Welcome to the first edition of the NBA Fab Five, where we’ll take a look at the top five teams in the league on a weekly basis, and let you know what to expect from the five lucky members of our rankings in the upcoming week.
With the 2013-14 regular-season still so young, it can be extremely difficult to make an accurate judgment based upon what a team does over a seven or eight game stretch, especially a judgement about any team that added a new face during the offseason.
That being said, you’ll find that the top five teams in other power rankings vary throughout the sports media, and that at this point in the season, it’s difficult to find two that are exactly the same.
1. Indiana Pacers (8-0)
The Pacers have gotten off to an extremely hot start that is now the best in franchise history, and are the only undefeated team in the league through the first week of the regular season, allowing an NBA-best 85.3 points per contest.
Despite playing without the often-injured Danny Granger who is expected to return to practice this coming week, the Pacers have looked sharp on the hardwood while being led by Granger’s replacement, Paul George, who’s averaging 25.1 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 7.9 RPG.
With a frontcourt that boasts George, Roy Hibbert, and David West, and a backcourt that has received some solid minutes from starters Lance Stephenson and George Hill early on, this team will be a tough-out for any opponent come playoff time if they can stay healthy.
This week, Indiana will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, which will be followed by a visit from the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday (15th), and then a trip to Chicago for an early-season showdown with the Bulls on Sunday (17th).
2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1)
Currently the class of the Western Conference, the aging Spurs seem determined to squeeze at least one more year out of their time at the top, and judging from their early success, they look like they’re on the right track.
Ranking second in points allowed with 92.4 per game, and ninth in assists with 23.1 PG, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and company do so many things well, but are likely to have Dwight Howard, Rich Harden, and the rest of the Houston Rockets breathing down their neck in the Southwest division for the duration.
Winners of four straight, San Antonio beat up on the disappointing New York Knicks 120-89 on Sunday, and will begin their week on Monday night in Philadelphia against the surprisingly decent 76ers. The Spurs are scheduled to return home on Wednesday (13th) to host the Washington Wizards, before traveling to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz on Friday (15th)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1)
Edging out the visiting Washington Wizards 106-105 in overtime on Sunday, the Thunder improved their home record to 3-0 on the season, and maintain their slim lead over the surging Minnesota Timberwolves atop the Northwest division.
Through their first six games, Oklahoma City has only been beaten on one occasion which occurred when the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder traveled to Minneapolis and were defeated 100-81 by the T’Wolves on November 1st in their second game of the year.
While backup PG Reggie Jackson did a fairly decent job while Westbrook was out, there’s no denying that this team isn’t the same without their floor general.
This week, Oklahoma City will have the chance to improve upon their road record, as they travel to Los Angeles for a meeting between Western Conference powers on Wednesday (13th) in a meeting with the Clippers, which will be immediately followed by a date with a very dangerous Golden State Warrior squad on Thursday.
The Thunder will wrap-up their three-game road swing on Saturday (16th) with a trip to Milwaukee, before returning home to begin a six-game homestand on Monday (18th) against the Denver Nuggets.
4. Golden State Warriors (4-3)
Despite dropping their last matchup in Memphis 108-92 to the Grizzlies, the Warriors are quickly becoming one of the league’s most exciting teams, and actually have a roster capable of capitalizing upon their new-found popularity.
Led by the effective quartet of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors also have arguably the best NBA team that the city of Oakland has seen since the days of Tim Hardaway, Chris Weber, and Latrell Sprewell.
Currently ranked sixth in assists, 10th in points allowed per game, and 11th in points scored per game, this is a well-rounded basketball team that can hurt you in a variety of ways, all while giving their loyal fan base some quality entertainment in the process.
This week, the Warriors begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday when they host the Detroit Pistons, which will be followed by a visit from the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, and a date with the Utah Jazz on Saturday in Oakland.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2)
Minnesota’s early success has taken quite a few people by surprise, despite the Timberwolves finally having the services of a healthy Kevin Love leading their team to some impressive victories early on over Orlando, Oklahoma City, New York, Dallas, and the Lakers.
Considering that one of their two losses was by a single point (93-92) to the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 4th, this team could just as easily be 6-1 right now.
The Timberwolves are currently ranked within the top 10 in points per game, assists per game, and rebounds per game, and will need every ounce of their collective abilities in order to dethrone Oklahoma City as the current kings of the Northwest division.
Kevin Love and company are scheduled to begin their week on Monday when they face the Clippers in Los Angeles, which will be followed by a visit from the Cleveland Cavaliers in Minneapolis on Wednesday (13th), a matchup in Denver against the Nuggets on Friday (15th), and finally a date with the Boston Celtics at home on Saturday (16th).