The Golden State Warriors have won four of their last five games, including a 21-point comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. Stephen Curry – despite his 2-16 score Sunday night against the Toronto Kidnappers – found his cruising speed.
While the Warriors were not the same title contenders last season, they have rebuilt the look of a team ready to make a name for themselves in the West.
Who’s on for the fourth week?
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 assess which teams are currently playing their best basketball and which are most likely to claim the title.
Previous reviews : Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 Record : 8-3Previous review : 1
Anthony Davis rallied after the 118-109 loss to San Antonio and called out the Lakers’ defense adding that Los Angeles is not praying to repeat its championship with such an effort. He later returned to the lineup two games later and helped Houston dominate 120-102, recording three blocks. Davis explained that I didn’t make it up. It was true, we were very bad on defense. We didn’t do a good job defensively. That could have awakened the Lakers. If you do, be careful. — McManaman.
This week: HELLO, OKAY, NO.
2. LA Clippers
2020-21 Record : 7-4Previous review : 2
For the first time this season, the Clippers have a full team, with Marcus Morris Sr. making his debut last week. But Golden State’s 22-point defeat of the second-ranked brought back bad memories of Florida’s bubble. Ty Lue’s defense allowed Zach LaVine 10 to score three points, Stephen Curry nine and Patty Mills eight in three of the last four games. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George score goals, but the defense and bench are not playing cohesively. -Youngomisuk
This week: NOP, @BAG, IND.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 Record : 6-4
Previous Assessment : 5
Giannis Antetokounmpo took a bad fall in Friday’s loss to Utah. He missed Saturday’s game against Cleveland because of back spasms, but the Bucks still managed to win 100-90. Milwaukee’s six wins this season have been by at least 10 points. — Woodyard.
This week: ORL, DET, DAL
4. Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 Record : 7-3
Previous ranking : 3
The Sixers had the highest score in the NBA on Thursday morning. Four days later, their team was hit hard by the NBA’s health and safety protocols and an exhausted Sixers team missed two games in a row. Good news: Joel Embiid will return to action Monday night in Atlanta against the Hawks. — Good time.
This week: @ATL, MIA, MIA, O.K.C.
5. Phoenix Suns
2020-21 Record : 7-3
Previous ranking : 7
Chris Paul continues to defend the ball, averaging 1.7 touches per game, 27 assists and three shutouts in his last three games. Mikal Bridges became the best player of his career in the Pacers’ 34-point victory on Saturday night, when he also reached the high point of his career with six three-point victories. — Lopez.
This week: @WHAT, ATL, GSW, IND
6. Boston Celtics
2020-21 Record : 7-3
Previous ranking : 10
The week started well for Boston, winning against the Raptors and Heat before coming home and beating Washington. But any good feelings after four straight wins – Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown both played at the NBA level – evaporated when the team had to deal with the fact that half of its squad was out of commission due to injury or the league’s health and safety protocols for at least the next few days. — Good time.
This week: @CHI, ENT, NYK
7. Indiana Pacers
2020-21 Record : 6-3
Previous Assessment : 9
Despite Saturday’s loss, Domantas Sabonis continues to shine with 28 points and 22 rebounds against Phoenix. He became the first Pacers player with 25 points and 20 rebounds in a single game since Jermaine O’Neal in 2003. — Woodyard.
This week: BAG, GSW, POR, PHX, MORE…
8. Miami Heat
2020-21 Record : 4-4Previous review : 6
Miami had a 2-1 week with Tyler Herro’s 31 points in Saturday’s win over the Wizards, but Miami’s near future looks bleak after the postponement of Sunday’s game against the Celtics. Not only is Avery Bradley expected to miss Sunday’s game due to the league’s health and safety protocols, but a doubleheader with the 76ers this week poses problems as both teams are dealing with COVID-19 issues. — Friedell.
This week: ¶PHI, ¶PHI, DET
9. Utah Jazz
2020-21 Record : 6-4
Previous Assessment : 8
Donovan Mitchell started to warm up after a slow start. He averaged 27.3 points in four games last week, including two over 30 points. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Mitchell played 46 games on 30 points in his career, surpassing Karl Malone for the most games in franchise history for a player before his 25th birthday. — McMahon.
This week: UNCLE, WAS, ATL, DEN…
10. Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 Record : 5-4Previous review : 14
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Tim Hardaway Jr. has earned a lot of respect for his professionalism and performance during the Mavs’ three win streak. He responded to the role change by scoring 30 points on 11 of 14 attempts in his first game off the bench. Hardaway returned to the starting team two games later when three Mavs were quarantined. He had his most productive game in a Dallas jersey with 36 points on 12 of 20 shots. — McMahon.
