The 2021-22 NBA season is well underway after kicking off on October 19. With six or seven games under each team’s belt, the start of November seems like a great time to see how the league’s 30 teams stack up against one another in the early going. The sample size is small and there’s still plenty of time for teams to establish their identities, but through three weeks, this is how I would rank the NBA’s best teams as of November 1.

To debate or discuss these rankings, be sure to join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.

November Power Rankings

  1. Utah Jazz (5-1)
    • After leading the NBA with the best regular season record at 52-20 last season, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and the Utah Jazz are picking up right where they left off. Utah is 5-1, with an NBA-best +12.9 point differential per game. Utah allows just 98.3 points per game with the third-best defense in the NBA so far, and also scores 111.2 points per game, the 11th-best offense in the league. The scary thing is, there’s room for improvement on this offense, as the Jazz rank 30th in assists per game through six games. With a little more synergy, the Jazz could easily have a Top 10 offense and Top 5 defense, a deadly combination.
  2. Miami Heat (5-1)
    • Jimmy Butler and the revamped Miami Heat are the class of the Eastern Conference so far through six games. Miami dismantled Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the first game of the season 137-95, beat the Nets by 13 in Brooklyn, and took down solid Charlotte and Memphis teams already. Miami has looked like a legitimate threat to win the Eastern Conference this season, so far. Miami is averaging 114.0 points per game, third in the NBA, with Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo leading the charger. Newcomer Kyle Lowry is averaging a team-high 7.3 assists per game.
  3. Golden State Warriors (5-1)
    • Klay Thompson isn’t even back yet, but the Golden State Warriors are 5-1 with an average point differential of +7.8. With just one three-point loss to the Grizzlies, the Warriors could easily be 6-0, and will likely keep pouring on wins with Steph Curry’s 28.7 points per game.
  4. New York Knicks (5-1)
    • Julius Randle and the New York Knicks finished last season strong and have carried that momentum forward to the new season. New York is tied for the best record in the league, and the Knicks’ 117.0 points per game is the second-highest scoring average in the league.
  5. Chicago Bulls (5-1)
    • Zach LaVine is meshing well with Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, and the Chicago Bulls are off to a red-hot start this season. While I would have expected Chicago to score more than 106.7 points per game, their 98.8 points per game allowed defensively is the fourth-best mark in the league.
  6. Brooklyn Nets (4-3)
    • The Brooklyn Nets have been far from perfect this season, with a 4-3 record but a dead-even 0.0 point differential. Losses to the Heat and Bucks were especially concerning, as the Nets simply couldn’t keep up despite having two of the best players in the NBA. And yet, since Brooklyn has Kevin Durant and James Harden on the floor, they’re still going to win a lot of games this season, the question is, can they beat the league’s best teams?
  7. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)
    • Ben Simmons-drama aside, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers are 4-2, but have lost to the Knicks and Nets: the only opponents they’ve faced that are currently over .500.
  8. Denver Nuggets (4-2)
    • Even with Jamal Murray out, the Denver Nuggets are a fierce team. With an NBA-low 96.8 points per game allowed, 2-1 records both at home and on the road, and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets aren’t a team you want on your schedule right now.
  9. Washington Wizards (5-1)
  10. Los Angeles Lakers (4-3)
  11. Milwaukee Bucks (3-4)
    • Giannis Antetokoumnpo and the reigning NBA Champions came into the year as the de facto favorites to win the NBA Finals again in 2022, but have staggered out of the gate with a 3-4 record. The Milwaukee Bucks are dealing with some injuries, which is excusable, but their 137-95 loss to the Heat, and now, three straight losses, are both reason for mild concern.
  12. Charlotte Hornets (5-2)
    • The Charlotte Hornets are off to a better than expected start, and have already racked up wins over the Nets and Trailblazers. LaMelo Ball continues to impress, and Miles Bridges has been great, leading the team with 24.6 points per game on 50.8% shooting.
  13. Dallas Mavericks (4-2)
    • Luka Donic and the Dallas Mavericks are 4-2, but have actually been outscored this season due to brutal 26 and 31-point losses to the Hawks and Nuggets. Doncic is off to a slow start, with 22.5 points per game, and the Mavericks offense has felt it, scoring just 98.3 points per game, 28th in the NBA.
  14. Portland Trailblazers (3-3)
    • Damian Lillard is off to an uncharacteristically slow start, with 18.3 points per game and a 14.57 PER, but luckily he has C.J. McCollum, 24.3 PPG and a 21.10 PER, to pick up the slack. I feel like people have been sleeping on Portland, but if Lillard picks up the pace and helps contribute more to what is already the NBA’s fifth-best offense, the Trailblazers should have nowhere to go but up.
