NBA Power Rankings: Cavs keep rolling, and a new No. 2 emerges

There's another new No. 2 in ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, stand as the NBA's last remaining unbeaten team and have stretched their run at No. 1 to four successive editions of our 2016-17 power poll thanks to the first 6-0 start of LeBron James' career.

It's the L.A. Clippers who suddenly sit right behind them in the second slot, keeping Golden State mired at No. 3 on the strength of a 5-1 start highlighted by the Clips' Saturday night road rout of San Antonio. The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, in this week's other notable development, have capitalized on the volatility that seemingly takes hold every November to make unexpected jumps into the middle of the pack.

We repeat: There's always a lot of movement in the season's first month when we have only a handful of games' worth of data to work with, which means there's plenty for you to dissect and debate throughout our 1-to-30 ladder. Many thanks, as always, go to ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau -- particularly research ace Micah Adams -- for supplying much of the background data that helps the Committee (of One) arrange things.

Previous rankings: Week 2 | Week 1 | Training camp

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2016-17 record: 6-0
Previous ranking: 1

We've seen at least one lapse in concentration per week from the reigning champs; first against Orlando and then Saturday night in Philadelphia. Yet you suspect LeBron James can live with the occasional letdown when the Cavs (A) already look like such runaway favorites in the East and (B) just became the first LeBron team to ever start 6-0. The three previous LeBron teams that managed to start 5-1 -- last season's Cavs and the Heat in 2011-12 and 2012-13 -- all went on to win it all.

2. LA Clippers
2016-17 record: 5-1
Previous ranking: 4

What would you give greater weight to if we let you do the grading? A home loss to the Russell Westbrook Show marked by a punchless offense? Or a Blake Griffin-led clinic that leads to a 24-point rout of the mighty Spurs on their own floor? Hopeful signs that the likes of Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton have legitimately strengthened the Clippers' bench, coupled with sharp starts from Griffin and Chris Paul, have us (and presumably Doc Rivers) looking harder at the latter.

3. Golden State Warriors
2016-17 record: 4-2
Previous ranking: 3

Folks forget that Klay Thompson didn't post a 20-point game last season until the eighth game on the schedule and wound up scoring less than 20 in 10 of Golden State's first 11 games before launching the turnaround that earned Thompson his second straight All-Star appearance. The difference, of course, is that Thompson was suffering from a bad back in November 2015 and isn't known to have any injury alibis this season to account for his 9-for-46 shooting from 3-point range.

4. San Antonio Spurs
2016-17 record: 5-2
Previous ranking: 2

We are conditioned to be surprised by almost every team on the NBA map ... especially in the topsy-turvy month of November. The Spurs, though, are the exception. How are we supposed to process two home losses in the space of a week? Surrendering 73 points to the visiting Clippers on Saturday night to account for the worst first-half D in the Gregg Popovich era? The retirement of legendary San Antonio Express-News columnist Buck Harvey? We weren't ready for any of that.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder
2016-17 record: 5-1
Previous ranking: 7

After averaging 38.7 points, 12.0 rebounds and 11.7 assists in the Thunder's 3-0 start to snag Western Conference Player of the Week honors, Russell Westbrook saw his Week 2 numbers recede to something closer to mortal levels: 27.7 points, 6.0 boards and 7.7 assists. But fear not. An eventful Week 3 looms for Angry Russ and OKC, with DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors visiting Wednesday in a showdown of the league's top scorers, followed by Westbrook's 28th birthday on the eve of Devin Booker's visit Sunday.

6. Toronto Raptors
2016-17 record: 4-2
Previous ranking: 5

Tiny Archibald, Marques Johnson, Adrian Dantley, Michael Jordan ... and DeMar DeRozan. That's your list of players, through the NBA's last 50 (yes, fifty) seasons, to score at least 30 points in each of his team's first five games. It's been a historic start to the season for 30-point scorers, but Toronto had to know that the streak was going to end eventually. The Raps didn't have enough pick-me-up for DeRozan when it did and promptly lost at home to slumping Sacramento.

