Written by: Mike Ryan
We’re at a quarter way through of the NBA season and there’s still teams far exceeding expectations (Pacers, 76ers, Pistons, Trail Blazers) and those who could not underachieve more (Grizzlies, Thunder, Hornets).
There’s still a long ways to go before the playoffs come around but standings still matter at this point of the year. The better teams are starting to get separation in the pack and teams are starting their tank for either Luka Doncic or Marvin Bagley III.
30. Chicago Bulls – record 3-15
The Bulls are right where the front office wants to be. Worst team in the league, a pathetic offense, worse point differential in the league and right in position to pick in the top three.
29. Atlanta Hawks – record 4-16
The Hawks came back from 17 down to beat the Knicks to pick up their fourth win of the year. The wins was more so of the Knicks pathetic defensive effort more so than how well the Hawks played. After scoring 116 against the Knicks, they followed up with 78 points against Toronto,
28. Sacramento Kings – record 5-14
After a 1-8 start, the Kings have shown some improvement going 4-6 in their next 10. It’s not look the Kings are playing that much better though, Their Point Differential is second worse in the league (-10.6) and is better only than the Bulls. The George Hill contract ( 3 years $57 million) looks more terrible by the day.
27. Dallas Mavericks – record 5-15
The Mavericks are starting to show some signs of life having won three of their past four. The defensive effort has been key to the Mavs turnaround, In their past three wins, the team has allowed 79, 94, and 81 points. Keep teams scoring that few of points and you’ll win games.
26. Phoenix Suns – record 7-14
The Suns should target these three guys come draft time. Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III and Collin Sexton are all options that would provide tremendous hope to their organizations future and all fill a glaring need. It’s a good thing they’ll likely have the opportunity to draft one of the three.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – record 7-12
The Grizzlies are in free fall having lost 8 in a row. Mike Conley’s injury severely altered any chance of competing this season and now the front office is going to be faced with a tough decision. Do you tank to the bottom, hit the reset button and make Marc Gasol available in trade discussions?
24. Orlando Magic – record 8-12
Are we sure the Grizzlies and Magic are not the same team? After both got off to surprisingly quick starts, both have crash landed into 8 game losing streaks. Looking like another draft pick inside the top 10 for the Magic.
23. Brooklyn Nets – record 7-12
People seem to believe the Nets are significantly better team and the Nets have gained more praise for people on Twitter than I have seen for a bad team. Yeah, Russell and Lin are out but the team has middle aged veterans that don’t have the needle for the franchise. Sure, the Nets play hard but they give up 113.5 points a game (second worst in the league). They can’t stop anyone from scoring yet the Nets are supposed to have guys like Hollis Jefferson and Demarre Carroll to help the defense.
22. Los Angles Clippers – record 7-11
After a 9 game losing streak, the Clippers bounced back to win two in a row over the Kings and Hawks. Granted those teams are two of the worst in the league, but for a team desperately needing wins, it was good to see the Clippers capitalize. The real question is how much longer will Deandre Jordan be a member of the team if the losing continues. The all star center is a unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
21. Los Angles Lakers – record 8-11
Rumors are beginning to swirl the Lakers want to move Julius Randle in a trade. The only reason to do this is that they don’t want to effect their cap space for 2018 free agency. If Lakers engagement seriously thinks the Lakers have a lure and people want to play for them anymore, they are joking themselves. Losing an asset like Randle for nothing could end up being a huge, dumb mistake.
20. Oklahoma City Thunder – record 8-11
This is really starting to look like this is not working out for the Thunder. There’s no team chemistry and their bench is shameful display of NBA wannabes. After blowing out the Warriors, they precede to lose a close one to the Pistons before getting blown out by Dallas. Not a good look and don’t expect George to stay as losing continues.
19. Charlotte Hornets – record 8-11
The Hornets are playing better following a six game losing streak responding with a 3-3 record in the past 6. Struggles on the road are preventing the Hornets from consistent play. The 1-8 road record is only better than the Bulls and Kings.
18. Utah Jazz – record 9-11
The Jazz are starting to figure out how to play without Rudy Gobert which is vital if they wish to stay in the playoff hunt. Back to Back home wins against the Bulls and Bucks has given the team momentum. Up next? ESPN home game against Denver on Tuesday night. Time for Donovan Mitchell to get his national audience.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – record 9-9
For all the Greak Freak MVP talk, can he lead his team to an above .500 record first? The Bucks are about as inconsistent as they come and the addition of Eric Bledsoe has not really helped. Remember this team was picked to finish as a top 5 eastern conference team and the early season struggles continue to plague them.
