NBA Power Rankings: Celtics living up to hype; 76ers are better without Harden?

Boston Celtics Jrue Holiday and Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics Jrue Holiday and Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /
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In the latest edition of our NBA Power Rankings, the Boston Celtics continue to live up to the hype and the Philadelphia 76ers may be better without James Harden. 

Nearly two weeks into the 2023-24 NBA regular season, there are already some interesting trends and/or storylines that are continuing to develop. One of the bigger ones revolves around the exceptional play of the Boston Celtics.

After acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday during the offseason, many identified the Celtics as the favorites to win the 2024 NBA Championship. And through the first five games of the season, many of those experts appear to be on point. At the moment, the Celtics are 5-0 and are the only team in the NBA with a top 5 offense and defense. They also have the No. 1 net rating in the league by a wide margin.

To say they’re living up to the hype would be a huge understatement. Boston looks like head and shoulders the best team in the league at the moment.

The Philadelphia 76ers traded James Harden

Additionally, the Philadelphia 76ers finally traded James Harden to the LA Clippers. But this is a move that may not completely tank the Sixers’ chances of making noise in the Eastern Conference. In fact, you can make the argument that Philadelphia may be better off without Harden.

Let’s explore where both the Celtics and 76ers stand in this week’s NBA Power Rankings.

30. Houston Rockets

As much as they seemed to go all-in on the offseason, the start of the season hasn’t gone exactly as the Houston Rockets planned. Houston is 1-4 on the season with their only win coming against the Charlotte Hornets. The Rockets haven’t shown much hope on either side of the floor and that’s a concern considering this was the year where their young players were supposed to take another step forward.

For now, the Rockets check in at No. 30 but this is a team that has the potential to make a move up the standings. However, considering how inconsistent this team has been to start the season, that’s far from a guarantee.