Toronto Raptors

NBA Power Rankings: Toronto Raptors still on top, Golden State Warriors take a tumble

Power Rankings for Week 5
Power Rankings for Week 5 (Getty Images)

Here is a look at the NBA Power Rankings through Week 5 of the 2018-19 NBA season.

None of the league's best teams had a banner week and that's putting it mildly.

Case in point? The Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors who combined to go 2-7 with their only wins coming against the Bulls and Hawks who are a combined 7-26 overall this season.

Let's make one thing clear: these power rankings are a snap shot of where things stand now, not necessarily how they'll look at the end of the season. We're all about giving credit where it's due and likewise, holding teams accountable for speed bumps encountered along the way.

All records and stats are through games played Sunday, November 18.

The Raptors are 13-4 and No. 1 in the NBA Power Rankings
The Raptors are 13-4 and No. 1 in the NBA Power Rankings (Getty Images)

1. Toronto Raptors

Overall record: 13-4

Last week: 1-3 (Lost vs Pelicans, Lost vs Pistons, Lost at Celtics, Won at Bulls)

This week: at Magic, at Hawks, Wizards, Heat

The Raptors have lost three of four following their blistering 12-1 start and yet remain in the top spot almost by default. Golden State has struggled while dealing with drama and awaiting the return of Stephen Curry. Milwaukee only played twice, losing to Memphis and beating Chicago in a game in it trailed by 22. Denver has faltered, Boston is struggling and while Oklahoma City is surging, the Thunder can't stake claim to being the NBA's best team with that 0-4 start still so fresh.

Toronto has a good shot to rebound this week as it should be relatively big favourites in all four games with the first game against the Warriors looming at the end of the month.

Giannis and the Bucks went 1-1 last week
Giannis and the Bucks went 1-1 last week (Getty Images)

2. Milwaukee Bucks

Overall record: 11-4

Last week: 1-1 (Lost vs Grizzlies, Won vs Bulls)

This week: vs Nuggets, vs Trail Blazers, vs Suns, vs Spurs

Following a 7-0 start, the Bucks have alternated wins and losses over their last eight games. Consistency over that stretch has been hard to come by. They followed up the resounding offensive explosion against the Kings with a loss a Portland. They followed up the statement win at Oracle by losing in overtime against the Clippers. An impressive road win at Denver was followed by a home loss to the Grizzlies in which they surrendered 116 points to a team held under 90 in two of their previous three. Had they won against Memphis, the top spot this week would have gone to Milwaukee.

Paul George and the Thunder are soaring
Paul George and the Thunder are soaring (Getty Images)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

Overall record: 10-5

Last week: 3-0 (Won vs Suns, Won vs Knicks, Won at Suns)

This week: at Kings, at Warriors, Hornets, Nuggets

How on earth can the Thunder be third when Russell Westbrook has been out of the lineup and they sit at fifth in their own conference? Well... technically it's a three-way tie for third and just a half game out of first. Given they double as the NBA's hottest team, the Thunder are getting a nice bump up due to some recency bias.

That 0-4 start feels like an eternity ago for the Thunder who have won 10 of 11 and have the NBA's best record since that rough patch to begin the season. The key to it all with Westbrook out? Defence. During that stretch, the Thunder rank first in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 101.2 points per 100 possessions.

Perhaps most encouraging of all? The 5-man lineup of Paul George, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams, Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson. Not only has that lineup logged over twice as many minutes as any other group in the 10-1 stretch, it is pummeling teams with a net rating of +26.3 in 109 minutes. OKC has struggled over the years to find any consisency with Russell Westbrook off the floor. This is a group worth monitoring, especially once Westbrook returns.

Damian Lillard and the Blazers fell to LeBron James
Damian Lillard and the Blazers fell to LeBron James (Getty Images)

4. Portland Trail Blazers

Overall record: 11-5

Last week: 1-2 (Lost at Lakers, Lost at Timberwolves, Won at Wizards)

This week: at Knicks, at Bucks, at Warriors, Clippers

Current mood:

There's not much time to celebrate, however. Quickly approaching for the Blazers? Perhaps the toughest two-game stretch any team faces all season as it plays back-to-back road games against the Bucks and Warriors to end a six-game road trip before returning to home to face the Clippers in a game that will be anything but a walk in the park.