This week: NOP, CHA, MIL, CHI
11. Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 Record : 5-6Previous Classification : 4
With their dynamic team, no one expected the season to be free of drama, questions, concerns or problems for the network. With Kevin Durant missing three games due to COVID-19 protocols and Kyrie Irving missing three games for personal reasons, the Nets finished the week below .500. They are the means to escape any scare tactics, but last week they clearly failed. If they recover quickly, keep an eye on the next four – Denver, Knicks, Orlando and Milwaukee. — Young people
This week: DEN, @NYK, ORL.
12. Portland Trail Blazers
2020-21 Record : 5-4Previous review : 12
Portland’s backyard is up and running. But lately, it’s been a little off: Damian Lillard scored 39 points on one night against the Wolves and CJ McCollum lost by 37 points on another night against the Kings. Lillard or McCollum have been the top scorers in the Blazers’ nine games this season. However, a problem looms on the horizon: Defensively, the Blazers’ bench is problematic, which isn’t too surprising given that Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony are the first two options. When Anthony and Kanter play together, the Blazers give up 115.9 points for 100 possessions. — Young people
This week: TOR, @SAC, IND, ATL
13. Denver Nuggets
2020-21 Record : 5-5Previous review : 15
The Nuggets were supposed to bring Michael Porter Jr. back from quarantine last week, but they had to hold him longer because of health and safety protocols. Despite Porter’s passing and the fact that Jamal Murray still doesn’t look the same, Nikola Jokic’s train is running at full speed and the Nuggets have now won four of their last five games. Jamaichal Green delivered strong minutes and Gary Harris’ attack came alive on this East Coast promenade. -Youngomisuk
This week: @BKN, GSW, UTA
14. Golden State Warriors
2020-21 Record : 6-4
Previous Assessment : 22
Stephen Curry scored the best of his career (2 out of 16)… and the Warriors won? Sunday’s win over Toronto was a solid finish for a group of Warriors who have stabilized after a hectic first week of the season. Andrew Wiggins had some good moments in the starting lineup at both ends of the track and Eric Paschall was the scorer in the second unit. Kelly Oubre Jr. however, continues to have trouble from outside, shooting at 7:50 alone on the other side of the arc. — Friedell.
This week: IND, @DEN, @PHO
15. San Antonio Spurs
2020-21 Record : 5-5Previous review : 20
DeMar DeRozan was not with Spurs in Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves when he left the team for personal reasons, but he scored 38 points on Saturday night, his most productive game in a San Antonio jersey. His average per game is the highest in his career (7.0) and he has scored three points in nine games nine times this season, as he did in 68 games last season. — Lopez.
This week: OKAY, BOO, BOO, BOO…
16. Orlando Magic
2020-21 Record : 6-4
Previous Assessment : 16
Steve Clifford and his team must feel like snakes after seeing junior guard Markelle Fultz tear her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Wednesday’s win over the Cavaliers. Fultz’s injury came just months after the talented Jonathan Isaac tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the bubble. With Fultz absent, rookie Cole Anthony will need to grow quickly as he has more minutes. — Friedell.
This week: MILLET, FOREST, BKN
17. Houston missiles
2020-21 Record : 3-5Previous ranking : 17
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James Harden has been behind since returning from an ankle sprain that kept him out of the game. He’s averaging 17.8 points in his last four games, including three losses to the Rockets. According to ESPN Stats & Information, this is Harden’s lowest point total in four games, as he scored a combined total of 70 points in the final game of the 2014-15 season and the first three games of the 2015-16 season. — McMahon.
This week: LAL, AIRLOCK, AIRLOCK…
18. New Orleans Pelicans
2020-21 Record : 4-5Previous review : 13
To say it was a bad week for the Pelicans is an understatement. The Pelicans had three very easy games to win – six at Indiana with 21 seconds left, four at 2 p.m. against the Thunder and 18 against the Hornets – but all three were losers. Stan Van Gundy’s team needs to work on closing out the game. And he’s still trying to put some of his base defense into something that defies the odd timeline of the season. — Lopez.
This week: BOY, MORE, MORE, BAG…
19. Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 Record: 4-5Previous review : 11
The Hawks have cooled off considerably after a hot start to the season and have now lost 4-1 four straight times. The Hawks’ purchases of free agents have led to injuries: Bogdan Bogdanovic left Saturday’s game with a knee injury, Danilo Gallinari came out with a sprained ankle, Rajon Rondo has only played two games and Chris Dunn has yet to appear this season. Trey Young, meanwhile, struggled to defend the ball, committing 19 defeats in the last three games. — Lopez.
This week: PHI, PPHX, UTA, POR
20. Report from the Toronto Raptors
2020-21 : 2-7Previous review : 18
Toronto’s strange start to the season continues: A good win at Sacramento on Friday was followed by a slip-up at Golden State on Sunday, where the Raptors came back from a big deficit to take the lead late in the game, only to foul Damion Lee in the dying seconds and lose by a point. However, the Raptors should be encouraged by the recent improvement in the play of Pascal Siakam, who averaged 24 points, had nearly nine rebounds and more than five assists, while shooting over 50 percent from the field and hitting 40 percent of his three shots in four games last week. If Toronto wants to get out of this hole, the fact that Siakam keeps playing like this is a good start. — Good time.