7. Charlotte Hornets
2016-17 record: 4-1
Previous ranking: 11

A road win over the Nets, even when they're without an ailing Jeremy Lin, has a better ring to it than it might have had two weeks ago, thanks to Brooklyn's gritty start. In this case, Charlotte's 99-95 win was particularly satisfying, since it followed injuries to Jeremy Lamb and Roy Hibbert and nudged the Hornets to 4-1, matching the best start in franchise history (2000-01). Charlotte's regular-season winning streak has reached nine games when Kemba Walker scores 30-plus points.

8. Utah Jazz
2016-17 record: 4-3
Previous ranking: 16

A road win that denied Gregg Popovich his first career 5-0 start, coupled with a contract extension for Rudy Gobert, just might entitle the Jazz to make the claim that no visiting team in the Popovich era has ever gotten so much out of a regular-season trip to San Antonio. It was a memorable week start-to-finish when you factor in Gordon Hayward's earlier-than-expected return, George Hill's lights-out start as a Jazz man and Sunday's handy matinee victory over the Knicks at MSG.

9. Portland Trail Blazers
2016-17 record: 4-3
Previous ranking: 8

All the gaudy numbers coming from Damian Lillard to start the season -- no fewer than 27 points in any of Portland's first six games -- have made it tough on backcourt mate C.J. McCollum to snag any spotlight. That finally changed Sunday afternoon in Memphis, where McCollum rung up 16 points in the fourth quarter and a career-high 37 overall to ensure that the Blazers mustered a strong finish (two road wins) to a week that began with a home rout inflicted by Golden State and a frustrating ending in Phoenix.

10. Atlanta Hawks
2016-17 record: 4-2
Previous ranking: 9

The schedule hasn't been the toughest, true, but Atlanta will arrive for Tuesday night's plenty challenging visit to Cleveland sporting the top-rated team defense in the Eastern Conference. Dismiss this if you wish as premature praise, too, but Dwight Howard will also confront the Cavs in a really good place, with his Hawks career off to a strong statistical start and a comfortable victory to savor from Saturday night's maiden reunion game with James Harden and the Rockets.

11. Boston Celtics
2016-17 record: 3-3
Previous ranking: 6

The twin absences of Jae Crowder (ankle) and Al Horford (concussion) are seemingly reasonable alibis, but the Celtics really shouldn't be spanked at home by Denver like they just were. Boston surrendered 42 points in the first quarter, 77 by halftime and has sunk to the bottom of the league's defensive standings, embryonic as that list is at this stage of the season. The capitulation almost had Brad Stevens pulling a Pop on Sunday night; he stopped short of calling the Celts soft but branded them a "finesse team."

12. Detroit Pistons
2016-17 record: 4-2
Previous ranking: 14

Make that three 20-rebound games for Andre Drummond. The rest of the NBA has accounted for one, courtesy of the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan. Progress has been more modest on the free throws front, however, with Drummond hitting at a 48.5 percent clip compared to last season's ghastly 38.2 percent. Given that Monday marks Detroit's first full month without Reggie Jackson, Stan Van Gundy should be reasonably pleased ... except we're talking about Stan Van Gundy.

13. Indiana Pacers
2016-17 record: 3-3
Previous ranking: 15

The first ejection of Paul George's career got all the attention, with a fine surely coming, but the bigger development from a Pacers perspective is that they finally played like the team so many NBA prognosticators grew so fond of in the preseason. Question is: How much of it was Jeff Teague finally finding his stroke after a 2-for-18 start from 3-point range ... or the mere fact that the Bulls were bound to be raggedy after facing the Knicks one night earlier in Derrick Rose's homecoming?

14. Denver Nuggets
2016-17 record: 3-3
Previous ranking: 19

If you buy the notion that a young team can benefit from a road-heavy early schedule and build something meaningful from all the bonding that ensues, keep an eye on Denver. The Nuggets just bookended a week that began with a rally from 15 points down to win at Minnesota -- headlined by the five foreign-born players in Denver's starting lineup -- with a thumping win in Boston that featured Emmanuel Mudiay uncorking 24 points in the first quarter en route to just the second 30-point game of his career.