16. New York Knicks – record – 10-9
Talk about a brutal weekend for the Knicks. The loss to the Hawks could be a season changing loss. Up 17 to the worst team in the league and you lose? Every good feeling about the Knicks was lost over the weekend. Up next to finish November? Tough home games against Portland and Miami. Let’s see how the team responds.
15. Washington Wizards – record 10-9
Scary times for the Wizards ahead as John Wall will miss the next two weeks as he received injections into his knee to clear ongoing swelling. Any one who thinks this is a two weeks injury is extreme optimist. No knee injury should be taken lightly for explosive athletes like Wall. The Wizards could see them fall down in the standings while Wall is out.
14. Miami Heat – record 10-9
The Heat capitalized this past week on the poor performances from the Knicks and Wizards to catch them in the standings. The Heat have now won three in a row and have held opponents under 100 points in all three games. Hassan Whiteside being healthy is a huge lift to this Heat team.
13. Indiana Pacers – record – 11-9
Show me a person who thought the Pacers and Knicks would have a better record than the Thunder at this point in the year and I’ll show you a liar. What the Pacers are doing is simply incredible. A 5 game winning streak was recently snapped to the Celtics (no shame there) and the Pacers continue to win despite everyone believing a free fall is coming.
12. New Orleans Pelicans – record 11-9
The Pelicans are proving to be quite a decent team despite having no wing players. The Pelicans play two point guards with Holiday and Rondo in hopes of getting Cousins and Davis the ball as much as possible. If the Pelicans can add a solid three and deal type player, they can become a legit threat.
11. Denver Nuggets – record 11-8
Talk about a huge blow as Paul Milsap will miss three months after undergoing wrist surgery. Worst part is, the Nuggets thought they escaped major harm when the original x rays came back negative. Time for Kenneth Faired to prove hes a rotational player once more.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves – record 12-8
The Timberwolves are still in the process of working things out and still sit in the top 5 in the West despite some inconsistencies. The Wolves are 2-3 in their past 5 and have struggled on defense giving up more than 100 points in all five games.
9. Portland Trailblazers – record 12-8
Maybe Carmelo Anthony should’ve went to Portland instead. Portland is in the midst of completing a 5 game trip out East in which they have already won three of four. If Damian Lillard gets snubbed from the All Star game again this season, it’ll be a real shame as once again he has Portland exceeding expectations. Plus the 25.4 point and 6.2 assists a night is a big help.
8. Philadelphia 76ers – record 11-7
So “The Process” is at 81% now (For those who missed the joke, Jalen Rose publicly called out Embiid for Embiid saying he was at 69% in a postgame interview citing Embiid needed to grow up. Emiid responded with 81% as a shot to Rose for Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points against Rose and the Raptors). Winners of 5 of their past 6, tonight’s match up with the Cavs seems like must watch television.
6. Toronto Raptors – record 12-7
Believe it not, the Raptors are the third highest scoring team in the East and that’s with Kyle Lowry having a down year. Expect the Raptors to really take off once they start playing more home games (7 at home compared to 12 on the road).
6.. San Antonio Spurs – record 12-7
Tony Parker is designated to return this week. Kawhi Leanord still is not. The Spurs keep winning though and have the three spot in the West despite two starters being out for 19 games. That’s impressive.
5. Detroit Pistons – record 12 -6
The Pistons still hold the second best record in the East but are starting to lose ground with the Raptors and Cavs approaching. Stan Van Gundy has put himself in contention for Coach of the Year with the Pistons fast start ton the year.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – record 12-7
7 wins in a row for the Cavs as the head to Philadelphia for a matchup with the 76ers. The Cavs are starting to click on offense which helps hide their defensive issues. Expect the Cavs to make a move for a solid defensive player to help aid the team for the playoffs (Trtistian Thompson and 2018 Cleveland Pick for Deandre Jordan?)
3. Golden State Warriors – record 15-5
Kevin Durant is dealing with an ongoing ankle injury so expect the Warriors to hold him out until he’s at 100%. With a softer schedule and an upcoming road trip, the Warriors will be extra cautious to get the ankle right. The Warriors simply don’t need to play hard during the regular season.
2. Houston Rockets – record 15-4
The Rockets are scary good offensively and may be the only team that has scoring options to match Golden State. You can actually argue that Chris Paul and James Harden are a better back court than Curry and Thompson. The Rockets launch threes at a record setting rate and if the catch fire, they could be in the Finals.
1 Boston Celtics – record 18-3
The Celetics had their 16 game winning streak snapped by the Heat but immediately followed the loss up with two double digit wins over the Magic and Pacers. Wouldn’t it be something if Kyrie wins the league MVP this year? It very well could happen.