NBA Tier List: Warriors, Grizzlies continue turning heads

Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant, right, passes against Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry during the second half of an NBA basketball Western Conference play-in game in San Francisco, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Jed Jacobsohn/AP)

The first week of the NBA season is in the books and, as usual, the standings as they look right now likely won’t be what they’ll be like a couple weeks from now, let alone at the end of the season in April.

Still, this is the sample size we have for now, so while things will almost assuredly change, here’s how we view things in the latest edition of our NBA Tier List.

The undefeated club

Of this group of seven undefeated clubs, the team we expect to fall off the hardest is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who picked up wins against the lowly New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets.

As for the other six teams, however, there appears to be potential for all of them to be pretty good, with the Golden State Warriors, in particular, looking very impressive, with Steph Curry looking every bit the MVP contender most were thinking he would be.

And among this group, the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls have been very pleasant surprises so far, playing better basketball than you might expect, giving hope that both of these clubs could potentially be a real force in the Eastern Conference this season.

Teams that looks good in the early goings

All of these teams were expected to be pretty good this season, and so far haven’t disappointed in that regard.

Most impressive in this bunch have been the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, whose opening night victory over the Brooklyn Nets looked to be good early proof why they shouldn’t be discounted to repeat again.

Another team that has caught our eye – or should we say player – is Ja Morant and his Memphis Grizzlies. Morant looks to have picked up exactly where he left off after helping the Grizzlies through the play-in tournament into the playoffs proper last season, and he may be even more dangerous than ever before, adding what looks to be a much-improved three-point stroke over the summer. The budding superstar looks poised to take that next leap this season.

Teams that should be good despite bumpy starts

Each of these three teams are expected to be title contenders this season, and they could/should end up that way, but for now they’re actually below .500.

In particular, the Lakers look like they have some issues they need to resolve with some dysfunction on the name, namely the dust-up on the bench between Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard. Their talent will be able to mask a lot of things, but if teammates keep coming after each other like was seen between Davis and Howard, the Lakers could end up in trouble this season.

The “OK” club

This octet of clubs haven’t been outwardly bad to begin the season, but they also haven’t been great, either.

Let’s just say they’ve been “meh.”

One interesting thing to say about this group so far, though is that the Nos. 2-4 picks from the draft are all on teams here and the majority of them have looked good so far with Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Scottie Barnes all having good moments to start the season. Jalen Suggs, however, has yet to have a big breakout game.

Not a win … yet

The Pistons, without No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who’s dealing with an ankle injury and won’t make his NBA debut until he gets some work in the G League, the Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder beginning the season without a win is completely unsurprising.

However, for the Clippers to begin the season 0-2 is a little unexpected, especially their loss to the Grizzlies. Ultimately, we expect Los Angeles to be OK, but seeing as the Clippers have started the season without Serge Ibaka and it’s unclear if Kawhi Leonard will play this season, to get off to a start so inauspicious is rather foreboding.

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