NBA Quarterly Review (1/4)
We are one quarter (about 20 games) through the NBA season now and there are a lot of interesting things at play. Three of the top four teams are from the West, but after that the list of good teams comes almost exclusively from the East.
The biggest story is obviously the Golden State Warriors who are off to the best start in history. Literally. Starting out 22-0, setting the record for the best start ever and continuing to add to that with every win. If they can keep it up, they could see a potential match-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day to tie the longest win streak ever of 33 games. There just isn’t a better player on the planet right now than Steph Curry. Not only has he been the best player on the court, but he has been the most exciting to watch. His teammates have been playing just as great around him. With Draymond Green and Klay Thompson playing alongside Curry, this team has become incredibly hard to beat. Even when the games come down to the wire, they aren’t phased by the big moments and continue to hit big shots when they matter the most.
With a new found defensive identity, Miami has found themselves sitting atop the East. Both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have been playing great team basketball and they have been getting solid contributions from the rookie Justice Winslow, and Hassan Whiteside continues to protect the paint like no other. I don’t know if it is something they can sustain throughout the entire regular season but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wade and Bosh get a lot of rest down the stretch when they can safely get a top four spot a la Popovich.
Then of course, there is the obligatory mention of my Chicago Bulls. At the moment, I really don’t know what to make of them. The hope is that Derrick Rose can find himself as a top guard once again but it will have to be in a different role than we are used to. If he learns to be a pass first, defensive minded player he can be absolutely great. However, he has been shooting too many threes and the Bulls already have (the horrendous) Nikola Mirotic to do that, but don’t get me started on him. Noah seems to be getting his confidence back and looks healthy, which will be huge for the Bulls. Still, with the questionable coaching of Hoiberg, I’m not sure where the Bulls will land at the end of the season.
One of the exciting things about this year is the abundance of good teams in the East after the top four or five. It will only get better as they fight for playoff spots towards the end of the year. From the sixth spot down to pretty much every team but Brooklyn and Philadelphia, you have teams that are well rounded and can compete with just about everyone. With Batum added to Kemba Walker’s Charlotte Hornets, the play between Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond in Detroit (without Brandon Jennings in the line up yet), to the solid team ball in Boston, and the surprise emergence of the rookie Porzingis for the New York Knicks (a team I would have never considered had playoff potential before seeing Porzingis play).
The biggest disappointment so far comes from New Orleans. The Pelicans were a team I thought would be competing for a top five spot in the West but have been off to an extremely slow start. This has been partly due to the injury of Tyreke Evans who only recently played his first game of the season but that is no excuse in a league where every team seems to have the injury bug. Hopefully their recent overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers will get them going.