#Draymond Green KD
It was a long week for the Warriors

5. Golden State Warriors

Overall record: 12-6

Last week: 1-4 (Lost at Clippers, Won vs Hawks, Lost at Rockets, Lost at Mavericks, Lost at Spurs)

This week: vs Thunder, vs Trail Blazers, vs Kings

A week that felt like a month for the defending champions who went 1-4, their only win coming by single digits against the Atlanta Hawks in a game played without Draymond Green who was suspended for one game following an altercation with Kevin Durant during and after the loss to the Clippers to open the week. As they have in years past, the Warriors are struggling without Stephen Curry who remains out as he recovers from a strained groin. In 470 minutes with Curry on the bench this season, the Warriors have been outscored by eight points.

Are they actually the fifth-best team in the league? Almost assuredly not. Are they still the title favourites? Absolutely. But there are real issues for Golden State to work out and as such, the champs come in at fifth this week.

Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell have been dynamite off the bench
Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell have been dynamite off the bench (Getty Images)

6. LA Clippers

Overall record: 10-5

Last week: 3-0 (Won vs Warriors, Won vs Spurs, Won at Nets)

This week: at Hawks, at Wizards, Grizzlies, at Blazers

The Clippers have turned heads during their four-game win streak which began with back-to-back overtime wins against the Bucks and Warriors. Given the situation between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, the Clippers didn't get nearly as much love for that statement win over Golden State as they should have. Lou Williams scored 10 points in the OT period to match the entire Warriors team, making both of his shots while sinking all six of his free throws. Like Williams, Montrezl Harrell played the entire OT period and continues to make an impact almost every night off the bench. In those two wins over the Bucks and Warriors, he averaged 24.5 points per game and shot 19-25.

Mike Conley has Memphis off to a 10-5 start
Mike Conley has Memphis off to a 10-5 start (Getty Images)

7. Memphis Grizzlies

Overall record: 10-5

Last week: 3-1 (Lost vs Jazz, Won at Milwaukee, Won vs Sacramento, Won at Minnesota)

This week: Mavericks, at Spurs, at Clippers, Knicks

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol have played in every game. Memphis is back to its grit-and-grind, win with defence and deliberate pace style. And only two teams in the Western Conference have a better record.

In other words, life is good.

Beyond merely pace, which can at times be misleading, here's more evidence to the Memphis 'grind-it-out' philosophy at work. 31% of their shots have come with fewer than seven seconds left on the shot clock. The next highest figure? 21% by the Brooklyn Nets. Absolutely nobody grinds like the Grizzlies.

Jimmy Butler is introduced for the first time in Philadelphia as a 76er
Jimmy Butler is introduced for the first time in Philadelphia as a 76er (Getty Images)

8. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall record: 11-7

Last week: 3-1 (Won at Miami, Lost at Orlando, Won vs Utah, Won at Charlotte)

This week: vs Suns, vs Pelicans, vs Cavaliers, at Nets

Jimmy Butler's first week as a member of the 76ers was a period of feeling out. In his debut on the road against the Magic, Butler scored just 14 points and finished with the 6th-most touches on the team. In his home debut against the Jazz, he looked far more comfortable as he scored a team-high 28 points on 12-15 shooting. And then on the second leg of a back-to-back, Butler hit the game winning three in overtime to lift the the 76ers over the Hornets despite 60 points from Kemba Walker. It was exactly the type of shot creation the 76ers had in mind when making the trade for the proven late-game scorer.

LeBron James averaged 39.0 PPG last week. (NBA Getty Images)

9. Los Angeles Lakers

Overall record: 9-7

Last week: 2-1 (Won vs Trail Blazers, Lost at Magic, Won at Heat)

This week: at Cavaliers, Jazz, Magic

LeBron James and the Lakers are finding their groove and have now won 7 of 9 overall entering the much anticipated return to Cleveland on Wednesday. In a career littered with sensational weeks, this one ranks right up there for James who passed Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time scoring list with a 44-point demolition of the Trail Blazers and dropped 51 on the Heat in his return to Miami. The only black mark for the Lakers was a puzzling loss in Orlando where they surrendered 130 points to a Magic team that entered that game ranked 25th in the league in scoring.

