The NBA season is being tested (no pun intended) by COVID 19. Several games this week were postponed, which makes it more difficult for some teams to find their rhythm. This leaves many teams floating fluidly up and down the rankings. Except for, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers.
- The L.A. Lakers (9-3 through week 4).
This team is honestly my only obvious pick for this top 10 list. Although they sit atop my list, we haven’t even seen the Lakers at full strength yet. Due to it being early in the season with a bunch of new guys, we are only seeing flashes, but when the Lakers reach their full potential, it will be a scary sight for the rest of the league.
- The Milwaukee Bucks (7-4 through week 4).
Through the first four weeks of the season, Milwaukee has the highest-rated offense in the NBA with a 118.9 net rating. This is mainly due to their two best players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Giannis is averaging 26.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and 5.5 AST per game, while Middleton is having a career year with 22.5 PPG while shooting 49.2% from three. This powerhouse of an offense will be tested this week when they faceoff against the L.A. Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
- The Boston Celtics (7-3 through week 4)
The C’s had won six straight games before they had multiple games postponed due to COVID 19, and with Kemba Walker nearing his return to the lineup, Boston seems to be a legit contender to come out of the East and compete for a title. Their clutch performance has been off the charts, including a put back game winner by their underrated rookie Payton Pritchard.
- The L.A. Clippers (7-4 through week 4)
The Clippers are winning games, but there are many things to be concerned about. Their defense is among the worst in the league, along with a bad bench unit. Kawhi Leonard isn’t getting to the rim enough (only 14.7% of his shots this season have been in the paint), which means he is shooting more midrange jumpers which aren’t hitting as much as we have seen in past years. They hang on at fourth place in my rankings, but they have got to improve if they want to compete for a title.
- The Philadelphia 76ers (8-4 through week 4)
The coronavirus has been a problem for the Sixers recently, but it hasn’t been their only problem. They had also lost three straight games until Joel Embiid took over against Miami to get a win on Tuesday. Overall, the “process” seems to have been worth it, with Embiid being in the talks for the MVP award. This team shows a lot of promise, but injuries and COVID are the two main factors that threaten their immediate success.
- The Indiana Pacers (7-4 through week 4)
While there is a sizable gap between my No. 6 pick and my No. 5 pick, the Pacers are still a top 10 team in the league. While their offense may seem average, it’s their defense that gets them a spot on this list. The main component that drives their defense is Myles Turner, who is leading the league in blocked shots and gives Indiana a very tough defense.
- The Utah Jazz (7-4 through week 4)
The Jazz have a solid offense that runs through Donovan Mitchell and a solid defense that runs through Rudy Gobert. There is one outlying problem with this team, ball movement. They are dead last in assisted two point shots and bottom ten in assisted 3 pointers. Bojan Bogdanovic is in a shooting slump which may contribute to this, but either way they have to improve their ball movement if they want to be a legit contender.
- The Phoenix Suns (7-4 through week 4)
Phoenix has also faced some road blocks due to COVID, and their defense has begun to slip and has made for a couple of embarrassing losses. Nevertheless their offense is on fire right now, led by Devin Booker but facilitated by Chris Paul, the playmaking ability of the 15 year veteran has sent a message to the rest of the league: watch out for the Phoenix Suns.
- The Portland Trailblazers (6-4 through week 4)
The Blazers have gone on a 3 game winning streak and seem to be rolling, but their problem is the pairing of Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony off the bench, which puts a weak spot in their defense. With that being said, the incredible back court of Lillard and McCollum seems to be running at full strength.
- The Dallas Mavericks (5-4 through week 4)
The coronavirus has crushed the Mavs, sidelining several key players for multiple games. Still, they seem to be finding their stride and Kristaps Porzingis has finally returned to join his P&R partner Luka Doncic. When this team gets their full roster back, they could go deep in the playoffs.