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NBA Power Rankings Week 4: Sixers fall, Suns rise and L.A. at the top

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VanVleet, Siakam drop double-doubles in win vs. Lakers (1:44)

Fred VanVleet shows up big with 23 points and 10 assists, and Pascal Siakam posts a 24-point, 11-rebound game of his own as the Raptors take down the Lakers 113-104. (1:44)

Three weeks down, three different No. 1 teams.

In this edition, it's the Los Angeles Lakers who, despite seeing their seven-game win streak snapped Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors, climb to the top, thanks to a 1-3 week by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Andre' Snellings, Royce Young and Bobby Marks and The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 3 | 2 | 1 | Training camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 7-2
Week 3 ranking: 2

Kyle Kuzma's play has been up and down since his return to action after he missed the start of the season because of a foot injury. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 9.0 points on 37.5% shooting from the field and 13% shooting from 3-point range entering Sunday's loss to Toronto. But he showed the makings of a breakthrough with 15 points -- his second game in double digits -- five rebounds and three 3-pointers against the Raptors. The defeat was L.A.'s first since opening night against the Clippers. -- Spears

This week: @PHX, GS, SAC, ATL


2. LA Clippers
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 3

Load management dominated the conversation around the Clippers this week and prevented a real look at what a Bucks-Clippers Finals might look like, as Kawhi Leonard sat. He played a night later, scoring 18 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to ice Portland. Blazers coach Terry Stotts had the appropriate response: "He looked well-rested." The expectation is that Paul George will return this week, which means that when the Clippers decide to rest Leonard again, they'll have an available star. It also means we'll finally see how this team looks when fully operational. -- Young

This week: TOR, @HOU, @NO, ATL


3. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 7-3
Week 3 ranking: 4

The Bucks continue to play well but not flawlessly, beating a Kawhi-less Clippers team on the road but losing on a buzzer-beater to the Jazz in Salt Lake City. Their defense is rounding into form, though, allowing opponents to shoot only 41.8% from the field (fifth in the league). The defensive unit is led by Giannis Antetokounmpo (top three in defensive rebounds per game), as expected, with strong contributions from Brook Lopez (top 10 in blocks per game). -- Snellings

This week: CHI, @IND


4. Boston Celtics
Record: 7-1
Week 3 ranking: 5

The Celtics' seven-game win streak is a side note compared to Gordon Hayward's fracturing his hand in a win against San Antonio on Saturday. Heading into the Spurs game, Hayward was having an All-Star-type season, averaging 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists and shooting 56.4% from the field and 44.4% from deep. With Hayward out, coach Brad Stevens will likely insert Marcus Smart into the starting lineup and rely on 26-year-old Javonte Green coming off the bench. Green had six points in 13 minutes after Hayward left the game with his injury. -- Marks

This week: DAL, WSH, @GS, @SAC


5. Utah Jazz
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 6

Bojan Bogdanovic's four-year, $73 million contract looks like a bargain for the Jazz so far. He has averaged 21.8 points in his first eight games for Utah -- sitting out a loss to the Lakers because of a sore ankle -- in extremely efficient fashion. He's a field goal shy of the exclusive 50/40/90 territory. He's shooting 45.5% from 3-point range, including the buzzer-beater from the corner that beat the Bucks and put the exclamation point on his 33-point performance. -- MacMahon

This week: @GS, BKN, @MEM


6. Denver Nuggets
Record: 7-2
Week 3 ranking: 7

Despite a solid start to the season as expected, the Nuggets aren't exactly acing the eye test. They won in overtime but went scoreless in the final 6:23 of the fourth quarter on Sunday, blowing a 16-point lead. Nikola Jokic hasn't consistently played like himself (despite his hitting a couple of game winners this week), and as a team, the Nuggets are struggling to make shots (27th in true shooting percentage). All that aside, they're 7-2, with wins against Miami, Philly and Minnesota this week. If this is "bad," then the Nuggets are very good. -- Young

This week: ATL, BKN, @MEM


7. Toronto Raptors
Record: 7-2
Week 3 ranking: 10

Despite Kawhi Leonard's departure, the Raptors remain one of the best teams in the NBA this season, with their only losses coming on the road against the Celtics and Bucks. The Raptors have arguably the best defense in the NBA, and with Pascal Siakam continuing to flirt with averages of 30 and 10 through three weeks, they still have an MVP candidate as their foundation. Their depth will be tested in upcoming weeks, though, with Kyle Lowry dealing with a fractured thumb. -- Snellings

This week: @LAC, @POR, @DAL


8. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 1

After starting the season 5-0, Philadelphia dropped three straight -- to Phoenix, Utah and Denver -- before getting back in the win column against Charlotte. Although we can point to the Joel Embiid suspension in the loss to the Suns and the Ben Simmons shoulder injury suffered in the Utah game (which caused him to miss the Denver game as well), there are many reasons for the mini-slide. In the loss to the Nuggets, the 76ers' offense became stagnant, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter and getting outscored by 22. Much of that failure was a result of the 76ers' relying on the 3-ball instead of attacking the basket. The past week also reiterated the question heading into the season: Who is the closer? Embiid and Tobias Harris went a combined 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter against Denver. -- Marks

