Most surprising start to the new NBA season…
Two weeks into the new season an we have already seen some teams struggle while other teams are relishing a new start. We had a quick look over each teams record and present you with 5 teams that have surprised us so far…
5 – Los Angeles Lakers (Current Record: 3-4)
Drama, drama, drama thats Hollywood baby. Unfortunately the Lakers have adopted this as their ethos for the early part of the season. If scoring the two biggest free agents before losing every preseason game wasn’t enough they then lost one of their free agents to injury. This set them up for a week of hell losing 4 games and winning only 1 at home. End result their coach is fired. Every other team would have experienced a very similar downfall. This is a team which demands perfection – you don’t just make the playoffs when you work for the Lakers, you win championships. This attitude is prevalent in only three NBA clubhouses – Los Angeles, Miami and Boston. Currently the Lakers rank 29th in turnovers (an average of 18 p/game), their point differential is average at +2.6 points overall. This team needs to let Gasol and Howard work the post and Kobe needs to be fed the ball by Blake, this will help the scoring. If Blake can always second guess himself before each pass they should be able to minimise turnovers as well.
4 – Memphis Grizzlies (Current Record 5-1)
Lets play a game – who thought the Grizz would be 5-1 after 6 games including a win over the NBA champions ? …. Bet none of you had your hand raised. This start has been impressive and will really help them towards the back end of the season. Their schedule has been easy enough to navigate. No back to backs yet, most games have come after a days rest allowing the team to regroup. As a team they are performing off the charts early. The team’s FG % is 43% while scoring an average of 100 points/game a pace we are used to seeing from Denver, Milwaukee or Golden State. Defensively they have been able to use the healthy fresh bodies of Gasol & Randolph to limit teams to an average of 93 points a night. Gasol is average 1.5 blocks per game while Z-Bo, Zach Randolph is bringing down 15 boards each and every game. Tough to slow down a team that rebounds as well as the Grizzlies.
3 – Chicago Bulls (Current Record 4-2)
The surprise here is that the Bulls have adapted to life without Rose quicker then expected. No-one in Chi-Town was going to prepare this team for the shell shock of losing Rose and then immediately going into game 2 of a playoff series. No one can rightfully expect a positive result. Coach Tibbs has managed to manufacture an offense which is generating over 94 points a game while still maintaining his traditional lock down defensive system. We have seen players step up when needed this year – Hamilton and Gibson most notably. Hinrich has been a great pick up for them, he is a clever baller who plays within his limited abilities. This includes dishing off to his big front court. Without Rose the Bulls are keeping pace with the rest of the league in assists they are currently 4th overall. This season comes down to do they want to make a run at the playoffs without Rose, judging by their early performances they want that #2 seed in the East.
2- New York Knicks (Current Record 4-0)
The New York Knicks are the leagues highest scoring team, host the leagues highest scoring player but they are also one of the leagues oldest ever teams. Makes no sense right?. New York are an offensive powerhouse at the moment, unstoppable. This teams focus on basketball must be commended given the grief they and their city have experienced recently. The city needs a sports team to draw attention away from the mess surrounding it in the wake of the storm and an offensive powerhouse is just the medicine. Its been said that a good offense is a strong defense – the Knicks have added that to their skill set as well. After 4 games they are the toughest team to score against allowing 87 points per game. This is pretty incredible by itself – offensively they average 104 points a night WITHOUT D’Antoni in the coaches chair. Thats a 17 point differential, a league best. Its a small sample size but its heartening to see the Knicks perform so well this early.
1 – Minnesota Timberwolves (Current Record 4-2)
Minnesota’s T’Wolves have been the sexy pick for sleeper or dark horse picks for a few years now. Over the last few seasons they have struggled to find chemistry, this year the balance might be just right. This years team is already one of the best defensively, protects home court and creates open shots like nobodies business all without their two biggest stars. In the absence of Love & Rubio the Wolves have found reliable help in Pekovic, Kirilenko and Roy. Roy & Pekovic have been scoring and distributing the ball as Kirilenko protects the basket at both ends. Kirilenko leads a NBA 5th best defense only allowing 89 points/game which is impressive considering the average is 97 points/game. Ridnour and Roy are holding down the guard positions and creating issues on the perimeter. Ridnour is averaging 10 points a game whilst Roy continues to acclimatize back into the NBA averaging 5 points and 4 assists a game. This is a team which locks down on their opponent defensively and they can do this with their abundance of big men. This story line becomes more interesting once they add Rubio and Love back into the equation.
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