The five most surprising teams in the NBA this season
With a quarter of the season passed, everything looks rather blurry. And while Miami are inconsistent, the Spurs have stumbled through their last 5 outings (although Tim Duncan is killing it). Boston has really ran out of gas and the Lakers, they are running out of time to figure things out.
The only elite team that looks consistent right now is the Thunder, leading the league with a 21-4 record. But let’s be honest, they still aren’t as good as last year.
On the other hand, there are some teams that are just performing brilliantly out there. Granted, that only quarter of the season has passed, but these teams (in no particular order) have been pretty good:
The Warriors have annoyed their fanbase more than any other team, but this season they have been off to a flyer with a a 17-8 start.
Their comeback win at Miami gave us every reason to believe that Golden State is for real. They are placed 11th in the defensive rankings even without Andrew Bogut in the lineup.
Much to their success has been due to the giant progress of Stephen Curry, who it seems like doesn’t have ankle problems anymore and is lighting it up every night.
There’s still long way to go in the season and who knows what will happen, but the Warriors are pretty good right now.
The Clippers came out all guns firing this season; they even beat the Spurs twice. The Spurs are the benchmark here, if you beat them twice you’re supposed to be good.
And it’s not that they have only beaten the Spurs, the Clipps have got to their 18-6 record by sheer hard-work. They’ve already beaten the Grizzlies, the Heat and the Bulls.
Their bench is the second-most productive in the NBA, with Jamal Crawford’s making a name for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
That aside, with Lamar Odom & Blake Griffin coming back to form and DeAndre Jordan repaying his contract with some serious improvement on both sides of court, the Clippers looks like a legitimate threat in the Western Conference this season. And then, lest we forget, there’s Chris Paul.
The Knicks are shooting lights out from the 3-pt range this season, they have been a top offensive team all season long. They have already had wins over the Spurs and the Heat twice apiece — the latter by 20 points both times out.
Still, Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have yet to play this season. Which might be their biggest problem; how do you bring them back into the lineup without breaking any chemistry?
Jason Kidd has been legendary this season (at his age) and Carmelo is being Carmelo (who may be the NBA MVP, if the season were to end today). It also seems like Raymond Felton has taken all the off-season criticism and turned it into his motivation.
The Knicks are playing good “team” basketball, something that was lacking last season. And if they figure out for to get Amare & Iman into the lineup, which I’m positive Mike Woodson (coach of the year nominee for me) will, they’d be a force to reckon with.
In other words, the Knicks are a work in progress and might be title contenders if they played like this in playoffs.
We all know Joe Johnson wasn’t worth the $22 million contract, but still he was a franchise cornerstone of the Hawks. Moving a cornerstone and still getting better the next year is a huge task. And the Atlanta Hawks have done it and they are playing some really good basketball at that.
Josh Smith & Al Horford have been leading the team by example, and Jeff Teague is really popping out. Danny Ferry’s idea of having two twin towers with sharp shooters (Kyle Korver & Anthony Morrow) is working out really well.
But will it work all season long? Let’s watch out.
While the whole NBA is playing fast-paced small ball, the Grizzlies have stuck stubbornly to playing slow, inside-out basketball.
Having Marc Gasol & Z-Bo upfront of course, helps you play this way.
With their 16-6 record, it seems like Lionel Hollins’ team has done quite well till now.
The Grizz don’t take many threes, but they convert the ones they attempt at a top-10 mark. So that pretty much sums it up, the Grizzlies have been playing careful basketball. Michael Conley Jr. rapid rise as a floor general is also helping the team a lot this year.
Plus Justin Timberlake now owns a part of Grizzlies, so there’s the mojo.
This Blue Collar Town team may not play the prettiest basketball, or have a market like the Knicks, but they’re only doing what they know best.
And having already beaten the Spurs in the Playoffs last year, and taking the Thunder to 7 games, they are a tricky outfit. If Z-Bo gets to his 100% this playoffs, who knows?