We knew coming into this season that we should expect some pretty wild shit. Given what we saw last year and then everything that went down over the summer, the 2019-20 season had more hype surrounding it than almost any season in recent memory. Well safe to say things are almost nothing like we initially thought. Now it's early, most teams have only played around 6-7 games, but today marks the start of the 3rd week of the season and some of the things we're seeing will make you scratch your head. For example
The Suns, Timberwolves, and Mavericks have a combined 13-6 record
Maybe you thought with a healthy Porzingis and Year 2 Luka that the Mavs would be better, that's not all that hot a take. But did anyone have the Suns/Timberwolves/Mavericks at any point of the season sitting in the 2-5 seeds in the WEST? No. No chance. They've all had signature wins too, with PHX beating LAC and PHI, the Mavs beating DEN, and the Timberwolves beating BKN and MIA.
Who knows how sustainable this is, most likely water will find it's level but the start from those three teams pretty much caught everyone off guard.
The Blazers and Nuggets both have negative net ratings
Last season, these were two of the best teams in the entire West. They finished 7th and 8th in the NBA in overall net rating with +4.2 and +4.0. The Nuggets were one of the few teams that had a top 10 offense and top 10 defense, something pretty rare in today's NBA. Well this season? They've gotten off to a start that has them 16th and 17th in net rating, both negative at -0.1 and -0.4.
Only the Rockets (-3.4) are one of the Western conference contenders heading into the year with a negative net rating to go along with those two. Weird start for three teams that many thought would be at the top of the conference initially.
The Boston Celtics have a top 8 defense and top 7 net rating
Now even I couldn't have predicted this start, especially when their schedule included games against PHI/MIL/TOR. But here are the facts. Every talking head in the world made it clear there was a very big gap between PHI and the Celtics, especially defensively. Well, here's how things look
PHI: 100.9 Drtg (6th), 5.8 net rating (6th)
BOS: 101.4 Drtg (8th), 5.5 net rating (7th)
Obviously the H2H win for Philly was huge, but when one team was talked about as the greatest team and perhaps the greatest defense in the conference/NBA, and the other was talked about as being a complete disaster on that end, the fact that they are this close to start the season is pretty wild. Maybe there isn't such a huge gap after all, and now that BOS schedule lightens up with CLE/CHA who knows things could get even tighter.
The Brooklyn Nets have the same amount of wins as the Charlotte Hornets
OK so in what world did anyone think at any point of the season that the Nets and the Hornets would have the same amount of wins? Especially when the Nets have played 5 of their 7 games at home and the Hornets 4 of their 6 on the road?
James Harden has essentially the same 3P% as Russell Westbrook
You want to talk about things that don't make sense, well then explain how James Harden is shooting 25.3% from three combined with Westbrook's 25.0%. We all knew Westbrook couldn't shoot threes, he shot 29% last year and is a career 30% shooter. But Harden? He shot 36% last year and is a career 36% shooter. You combine that poor shooting with the fact that the Rockets might have one of the worst defenses in the NBA and it's a prayer they find themselves still in the top 8.
The Miami Heat are arguably the best team in the NBA at the moment
That sounds crazy I know, but the facts are the facts. They own the 4th best defense in the league and the NBA's best net rating at +10.3. You know how ridiculous that net rating is? There was really only one team that fucked with a net rating that high for most of last year and that was MIL. Guess who is 2nd this year? MIL at +10.2. Last time we saw this a team won 60 games, could the Heat really win that many? They're off to a 5-1 start and are absolutely one of the biggest surprises in the East. Even if you thought they would get better with Jimmy Butler, you didn't think it would be THIS much better because what MIL did last season was historic.
The Sixers lead the East in wins decided by 3 points or less
Without Jimmy Butler there were fair questions how the Sixers would fare when games got tight now that they didn't have their clutch time scorer. The answer is perfectly fine because no team in the East has as many wins in close games as PHI. They have a Ortg of 127.8 and a Drtg of 78.3 in these situations, which is pretty fucking nails. They haven't missed Jimmy Butler late in games one bit which is definitely a surprise given how huge he was last year for them in those moments.
The Mavericks are tied for the most road wins in the West
I've blogged this before but this fact might be the biggest surprise of the Mavs season. Last year they went 9-32 on the road. Here we are a few weeks into the season and they already have 1/3rd of those wins. In fact, they are undefeated on the road and 1-2 at home which also makes no sense given they were 24-17 last year. You show you can consistently win on the road in the West, and that's how you find yourself in the playoffs.
Last season only 1 team went under .500 on the road and still made the playoffs (SA) but they went 32-9 at home which was one of the best home records in the conference.
The Lakers/Celtics/Raptors are the only teams with multiple players in the Top 20 in scoring
So much was made about the dynamic duos of this season. A lot of talk about the Clippers and Sixers and Rockets (LAC get a pass for this since PG13 is out). Almost nobody talked about the duos in TOR and BOS. Well, so far these three teams have had the best scoring production from their dynamic duos and it's certainly a surprise.
LA: Davis (5th), James (16th)
TOR: Siakam (13th), Lowry (17th)
BOS: Walker (11th), Tatum (20th)
You expected to see guys like Dame/CJ, Harden/Westbrook, Embiid/Harris (or Simmons), Porzingis/Luka, Giannis/Middleton, etc, and yet none of those pairings are in the top 20 so far. That's a shocker.
I could go on but I think you get the idea. Stuff like this is what makes the NBA so much fun even if we aren't even at Thanksgiving yet. You think one thing heading into the season, then the games actually start happening and because this league has never been deeper with talent all of the sudden things unfold that make no goddamn sense. If this is any indication of what we are in store for over the next few months, this season is going to absolutely rule.