Devin Booker (1) of Phoenix Suns drives past Ben Simmons (25) of the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half of an NBA basketball game. (Ross D. . Franklin / AP)
Although the calendar has been postponed to the New Year, we barely left port with the 2020-21 NBA season.
With seven games being the most a team has played, we are still in an information gathering part of the campaign and it’s difficult to get judgments and group teams right.
With 5: 1 and by far the best defense in the NBA with a defensive rating of 99. 7, the Philadelphia 76ers are currently the crème de la crème of the Eastern Conference, and there’s not much room for debate.
Things are a bit mixed up in the west, but the two teams in Los Angeles got off to an early start, with the somewhat surprising Phoenix Suns not lagging far behind.
The Suns made their intentions clear that after their success in the bubble they wanted to take a big boost by acquiring Chris Paul. So far, he’s helped turn them into one of the best teams in the NBA and seems just the kind of veteran you need to turn Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton from talented players into real stars.
We have been tempted to put teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, and Utah Jazz in the top flight as they have made fantastic starts, but we just want to see more of each of them before we are comfortable crowning them as the elite of the league.
In the case of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, they are also expected to be among the best in the league, but they just fail to present the records to support that claim.
Essentially, all teams are good at this level and some of them could very well end up in the top league if we know more about each of them as the season progresses.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic are both 4-2, the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors are 3-3, and the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks are both 2-4.
Are these clubs really going to continue to trend in the direction they seem to be going?
The Mavericks look like they may have a Luka Doncic injury situation on their hands, but it’s hard to tell so they may be in trouble. Also, Stephen Curry exploded to a career high of 62 in a big win against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, raising hopes that his brilliance may carry the dubs despite the fact that they hold the second worst net rating in the NBA now.
The records for all of these teams will tell you that none of these clubs are particularly good at the moment, but when you look at their roster there is a glimmer of hope that this is just a preseason slip for each of them and that they can and will turn it around.
Take the Toronto Raptors for example. While they’re a different team than the one that ended up with the second-best record in the NBA last season, they’re not all that different and only need a few players – like Pascal Siakam – to get back to the standard they were in 2019 -20 to get back on track.
Or how about the Washington Wizards? The talent on this back seat is undeniable as Bradley Beal looks like a scoring machine again and Russell Westbrook scores another triple-double, but the team needs to defend better if they want to capitalize on their star power.
The season isn’t even 10 games long, so there is plenty of time for each of these clubs to turn things around, no matter how dire things look.
It looked like this could be a very promising season for the Memphis Grizzlies. It seems to be lost before it even started.
The team already gave a tip without aspiring striker Jaren Jackson Jr. . – retired with a knee injury – and now has 2020 Rookie of the Year Ja Morant for approx. Lost 3-5 weeks with an ankle sprain.
These are the two best players in the Grizzlies, and without them their campaign may be dead in the water for an extended period of time.
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NBA, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Eastern Conference, Miami Heat
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