Every week, NBA.com editors will converse on among the league’s most essential matters.
What is the largest shock of the NBA season thus far?
Steve Aschburner: From the mildly shocking to the wildly shocking, from the relative lack of a “tankathon” for Victor Wembanyama lottery balls to the Nets and Lakers implosions, nothing can contact what the Boston Celtics have been by way of. The primary half was surprising – a Finals facet banishing their profitable head coach getting ready to a brand new season. The second a part of the shock was the Celtics’ efficiency with understudy Joe Mazzulla as Ime Udoka. A number of gamers have been rightfully rattled by Udoka’s suspension for violating group insurance policies in an inappropriate sexual relationship, then rattled once more when it regarded like he would ultimately coach rival Brooklyn with their bosses’ blessing. . However their efficiency – with one of the best file within the NBA, as an offensive juggernaut, regardless of some notable accidents (Robert Williams III, Danilo Gallinari) – prevailed, displaying how decided they’re to get again into the championship spherical. Regardless of a blow to the foundations lower than two months in the past.
BRIAN MARTIN: What’s most shocking is the staggering offensive manufacturing within the first 30 days at group and particular person participant degree.
By Wednesday, there are seven gamers averaging greater than 30 ppg, led by Dallas’ Luka Doncic (34.4 ppg) after opening the season with a streak of 30+ video games with factors by no means seen since Wilt Chamberlain. Within the first 30 days of final season, no one averaged 30 ppg (Stephen Curry then led with 28.7 ppg).
On Wednesday, Curry posted the third 50-plus-point recreation of the primary 30 days of the season, becoming a member of Joel Embiid (59) and Darius Garland (51). Moreover, there have already been 24 video games this season the place a participant has scored 40 or extra factors. By comparability, at this stage of final season, there have been a 50-point recreation (additionally by Curry) and 13 video games over 40 factors.
Nevertheless, it is not simply particular person gamers who’re posting large numbers. The group assault in 2022-23 is already in mid-season kind. Check out the month-to-month league aim averages from final season: 107.4 ppg in October, 107.2 ppg in November, 109.3 ppg in December, 110.2 ppg in January, 112.7 ppg in February , 113.7 ppg in March and 115.7 ppg in April.
Over the primary 30 days of the 2022-23 season, the league’s scoring common is 112.7 factors per recreation (tying final February’s mark). After 30 days final season, the league scoring common was 106.8 factors per recreation.
Does the offense peak at first of this season, or is that this the brand new baseline and the numbers will proceed to extend month on month as we have now seen previously?
MEDINA MARK: Though they gained the NBA title final season, the Golden State Warriors anticipated rising pains from mixing up their stars and younger gamers. However the Warriors didn’t anticipate such a foul begin (6-9), together with a winless file on the street (0-8).
The Warriors did not anticipate Jordan Poole to be inconsistent after signing him for an extension. They did not anticipate Klay Thompson to remain rusty in his first full season within the NBA after overcoming two season-ending accidents. After going through a steep studying curve, the Warriors not too long ago despatched third-year middle James Wiseman to the NBA G League. Sophomore ahead Jonathan Kuminga struggled to get common minutes. And, the Warriors rank twenty fifth in defensive ranking (113.6).
What’s additionally gratifying in regards to the Warriors’ departure is that it got here as Stephen Curry posted Kia MVP-like numbers. Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Inexperienced and Kevon Looney additionally performed often… and it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient.
Poole and Thompson have time to supply rebounding performances. Wiseman and Kuminga have time to develop. The Warriors have time to restore their protection. But when the loss continues, do not be shocked if the Warriors attain offers earlier than the Feb. 9 commerce deadline.
SHAUN POWELL: It is so tempting to label the charred stays of the Brooklyn Nets the largest shock of the season, however that is the purpose — that is the largest shock, not the largest disappointment. Is one other Kyrie Irving drama actually a shock? Is Steve Nash bailing out as coach after a number of weeks actually a shock? (He is in all probability relieved.) Is Ben Simmons nonetheless actually attempting to determine a shock? Probably not.