This week: @POR, CHA
21. Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 Record : 5-5Previous review : 27
On the night he nearly made history against Lonzo’s brother, LaMelo Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to earn a triple-double victory over the Hawks on Saturday. The performance on the ball was a good exclamation point in week 3-1 for a group of Hornets still convinced that the starting guard could come in and make an early impact. — Friedell.
This week: NYK, DAL, @TOR….
22. New York Knicks
2020-21 Record : 5-5Previous review : 26
After a strong start, the Knicks came back down to earth with a comfortable defeat to the Thunder and Nuggets. Julius Randle, however, remains the focal point of the offense. Randle’s more than seven assists per game is a dramatic improvement over his career average of 2.9. If New York is at the bottom of the ladder and this improvement continues, Randle will be a force to be reckoned with between now and the 25th deadline. March will be an interesting commercial target. — Good time.
This week: CHA, BKN, UNCLE, BOS
23. Cleveland Riders
2020-21 Record : 5-5Previous review : 19
The Cavs had a tough week (1-3) in the final four games of their six-game tour, which ended in a 10-point loss to the Bucks with the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo. And Andre Drummond’s 26 points and 24 points against the Bucks could have been a little brighter if he hadn’t done so earlier in the week against the Grizzlies. — McManaman.
This week: MEM, UTA, NYK, @WAS
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 Record : 5-4Previous review : 28
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Wait, is Thunder really doing that again? Last season was supposed to be the start of a rebuild, but OKC shocked the West during the season. After a 1-3 start, the Thunder went on a 4-1 run with wins over the Magic, Pelicans, Knicks and Nets. One important reason: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. APG averaged 20.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists on the trip and posted a record of 31-6-7 against the Nets on Sunday. But before Thunder fans start dreaming of another great season, the upcoming schedule could be a reality check. — Young people
This week: SS, LAL, CHI, PHI
25. Sacramento Kings
2020-21 Record : 4-6Previous review : 21
Is it too early for a game where we’re going to recast the 2020 NBA Draft? How high will Tyrese Haliburton go? The Iowa State leader, who was selected as Sacramento State’s 12th-best player, has already made the starting rotation for the Kings. Haliburton scored 12 points in his first stint with Sacto’s first team by shooting 5-8 and making eight assists. Luke Walton scored three points in the loss to Portland with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and a rookie. — McManaman.
This week: IND, PORE, LAC, NUB
26. Chicago Bulls
2020-21 Record : 4-7Previous review : 29
The Bulls have been a competitor of late, although they have not appeared in the rankings. On the West Coast trip, Chicago started with a 20-point first-half deficit against Portland and then lost by nine points to the Kings, Lakers and Clippers. Zach LaVine was hot. Against the Clippers, he recorded 45 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his sixth career game (40-5-5), tying him with Derrick Rose for fifth in Bulls game history. — Woodyard.
This week: FOREST, O.K.C.,VALLEY
27. Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 Record : 3-6Previous review : 23
Young Desmond Bayne was a positive in the Grizzlies’ eventful start. Bain, who ranks 30th overall, averaged 8.9 points off the bench and showed the potential of a role player in 3 and D. He hit 19 of 39 distance hits, making him the second-best rookie with three successful shots. — McMahon.
This week: OOM, MIN, PHI
28. Minnesota Timberwolves
2020-21 Record : 3-7Previous review : 24
The Wolves desperately needed a win and got one Sunday night in the weekend series finale against the Spurs, losing a seven-game lead. Karl-Anthony Towns came back Saturday and gave the Wolves a big boost, but they still lost a close game in overtime to San Antonio. With Towns’ play, they were 27 points behind D’Angelo Russell. It’s too early to make a decision on the Wolves’ season, but they are interested in making a positive move. And you have to know how to win every now and then. — Young people
This week: MEM, MEM.
29. Washington Wizards
2020-21 Record : 2-8
Previous ranking : 25
As if a 2-8 start wasn’t enough, the Wizards also lost Thomas Bryant to an ACL tear this season. Bryant was looking for a 2020-21 breakout season, and Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal found him for an open look. Westbrook himself had quadriceps and finger problems. This season is very similar to the last: A tear, but the young Wizards continue to play little on defense. -Youngomisuk
This week: PHO, UTA, @DET, CLE
30. Pistons Detroit
2020-21 Record : 2-8
Previous ranking : 30
The highlight of the week in Detroit was a 110-105 overtime win over the Suns, after falling 23 points behind in the second quarter, their biggest comeback in 25 seasons. The Pistons scored 1-3 this week, but Jerami Grant remains positive. He joins Blake Griffin as the only Pistons player in the last 20 seasons to score 30 points and 10 rebounds in a row. — Woodyard.
This week: MIL, WAS, @MIA