Myles Turner anchors one of the NBA's top defences
Myles Turner anchors one of the NBA's top defences (Getty Images)

10. Indiana Pacers

Overall record: 10-6

Last week: 2-0 (Won vs Heat, Won vs Hawks)

This week: vs Jazz, at Hornets, vs Spurs

A fairly quiet yet successful week for the Pacers who took care of business in their two games and did it with defence, holding the Heat to 91 points and the Hawks to 89 points. It's still early, but the Pacers have the look of an elite defensive unit as they rank third in the league in defensive rating after finishing outside of the top 10 in each of their first two seasons unde Nate McMillan. They are allowing the fewest points in the paint per game anchored by Myles Turner who ranks among the top five in blocks and is holding opponents to a lower FG percentage at the rim than Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis and Steven Adams, among others.

Where do Luka Doncic, Kemba Walker and James Harden fall this week?
Where do Luka Doncic, Kemba Walker and James Harden fall this week? (Getty Images)

Rest of the NBA

11. Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic remains one of the NBA's most perplexing stars. Case in point? His last nine games. Denver had a four-game stretch in which Jokic averaged just 4.5 FG attempts per game while scoring in single digits each game. In the five games since? 16.2 FG attempts per game while averaging 21.6 points per game. In some ways, he's the perfect microcosm for a team that struggles to consistently play to their talent.

12. Boston Celtics

The Celtics simply are not playing very well right now. A month into the season and they're still searching for answers as the offence can't seem to find firm footing as they rank just 27th in offensive rating, sandwiched between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns who are a combined 5-24. There's simply too much scoring talent for the Celtics to be keeping that type of company.

And yet despite what's been an unsteady start, the Celtics rose to the occasion in a thrilling overtime win over the Raptors in a game that Kyrie Irving scored or assisted on 15 of Boston's 16 made field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime. That game served as a reminder that even though Boston's depth is touted as a primary reason to like their chances of making serious noise into June, it's Irving that can ultimately push the Celtics over the top in the biggest moments.

13. New Orleans Pelicans

14. Houston Rockets

Somewhat overshadowed by the abrupt end of the Carmelo Anthony era in Houston is the fact that the Rockets look to be getting back to themselves after a sluggish start. Four straight wins by an average of 15.8 points per game has the Rockets on the right side of .500 heading into a stretch of four games in six days against Eastern Conference teams. Chris Paul has averaged 20.3 points per game on 59% shooting during the win streak which should help calm some nerves for Rockets fans after CP3 shot just 39% this season prior to this stretch.

15. Utah Jazz

16. San Antonio Spurs

17. Detroit Pistons

18. Charlotte Hornets

Kemba Walker set a franchise scoring record in the OT loss to the 76ers (their second OT loss to the 76ers in a span of eight days) and became just the 26th player in NBA history to score 60 points in a single game.

The Hornets are one of the most confounding teams to begin the season as they have a losing record yet have the point differential of 10-5 team. This is a team that in the last two weeks has beat the Cavaliers by 32 and lost to the Cavaliers by 24.

19. Sacramento Kings

20. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are in the midst of an impressive four-game win streak that includes win over the Thunder, Bulls, Jazz and Warriors. In the 15th game of his career, Luka Doncic scored a team-high 24 points and was plus-18 in the win over Golden State. How impressive has he been to this point? The last two players to match or exceed Doncic's points, rebounds and assists through 15 career games? Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.

21. Orlando Magic

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

23. Brooklyn Nets

24. Miami Heat

25. Washington Wizards

26. New York Knicks

27. Phoenix Suns

28. Chicago Bulls

29. Atlanta Hawks

It was a rough week for Trae Young and the Hawks who went 0-3 including a 45-point drubbing in Denver. Young is in the midst of a shooting slump as he went 0-14 from beyond the arc last week.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers

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