After one week of the 2016-2017 NBA season, it is both easy and immeasurably fun to draw sharp conclusions about the product on the floor for each of the 30 teams. On one hand, there is always a general consensus (or something approaching one) about what teams will resemble when the curtain goes up for the season opener, and it would be very easy to lean on that when it comes to evaluating early-season performance. On the other, “hot takes” are prevalent in today’s sporting culture, in part because it brings a ton of enjoyment to overreact to things on the fly.
The league’s 30 teams have played a (small) handful of games to this point, and that provides something of a sample to judge. Perhaps the most famous example is the Golden State Warriors, who famously were lambasted by the Spurs (at home) on Opening Night while facing perhaps the highest level of expectations in the history of the sport. Since then, things have been much rosier for Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and friends, but memories of that opening performance and several additional sluggish stretches persist.
Where does that leave us with Golden State and, well, how does it help us when trying to rank the NBA’s teams?
In short, we don’t know a ton more than we did previously about the Warriors, but what we do know is that Steve Kerr’s team places more talent on the floor at one time than any squad in recent memory and it just might be safe to assume that Golden State is pretty good. Even when things don’t go quite as swimmingly as everyone expected from the outset.
With that in mind, let’s roll out the inaugural edition of our NBA power rankings. Be gentle. It’s still (very) early.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-0, Last week — n/a)
The defending champs are at the top and that makes sense given their unblemished record. Cleveland was taken to the brink by the Rockets on Tuesday evening, but the presence of LeBron and Kyrie was enough to propel the Cavs to a win and the retention of this spot. It seems rather likely that this team will remain in the top three for the bulk of the year, and frankly, we’ve seen nothing to move away from them now.