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December 14, 2019
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NBA Power Rankings Week 3

NBA Power Rankings Week 3
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We’re two weeks into the regular season, which means it’s OK to start reading into teams’ starts to 2019-20.

That’s great news for the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers. Very, very bad news for the Golden State Warriors.

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 now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 2 | Week 1 | Camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 5-0
Week 2 ranking: 2

The 76ers used the next-man-up approach in their road win at Portland. Without Joel Embiid — the big man was suspended two games for the altercation with Karl-Anthony Towns — the 76ers would get a combined 48 points from Tobias Harris and Al Horford, plus 43 points from their bench, including the game-winning shot by Furkan Korkmaz. The bench production is a result of four players on minimum contracts — James Ennis III, Kyle O’Quinn, Raul Neto, Korkmaz — and a fifth, Mike Scott, signed to the $4.8 million room mid-level exception. While much has been made about their starting five, GM Elton Brand went bargain shopping for reserves, and it has resulted in early season success. — Marks

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

2. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 5-1
Week 2 ranking: 5

The Lakers have won five straight, and their 5-1 start is the best since the 2010-11 season, when L.A. didn’t lose until its ninth game of the season. LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Co. were the first team in the Western Conference to reach the five-win mark — they beat their Staples Center roommates by a few hours Sunday — but have tough upcoming games against surging Miami and defending champion Toronto this week. — Spears

This week: @CHI, MIA, TOR

3. LA Clippers
Record: 5-2
Week 2 ranking: 1

What separates the Clippers is the rare combination of top-tier superstar talent layered with high-level depth. And that was on full display against the Jazz, with 50 points from the bench to go with 30 from Kawhi Leonard. Even if they need to deploy more load management for Leonard throughout the season, they should be able to absorb his production. Oh, and have we mentioned Paul George should be back soon? — Young

This week: MIL, POR

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