NBA Power Rankings: Butler trade aftermath and a new No. 1

We’ve got a lot to unpack ahead of Week 5 in the NBA: Not only does the Jimmy Butler trade shake up the Eastern Conference, but we’ve also got a new Power Rankings No. 1 for the first time this season.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Tim MacMahon and Andre Snellings, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears and FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring) ranks the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom.

Previous rankings: Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Camp | Free agency


1. Toronto Raptors
Record: 12-1

It was an undefeated week for the 12-1 Raptors, who haven’t won a game by fewer than seven points since the first week of the season. One among many promising notes for Toronto: No matter which combination of forwards and big men head coach Nick Nurse assembles around Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, the Raps are decimating the competition. No other three-man unit in the league with more than 200 minutes has outperformed this Raps’ winning trio. — Arnovitz

2. Golden State Warriors
Record: 11-2

The Warriors are without star guard Stephen Curry due to a groin injury. But in their first game without the two-time MVP, Quinn Cook stepped up just like he did when in need last season. Cook scored a season-high 27 points and nailed three 3-pointers while dishing five assists in his first start of the season during a win over Brooklyn on Saturday. There is no question now that the former two-way player is confident in a starting role when needed. — Spears

3. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 10-3

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks entered the final game of their West Coast trip, in Denver, with mixed results: They were embarrassed in Portland and dropped a close one against the Clippers, but hammered the Kings before also dismantling a somewhat short-handed Warriors club at Oracle on national TV. Perhaps what’s most impressive about this club so far: In prime-time showings against the Celtics and Warriors, they’ve shown they can compete whether or not they’re hitting from long range. They’re just as content dicing you in the paint as they are from the arc, and if you aren’t careful, they’ll dominate you from both. — Herring

4. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 10-3

The Blazers have won four straight after a big win over Boston on Sunday and joined Golden State as the only Western Conference teams with double-digit wins. Portland will next be embarking on an odd six-game trek that includes stops at the Lakers, Wolves, Wizards, Knicks, Bucks and Warriors. Portland doesn’t have another home game until Nov. 25 against the Clippers. — Spears

5. Denver Nuggets
Record: 9-4

The Nuggets have now lost three straight after an 8-1 start. Their first two losses in that string were by a combined four points, and there’s no shame in losing to a strong Bucks squad on Sunday night. Nevertheless, the Nuggets will look to right the ship this week with consecutive home games against Rockets and Hawks squads that are both well under .500. — Snellings

6. Boston Celtics
Record: 7-6

The Celtics just finished a brutal road swing, dropping competitive games to the Pacers, Nuggets and Jazz sandwiched around a win over the lowly Suns. They ended their trip with another loss against the red-hot Trail Blazers, and will try to reverse their momentum this week with a three-game homestand that starts Wednesday against the Bulls. — Snellings

7. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 8-6

A team that has been sculpting an identity around its young core of prospects accumulated over years of rebuilding ultimately cashed in some of those assets on Saturday for a top-shelf wing in Jimmy Butler. The Sixers effectively traded two reliable starters for one star, and the departure of Robert Covington and Dario Saric means the end of last season’s most successful regular-season NBA lineup. But the acquisition also portends likely improvement for the 76ers’ offense, which ranks 21st in the league headed into the week. — Arnovitz

8. Indiana Pacers
Record: 8-6

Domantas Sabonis has had an extremely efficient season thus far, shooting 67 percent and was coming off consecutive double-doubles before coming four rebounds short of another in Houston. He has been so good that the Pacers essentially haven’t needed backup big man Kyle O’Quinn, who was one of the team’s key free-agent signings over the summer. O’Quinn hasn’t logged more than five minutes of game action since Oct. 22. — Herring

9. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 7-4

The Spurs got some much-needed guard depth with Derrick White making his season debut last week after being sidelined by a left plantar fascia tear. But now the injury bug is spreading throughout San Antonio’s frontcourt. Rudy Gay (heel), Pau Gasol (foot) and Jakob Poeltl (ankle) are all missing time, making a team Gregg Popovich recently ripped as “soft” really small. — MacMahon

10. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 7-5

With Russell Westbrook’s return from an ankle injury on the horizon, the Thunder are playing some of the best ball in the NBA. Winners of seven in a row before the Mavericks finally took advantage of Westbrook’s absence to hand them a loss, the Thunder face a light schedule this week with two games against the Suns and one against the Knicks, opponents who have a combined .231 winning percentage. — Snellings

11. Utah Jazz
Record: 6-6

Jae Crowder is just a little delusional when he claims the Celtics know they made a mistake by giving him up in the Kyrie Irving deal, but he has made a major impact since the Cavaliers rerouted him to Utah. He’s thriving as a tough, versatile sixth man, averaging 14.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. The Jazz’s closing five, featuring Crowder at power forward with four starters, is plus-166 in 301 minutes since his arrival at last season’s trade deadline. — MacMahon

12. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 7-4

Memphis mainstays Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are at the heart of the Grizzlies’ good start, but a couple of under-the-radar offseason additions are playing critical roles. Garrett Temple, acquired from Sacramento for spare parts, is excelling in a 3-and-D role (12.8 points per game, 42.9 3-point percentage, plus-7.1 net rating). Shelvin Mack, a vet-minimum signing, has been spectacular (11.5 points, 54.0 field goal percentage) in the backup point guard spot that has been a chronic problem for the Grizzlies. — MacMahon

13. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 7-6

The Lakers were one of only three NBA teams to post an undefeated week, with wins over Minnesota, Sacramento and Atlanta. The competition might not have been stiff, but the Lakers were stingy — a welcome turn of events for a defense that leaked like a sieve over the first three weeks of the season. Tyson Chandler’s arrival to the Lakers this weekend was announced with authority on Sunday night when he blocked a potential game winner by Trae Young at the buzzer. — Arnovitz

14. LA Clippers
Record: 7-5

Quietly, the Clippers have assembled the league’s No. 7 offense in the early going. A primary factor in their overall efficiency: 3-point shooting. The Clips rank second in accuracy at 39.6 percent (only Golden State is better) and feature four players hitting at least one 3 per game at a rate at 38 percent or better. But here’s the crazy stat: According to Second Spectrum, they’re shooting 41 percent on contested attempts, but only 33 percent on uncontested ones. — Arnovitz

15. Houston Rockets
Record: 5-7

The Rockets hoped Carmelo Anthony could be like the Showtime Lakers’ Bob McAdoo. He was more like the Memphis Grizzlies’ Allen Iverson. It’s wrong to make Melo the scapegoat for the Rockets’ rough start — they’ve had a lot of other problems — but Melo clearly wasn’t part of the solution. It might be best to move on now, as respectfully as possible. — MacMahon

16. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 6-6

The Pelicans have missed point guard Elfrid Payton, whom they expect to welcome back from an ankle injury this week. New Orleans jumped out to a 4-1 start before Payton got hurt and are 1-5 without him, although Anthony Davis’ elbow injury certainly skews that contrast. The Pelicans’ preferred starting five has played only 60 minutes together but has outscored opponents by 49 points. — MacMahon

17. Detroit Pistons
Record: 6-6

Detroit has largely done what it’s supposed to do this season. The Pistons have gone 5-2 against teams below .500 to this point, yet just 1-4 — with that lone win being a one-point, overtime victory over the Sixers in which Blake Griffin scored 50 — versus clubs .500 or better. Nonetheless, they get a big opportunity to change that narrative Wednesday, when they head to Toronto to play the Raptors, who own the league’s best record. — Herring

18. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 7-6

Having won three of their past four games, how good are Kemba Walker and the Hornets? We should find out soon as Charlotte has upcoming games against Eastern Conference powers Philadelphia, Boston and Indiana. The Hornets need more consistency to prove they belong among the East’s first or second tier. — Spears

19. Sacramento Kings
Record: 7-6

The Kings aren’t laughable anymore as they have a winning record and are competitive in losses. One big reason is the play of second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox and center Willie Cauley-Stein. Fox has pushed the Kings to have the best pace in the NBA and Cauley-Stein has added surprising offense this season, averaging 16.8 points per game. — Spears

20. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 6-7

The Nets had a strong week, winning three games in a row with a big road victory over the Nuggets before finally losing to the Warriors at Oracle. The Nets continue to be led by Caris LeVert, who was averaging 22.4 PPG in the five games leading up to the Warriors loss, but he had to leave that game early with a knee injury that will be worth keeping an eye on. — Snellings

21. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 4-9

Finally, mercifully, the Wolves did the inevitable and traded Butler, which — for all the top-end talent they lost — should finally allow the team to play without distractions. Whether Robert Covington and Dario Saric will be enough to get them into the playoffs remains to be seen, but at least Minnesota can move forward now, and hopefully do so with a little bit more spacing, at that. Now the keys are firmly in Karl-Anthony Towns’ hands, for better or for worse. — Herring

22. Miami Heat
Record: 5-7

After beating Detroit in overtime and stifling the Spurs in their best defensive performance of the season, the Heat suffered a lost weekend at home, dropping consecutive games to Indiana and an embattled Washington team. Miami racked up 43 turnovers in those two losses and now rank an uncharacteristic 27th overall in protecting possession. The upshot for the Heat in not nabbing Jimmy Butler from Minnesota is they’ll continue to employ one of the best value players in the NBA, Josh Richardson. — Arnovitz

23. Orlando Magic
Record: 6-7

The Magic ended their four-game losing streak last week with an upset against the Spurs and have taken advantage of an ease in the schedule with wins in three of their past four games against teams with losing records. The Magic have been led by Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, who have combined for 10 games with at least 20 points and eight rebounds. — Snellings

24. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 4-8

Don’t be deceived by DeAndre Jordan’s solid statistics. He has been a major disappointment for the Mavs. He has rubbed teammates the wrong way with what they perceive as selfish play, the most blatant example being when he stole an uncontested rebound from Luka Doncic by putting his forearm in the prized rookie’s back and tipping the ball away. Jordan’s disinterest in playing help defense has been a big problem as Mavs opponents light up the scoreboard. — MacMahon

25. Washington Wizards
Record: 3-9

If Carmelo Anthony gets waived by the Rockets, should the Wizards consider adding him? Washington has enough drama as it is, but perhaps adding a veteran frontcourt player could help in the way Paul Pierce did. Anthony and Washington head coach Scott Brooks also have ties dating back to their Denver Nuggets days and Anthony grew up in nearby Baltimore — so what do the Wizards have to lose? — Spears

26. New York Knicks
Record: 4-10

The Knicks are continuing their youth movement, with rookie Allonzo Trier stepping up to average 14.2 PPG over his past six games. Trier scored 21 points in the game that he started for Tim Hardaway Jr., but Hardaway returned to score 61 points over his next two games. Off the court, the Knicks had an interesting exchange between coach David Fizdale and franchise player Kristaps Porzingis over the latter’s injury recovery. — Snellings

27. Chicago Bulls
Record: 4-9

If one good thing has come from the team’s boatload of injuries early on, it’s that rookie Wendell Carter Jr. — a strong post defender who wasn’t expected to get many offensive opportunities because of his shoot-first teammates — is getting his feet wet as a scorer. He has notched double digits in scoring eight games in a row, shooting 51 percent from the field over that span. Since some of those chances figure to dry up once everyone is back, it’s good to see what he’s capable of when his team needs it. — Herring

28. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 3-10

An 0-4 week was capped by a gut-wrenching loss in the final minute to the Lakers to start a four-game trip. The trip gets only more difficult this week, with games at Golden State, Denver and Indiana. Trae Young is suffering through a rough November shooting from distance — 7-for-34 from beyond the arc — though he continues to impress as a passer. With John Collins set to return in the near future, Young will get a quality dance partner in the pick-and-roll. — Arnovitz

29. Phoenix Suns
Record: 2-10

There is no question that Devin Booker is an All-Star-caliber player. But will he ever be one if the Suns don’t win? Booker is averaging 24.9 points, 6.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds, but the struggling Suns have only two wins. The long list of talented Western Conference guards make landing the honor tough enough. Losing will be Booker’s biggest obstacle in landing the All-Star honor. — Spears

30. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 1-11

It was a strong week for Tristan Thompson, who logged double-doubles in all three of the team’s contests while averaging 17 points and 13 boards on 62 percent shooting over that span. But with how ugly a season this is going to be for the one-win Cavs, little will feel like a success for this team unless the youngsters — namely rookie guard Collin Sexton — can start showing positive signs. — Herring

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