City, but they’ve also been unflappable when the game is on the line, like they were at Memphis. Once Michael Malone’s second unit begins to mesh, the Nuggets will be a real terror. — Ohm Youngmisuk


2. Boston Celtics
2023-24 record: 3-0

Things couldn’t have gone much better over the opening week for Boston, which swept its first three games and saw Kristaps Porzingis immediately get comfortable in his new surroundings. Plus, the combo of Jrue Holiday and Derrick White is one of the best defensive guard duos in the league. –Tim Bontemps


3. Milwaukee Bucks
2023-24 record: 2-1

The partnership between Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo is off to a strong start, coming together for a pair of wins over Eastern Conference contenders in Philadelphia and Miami. Both players have clicked off the court because of their similar personalities. But the Bucks also realize it will be a work in progress before the team fully finds its cohesion, especially on defense, where the Bucks rank 25th in efficiency through the first three games. — Jamal Collier


4. Phoenix Suns
2023-24 record: 2-2

After all the hype surrounding the Suns’ offseason, Phoenix fans have had to wait to see their team take shape. There was an encouraging opening-night win against Golden State for Devin Booker (32 points, eight assists), but he hasn’t competed since because of a foot injury. Bradley Beal hasn’t played yet because of a back injury. But Kevin Durant (27.7 points per game) keeps rolling right along, playing all three contests and passing Hakeem Olajuwon for No. 12 on the all-time scoring list in the process. — Dave McMenamin


5. Golden State Warriors
2023-24 record: 3-1

  • Previous ranking: 6

  • Next games: vs. SAC (Nov. 1), @ OKC (Nov. 3), @ CLE (Nov. 5), @ DET (Nov. 6)

It’s a small sample size, but it looks like the Chris Paul era in Golden State is working — like, really working. A season ago, the Warriors could barely survive the non-Stephen Curry minutes. But with Paul coming off of the bench as a sixth man, Golden State is thriving in them. Fully healthy, the depth on this team is exactly what a title contender looks like. And with Curry off to his hottest start since the season he won his unanimous MVP in 2016, the Warriors are looking scary. — Kendra Andrews


6. Philadelphia 76ers
2023-24 record: 2-1

The James Harden trade was as much about handing the keys to the franchise over to Tyrese Maxey as it was about moving on from The Beard. Maxey’s play over the first three games, in which he won his first Eastern Conference Player of the Week award, backed up why many in Philly believe he can be an All-Star this season. — Bontemps


7. Dallas Mavericks
2023-24 record: 3-0

  • Previous ranking: 17

  • Next games: vs. CHI (Nov. 1), @ DEN (Nov. 3), vs. CHA (Nov. 5), @ ORL (Nov. 6)

Luka Doncic is the first player to lead his team outright in points, rebounds and assists in the first three games of a season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He also joined Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook as the only players with multiple 30-point triple-doubles in the first three games, according to ESPN Stats & Info data. And his 49-point night against the Nets — not one of the triple-doubles — has been Doncic’s most spectacular performance during Dallas’ 3-0 start. — Tim MacMahon


8. LA Clippers
2023-24 record: 3-1

The Clippers finally agreed to a deal with the Sixers on a trade for James Harden. While the Clippers felt they needed to add more talent to give Kawhi Leonard and Paul George a better shot at a title and improve their passing and scoring, Ty Lue will have a lot to figure out. Will he start Russell Westbrook, Harden, George, Leonard and Ivica Zubac? Which combinations will work best for Lue? Can four of the top 12 players in isolation possessions find chemistry quickly? Where does Terance Mann fit once he is back from injury, and who will finish games? Only time will tell, but the Clippers feel they have upgraded their talent and their chances at competing for a title. — Youngmisuk


9. Sacramento Kings
2023-24 record: 2-1

The beam is actually brighter this season than last. It makes sense, because the Kings don’t appear to have regressed from last season. They did take a major blow early with De’Aaron Fox slated to miss at least one game — possibly more — but if they can stay afloat without him, they should remain right in the mix in the stacked Western Conference. — Andrews


10. Oklahoma City Thunder
2023-24 record: 3-1

Chet Holmgren has immediately filled the Thunder’s needs for rim protection and 3-point shooting. He is the first player in NBA history with at least 10 blocks and 10 made 3s in his first four career games, per ESPN Stats & Info research. He has made 62.5% of his 3s — the best percentage in the league among players with at least 10 attempts — and is tied for second with 2.8 blocks per game. — MacMahon


