With one week in the books, there have already been quite a few unexpected developments. This is reflected in this week’s nba.com power rankings. Houston rests at number 1, Golden State has slipped to 3, Memphis have silenced some doubters and earned the 6th slot, and the Jazz? We moved up three spots from 12 last week to 9 this week.
The league's best shooter (among players who took at least 25 shots) in Week 1 was Joe Ingles, who had an effective field goal percentage of 84.6 percent in Utah's first three games. The league's worst shooter in Week 1 was Donovan Mitchell (20.0 percent). The good has outweighed the bad (Mitchell has shown some playmaking skills) and the Jazz offense was efficient enough to pick up important wins against Denver and Oklahoma City. Of course, the defense did the heavy lifting, Ekpe Udoh gives them a second elite shot blocker, and they held both of those teams (expected to be top-10 offenses) under a point per possession.
It’s very interesting to look at these power rankings and see how drastic some teams have leaped up or down the board in just a week’s time. Denver isn’t performing up to expectations yet, Gordon Hayward was injured, Memphis beat the Golden State Warriors, and apparently losing to the Jazz can cause a team like Oklahoma City to drop significantly in the sight of national media. One team whose rating I don’t understand is Minnesota’s, who went from 9th place last week to 4th place this week. I don’t know if they deserve that, but they do seem to be this year’s national media darling.
What are some things you notice, and what would you change?
Continuing our look across the league, some interesting drama is surfacing. Eric Bledsoe is likely to be moved very soon after the firing of coach Earl Watson, the Cavaliers are shaking up their starting lineup, and we get the first edition of “Shaqtin’ a Fool” of this season.
To recap the drama in Phoenix: The Suns fired Earl Watson, according to @wojespn, and Eric Bledsoe tweeted, "I don't want to be here."— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) October 22, 2017
I Dont wanna be here— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017
ESPN Sources: Eric Bledsoe met with team this morning before shootaround and he was sent home. He will not play tonight against Sacramento.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 23, 2017
Marc Stein says that the Bucks are one of the teams looking to acquire Eric Bledsoe.
The Bucks are a team that has expressed interest in trading for Eric Bledsoe, according to league sources— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2017
Looks like the trade will happen sooner than later. Hopefully it’s not Denver who lands Bledsoe.
The Jazz seem to get better at social media every season. Here we have Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio playing the “Whisper Game”. I believe the headphones Ricky has are hooked up to a microphone which is on a very low volume setting, and he has to guess what Rudy is saying. Two non-native English speakers playing the Whisper Game is sure to be a winning combination.
Speaking of Ricky, here is a cool stat from last week, if you haven’t already seen it:
With 20 assists through first 2 games, Ricky Rubio joins D. Williams (2 times) and J. Stockton (10 times) as 3rd Jazz player to ever do so.— Utah Jazz PR (@UtahJazzPR) October 21, 2017
Doesn’t it feel nice to have a player who can rack up assists? Ricky brings a lot to the table, and after seeing him live when I attended the Oklahoma City game, I have to say he is extremely underrated. Ricky brings a lot to the table, whether it’s his insane passing, his lock-down defense, his leadership, or his willingness to buy into the coach’s system, Ricky Rubio as a full package is much better than people give him credit for.
Through the first three games, Ekpe Udoh is a player that has stood out and impressed all of us. He has been one of the keys to our bench success, and is doing a lot of things that don’t necessarily show up in the traditional stat box. However, his advanced stats look very good for a backup center.
Ekpe has had a massive BLK% of 14.9%, an average +/- of 8.1 (which can vary depending on the site you visit), and a huge impact on our defense, providing us with an average defensive +/- of 10.2. If he can keep this up, he might just be one of the best defensive rotation players in the league.
Who else has stood out to you as you’ve watched the first few games?