dwight dunk 568With the new NBA season four weeks in, and with teams getting more than enough time to get acquainted, it’s time to give early evaluations.

We have have been caught off-guard by the emergence of surprise teams hungry to earn a little dignity after being handed “tanking” and “rebuilding” status by everyone. Franchises that came inches away from dethroning Miami are making early statements by putting up clinics at opponents’ expenses. Players with legitimate playoff and championship ambitions find themselves calling player meetings before even playing ten games.

The busy start to the new NBA year has been both disappointing and thrilling. Read on to find out why.


Three Tanks

Going into the season, we predicted the worst, but Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Boston have all exceeded expectations in some way or the other.

The Sixers, by far the biggest shock of the three, have already racked up wins against three elite teams in Miami, Chicago, and Houston. Eric Bledsoe’s leadership (20PPG, 7APG)  has positively influenced his supporting cast, where under the radar guys like Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris have found an identity. For Boston, the new era began with four straight Ls followed by four straight Ws, still enough victories to place them ahead of New York, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington.

We can deny them all we want, but all of these teams deserve a little credit for their early accomplishments.

Indiana looks scary, but San Antonio doesn’t look any less scarier.

The Pacers’ 9-0 start easily places them above the rest, but the Spurs are right behind. Through eleven games, Indiana ranks first in points allowed, while San Antonio is second. Indiana’s average point differential is 9.4, San Antonio’s is 9.3. Indiana’s defensive rating is at 91.4. San Antonio’s at 91.6 ( Need I list more?

No team is playing better basketball than either of these squads. If the playoffs started today, I’d have them both in the Finals.

Greatest city in the world, except for basketball.

Until Chandler gets back, it looks like New York will lead the league in home fans-generated boos. Without him anchoring the defense, Mike Woodson’s reputation as a defensive minded coach is nothing more than a myth.

The Knicks have won only one game in The Garden, to Milwaukee on opening night. Everything that has happened since then, hasn’t been good, but that being said, it’s still early to call them off and envision a Melo departure in 2014.

Cross-town rival Brooklyn is in the same boat as NY. Despite boasting of a premier collection of players, the Nets are only giving us a tenth of what an appropriate scouting report on them would caution. Deron Williams being out has little to do with their current slump, so if you were to blame anyone, blame the Boston guys. The only time they’ve looked decent is, of course, when they beat Miami. I’m starting to think that the only time they want to win is when some kind of “beef” drives them.

Stuck in the Mud

Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington still remain projected playoff teams, but judging from the way they’ve been playing and the rumors floating around the league, their climb toward the top eight will be steep.

Detroit and Washington have been nothing short of disappointing, and Cleveland’s current team issues make you wonder how long it’ll take them to bounce back. I’m not raising any red flags yet, but I’m extremely concerned. 

If John Wall doesn’t get the Wiz to the playoffs, his fanbase will shrink. Despite the hype pre-season, Detroit’s frontcourt hasn’t translated into wins, so for now, it hasn’t worked.

Fingers crossed, in a month we will be talking about how well they’ve progressed.


Other Team Notes

Los Angeles Lakers 

Despite holding a losing record, the Lakers haven’t looked nearly as bad as we expected. Not at any point during the season would I have put them ahead of New York, Brooklyn, and Denver.

With Kobe’s return pending, more and more Laker fans should come alive.

Atlanta Hawks

The East so far is having a down year, so don’t be too hasty to jump on the ATL bandwagon. Still though, the Horford/Millsap combo is working, and as a result, the Hawks’ odds at a postseason are slowly rising.

Also, Teague has been balling (19.4PPG, 9.0APG).

Notable statistic: Per, the Hawks are the only team in the league with three starters (Horford, Millsap, Teague) ranking in the top 30 in player efficiency rating.

Houston Rockets

Until they find a solution for Omer Asik, the Rockets won’t be taken seriously. Benching him will only lead to more speculations, which in turn, will lead to more issues between Asik and his teammates. There is no other way to end this saga, but with a trade.

Even though they’re winning, I’m not satisfied with Dwight’s play so far and laugh hysterically when commentators mention his 85%FT shooting during practice.

Long story short, Houston looks good, but don’t thank Dwight Howard for that.

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