This week: CLE, @ORL, @OKC, @CLE


9. Miami Heat
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 8

The Heat got reality checks in Denver and L.A. this week, but the bizarre situation with Dion Waiters is what people are paying attention to. The optics of that kind of news can swing based on whether a team is winning or losing, and fortunately for the Heat, the week ahead is a favorable one: Pistons, Cavs, Pelicans. -- Young

This week: DET, @CLE, NO


10. Houston Rockets
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 11

A sore right shoulder was a factor in big man Clint Capela's slow start, hampering his ability to dunk hard with one hand and snatch rebounds. Capela told ESPN that he injured the shoulder playing for the Swiss national team over the summer and has been working to strengthen the muscles around it. "Getting better slowly," he said. He was much better the past two games, averaging 17.5 points, 18.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in a pair of wins. -- MacMahon

This week: @NO, LAC, IND, @MIN


11. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 13

Luka Doncic has consistently played at an All-Star level this season. Kristaps Porzingis has been frustrated that he hasn't and admits that he has pressed at times. As disappointed as he was to lose to the Knicks, Porzingis was encouraged by his 28-point performance against his former team. "I just tried to relax out there," he said. "Be aggressive but be relaxed at the same time. I've been kind of overthinking a little bit, and that's when you don't make the best decisions." Porzingis will get another shot at the Knicks on Thursday, when the Mavs visit MSG. -- MacMahon

This week: @BOS, @NY, TOR


12. Phoenix Suns
Record: 6-3
Week 3 ranking: 17

Suns coach Monty Williams' 6-3 start matches the best start by a first-year coach in franchise history. Alvin Gentry, Terry Porter and Paul Westphal accomplished the same feat. The Suns were 2-7 through their first nine games last season. -- Spears

This week: LAL, ATL


13. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 5-4
Week 3 ranking: 9

LaMarcus Aldridge's inconsistency is an issue for the Spurs, who need him to perform like the All-Star he has been in seven of the past eight seasons. Aldridge has scored at least 20 points in four of San Antonio's five wins, including a 39-point performance Thursday against the Thunder. He has been held to single digits in three of the Spurs' four losses, including Saturday against the Celtics. Last season, the Spurs were 37-10 when Aldridge scored at least 20 and 11-24 in the rest of their games. -- MacMahon

This week: MEM, @MIN, @ORL, POR


14. Indiana Pacers
Record: 6-4
Week 3 ranking: 16

The Pacers have found their stride after a slow start despite a spate of injuries that have Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and Goga Bitadze joining All-Star Victor Oladipo on the sidelines. Domantas Sabonis has been a catalyst for the strong play of late -- despite also missing two contests because of injury -- averaging 19.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists in his past five games. -- Snellings

This week: OKC, @HOU, MIL


15. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 4-5
Week 3 ranking: 15

We are only three weeks into the season, and the identity of the Nets' offense has been established: high-percentage shots at the rim or beyond the 3-point arc. In Brooklyn's two wins this week against New Orleans and Portland, 143 of the 191 field goal attempts were either within 5 feet or from long range. The Nets' offense that finished last season ranked 19th in offensive rating now ranks seventh. Much of that, of course, has to do with the play of Kyrie Irving, who is No. 3 in points per game (30.0), including a career high of 6.4 free throw attempts. -- Marks

This week: @UTAH, @DEN, @CHI


16. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 5-4
Week 3 ranking: 12

The Timberwolves were thumped by the Bucks while Karl-Anthony Towns was suspended and were ambushed by the Grizzlies in his first game back. They came back to win an overtime thriller over the Warriors on Friday, led by 40 points from the quietly streaking Andrew Wiggins, but failed to complete a late comeback against the Nuggets on Sunday. Wiggins is averaging 24.6 points through the first nine games of the season, which is on pace for a career high and would be a huge bounce back after his disappointing efforts the past two seasons. -- Snellings

This week: @DET, SA, WSH, HOU


17. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 4-6
Week 3 ranking: 14

It might be justifiable because of injuries, but the Blazers have been in a rut (not even 60 from Damian Lillard could cement a win Friday). Although it's November and only game No. 10, their Sunday night overtime win against the Hawks felt significant. It snapped a four-game losing streak, which is key in the hyper-competitive West where falling too far behind means falling out altogether. The Blazers are a team ripe to make a move, and they might need it sooner than later. -- Young

This week: @SAC, TOR, @SA


18. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 4-6
Week 3 ranking: 21

Before the season, there was strong belief within the Thunder organization that this team might be better than some thought. Through 10 games, their record might be about what was expected, but it's an extremely competitive group. A few bounces here, a few breaks there, and the Thunder would be on the other side of .500. They've lost five of their six games by five points or fewer and have had a chance to win all of them in the final minutes. With one of the tougher opening schedules in the league, if the Thunder can hang in there, they might start winning some of the close ones. -- Young

