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Betting On Hoops? Cappers Picks NBA Power Rankings Week 2

2014-15 NBA Handicapping

Two weeks into the 2014-15 NBA season, there are plenty of surprises — both good and bad. The Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs have underachieved, the Oklahoma City Thunder are dealing with significant injuries and teams like the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns are top-10 or borderline-top-10 teams.

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Things should balance themselves out eventually, but for now: Here are the power rankings for the second week of the NBA schedule.

1. Toronto Raptors (7-1)

The Toronto Raptors may not be the best team in the NBA, but they’re certainly the hottest. Eight games into the season, the team isn’t just 7-1 — it’s riding a five-game winning streak. That’s the longest streak currently in the league, and while only one of those wins is looking like it came against a playoff opponent (Washington Wizards), you can’t knock the hot start.

The question, of course, is: Can this team continue at its current pace?

That answer is likely no with the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies making up two of their next three. But this team is fighting for home-court advantage out East, and as of Nov. 13 at 12:00 p.m. ET, it has that and more with the best record in the conference.

2. Houston Rockets (7-1)

Houston Rockets detractors (and there are plenty of them these days) will point to a soft schedule for a reason for success. Furthermore, people will look at James Harden’s inefficient shooting as a reason why this team deserves to be further down the list. What you can’t argue with, though, is standings.

As this is being written, Houston is tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for first out West. Harden’s shooting won’t be so poor too much longer (you’d assume), and when it improves, so will this already-hot team.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (7-1)

Like the two teams ahead of them, the Grizzlies have just one loss in their first eight games. Unlike the first two teams, they’re doing it with defense and defense only. Although Toronto has become a top-10 defensive team, Memphis is No. 1. The Grizzlies offense needs to improve, as it’s scoring just 94.8 points per game, but when you’re giving up the fewest points of any team in the Association, you’re nitpicking when you look for areas that need improvement.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (6-3)

The Portland Trail Blazers looked like a classic case study for a letdown after last season. Sure, they improved their bench by bringing on Chris Kaman and Steve Blake, but their second unit still had plenty of areas that needed fixing. Furthermore, the team started just 1-2.

As it turns out, the squad from the Northwest Division has turned things around nicely, and those two early losses were against two hot squads in the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. Currently, the Blazers are riding a three-game winning streak.

5. Golden State Warriors (5-2)

If it weren’t for two straight losses, the Golden State Warriors would be either the No. 4 or No. 3 team on this list.

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Steph Curry looks as good as ever, Klay Thompson’s injury shouldn’t be too debilitating and the team has managed to keep the defensive identity it had previously established under Mark Jackson.

Luckily, the two losses have come against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and the payoff-hopeful Phoenix Suns. They’d be further down the list if the level of competition weren’t so stiff.

6. Chicago Bulls (6-2)

Derrick Rose made headlines recently because he admitted that he’s playing fewer minutes and could sit out games throughout the year with his after-basketball life in mind. Injuries have defined his young career since winning the MVP award a few years back, and this doesn’t help fans who only have sports on the brain.

Luckily, he’s played well when on the floor, and the team’s offensive numbers are impressive even when he’s sidelined. Keep an eye on this team, as well as Rose’s role and minutes, moving forward.

7. Washington Wizards (6-2)

The Washington Wizards are tied with the Chicago Bulls out East at 6-2, and depending how Rose progresses with the offensive flow, this group could surpass the Windy City before we know it.

Their only losses are to the conference-leading Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat, and they have no games between their win over Detroit (Wednesday) and their contest with Orlando on Saturday.

8. Phoenix Suns (5-3)

The Phoenix Suns are trying to prove that 2013-14 wasn’t a fluke. So far they’re doing a good job, but they have to fix a few things along the way. Phoenix is fourth in points scored while 26th in points allowed. Defense needs to be an emphasis, and if it can be, they can climb these rankings.

9. Dallas Mavericks (5-3)

The Dallas Mavericks, like the Suns, are also trying to prove that last year was simply a starting point. Unfortunately, they still have work to do on defense despite the addition of Tyson Chandler. Team chemistry should improve as the year moves on.

10. Miami Heat (5-3)

Boy, has Chris Bosh looked good this year, or what? If it weren’t for a troubling loss to the short-handed Indiana Pacers this week, the Heat would be higher on this list.

The Rest

  • 11. Sacramento Kings (5-3
  • 12. San Antonio Spurs (4-3)
  • 13. Los Angeles Clippers (4-3)
  • 14. New Orleans Pelicans (4-3)
  • 15. Brooklyn Nets (4-3)
  • 16. Atlanta Hawks (4-3)
  • 17. Boston Celtics (3-4)
  • 18. Milwaukee Bucks (4-4)
  • 19. Charlotte Hornets (3-5)
  • 20.  Cleveland Cavaliers (3-3)
  • 21. Utah Jazz (3-6)
  • 22. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-6)
  • 23. Indiana Pacers (3-6)
  • 24. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-5)
  • 25. Orlando Magic (3-6)
  • 26.  New York Knicks (2-7)
  • 27. Detroit Pistons (2-6)
  • 28. Los Angeles Lakers (1-5)
  • 29. Denver Nuggets (1-6)
  • 30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-7)

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