11. Los Angeles Lakers
2023-24 record: 2-2

It was clear early on Monday that it was going to be a different type of night for D’Angelo Russell when he dunked on Orlando’s Paolo Banchero. “Surprisingly, D-Lo dunked the ball,” Russell quipped afterward about his first slam since being traded to L.A. last season. Russell went on to score 12 of his team-high 28 points in the fourth quarter against the Magic to get the Lakers back to .500 at 2-2. — McMenamin


12. New Orleans Pelicans
2023-24 record: 2-1

  • Previous ranking: 16

  • Next games: @ OKC (Nov. 1), vs. DET (Nov. 2), vs. ATL (Nov. 4), @ DEN (Nov. 6)

On Monday night against the Warriors, Zion Williamson scored his 3,000th point in career game No. 117. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the NBA-ABA merger, only Michael Jordan (108 games) has registered 3,000 points quicker than Williamson. Williamson tied the marks of David Thompson and Billy Knight while accomplishing the feat three games faster than David Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal did. — Andrew Lopez


13. Cleveland Cavaliers
2023-24 record: 1-3

Darius Garland missed two of Cleveland’s first three games with a strained left hamstring, and Donovan Mitchell missed one contest because of right hamstring woes, making it difficult to pass judgment on the Cavs’ early struggles. Newcomer Max Strus has done his best to fill their absences, notching two 20-point, 10-rebound performances in the first three games after never reaching the 20-10 mark in 189 career games before joining the Cavaliers.-– McMenamin


14. Indiana Pacers
2023-24 record: 2-1

  • Previous ranking: 19

  • Next games: @ BOS (Nov. 1), vs. CLE (Nov. 3), vs. CHA (Nov. 4), vs. SA (Nov. 6)

With All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton at the helm, Indiana is already on track to be one of the best passing teams in the NBA. Haliburton is averaging a league-high 12.3 assists, and the Pacers have racked up 100 assists through three games, the most by any squad since 1988. It’s why Indiana has the second-best offensive rating in the league early on. — Collier


15. Atlanta Hawks
2023-24 record: 2-2

Dejounte Murray helped the Hawks rebound from back-to-back losses to start the season with a 41-point effort against the Timberwolves. He tied his career high, and it marked the third time he dropped 40 in any game, all with the Hawks. In each of the 40-point performances, Murray has also put up at least five rebounds and five assists. — Lopez


16. Orlando Magic
2023-24 record: 2-2

The Magic got off to their ninth 2-0 start in franchise history and almost improved to 3-0 before the Lakers pulled away late. In Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers, brothers Franz Wagner and Mo Wagner combined to score the final 16 points for the Magic. One thing that has helped Orlando early has been its defense. It held teams to 103 points per 100 possessions in its first four games, the second-best mark in the NBA. — Lopez


17. New York Knicks
2023-24 record: 2-2

The most intriguing part in New York’s split of its first four games? The play of RJ Barrett, who is 9-for-21 from 3-point range. If Barrett can shoot anywhere near 40 percent from 3 this season, it would be a massive boost to the Knicks’ offensive attack. — Bontemps


18. Miami Heat
2023-24 record: 1-3

It wasn’t the strongest start for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who squeaked out a victory against the Pistons before dropping consecutive games at Boston, Minnesota and Milwaukee. But Tyler Herro has enjoyed a strong start, becoming the fourth player in Heat history to score 100 points in the team’s first four games of a season, joining LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (twice) and Alonzo Mourning. — Lopez


19. Detroit Pistons
2023-24 record: 2-2

  • Previous ranking: 27

  • Next games: vs. POR (Nov. 1), @ NO (Nov. 2), vs. PHX (Nov. 5), vs. GS (Nov. 6)

The Pistons have officially unleashed Jalen Duren — who will turn 20 years old this month — as their starting center, and he has put on a few eye-opening performances. Through his first four games, Duren is averaging 15.5 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, and Detroit looks like it has found another centerpiece for the franchise going forward. — Collier


20. Minnesota Timberwolves
2023-24 record: 1-2

The Wolves have shown flashes through their first three games, with prolonged stretches of stifling defense for a team that ranks eighth in defensive efficiency and spurts of promising offensive potential. Minnesota demonstrated both sides of an up-and-down start on Monday against Atlanta, racing out to a big lead with an encouraging first half then struggling in the second as they allowed the Hawks to come back. — Collier


