Phoenix Suns 2-1
Last rank: 25th
Last week: Won vs. Sacramento 124-95, lost at Denver 108-107 (OT), won vs. Clippers 130-122
This week: Monday vs. Utah, Wednesday at Golden State, Saturday at Memphis
The Phoenix Suns lost starting center Deandre Ayton after opening night to a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a diuretic. New point guard Ricky Rubio was out with a knee ailment on Saturday night against the Clippers. And all the Suns have done is blow out the Kings and beat the Clips at home, while losing a nail-biter in overtime at Denver.
Kelly Oubre is off to a terrific start, averaging 21.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 29.7 minutes per game and Frank Kaminsky is leading the bench effort, reviving his career so far this season with averages of 15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 27.3 minutes a night, even as the Suns are shooting just 34.6 percent from long range.
Devin Booker has made only 6-of-18 from 3-point land, putting up 23.3 points and 8.3 assists per game, while Aron Baynes has filled in nicely for Ayton at the center spot thus far, with 29 points and 15 boards in his two starts.
San Antonio Spurs 2-0
Last rank: 17th
Last week: Won vs. New York 120-111, won vs. Washington 124-122
This week: Monday vs. Portland, Thursday at Clippers, Friday at Golden State, Sunday vs. Lakers
The degree of difficulty will increase exponentially for the San Antonio Spurs this week after a couple of narrow wins over Eastern Conference afterthoughts to open the year. LaMarcus Aldridge keeps on keeping on, opening his age-34 season with 49 points and 17 boards through two games on 18-of-32 (56.3 percent) shooting.
Dejounte Murray has returned from last year’s ACL injury to score 37 points in just 47 minutes over the first two games, hitting 15-of-25 (60.0 percent) overall with 18 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals. Bryn Forbes, meanwhile, has been sizzling from deep at 7-for-15 and has 36 points already.
DeMar DeRozan has gotten off to a slower start with his shooting, just 14-for-34 (41.2 percent), but has racked up 39 points on sheer volume. Trey Lyles, starting at the 4 in the first two games, has only 10 points but 18 rebounds so far.
Philadelphia 76ers 2-0
Last rank: 2nd
Last week: Won vs. Boston 107-93, won at Detroit 117-111
This week: Monday at Atlanta, Wednesday vs. Minnesota, Saturday at Portland
The Philadelphia 76ers have gotten off to a 2-0 start despite Joel Embiid being sidelined for Saturday win at Detroit with a sprained ankle and a split lip. The 76ers are rolling because Tobias Harris is playing like a max contract guy, as is Ben Simmons.
Harris has scored 44 points on 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) shooting through two games, going 6-for-11 from deep while grabbing 22 rebounds. Simmons is 16-for-29 (55.2 percent) and has 37 points to go with 19 assists and seven steals in Philadelphia’s two wins.
Al Horford has 39 points in two games, but is just 3-for-13 from 3-point range, while fellow newcomer Josh Richardson is 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) overall and has misfired on all eight of his deep attempts so far. When those two get going, the 76ers (at least the starters) are going to be flat-out scary.