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NBA Power Rankings: Rocky start for the league's elite

NBA, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards

The opening week of the 2017-18 season didn't go smoothly for a few of the league's elite teams. The Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics, who lost Gordon Hayward to an ankle injury in the season opener, are stuck under .500. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost -- in a rout -- to the Orlando Magic for the first time in nearly five years.

Needless to say, there has been quite the shake-up in our rankings heading into Week 2 of the season.

Every Monday throughout the regular season, our panel -- ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz, Amin Elhassan and Ramona Shelburne, The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears and FiveThirtyEight's Chris Herring -- will rank the league's 30 teams from top to bottom. Here are our Week 2 NBA Power Rankings, with research notes on each team provided by ESPN Stats & Information.

Previous rankings: Week 1

1. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 3-0
Previous ranking: 3 

Chris Paul will likely miss two to four weeks while he recovers from a bruised left knee. In a limited sample (33 minutes), the Rockets have been outscored by 20.8 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the court. On the flip side, they have outscored their opponents by 13.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench. -- Jose De Leon


2. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 2-0
Previous ranking: 5 

The Spurs are without the injured Kawhi Leonard, but LaMarcus Aldridge has come to play so far this season. Aldridge is the first Spurs player to tip off a season with back-to-back games of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds since Tim Duncan in 2004-05. -- Vincent Johnson


3. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 1 

Nobody panic, but the Warriors are under .500 multiple games into the season for the first time since Nov. 10, 2012, Draymond Green's first season in the NBA. Last season, the Warriors were second in the NBA in defensive efficiency; so far this season, they rank 27th and are giving up 110.5 points per 100 possessions. They've also run more isolation plays this season -- nearly 11 percent of possessions. That number was 5.7 percent last season. -- Vincent Johnson


4. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 2 

After starting the season 2-0, the Cavaliers laid an egg at home Saturday in a bizarre loss to the Magic. It snapped their 17-game win streak over Orlando, which, according to Elias, was the longest active win streak by one team over another. Cleveland lost by 21 points, the worst home loss LeBron James has ever suffered against a team that was on zero days' rest. -- Vincent Johnson


5. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 2-0
Previous ranking: 7 

John Wall and Bradley Beal are combining to score 52 points per game, but has a third scoring option emerged for the Wizards? Otto Porter Jr. scored 28 points in Friday's win over the Pistons, tied for third-most in a game in his career. -- Jose De Leon


6. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 2-0
Previous ranking: 10 

The Raptors won't play another home game until Nov. 5, against the Wizards, as they're about to embark on a six-game road trip against Western Conference opponents. Only two other teams have road trips that long against one conference: The Knicks play six straight games against the West in January, and the Pistons have a stretch of six consecutive games against the West in March. -- Jose De Leon


7. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 4 

In OKC's first close game of the season on Sunday, with the game on the line, Russell Westbrook passed to Carmelo Anthony, who drained a go-ahead 3-pointer. (The Thunder lost seconds later on a buzzer-beater by Andrew Wiggins.) Last season, Westbrook took 11 of the team's 14 go-ahead field goal attempts in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. Three games into the season, Westbrook's teammates have already made as many go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds as they did all of last season (one). -- Micah Adams


8. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 13 

Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't kidding when he said he might be the MVP this season. He's averaging 38.3 points per game over his first three, the second-best start in Bucks history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 39 PPG in 1972-73. The Greek Freak's versatility was on full display in his career-high 44-point night Saturday against the Trail Blazers. He's the only player with a block, steal and go-ahead field goal in the final 30 seconds over the past 10 seasons. -- Vincent Johnson


9. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 2-0
Previous ranking: 11 

The Clippers have a favorable schedule the next two weeks, as only one of their upcoming seven games is on the road. The Clippers played their first two games at Staples Center, winning both by an average of 29 points. Last season, the Clippers outscored opponents by 8.9 points per game at home, tied for the second-best differential in the league. -- Jose De Leon


10. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 9 

The Wolves are wasting no time erasing their notorious late-game woes. Last season, Minnesota went just 10-19 in games within one possession in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Three games into this season, it's already 2-0 in those tight games, thanks to Jamal Crawford on Friday against Utah and Andrew Wiggins on Sunday against Oklahoma City. It was the second career game-winning buzzer-beater for Wiggins, who scored 11 points in the final five minutes. -- Micah Adams


11. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 12 

Utah is second in the NBA in assist percentage (19 percent), behind only the Warriors, and has been able to score by committee so far. The Jazz are one of two teams that doesn't currently have a 15 point per game scorer, along with the Kings. On Saturday, the Jazz were able to hold reigning MVP Russell Westbrook to two made field goals, his fewest while playing 35 minutes or more since his rookie season. -- Vincent Johnson


12. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 14 

Which team had the largest point differential through the first two games of a season in NBA history? That would be these Trail Blazers, who outscored their first two opponents by a combined 66 points. Granted, their historic, 48-point win on opening night over the Suns gave that a boost. Portland could be 3-0 if it hadn't run into Antetokounmpo playing the best game of his career. -- Vincent Johnson


13. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 1-1
Previous ranking: 8 

Nikola Jokic's rebounds (10.5 per game) and assists (7.5 per game) are there, but he has yet to find his shooting touch. He has a total of seven points and has missed 10 of his 13 field goal attempts. What's most alarming is that the big man has missed all four of his shots in the paint. -- Jose De Leon


14. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 2-0
Previous ranking: 16 

