Believe it or not, we're already just about a month through the 2016-17 NBA season.
What was supposed to be a year defined by two teams — the Warriors and Cavaliers — has instead produced a plethora of compelling storylines. We have a wide-open MVP race, several contenders looking to knock off Golden State, and, for the first time this season, the Philadelphia 76ers aren't No. 30 in the power rankings!
Truly, we're thankful for all of this and much more in the NBA. Here are this week's power rankings, where the Warriors are looking pretty scary — but not quite scary enough to claim No. 1.
Dallas Mavericks (previous ranking: 28)
There's some good news for the Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki is expected to return sometime in the middle of next week. Dallas could use the Big German as soon as possible.
Philadelphia 76ers (30)
Joel Embiid didn't like sitting out of overtime earlier this week, but listening to the doctors is for the best. He needs to dominate for the next decade.
And while we're here, congratulations to the Sixers for rising out of the power rankings basement. “The Process” continues to thrive — relatively speaking, anyway.
Brooklyn Nets (20)
The Nets tumble down the rankings after losing all three games over the past week, running their streak to five consecutive defeats. But hey, at least Brook Lopez is still knocking down 3s!
New Orleans Pelicans (29)
Anthony Davis is just too good for the NBA to hold him down forever. More importantly, the Pelicans have managed to put together a borderline top-10 defense over the first month of the 2016-17 season.
Washington Wizards (27)
Otto Porter's playing remarkably well despite Washington's lackluster start to 2016-17, tallying career-highs in points, rebounds, steals and blocks per game. Unfortunately, when you're clawing just to work your way back into playoff contention, that kind of growth tends to go unnoticed.
Minnesota Timberwolves (22)
I'm burying my dream of the Wolves making the playoffs this season. Now, I'm only concerned with week-to-week growth from this young team — which probably should have been the focus in the first place. I just can't help my love for Karl-Anthony Towns and my desire to see him in the postseason as soon as possible. My bad.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Orlando Magic (26)
Only 29 players in the entire NBA are shooting worse than 40 percent from the field (min. 100 attempts). The Magic as a team, meanwhile, are making 40.7 percent of their shots this season. The defense keeps improving, but Orlando's not going anywhere with this offense.
Phoenix Suns (25)
Poor Eric Bledsoe has been overshadowed by the emergence of Devin Booker and the Suns' general youth movement. He's still an above-average point guard, which makes you wonder if Phoenix might kick the tires on a trade before the deadline approaches this season.
Miami Heat (24)
Chasing blocks doesn't always equal good defense, but Hassan Whiteside truly has made his mark on Miami this season. The Heat boast a top-five defense for the first time since that one Cleveland Cavaliers-loving King left Miami.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
Indiana Pacers (18)
The Pacers are way too talented to be this bad. Is there any chance Indiana is already regretting the coaching change from this summer?
Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsBrad Mills
Sacramento Kings (23)
The Kings were this close to knocking off the NBA-best Clippers last week before strong wins over the Raptors and Thunder. Sacramento is getting it done at the free-throw line, with DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and the rest of the Kings in the top three in free throw rate.
Denver Nuggets (21)
The Nuggets are on the rise and could make a statement with winnable games against the Thunder, Sun and Heat this coming week … or they could blow that opportunity and fade back into the shadows while Denver as a city turns its attention to the NFL playoffs.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
Detroit Pistons (17)
Stan Van Gundy told reporters that Reggie Jackson is looking at a December return, which would be a welcome development for a Pistons team with a top-five defense yet a bottom-10 offense.
New York Knicks (19)
Although Kurt Rambis probably isn't a defensive wizard, the Knicks have improved since he took over as the lead assistant on that end. I mean, it's not a huge jump, but going from 30th to 27th counts, right?
Milwaukee Bucks (16)
Here's the list of players averaging 20 points, five rebounds and five assists this season:
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsBenny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports
Portland Trail Blazers (12)
The past week has been a rough stretch for the Blazers. A bounceback win against the Pelicans, a team that bested Portland just last week, would be a great way to get things turned around before a date with the Rockets.
Los Angeles Lakers (14)
The young Lakers came back to earth a bit over the past week, but they're still one of the most fun teams in the NBA — as evidenced by Nick Young hitting game winners and stealing D'Angelo Russell's trademark celebration.
Thearon W. HendersonGetty Images
Oklahoma City Thunder (9)
Russell Westbrook is in desperate need of some help. The Thunder PG has scored or assisted on more than half of OKC's baskets this season. Literally.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
Utah Jazz (11)
The Jazz are a Derrick Favors return away from being healthy (excluding a lingering injury to Alec Burks). Once Favors is back, this team will really be scary.
Charlotte Hornets (6)
Charlotte's hot start ran right into a three-game losing streak that saw the Hornets surrender 100 or more points in all three losses. That would be bad enough, but Charlotte falls an additional spot in the power rankings for a disappointing overtime performance against the Pelicans.
USA TODAY SportsJeremy Brevard
Boston Celtics (15)
Al Horford (and Jae Crowder) came back, and the Celtics immediately started winning once again. Funny how that works.
Memphis Grizzlies (13)
The Grizzlies aren't just clutch; they're super-clutch. Really — as pointed out by team writer Michael Wallace, Memphis is 6-0 this season in games that are within one possession in the final minute of regulation.
Chicago Bulls (8)
Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade aren't just making their overlapping offensive games work this season. The Chicago veterans are thriving, as both continue to shoot career-bests from beyond the 3-point line.
Russell IsabellaRuss Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets (10)
James Harden went from one of the least aesthetically-pleasing players in the association to must-see TV almost overnight. For that, we should all be giving thanks to Mike D'Antoni.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Toronto Raptors (7)
Sorry, Kyle Lowry and coach Dwane Casey. The fact of the matter is that DeMar DeRozan's ridiculous offensive season is overshadowing Toronto's awful defense. In the Raptors' defense, however, they have played by far the toughest schedule in the NBA so far this year.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY SportTom Szczerbowski
Atlanta Hawks (4)
The Hawks are one of the NBA's best defenses, although unlike the Raptors before them, Atlanta has played one of the NBA's easiest schedule. With that said, if the Hawks offense starts to click, the rest of the Eastern Conference could be in trouble.
San Antonio Spurs (5)
Our earlier concerns about San Antonio's defensive woes might have been premature. The Spurs are just two-tenths of a point per game away from one of the top-five defenses in the NBA.
Cleveland Cavaliers (2)
The Cavs continue to take care of business, but the Warriors overtake LeBron James & Co. on the strength of an impressive 4-0 week. You'll get over it, Bron.
Golden State Warriors (3)
We marveled at the Warriors' offensive proficiency last week, and Golden State just keeps getting better. We're only a month into the season and this team is already threatening scoring records left and right, including an absurd 47 assists in a blowout win over the Lakers.
Los Angeles Clippers (1)
As good as the Clippers are this year, maybe we should be talking more about Chris Paul as the game's best point guard. Or have we just kind of decided that no one is going to challenge Stephen Curry's claim to that crown for the next half-decade or so?