We are about a quarter into the NBA season, and it has been interesting. From Jimmy Butler being traded to the 76ers to the defending champions Warriors’ drama, there were no lack of storylines this season.
Well, all these made the headlines for sports news, they weren’t that big of a surprise. Butler demanded a trade early on and it was only a matter of time before he was traded. Fights between teammates are natural, especially for someone as volatile as Green.
We are here to talk about the things no one expected. We did some early pre-season predictions for the Eastern Conference and Western Conference before this, but there were clearly some surprises and disappointments here.
So here are the top 3 surprises and disappointments in the NBA season so far, starting with the disappointments…
Top 3 Disappointments
3. Boston Celtics
While the Celtics are still in the playoff picture, they are performing far worse from their potential. A starting line-up with potentially 5 All-Stars in Irving, Hayward, Brown, Tatum and Horford, the Celtics have struggled early in the season.
Granted, Hayward is fresh off an injury and is still trying to find his place, that is still no excuse for their lacklustre offense.
Last season’s star Brown is also struggling to find his rhythm in a different role with Hayward and Irving in the lineup.
Thankfully, coach Stevens have kept their defence on point, which allowed them to remain in the playoff picture early in the season.
He has also instrumented a line-up change, with Smart inserted into the starting line-up and relegating Hayward to the bench, which sparked their win over the Pelicans.
Hopefully, they turn their season around but Hayward’s demotion could signal a potential trade in the future.
2. Utah Jazz
Last season’s surprise team have lost the element of surprise. We projected them 5th this season but they have started mightily slow, currently sitting at the bottom three of the Western Conference.
Mitchell has hit a bit of a sophomore wall, having an up and down season. However, the issue clearly lies in the team’s offense and particularly, their three-point shooting.
With Gobert as a terrific roll man, they are struggling to space the floor and take advantage of his abilities.
They have attempted to fix the situation by trading for Korver, who is a three-point specialist, but it remains unclear whether they will keep him.
They need to pick it up on the offensive end if they want to even make the playoffs.
1. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have fallen off a cliff to start the season, with reports of issues in the locker room. While swapping Gortat for Howard was going to have an impact on the team, it’s safe to say that this team was a major disappointment.
Currently sitting at 8 wins in 21 games, it is clear that the team has been dysfunctional to start the season. So much so that the entire roster is apparently up for grabs, including the All-Star backcourt of Wall and Beal.
Howard was supposed to improve their defence and give them a better shot in the playoffs, along with an improved Porter and Oubre Jr.
However, it seems that their defence has taken a turn for the worse. They were not expected to contend but their effort and results lately have left many questioning the roster’s set-up.
Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs
Top 3 Surprises
3. Dallas Mavericks
When we projected the Mavericks at the bottom three of the Western Conference, we mentioned that Doncic’s potential and impact on this team.
Doncic has led this team to a solid 8th place, a team without their ageing star Nowitzki playing a single game so far.
With the young core of Doncic and Smith Jr. leading the charge, they have exceeded expectations to play terrifically well.
Also a big shoutout to DeAndre Jordan’s improvement on the free throw line to 80+%. With his improvement and anchoring of the paint, the Mavericks are back in business.
(Although don’t expect them to contend for a title this season)
2. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies practically kept the team the same with some minor adjustments, but somehow, they managed to squeak into 6th with an impressive 12-8 record.
That’s despite losing last seaon’s bench standout Tyreke Evans. This speaks volume to Conley and particularly, Gasol’s game for keeping the Grizzlies in it this season.
Gasol has been anchoring the defence of the grit-n-grind for the past few seasons, but he has been doing so on a much better basis in the current one, pushing Grizzlies to top 5 in defensive ratings.
This has covered up their lacklustre offence and propelled them into the playoff picture this season so far.
Rookie Jackson Jr. has also blended in and contributed well with this team. He may not win Rookie of the Year, his efforts in maintaining the team’s identity should not be overlooked.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Who said Los Angeles is purple and gold? Alright, we did, but can you blame us?
No one expected the Clippers to be atop of the Western Conference, the tougher of the two conferences.
Harris, Williams and Gallinari have been standouts offensively, providing the scoring that teams usually get from superstars, as well as the offensive punch in close games.
But the defence has been good despite the statistics, with Bradley, Beverley, and most surprisingly, Harrell.
Harrell has been playing the Draymond Green role to perfection for the Clippers, protecting the paint and disrupting the perimeter.
Coach Rivers have been mixing and matching the line-ups strategically, with their deep bench and solid role players.
Although it is unlikely that the Clippers would win the championship, it seems that coach Rivers deserves acknowledgement for building a team from nothing after losing their entire Big Three.
Honorable Mentions: Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.
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