The NBA season is well underway, and it hasn’t been as cookie cutter as we all thought. There are some strange teams off to hot starts, and there are some surprises near the bottom of the standings. As it stands right now, most teams are about 12 games in, so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of the biggest surprises of the start of the NBA season.
LeBron and the Cavs
LeBron is quietly off to an incredible start, and if he keeps this pace up, a likely MVP. But that isn’t the big surprise here. We all know how good he is. The problem is his Cavs are only 5-7 and are sitting at 12th in the east. The team looks old and they have no defense. D-Wade isn’t the same guy he used to be, and it is clear that they are missing Kyrie. Now, the offense will surely pick up when IT finally returns from his hip injury (possibly in January), but that certainly won’t help their defense, as he’s the worst defensive point guard in the league. The crazy thing is, they look this bad despite the insane numbers LeBron is putting up. He’s currently averaging 29.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game, and he’s shooting a career high 60% from the field and another career high of 83% from the free throw line. Unfortunately, he’s also having to play a league-high 38 minutes per game just to keep his team in it. It’s clear that the Cavs will have to make some changes if they want to make it to the finals again.
Detroit’s hot start
I picked the Pistons to make it to the playoffs… as an 8 seed. And that’s about where most people had them, if they had them in at all. They have, however, jumped out to a surprising 9-3 start and are currently 2nd in the east. Drummond is playing like he cares, Reggie Jackson looks like a legitimate point guard, and Tobias Harris looks like an all-star. The big question is, can they keep it up? Now, I think they will make the playoffs, assuming they don’t have an injury to one of the players I just mentioned, but they certainly won’t be a top 3 or 4 team. I could definitely see them in the 5-6 range, which is something I didn’t think I’d be saying about the Pistons in 2017.
Celtics are playing great without Hayward
After Hayward broke his leg 5 minutes into the season, a lot of people, myself included, thought this Celtics team was done. I never thought they wouldn’t make the playoffs, but I certainly thought they lost any chance of reaching the conference finals when he went down. But since starting 0-2, they have won 11 straight and have the best record in the NBA. Kyrie is playing great (and has been surprisingly good on defense), Al Horford has been a beast, averaging 14.6 points, 9.2 boards, and 4.7 assists, Jaylen Brown has slotted into the starting lineup nicely and appears to have taken a big leap from last year, and Jayson Tatum has been phenomenal. They have the best defense in the NBA, they have a nice balance on offense, and all of their long wings have been playing well. The Celtics are for real.
Grizzlies and Magic have been great
The reason I’m putting these 2 teams together is because I don’t think either of them will keep it up. The Magic have been fantastic, Aaron Gordon looks like a star in the making and their 3 point shooting has been incredible. The problem is, their numbers can’t continue at this level. They just flat out don’t have the talent. It is, however, nice to see them finally show some flashes. The Magic have been trash since Dwight left, and seeign them above .500, even if it’s just 12 games into the season, makes me happy.
The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have 2 stars in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr, and while I like both of these guys, it takes a lot more than that to make noise in the western conference. They are currently sitting 4th at 7-4, and I don’t think there is any chance of them finishing in that area. They just don’t have the bench and role players to compete. I have been accused of being a Grizzlies hater this season, but I just don’t like this team. I don’t think they have enough talent or a deep enough bench.
Ben Simmons is incredible
Now, we all knew he had potential when the 76ers took him 1st overall in the 2016 draft, but I certainly didn’t expect these numbers from him yet. After missing all of last season, it appears he is a sure thing for Rookie of the Year, averaging 17.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 7.8 assists so far this season. He’s the best rookie I’ve seen in a long time, and it should be a lot of fun to watch his career play out. Who knew a 7′ point guard could be so fun?
This season has already been a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to see how some of these story lines play out throughout the course of the year. Be sure to follow me on twitter @TCalvinNBA, where I live-tweet a lot of the games I watch and have commentary on basketball in general.