Giannis Antetokounmpo is doing MVP things to lead Bucks

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The second week of the 2022-23 season is in the books as teams and players around the NBA find their footing and showcase themselves on the court on a nightly basis.

The early results of the season can be hard to firmly grasp as teams and players alike are still working to get into a rhythm. However, we are starting to see which teams could be contenders, and which ones are heading toward the lottery.

To make further sense of it all, Rookie Wire took a look at the NBA and ranked each team from worst to first. We come back each week and provide our latest assessment of the best teams and those that are rising.

Houston Rockets (1-6)

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Rockets picked up their first win on Tuesday, but have since dropped three straight. With a tough upcoming slate this week (at Clippers, vs. Clippers, at Minnesota), their rough start to the season could continue.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Orlando Magic (1-6)

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 28

The Magic picked up their first win of the season on Friday and did so against former head coach Steve Clifford and the Hornets. Paolo Banchero continues to perform at a high level out of the gate, and only recently failed to score at least 20 points for the first time this season when he had 18 versus the Mavericks.

Sacramento Kings (1-4)

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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 27

Sacramento finally got in the win column for head coach Mike Brown with a victory over the Heat. Kevin Huerter led the way in that 119-113 win with 27 points while rookie Keegan Murray had 22 points. They now hit the road on a four-game road trip so we’ll see if they can continue their momentum.

Los Angeles Lakers (1-5)

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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 23

Congratulations to the Lakers for finally getting their first win of the season, the last team in the NBA to do so. Surprisingly, it was over the Nuggets but when you shoot 43.3% from 3-point range, good things generally happy for your team.

For more coverage on LeBron James and the Lakers, visit LeBron Wire

Detroit Pistons (2-5)

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Photo by Rick Osentoski/Getty Images

Last Rank: 26

The Pistons snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Warriors at home. Their only win had come in their season opener over the Magic and were finally able to close one out versus the Warriors. Detroit had four players score at least 20 points in that win.

Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3)

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Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

The Thunder got on the board this week after winning their first two games of the season, and they both came against the Clippers. Oklahoma City blew out L.A. in the first meeting on Tuesday without Paul George or Kawhi Leonard and followed it up with another impressive win two nights later. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander totaled 57 points in those two games against his former team. They wrapped up their week with an impressive win over the Mavericks for their third-straight victory.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Indiana Pacers (3-4)

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e30afb5147f5f9e6dda1d96a51b2ee48

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

Myles Turner debuted last week after missing the first four games of the season. It only took him one game to shake off the rust after dropping 27 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks on Friday in a win over the Wizards. The Pacers have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and another win will give them a winning record on their current five-game road trip.

Chicago Bulls (3-4)

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Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 20

The Bulls overcame a 19-point deficit on Monday to defeat the red-hot Celtics. They followed that up with a win over the Pacers but have dropped two straight since then. DeMar DeRozan also reached 20,000 career points this week, becoming the 50th player ever to reach that mark.

Toronto Raptors (3-3)

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

The Raptors went 2-1 last week after defeating the Heat and 76ers. They dropped the second game versus the Sixers on Friday and return to action on Monday against the Hawks. They haven’t gotten off to the best start on either side of the ball (23rd in offense, 18th in defense) and will look to improve on both ends.

San Antonio Spurs (5-2)

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 24

The Spurs are undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the season after racing out a 5-2 start. They have pulled out some impressive wins over playoff-caliber teams, including the 76ers, Bulls and Timberwolves. They will look to continue their run with five out of their next six games at home.

Miami Heat (2-5)

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

Miami went 1-2 on its recent West Coast road trip to fall to 2-5 in the early going. The team has still yet to get going on offense and rank 24th in the NBA in that category. Of course, it is still really early in the season so we’re not going to hit the panic button just yet.

Charlotte Hornets (3-4)

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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 22

The Hornets have quietly put up a strong offense without their best player in LaMelo Ball. They are fifth in the league in points and 13th in offensive rating. That has enabled them to survive without Ball, who is close to debuting this season.

Washington Wizards (3-3)

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

Washington has dropped two straight games to the Pacers and Celtics. They have two games coming up against the Sixers and then will see the Nets and Grizzlies to wrap up the week. We will find out a lot about this team with those games.

Atlanta Hawks (4-2)

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David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

Atlanta is 2-1 on its current five-game road trip with Trae Young leading the way. The Hawks have taken care of business against the teams they should (Detroit, Houston, Orlando) but have lost to the better teams in the East (Charlotte, Milwaukee). We’ll see if they can change that this week with Toronto, New York, New Orleans and Milwaukee looming.