15. Los Angeles Lakers
2016-17 record: 4-3
Previous ranking: 27

The Lakers' recovery from 12 points down in the third quarter in Atlanta marked just the third time over the past three seasons in which they won a game after trailing by at least a dozen points in the second half. And it wasn't their most impressive performance of the week. Thanks to what Steve Kerr is calling "our annual beatdown at Staples," L.A. has ushered Golden State's Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, to 3-for-38 shooting from deep in the teams' last two meetings.

16. Houston Rockets
2016-17 record: 3-3
Previous ranking: 16

There were three 30-point/15-assist games recorded last season by the entire NBA populace ... and only one registered in Rockets franchise history coming into this season. James Harden, by contrast, has delivered three already in Houston's first six games. But defense, depth and turnovers have all been the sort of red-flag trouble spots that folks feared about this roster. A home-and-home this week with San Antonio means things won't necessarily be getting easier, either.

17. Miami Heat
2016-17 record: 2-3
Previous ranking: 17

After last week's three emotional reunions (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Chicago, Dwight Howard and James Harden), we have to ask: Are you ready to do it again? All of this is honestly happening a little too early for our taste, but Thursday night's schedule brings the return of Dwyane Wade to South Beach. In case you've somehow forgotten, D-Wade ranks No. 1 in Heat franchise history in points (20,221), assists (4,944), steals (1,414), games played (855) and minutes logged (30,560).

18. Memphis Grizzlies
2016-17 record: 3-4
Previous ranking: 10

After a seven-month absence and a six-game wait to make his Memphis debut, Chandler Parsons endured a rough return in Sunday's home defeat to Portland (zero points on 0-for-8 shooting in 22 minutes). Mike Conley, meanwhile, just became the first Memphian to assemble a 30-point, 10-assist game since Jason Williams back in 2002, but the Grizz also continue to closely monitor Conley's Achilles. Memphis needs a win Tuesday night over Denver to salvage a 2-2 homestand.

19. Chicago Bulls
2016-17 record: 3-3
Previous ranking: 12

It's not just that the Bulls' 3-point shooting inevitably dropped off in the wake of the first 3-0 start for the franchise since the 1996-97 season (Year 2 of Michael Jordan's second three-peat). Chicago is also somehow averaging more than ‎10 fewer assists per game during this 0-3 slump than it managed to rack up during those three successive opening wins. Another significant issue: The Bulls surrendered a whopping 118 points per 100 possessions during their three-game slide.

20. Milwaukee Bucks
2016-17 record: 4-3
Previous ranking: 24

The Bucks were on the brink of a 4-0 week until Sunday night's nightmarish overtime period in Dallas against the short-handed (and winless to that point) Mavs. Yet it's hard to quibble too much after Milwaukee's rousing home victories over Indiana and Sacramento by a combined 44 points. The Greek Freak isn't just must-watch; he's playing at a high level of efficiency to help the Bucks hum offensively (by Bucks standards) despite the fact that they're still light on outside shooting.

21. Orlando Magic
2016-17 record: 3-3
Previous ranking: 29

Nothing about the Magic is more important to the Committee right now than Jeff Green's presence in Chicago on Monday night to face the Bulls. Our Chicago-based ESPN.com colleague Wayne Drehs -- our dear roommate at the Olympics in Rio -- will be undergoing the same heart procedure Monday that Green faced in 2012 and made it all the way back from after he missed the entire 2011-12 season. Which is how Green became an inspiration to our man Drehs. Prayers up, WD.

22. Phoenix Suns
2016-17 record: 2-5
Previous ranking: 28

Things have perked up for the Suns since the unfortunate "Beldsoe" affair, thanks to a couple of overtime wins. First it was Eric Bledsoe, with his last name spelled properly on the back of his jersey this time, hitting a triple at the OT horn to take down Portland and deliver the first buzzer-beating bucket from a Sun since Channing Frye connected back in February 2011. Then it was heroics from Devin Booker and early-season revelation T.J. Warren to heap more misery on the Pelicans.