21. Chicago Bulls
2023-24 record: 2-2

  • Previous ranking: 22

  • Next games: @ DAL (Nov. 1), vs. BK (Nov. 3), @ DEN (Nov. 4), vs. UTAH (Nov. 6)

It was an eventful first week in Chicago, from a players-only meeting following the season opener and a wild comeback victory against Toronto to a 50-point, no-assists performance from Zach LaVine in a game the Bulls dropped by double digits and a benches-clearing incident in a win over the Pacers. The Bulls have taken a meandering road to their 2-2 record. — Collier


22. Brooklyn Nets
2023-24 record: 1-2

  • Previous ranking: 20

  • Next games: @ MIA (Nov. 1), @ CHI (Nov. 3), vs. BOS (Nov. 4), vs. MIL (Nov. 6)

One of the biggest surprises of this season thus far has been the play of Nets guard Cam Thomas, who scored at least 30 points in all three games so far and is shooting a staggering 61% from the floor. — Bontemps


23. Utah Jazz
2023-24 record: 1-3

  • Previous ranking: 23

  • Next games: vs . MEM (Nov. 1), vs. ORL (Nov. 2), @ MIN (Nov. 4), @ CHI (Nov. 6)

Walker Kessler, a first-team All-Rookie selection in large part because he was an elite rim protector, has gotten off to a slow start in that department. Kessler has blocked only three shots in four games. He averaged 2.9 blocks in his final 34 games last season after becoming a full-time starter. — MacMahon


24. San Antonio Spurs
2023-24 record: 2-2

In the Spurs’ overtime win against the Rockets, Victor Wembanyama finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He became the first Spurs rookie since Tim Duncan to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a game (and Duncan did it at the end of his rookie season in 1998) and the first to have a 20-point double-double in his first two career games since David Robinson in 1989. — Lopez


25. Toronto Raptors
2023-24 record: 1-3

It has been all downhill for Toronto since its opening-night win over Minnesota, including disappointing losses to Chicago and Portland. Things aren’t about to get any easier, either, with a back-to-back this week against Milwaukee and Philadelphia. — Bontemps


26. Charlotte Hornets
2023-24 record: 1-2

The season got off to a promising start with a home-opening win over Atlanta. But that was followed by two home losses to Detroit and Brooklyn. LaMelo Ball filled the box score in the first two games but has struggled to find his shot, shooting 11-of-44 from the field, including just 6-for-24 from 3. Rookie Brandon Miller, though, had his first 20-plus-point game (22 points, nine rebounds) in a loss to Brooklyn on Monday. — Youngmisuk


27. Memphis Grizzlies
2023-24 record: 0-4

The Grizzlies are 22-24 (including their first-round playoff series loss) since center Steven Adams went down with a knee injury in January. Adams will miss the entire season after it was recently determined that he needed surgery, which he attempted to avoid with summer rehabilitation. Memphis has started 0-4 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. — MacMahon


28. Portland Trail Blazers
2023-24 record: 1-3

It has been a rough start for Portland. Third overall pick Scoot Henderson has yet to find his scoring touch, going just 1-of-18 on 3-point attempts through his first four games. In addition, Anfernee Simons will be out the next four to six weeks with a right thumb injury. — Andrews


29. Washington Wizards
2023-24 record: 1-2

Only three games into the season, the Wizards have the play that may best define their rebuilding year. Jordan Poole was dribbling on a fast break when he started to pull it back out without numbers against Boston. But as Poole casually dribbled back to the 3-point line, he turned and tried to launch a 3 as his teammates were still catching up, only to see Kristaps Porzingis get a piece of it. Naturally, the head-scratching play went viral. In three games, the Wizards have surrendered 143 points and 126 in their two losses and their best big man, Daniel Gafford, is already injured. It’s going to be a long season in D.C. — Youngmisuk


30. Houston Rockets
2023-24 record: 0-3

Alperen Sengun had 58 points, 27 rebounds and 20 assists during the Rockets’ 0-3 start, joining Nikola Jokic (three times) and Domantas Sabonis as the only centers since the ABA-NBA merger to put up those numbers in the first three games of a season. But Houston has been outscored by 16 points in Sengun’s 102 minutes. — MacMahon

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