Minnesota Timberwolves (4-3)

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

The Timberwolves lost twice to the Spurs last week but, overall, had a good run. They took care of the Thunder, Spurs and Lakers to improve to 4-3. They have a tough slate this week Phoenix and Milwaukee so we’ll see how they fare against the elite teams in the league.

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Brooklyn Nets (1-5)

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant each had 37 points on Monday but the Nets lost to the Grizzlies, who had Ja Morant and Desmond Bane go off for 38 points apiece. Steve Nash was ejected on Wednesday in a loss to the Bucks and they lost to the Mavericks the next night. In other words, it wasn’t a good week for Brooklyn.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

New York Knicks (3-3)

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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 21

The Knicks had won three straight to move to 3-1 on the season but recently dropped their last two. However, it feels like New York is a team on the rise this season, and offseason addition Jalen Brunson has a lot to do with that. We’re curious about the Knicks this season but they could be a playoff team this year.

Los Angeles Clippers (2-4)

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Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

The Clippers are probably happy they’re done playing in Oklahoma City this season. They lost twice to the Thunder on the road and didn’t necessarily look great in either matchup. If you’re looking for a silver lining it is that John Wall has looked great to start the season. He tied a season-high with 17 points on Thursday.

Dallas Mavericks (3-3)

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

Dallas had an up-and-down week. Luka Doncic & Co. lost on Tuesday to a Pelicans team without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herb Jones. They followed it up with an overtime win over the Nets as Doncic had 41 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds on Thursday.

Philadelphia 76ers (3-4)

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

The Sixers had a rough start to the year, losing their first three games, but have since won three of four. They are 2-1 on their current four-game road trip and have knocked off the Raptors and Bulls. Things could be turning around now in Philly.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Denver Nuggets (4-3)

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Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Last Rank: 7

Every time we’re ready to say the Nuggets are for real, something happens that makes us second-guess that decision. This time, it was losing to the Lakers that proved to be a head-scratcher. However, the Nuggets have all of the firepower needed to make a run, it is just a matter of time before they put it together.

Utah Jazz (5-2)

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

The Jazz are another team that has surprised in the early going this season. They are 5-2 after upsetting the Grizzlies, which is their best win of the year. It is clear that this Jazz is going to compete in games this season, and basketball onlookers might be in for a surprise considering many thought they’d be in the running for the top pick.

New Orleans Pelicans (4-2)

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Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Pelicans have emerged as one of the top teams in the West in the early going and have done so without their full lineup for the most part. They are still dealing with some injuries with Brandon Ingram still out due to a concussion, but the team is relying on its depth. Because of that, we expect the Pelicans to be a top team in the conference.

See also  Hall of Famer David Robinson to serve as Spurs’ lottery representative

Golden State Warriors (3-4)

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

The Warriors have dropped their first two games of their five-game road trip to fall under .500. They lost to the Hornets and Pistons and still have the Heat, Magic and Pelicans left before returning home. It is far too early to be concerned about the defending champs, but things aren’t exactly going great, either.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Portland Trail Blazers (5-1)

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

The Trail Blazers are the top team in the West right now and they are doing it without Damian Lillard. He is expected to return soon, but Anfernee Simons has stepped up in a big way to help fill his void. Portland could emerge as a sneaky team to make a deep run this year.

Cleveland Cavaliers (5-1)

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

Evan Mobley has formed a nice pairing next to Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt for the Cavaliers and that has been on display early. The two combined for 40 points and 19 rebounds on Wednesday in a win as the Magic had no answer for them. Cleveland has won five straight now after taking care of the Celtics and Knicks. The Cavs, with Donovan Mitchell also now in the picture, look to be a real threat in the East.

Boston Celtics (4-2)

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 2

The Celtics lost back-to-back games for the first time this season before knocking off the Wizards to improve to 4-2. However, they look to be one of the favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals. They will be tested this week (at Cleveland, vs. Chicago, at New York) so we should know how well they’re playing soon enough.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Memphis Grizzlies (4-2)

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Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 6

Certainly, Ja Morant is emerging as a real MVP candidate this year after ranking third in the NBA in scoring. However, Desmond Bane is emerging as a great second option this season and is proving himself as a 3-and-D guy. He is averaging 24.2 points per game.

Phoenix Suns (5-1)

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

The Suns are seemingly picking up where they left off last season. Devin Booker is doing Devin Booker things and Phoenix has won four straight. The Suns have beaten the Clippers, Warriors, Pelicans and Rockets in that streak as they look to be performing at a high level early.

Milwaukee Bucks (5-0)

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

Giannis Antetokounmpo is performing at an MVP level after leading the Bucks in scoring in the early going. With a light schedule this week (vs. Detroit, vs. Detroit, at Minnesota, vs. Oklahoma City), we’re wondering when they might lose their first game. They could be 9-0 before we know it.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire

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