The Grizzlies have three wins over the Warriors in the past two seasons, the most in the NBA. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Golden State is 2-3 against Memphis and 66-14 against the rest of the league. Memphis won its first two games this season with depth: The bench has outscored the opponents' 94-26. -- Vincent Johnson


15. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 6 

Replacing Gordon Hayward's offensive production will be tough; he increased his scoring average in each of the past six seasons since his rookie year, the longest active streak in the NBA, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Kyrie Irving's efficiency will need to improve, as he is shooting 37 percent from the floor. He shot 46 percent from the floor in his first three games last season. -- Jose De Leon


16. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 21 

Tobias Harris has gotten off to a hot start, averaging 24.3 points per game on 56 percent shooting. A Pistons player hasn't had that high of a scoring average since Jerry Stackhouse averaged 29.8 points per game in 2000-01. -- Jose De Leon


17. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 1-1
Previous ranking: 18 

The Heat are in the midst of a six-game homestand and picked up a win over the Pacers on Saturday. Last season, the Heat won 18 of their final 23 home games, outscoring opponents by 8.5 points per game. Only the Warriors had a better home win percentage from Jan. 17 to the end of the 2016-17 season. -- Jose De Leon


18. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 15 

There likely isn't a team in the NBA that can contain the Pelicans' two-headed monster of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But what this team is still searching for is balance. Davis and Cousins have combined for 55 percent of the team's scoring and 61 percent of the rebounds. -- Vincent Johnson


19. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 24 

The Magic's 21-point road win over the Cavaliers was their largest road win on zero days' rest in the past five seasons. The surprising win came a day after Nikola Vucevic became the fourth player in team history with 40 points and 10 rebounds in a game. Orlando sits 2-1 after starting 0-3 in each of the previous three seasons, something only the Magic and 76ers have done. -- Vincent Johnson


20. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 1-1
Previous ranking: 17 

Dwight Howard continues to do what he has always done in his career: put up double-doubles. He has 30 points and 30 rebounds through two games for the third time in his career. He's the first player with 30-and-30 through two games in his 14th season or later since Charles Barkley in 1998-99. -- Jose De Leon


21. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 23 

The Kings-Suns matchup on Monday features De'Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson, the third matchup between rookies taken in the top five of this year's NBA draft. These two met earlier this year in college, when Kansas (Jackson) beat Kentucky (Fox) at Rupp Arena. In that game, Jackson recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Fox finished with 10 points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals. -- Jose De Leon


22. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 22 

One day you're getting shut down by Patrick Beverley, and the next day you're leapfrogging Magic Johnson on a list; Lonzo Ball's first two games were night and day. After a 3-point debut, he was one assist shy of becoming the youngest player in NBA history with a triple-double in his second career game. He'll have to settle for this: his 29 points were the most by a Laker in his first road game, passing Magic's 26-point performance in 1979 (via Elias Sports Bureau). -- Vincent Johnson


23. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 0-3
Previous ranking: 19 

Dennis Smith Jr. and Nerlens Noel had impressive season debuts. At 19 years, 327 days old, Smith became the youngest player with a points-assists double-double in his NBA debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Noel finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds and was 6-for-6 from the field. The last player to start a season with a double-double and shoot 100 percent from the floor (minimum five field goal attempts) was a Mavericks fan favorite, Eduardo Najera, in 2002. -- Jose De Leon


24. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 26 

Myles Turner had an impressive season debut, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. It was his second straight season tipping off the year with a 20-point, 10-rebound, four-block performance. Prior to Turner, Jermaine O'Neal in 2003 was the only Pacer in the past 30 seasons to put up those numbers in a season opener. -- Jose De Leon


25. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 0-3
Previous ranking: 20 

Perhaps it's not too surprising that the 76ers are off to an 0-3 start, considering their opponents were three of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference last season. Ben Simmons is living up to the hype, as he is the second player with at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in each of his first three career games in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Oscar Robertson is the other, and he did so in his first six games of the 1960-61 season. -- Vincent Johnson


26. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 2-1
Previous ranking: 28 

Jeremy Lin will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury, and will have played a total of 37 games the past two seasons as he has dealt with various injuries. He played in 305 of a possible 328 games the previous four seasons. -- Jose De Leon


27. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 1-2
Previous ranking: 29 

The Hawks continue their five-game road trip to start the season and won't play in front of the home fans until Friday against the Nuggets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team that began its season with five straight road games was the 2011-12 Philadelphia 76ers. -- Jose De Leon


28. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 0-2
Previous ranking: 27 

The Knicks need to find a way to get scoring outside of Kristaps Porzingis. The young Latvian put up 31 points in the season opener, but no other Knicks player scored more than 10. The Knicks had at least two players exceed 10 points in all 82 games last season. -- Brian Rosengarten


29. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 0-2
Previous ranking: 30 

Lauri Markkanen, a 7-foot European with touch from the outside, has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. So far, so good for the 20-year-old rookie, who recorded his first double-double in his second career game, just like Nowitzki did. Markkanen's double-double came against the Spurs; Nowitzki didn't get his first career double-double against the Spurs until his third meeting with San Antonio. -- Jose De Leon


30. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 0-3
Previous ranking: 25 

Earl Watson was fired Sunday, just three games into the season. The only team in NBA history to change coaches fewer games into a season was the 1971-72 Buffalo Braves, who parted ways with Dolph Schayes after a single game. The Suns have been outscored by 92 points, the worst scoring margin through three games in NBA history. -- Micah Adams

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