Not as a lot as Utah (?) Jazz (!) Sitting at or close to the highest of the West heap since week one — now it is a shock. You did not see it coming, and neither did Danny Ainge, the group president who pawned his two All-Stars, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, for mainly future NBA gamers who’re 12 now. Apparently we have all underestimated the thirst for minutes and standing of Lauri Markkanen (with a career-high 21.3 factors per recreation) and a scrappy, proud rotational group of gamers who like to take the league by … shock. So, yeah, it is the Jazz, who rank second in 3-pointers made, enjoying onerous for brand new coach Will Hardy and catching everybody off guard. For now, anyway. Perhaps by January, the Jazz might be precisely what we thought it was.
JOHN SCHUHMANN: I am certain others will reply Jazz, and that is definitely not a foul reply. However to deviate, I am going to add the Indiana Pacers 7-6.
After their commerce to the Kings final season, the Pacers have been 6-21 (the worst within the Japanese Convention), with the league’s worst protection (122 factors allowed per 100 possessions). They have already got extra wins in 13 video games this season than in 27 video games after the commerce final season, having traded Malcolm Brogdon this summer time. Brogdon solely performed in eight of these 27 post-trade video games, however it was nonetheless clear the Pacers have been falling behind…in comparison with the group that completed with the franchise’s worst file in 37 seasons. They have been purported to be among the many worst groups within the East, however on Thursday they woke as much as sixth place, having gained six of their final eight video games.
The protection continues to be comparatively poor and Indiana ranks twenty fifth defensively by way of Wednesday. However Tyrese Haliburton (20.6 ppg and 10.4 apg) had led a strong offense (seventh ranked) that ranks within the prime six in each 3-point share (38.1%) and 3-point price (44.3% of pictures coming from past the arc). Rookie Bennedict Mathurin is a shooter who additionally reaches the road and Buddy Hield is a shooter who additionally makes performs. Myles Turner is beginning to play extra like a giant man, taking greater than half of his pictures within the paint for the primary time in his profession.
It’s nonetheless early and it might not final. The Pacers have performed one of many best schedules within the league up to now (it stays fairly simple for at the least every week). Plus, they’re in all probability nonetheless prepared to commerce Hield and Turner. However a 7-6 file from this group is definitely a giant shock.
MICHAEL C. WRIGHT: Three consecutive defeats introduced the Utah Jazz again right down to earth, however you are mendacity if you happen to anticipated this group to be within the prime half of the Western Convention at this level within the season. Utah’s strikes over the summer time have sparked fairly a number of misconceptions relating to the franchise’s intentions. In June, the Jazz employed the NBA’s youngest coach in Will Hardy, 34, who occurs to be even youthful than their place to begin guard, Mike Conley (who turned 35 final month). Then the group trades Rudy Gobert in July to Minnesota earlier than transferring Donovan Mitchell in September to Cleveland. For Utah, these participant offers have been about buying belongings, and the membership is sitting nicely in that division with 14 first-round picks by way of 2029.
The hiring of Hardy, a Gregg Popovich protege, might be crucial consider Utah’s success. The previous Spurs and Celtics assistant is not shy about holding the group accountable. Moreover, he set the tone early by stating that his solely focus this season was on “Workforce 49,” the forty ninth group in Utah franchise historical past. He wasn’t apprehensive in regards to the forty eighth group or the fiftieth, simply this one. This struck a chord with the gamers and accelerated their buy-in which translated into proceeds on the sector. That is a part of why the group had no issues in coaching camp and likewise believed in Hardy’s perception that they wanted to enhance conditioning to essentially use Utah’s elevation benefit. on his opponents.
Conley performs just like the Memphis Grizzlies model of himself and, in his sixteenth season, is averaging a career-high 8.1 assists per recreation. Hardy primarily handed over the keys to offense, giving the veteran level guard the liberty to make his personal calls and run the present. That works. A key piece within the Mitchell-Cleveland commerce, Lauri Markkanen is averaging a career-high 21.3 factors per recreation, enjoying with extra confidence than we have seen from him in recent times. And we cannot even get into the truth that whereas this Jazz group could also be devoid of prime expertise, it is in all probability one of many deepest groups within the league.