We are wrapping up the second week of the 2017-18 NBA season, and admittedly, it’s still hard to make heads or tails out of the mess of league standings.
The Pistons, best team in the East? The Grizzlies, best team in the league? The Warriors one game above .500 and the Cavs one game below? It’s all happening, and here’s how it sorts out.
POSITION RANKINGS: PGs | SGs | SFs | PFs | Cs
The good: Perennially thin Grizzlies get 67 points from the bench to beat Houston.
The bad: Ranked 28th in pace. They’re winning, but not necessarily pretty.
The good: Blake Griffin leads team in points, 3-pointers made and assists.
The bad: No. 2 option Danilo Gallinari is shooting 29.9 percent.
The good: Clint Capela (13.7 points, 10.7 rebounds) making 90.9 percent of his free throws.
The bad: Relying on six 30-plus players. The veterans are averaging 7.0 points on 39.5 percent shooting.
The good: Fourth-quarter margin in consecutive wins over Warriors, Clippers: 20 points.
The bad: Slow starts. Average first-quarter margin: Minus-3.1 points, 26th in the NBA.
The good: Jayson Tatum in Boston’s four straight wins: 17.3 points, 55.3 percent on fiel goals, 53.8 on 3s.
The bad: More than half the roster has either one or zero years’ experience.
6. Trail Blazers
The good: Only two losses, and those came by three total points. In a stretch with 10 of 11 at home.
The bad: Damian Lillard struggling at 22.3 points and 37.4 percent shooting.
The good: Played one team below .500. Other six opponents are 25-12.
The bad: Defensive rating this year: 108.4, 26th in the NBA. Last year: 101.1, second in the NBA.
The good: Survived four-game West trip, now have six of next seven at home.
The bad: Wizards have been a poor fourth-quarter team, outscored by nearly four points in every fourth.
The good: Led by Malcolm Brogdon (47.8 percent), ranked fourth in NBA in 3s (38.4 percent).
The bad: Allowing 38.6 percent from the 3-point line, 24th in the league.
The good: Managed to play good defense (98.9 defensive efficiency, ninth in the NBA) despite Kawhi Leonard injury.
The bad: Allowed 211 points in losses to Orlando and Indiana, need Leonard badly.
The good: What’s gotten into their 3-point defense? Allowing 30.4 percent on 3s, third in the NBA.
The bad: What’s gotten into their 3-point offense? Shooting 29.5 percent on 3s, 29th in the NBA.
The good: Average margin of victory at home: 12.3 points.
The bad: Seven of their first 11 come on the road.
The good: Aaron Gordon, 3-point shooter: making 58.8 percent from the arc after making 28.9 percent in his first three seasons.
The bad: Bismack Biyombo, $70 million man, down to 15.5 minutes per game.
The good: Twin Tower approach has been productive — DeMarcus Cousins, 32.3 points; Anthony Davis, 25.4 points.
The bad: As usual, depth issues could be costly. Jameer Nelson, at 35, might be Pels’ best bench player.
The good: Been without Myles Turner, out with concussion-type symptoms. But still 3-3.
The bad: Worst in the league giving up points in the paint, at 50.7 per game.
The good: Kemba Walker is averaging a league-best 11.7 points in the pick-and-roll, and 1.15 points per possession (averaged 0.98 last year).
The bad: The Hornets are looking at six of their next eight on the road.
The good: Cavs’ big defensive problem last year was the pick-and-roll, 0.89 points per possession fifth-worst. This year, they’re fourth-best, 0.64.
The bad: Rest of the Cavs D has been terrible, allowing 40.2 percent on 3s (29th).
The good: Hassan Whiteside stat-sheet domination: 26.0 points, 22.0 rebounds, 61.1 percent from the field.
The bad: Defense is giving up 48.8 points per game in the paint, 25th in the NBA.
The good: Balanced scoring among the starters, with all five averaging between 11-15.3 points.
The bad: Not much offense off the bench, averaging 23.2 points.
The good: Running through Nikola Jokic has gone well so far: 15.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists.
The bad: Point guards Jamal Murray and Emanuel Mudiay are combining to shoot 36.1 percent from the field.
The good: Jeff Teague, 1.08 points per possession in the pick-and-roll. Among the league’s most efficient.
The bad: Sixth-worst in fastbreak efficiency (1.00 points per possession). Sixth-worst at defending the break (1.18 points per possession).
The good: Tim Hardaway Jr. breakout game? 34 points, eight assists in win over the Cavs. Had 9.8 points on 26.5 percent shooting before that.
The bad: Jarrett Jack has been their starting point guard for the last two games. In 2017.
The good: Ben Simmons, all he was cracked up to be: 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists. (And not a shooter.)
The bad: Following a disturbing pattern, finally conceded Markelle Fultz’s injured shoulder after initially denying it.
The good: Shooting 36.6 percent from the 3-point line, big improvement over last year (33.8).
The bad: Giving up 118.3 points per game, worst in the league.
The good: Fourth in the league in pace, the up-tempo style Luke Walton wants to see.
The bad: Fast pace means more possessions, and the Lakers are 29th in offensive efficiency. They’re playing to their weakness.
The good: Since they’ve banished Eric Bledsoe in search of a trade, they’re 2-1.
The bad: They’re one loss into a five-game trip, and still could go 2-80.
The good: Wesley Matthews (14.0 points, 43.5 percent on 3s) is finally a productive Maverick.
The bad: Coach Rick Carlisle has tinkered with five starting lineups in seven games. None have worked.
The good: At long last, De’Aaron Fox (12.7 points, 5.0 assists, 26.7 minutes) is a point guard to build around.
The bad: Veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph have had zero impact.
The good: Rookie John Collins (11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 20.1 minutes) has been as good as advertised.
The bad: Team has the fourth-worst effective field-goal percentage (48.0) in the league.
The good: Bulls rank No. 2 in percentage of field goals that are assisted (63.8).
The bad: They’re dead last in field goals made (32.6 per game) and percentage (38.5).