  15. Atlanta Hawks (3-3)
    • After a deep playoff run last postseason, the Atlanta Hawks are off to a mediocre 3-3 start with a +0.4 point differential. Trae Young has had some hot and cold games, but Atlanta’s biggest strength so far has been their rebounding: 50.8 boards per game, the second-best average in the league.
  16. Memphis Grizzlies (3-3)
    • Ja Morant is taking a leap in his third year in the NBA, with 28.7 points (1st in the NBA,) 5.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists (8th in the NBA) per game. Unfortunately, Memphis has dropped three of their last four games, but on the bright side, they did become the only team to beat the Warriors this season so far.
  17. Toronto Raptors (4-3)
  18. Phoenix Suns (2-3)
    • After an NBA Finals run last season, Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns have absolutely struggled to start this year. Booker himself hasn’t been great, shooting 4% below his career average, and Phoenix has only been able to beat a still-figuring-it-out Lakers team and needed a big comeback in order to beat the Cavaliers their last time out.
  19. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4)
    • The Cleveland Cavaliers came in to the season with a pretty weak roster on paper, but were able to beat the Hawks, Nuggets, and Clippers to string together a three-game winning streak. Cleveland is scoring just 102.6 points per game, 24th in the NBA, but man, Colin Sexton and Jarrett Allen have been fun to watch.
  20. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-2)
    • I’m not too sure what to make of the Minnesota Timberwolves yet, but they did beat Giannis and the Bucks in Milwaukee and followed it up with just a two-point loss to the Nuggets.
  21. Boston Celtics (2-4)
    • The Boston Celtics are another team that had high aspirations that have stumbled out of the gate. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been putting in work for the league’s fourth-best offense, but the Celtics defense has been atrocious, allowing an NBA-high 118.3 points per game, 4.7 more than the next-closest team.
  22. Sacramento Kings (3-3)
    • The Sacramento Kings are an even 3-3 with a negative point differential, but have played one of the toughest schedules in the league so far. They’ve beaten the Trailblazers, Suns, and Pelicans, but fallen to the Jazz, Warriors, and Mavericks.
  23. Indiana Pacers (1-6)
    • The Indiana Pacers are tied for the worst record in the league at 1-6, but definitely aren’t one of the league’s worst teams. Indiana has only been outscored by 4.2 points per game, much closer than the league’s worst teams, and does have a win over the Heat on their resume, as well as narrow losses to the Raptors, Bucks, Hornets, and Wizards.
  24. San Antonio Spurs (2-4)
    • The sample size is still too small to tell what to make of this year’s San Antonio Spurs team. They’re definitely competitive, with a win over the Bucks and a +1.7 point differential despite a 2-4 record, but I need to see more from Dejounte Murray and the Spurs.
  25. Los Angeles Clippers (1-4)
    • Despite losing Kawhi Leonard, the Los Angeles Clippers shouldn’t be this bad. They’re only losing by an average of 2.0 points per game behind Paul George’s 27.6 points per night, but they’re still 1-6 with a couple bad losses so far.
  26. New Orleans Pelicans (1-6)
    • No one expected the New Orleans Pelicans to be great without Zion Williamson on the court, but their 1-6 start is still pretty disappointing. Brandon Ingram has been a bright spot with 25.0 points per game through seven games.
  27. Houston Rockets (1-5)
    • The last four teams on this list aren’t just struggling, they’re downright bad. Houston has an average point differential of -7.7. All five losses have come by double digits, and their lone win came over the Thunder, who you may have noticed haven’t even appeared on these ranking yet.
  28. Detroit Pistons (1-5)
    • The Detroit Pistons are dead-last in scoring with 96.2 points per game, but first overall pick Cade Cunningham helped the Pistons earn their first win of the season over the Magic.
  29. Orlando Magic (1-6)
    • The point differentials get even worse, with the 1-6 Orlando Magic losing by 11.3 points per game on average. Most of this comes from two huge losses to the Spurs and Knicks to start the season and have played some closer matchups since, but after losing to the Pistons, it’s fair to share the Magic are the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
  30. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-5)
    • Where to start with this Oklahoma City Thunder team. Their -14.5 point differential is downright embarrassing, and the Thunder don’t excel in any area: 29th in points per game, 26th in rebounds per game, 28th in assists per game, and 22nd in defensive points allowed. Their lone win over the Lakers was a gift from the basketball gods.

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