Most NBA teams have played at least five or six games by now, meaning fans have a pulse on how their squad might look in the first half of the season. Contenders like Milwaukee and Phoenix have struggled more than expected, while other playoff hopefuls like Golden State and Philadelphia have skewed more toward the top of the standings. It's time to look at where everyone stacks up entering week three of the 2024 NBA season!
1. Denver Nuggets
Peyton Watson adds an extra dynamic to the Denver offense off the bench. Watching Nikola Jokic throw the youngster passes will be hard to stop if Michael Malone instills the play's importance in their attack more frequently. The Nuggets are rolling like a well-oiled machine.
2. Boston Celtics
The Celtics are off to another hot start, led by Jayson Tatum becoming the youngest Boston player ever to reach 10,000 career points. The C's have one of the most athletic, versatile lineups in basketball, and it's not going to change anytime soon.
3. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors don't have a second star next to Steph Curry, but they do have one of the best benches in the league. Steve Kerr's ability to play 10 players consistent minutes every night makes the Dubs a deep team with a plethora of ways to win. Curry also seems to be just as good at 35 as he was at 27; it's simply unfathomable.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers are free from the chemistry issues that plagued them with James Harden on the roster. The addition of Nic Batum should help their bench, and Kelly Oubre's career-best start has made Philly one of the best teams in the East.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas didn't pass their first big test against the Denver Nuggets, but they should still be considered one of the bright spots of the first two weeks of the season. If Luka's play dips at all, it's up to Kyrie Irving to pick up the load.
6. Milwaukee Bucks
The duo of Damian Lillard and Giannis will give the Bucks plenty of wins, but the defensive issues are looming large for the contending Eastern Conference team. Who is going to step up on the perimeter and prevent scoring at the point of attack?
7. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram usually get the headlines for New Orleans, but C.J. McCollum has been the offensive force for the Pelicans so far. As long as everyone stays healthy, this team should continue to vie for a top-four seed in the West.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC is better than their record indicates, with close losses to Golden State and New Orleans that could have gone the other way. Incredible three-point shooting and solid defense have built a foundation of success for the Thunder.
9. Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young is starting to shoot the ball a little better from the field but still has an overall percentage of 34% on the season. Atlanta certainly has the talent to become a playoff team in the East again.
10. Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero crossed up LeBron James over the weekend, but it's not all style over substance for the Magic. Orlando is coming together in ways many people expected they would entering the season.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns has settled in as Anthony Edwards' number two option very nicely, with a noticeable chemistry improvement from a year ago. Minnesota is the only team to have beaten the Denver Nuggets this year.
12. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers went all-in on veteran superstars with the acquisition of James Harden last week. It's a ball-dominant team with plenty of names, but Ty Lue will have to figure out the best way to divide touches for Westbrook, Harden, George, and Leonard.
13. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are off to another slow start, but most people expect them to respond well to early-season adversity. D'Angelo Russell has been a liability on both ends of the floor, and Gabe Vincent is still struggling to provide support.
14. Indiana Pacers
Tyrese Haliburton keeps getting better, becoming the first Pacers player to score 40 points and pass for 10 assists in the same game against Charlotte. Buddy Hield also shockingly has the most games with five three-pointers made in the last five seasons.
15. San Antonio Spurs
Victor Wembanyama is single-handedly turning one of the worst teams in the NBA into a playoff contender in the tougher conference in the league. Coach Pop needs to find lineups that maximize Wemby and put the ball in his hands even more. It's time.
16. Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn's collection of role players has performed well so far, but they need Mikal Bridges or Ben Simmons to elevate if they are going to be more than a mediocre team in the Eastern Conference.
17. Phoenix Suns
Kevin Durant, dare I say, might be starting to look a little old. The superstar has a lot of miles on him, and without Devin Booker and Bradley Beal at his side, Durant is being asked to do too much for the Suns.
18. Sacramento Kings
De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury comes at a poor time for Sacramento as they try to replicate their early-season success from a year ago. Keegan Murray especially will need to grow quickly into a main scorer for the duration of Fox's absence.
19. Miami Heat
Miami is off to one of their typical slow starts, but how many years in a row can the Heat pull off their magic act before they miss the playoffs? Tyler Herro is the bright spot for the team, proving that he would have been a viable option in the Damian Lillard trade, after all.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are statically playing well, but something is off about the Cavaliers in the first two weeks. Max Struss has been a welcome addition coming over from the Miami Heat.
21. New York Knicks
Jalen Brunson sometimes feels like a one-man show for the Knicks. Julius Randle needs to start shooting the ball more efficiently if the Knicks are to have a playoff-caliber season yet again. He possesses a historically bad percentage from the field.
22. Toronto Raptors
Dennis Schroder is having one of the best starts of his career with nearly 16 points per game in the first seven games of the year. Scottie Barnes' 30 point-night against San Antonio on Sunday should be a sign of things to come.
23. Houston Rockets
Houston is actually trying to win games this year, spurred by the veteran energy of Dillon Brooks and Fred Van Vleet. The Rockets have been competitive in every game they've played and aren't in last place through two weeks, a low bar that hasn't been reached in the last several years.
24. Portland Trail Blazers
Portland was projected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, but early wins against other struggling teams like the Pistons and Grizzlies have aided the Blazers in their respectable first two weeks.
25. Charlotte Hornets
LaMelo Ball played incredible defense on Tyrese Haliburton to get the win over the Pacers over the weekend. Ball should continue to take defense seriously if the Hornets want to build respect.
26. Detroit Pistons
Warriors lottery pick James Wiseman may be a draft bust as he can't even get on the floor for the Detroit Pistons. Cade Cunningham seems to be taking a leap, averaging over 22 points per game.
27. Utah Jazz
The John Collins acquisition hasn't resulted in more wins for the Jazz, but he should be a decent role player for Utah if they ever become a playoff contender again.
28. Chicago Bulls
Chicago is falling hard in the standings. This poor start might facilitate a trade or shakeup of some sort from the Bulls front office at some point this season.
29. Washington Wizards
Jordan Poole was a low-light real yet again this past week, taunting and jacking up poor shots. The Wizards need their young stars to take things more seriously if they want to build towards a brighter future.
30. Memphis Grizzlies
Do the Memphis Grizzlies actually miss Dillon Brooks? The loudmouth forward has jolted the Rockets, meanwhile, the Grizz are searching for answers. Ja Morant is still out for nearly 20 more games so things are looking dim in Memphis.