This week: @IND, PHI


19. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 3-6
Week 3 ranking: 18

Newcomer Jabari Parker has helped ease the loss of forward John Collins following his 25-game suspension for a positive drug test. Parker had season highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds in an overtime loss to Portland on Sunday. The journeyman has averaged 23.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in his past three games. -- Spears

This week: @DEN, @PHX, @LAC, @LAL


20. Detroit Pistons
Record: 4-6
Week 3 ranking: 20

The Pistons have split their past four games, winning both home contests but losing twice on the road. They have been treading water with Blake Griffin injured, but the All-Star forward is expected to make his season debut on Monday against the Timberwolves and should give the entire team a boost. Derrick Rose has also missed the past four games after starting the season strong, but the former MVP returned to practice Sunday and could be rejoining the team this week as well. -- Snellings

This week: MIN, @MIA, @CHA


21. Orlando Magic
Record: 3-7
Week 3 ranking: 19

The Magic have dropped five of six, with their lone win coming as a home blowout of the Grizzlies on Friday. Orlando's bright spot during this stretch was third-year forward Jonathan Isaac, who is starting to live up to his sixth overall pick status from two years ago. Since the calendar flipped to November, no player has more blocks per game than Isaac's 3.2. -- Snellings

This week: PHI, SA, WSH


22. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 4-6
Week 3 ranking: 22

It's a three-week sample, but backup guard Devonte' Graham has already put his name near the top of the list for the Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved awards. In four games last week, Graham averaged 23.3 points, including a career-high 35 in a comeback win against Indiana. -- Marks

This week: MEM, DET, @NY


23. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 4-5
Week 3 ranking: 25

After losing three straight games, Cleveland recorded back-to-back double-digit road wins against the Wizards and Knicks. One sign of growth has been the team's ability to take care of the ball. In three games this week, Cleveland's young backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined for only 10 turnovers. This season, the Cavaliers rank fourth in fewest turnovers per game. -- Marks

This week: @PHI, MIA, PHI


24. Sacramento Kings
Record: 3-6
Week 3 ranking: 28

The Kings are finally shaking off their slow start to the season by winning three of their past four games, including two on the road. What's the difference? Sacramento allowed an average of 100.7 points in those three wins, including 92 at New York. Big man Harry Giles also made his season debut on Saturday at Atlanta, scoring four points after being sidelined by a sore left knee. -- Spears

This week: POR, @LAL, BOS


25. Chicago Bulls
Record: 3-7
Week 3 ranking: 23

The Bulls have made 31% of their 3-pointers so far this season to rank fifth worst in the league. Chicago also missed 28 of 32 3-point attempts in a loss to Houston on Saturday. Coach Jim Boylen, however, wants his Bulls to keep shooting from deep. -- Spears

This week: NY, @MIL, BKN


26. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 2-7
Week 3 ranking: 24

Brandon Ingram is having a breakout offensive season, averaging 25.9 points per game while shooting 53.7% from the floor and 46.9% from 3-point range. The Pelicans, who rank second-to-last in the league in defensive rating, have bled points with Ingram on the floor. The Pelicans have allowed 117.6 points per 100 possessions in Ingram's 289 minutes, compared to 100.6 points per 100 possessions in 148 minutes without him. -- MacMahon

This week: HOU, LAC, @MIA, GS


27. Washington Wizards
Record: 2-6
Week 3 ranking: 26

There were positives early, with the Wizards looking to be a scrappy, semi-enjoyable, hard-playing group, but they have lost five of six, including the past two by double digits to the Pacers and Cavs. They are an absolute defensive apparition, 28th in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions. They were never expected to be good, but after last season, they need to at least be competitive while developing some young players. These are the season objectives: Get Rui Hachimura good, and keep Bradley Beal happy. -- Young

This week: @BOS, @MIN, @ORL


28. Golden State Warriors
Record: 2-8
Week 3 ranking: 27

The injury-plagued Warriors have used eight starting lineups this season -- Glenn Robinson III is the only player to start every game. There is some hope that Draymond Green (finger sprain) could be back soon. -- Spears

This week: UTAH, @LAL, BOS, @NO


29. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 2-7
Week 3 ranking: 29

The Grizzlies are going to great lengths to protect prized rookie point guard Ja Morant. The 20-year-old sat out Saturday's loss to the Mavericks because the team opted to rest him on the second night of a back-to-back. Morant has played more than 30 minutes in a game only once, logging 32 minutes during his 30-point, nine-assist night in an overtime win over the Nets. -- MacMahon

This week: @SA, @CHA, UTAH, DEN


30. New York Knicks
Record: 2-8
Week 3 ranking: 30

The win Friday at Dallas was thought to be the turning point of the season. Instead, the one-game winning streak was followed by an embarrassing 21-point loss to Cleveland two nights later. After the loss to the Cavaliers, president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry took the rare step of addressing the media after the game. New York's 2-8 record comes with the league's second-worst point differential. -- Marks

This week: @CHI, DAL, CHA