The NBA season is in full effect having just reached the quarter mark for the season. Teams are starting to find their rhythm and players are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. But what teams are lived up to the hype and who has failed to live up to their potential?
Let’s begin with how the league is shaping up so far this season. Despite being the two time defending NBA Champions the Warriors have not looked like the dominate force we have became accustomed to for most of this season.
The Warriors have been plagued with both injuries and drama this season. With Steph Curry missing 11 games this season due to groin injury and teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green fighting with one another over what’s best for the team.
Green has also missed the passed 11 games with an injured toe.
While the Warriors have been trying to get themselves back on track two surprising teams have made their presence known in the Western Conference.
The Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers have both taken the league by storm and are currently leading the Western Conference standings at first and second respectively.
The Nuggets being led by Guards Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Center Nikola Jokic have shocked everyone and become one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA. This is thanks in large part to the teams passing (3rd in assists), and rebounds (7th). The Nuggets also take great care of the ball being sixth in the league in turnovers.
The Los Angeles Clippers are truly a team no one saw coming. After losing the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan many thought the Clippers would be at he bottom of the standings after saying goodbye to Lob City.
Everyone but the Clippers apparently thought this, the Clippers are currently made up of a who’s who of the NBA’s best role players and sixth men.
Patrick Beverly, Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris the list goes on and on. However despite not having a true star on their team the Clippers have been able to march their way up the Western Conference standings.
This is thanks to the teams shooting, the Clippers are top 10 in points scored (3rd), field goal percentage (8th), free throw percentage (4th) and 3-point percentage (4th).
While the Nuggets, Clippers and Warriors have been the talk of the West, things in the East are looking much different thanks to a certain player.
The big news of this NBA offseason was LeBron James’ arrival to Hollywood when he signed a 4-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron has singlehandedly ruled the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade. Eight straight strips to the NBA Finals, four each with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
His departure from his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers left the Eastern Conference wide open for a new team to claim the crown of Eastern Conference champs.
So far three teams are fighting for control of the East; the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers each falling first, second and third in the standings respectively.
The Raptors despite being a legitimate playoff contender the last couple seasons were never able to live up to what many thought they were capable of. Thanks in large part to LeBron James. But with James now out west many feel this may finally be the Raptors time to shine.
Then the offseason happened.
The Raptors fired head coach Dwane Casey the franchises all time leader in wins. Then the team traded the franchises all time leading scorer all star DeMar DeRozan to the San Antionio Spurs for the injured Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
This left fans both puzzled and confused in the early part of the season. That confusion has been laid to rest.
Former assistant now head coach Nick Nurse has the Raptors off to their best start in franchise history. The Raptors currently sit atop of the standings with a league best record of 21-6.
And despite missing most of last season with a right quad injury Kawhi Leonard has put the league on notice. Reminding all why he was chosen to lead the Spurs into the future after the departures of the Spurs Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
The 2014 NBA Finals MVP is playing the best basketball of his career averaging a career high in both points (26.4) and rebounds (8.3).
The Milwaukee Bucks have been playing great in the early part of the season lead by the Greek Freak himself Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks are the. highest scoring team in the league averaging 120 points per game. The Bucks are also third in field goal percentage (48.3%), first in rebounds (50.5), fourth in assists (26.9) and eight in blocks (5.8).
While some teams have surpassed expectations this season some have not lived up to them, two of those teams being the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics. Two teams that were each a game away from the NBA Finals last season.
The Rockets are trying to adjust after losing some key pieces from last season. The losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute have been huge especially on defensive.
The Rockets have not been able to get stops on the defense end, they are also struggling to rebound the ball. The Rockets currently rank 28th in rebounding with 40.9 per game.
The Celtics on the other hand have been trying to bounce back from injury. Guard Kyrie Irving is returning from knee surgery last season. While Gordon Hayward is still rebounding from a broken ankle.
There’s not one thing in particular the Celtics are struggling with they’re just playing inconsistently. They show flashes of the team they were last season but can never seem to sustain that same level of play.
There’s still a lot of basketball yet to play this season, so in the next few months the league could look drastically different. But with all the moves being made this year this NBA season has the potential to the best in nearly a decade.
*Stats courtesy of Yahoo Sports*