23. Sacramento Kings
2016-17 record: 3-5
Previous ranking: 22

If you expected Sacramento to wrap up a five-game swing through the Eastern Conference by winning the toughest game of the five after an 0-4 start -- on the second half, no less, of a back-to-back in Toronto -- that makes one of us. Let's see if the Kings can generate any momentum from the breakthrough, which brought some much-needed relief after the six-fouls-in-a-quarter fiasco in Miami endured by DeMarcus Cousins, whose Kings have lost the last nine games in which Boogie has scored 30 or more points.

24. New York Knicks
2016-17 record: 2-4
Previous ranking: 21

The Knicks' offense has picked up considerably from where it was in the opening week, with Derrick Rose finding some footing as a floor leader -- 11 assists in his Chicago homecoming! -- and with Jeff Hornacek, as Carmelo Anthony forcefully explained, running less of the Triangle offense than outsiders anticipated. New York's defense, though, continues to be leaky and a real problem, which perhaps isn't hugely surprising when you remember how much training camp time D-Rose and Joakim Noah missed.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves
2016-17 record: 1-4
Previous ranking: 18

Karl-Anthony Towns is putting up monster numbers, but the Wolves are clearly hurting without Ricky Rubio's game management. Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine have been inconsistent, leads continue to be unsafe and the various stats that suggest this team should be better than 1-4 have clearly been swayed since Minnesota's one win was a 36-point hammering of Memphis. Signing Gorgui Dieng to such a favorable contract extension is the only true positive development to date.

26. Dallas Mavericks
2016-17 record: 1-5
Previous ranking: 20

The OT win Dallas eked over Milwaukee on Sunday night, with the visiting Bucks on the second half of a back-to-back, left New Orleans and Philadelphia as the NBA's only remaining winless teams. But both Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) and Deron Williams (calf) are still ailing, which leaves the Mavericks vulnerable indefinitely. The lone consolation: Harrison Barnes has cracked the 30-point plateau twice in the Mavs' first six games ... after getting there just once in the 307 regular-season games he played for the Warriors.

27. Washington Wizards
2016-17 record: 1-4
Previous ranking: 23

Challenge No. 1 for the Wizards in their next game Tuesday night: Hold James Harden under 40 points after Harden got there in both of Houston's meetings with Washington last season. No less important, though, is a return to form for sharpshooter Bradley Beal, who's shooting just 37.3 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from deep in the early going after scoring that big contract in the summer. Not sure the Wiz can ask John Wall -- and his 25.8 PER -- to do much more than he's doing.

28. Brooklyn Nets
2016-17 record: 2-4
Previous ranking: 25

Losing Jeremy Lin is a gut punch for a young team that felt the need to hold Brook Lopez out of the season's second game because the Nets don't want to subject Lopez to back-to-backs after all his foot woes. Brooklyn actually hung in there gamely Friday night in a narrow loss to Charlotte in its first game without Lin, but a five-game road trip -- with four of the stops out West after Wednesday's MSG duel with the Knicks and another back-to-back mixed in -- is going to be a serious test for Kenny Atkinson's youthful crew.

29. New Orleans Pelicans
2016-17 record: 0-6
Previous ranking: 26

After three more losses last week by a combined 11 points, with two of them coming in overtime, before the depressing dispatch delivered late Saturday to announce Lance Stephenson needs groin surgery, we're truly not sure what to say in this space. Yet another source of woe: The Pels wound up next on the schedule for Golden State after each of the Warriors' losses so far. It's just too soon in the schedule for the basketball world to be feeling as sad as it does for Anthony Davis.

30. Philadelphia 76ers
2016-17 record: 0-5
Previous ranking: 30

By now you're surely aware of the Sixers' 42 consecutive losses in games played in October and November dating back to the 2013-14 season. Yet perhaps more troubling is Philly's 10-24 record, good for a success rate of just .294, in games in which it led during the fourth quarter over the past two seasons after last week's heartbreaking defeats to Orlando and Cleveland. Every other team in the league, in the same span, has a winning percentage of at least .575 in such games.