As the NBA approaches the 1/4 mark of the schedule, there are quite a few surprises when looking at the conference standings. First of all, there are 10 teams above .500 in the Eastern Conference and only six teams above .500 in the Western Conference. Surprised? I sure am. For all of the speculation about how the Western Conference features the the premier young and upcoming teams (Utah, Minnesota, New Orleans), many overlooked Orlando and New York as legitimate teams who are suddenly fun to watch. There have been many early season surprises, so here are a few:
Early Season NBA Surprises
Indiana sits at 12-5 after starting 0-3. Where are the rebuilding Pacers that were just hoping Paul George could be a starter the whole year? They got an MVP candidate back who is averaging 27.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Indiana even went on the road and beat the Clippers last night, proving their worth as a talented team.
Zaza Pachulia looks comfortable at the center spot in Dallas. Who needs DeAndre Jordan? Pachulia is averaging 11.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while getting almost 29 minutes every night. Sure, he isn’t anywhere near as good defensively as Jordan, but Pachulia has looked better than expected and Dallas is currently 11-8.
Kristaps Porzingis is now New York’s favorite player. For all of the hate he received on draft night, Porzingis is suddenly New York’s new savior. His athletic put-back dunks have captured the media’s attention and he looks to be a staple in New York’s lineup for years to come. Phil Jackson has worked wonders again.
Portland has one of the best backcourts in the NBA. While Damian Lillard was expected to be a star (and he is with 24.4 points and 6.9 assists per game), few saw C.J. McCollum’s strong start coming. The former Lehigh standout (who single-handedly upset Duke a few years ago in the tournament) is averaging 19.5 points per game and looks more and more like a shooting guard each night. Anybody see his move on Dirk Nowitzki the other night? Don’t worry, I got you covered:
How bad the Houston Rockets are. The Rockets were supposed to show the NBA the quintessential example of depth combined with star players on their quest to the NBA Finals. Instead, the team has fired its coach and is even rumored to already be shopping new point guard Ty Lawson around. Really? Houston sits at 8-11 and simply looks unmotivated. Most of the teams wins have come against teams like New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Orlando, and Sacramento, teams they were supposed to beat anyways. Will Houston be able to turn it around? They have won four of their last five.