With teams having completed seven or eight (except for the Celtics) of their 82 games, there have been plenty of fascinating story-lines. While it’s still too early in the season to declare anything concrete, let’s take a look at the five biggest surprises thus far:
1. Stephen Curry Is On Pace To Make 420 Three-Pointers This Season
We knew he was the best shooter in NBA history, but defending MVP Stephen Curry has managed to take his game to another level. Leading his Warriors to an 8-0 start, Curry has made 41 three-pointers while shooting 47.1 percent from beyond the arc. Also shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 90.6 percent from the line, Curry is on pace to join Steve Nash as the only members of the 50-45-90 club. If only someone could’ve predicted this…
2. The New Orleans Pelicans Starting 1-6
We knew this team would struggle out of the gate because of injuries to what seems like everyone not named Anthony Davis, but no one could’ve predicted it would be this bad. New head coach Alvin Gentry has helped the Pelicans pick up the pace on offense, but their defense has suffered as a result. Despite having the best rim protector in the NBA in Davis, the Pelicans are allowing a league-leading 113.3 points per game. Any predictions for Davis to win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year seem a bit premature.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves Starting The Season 4-3
Losing Flip Saunders before the season began was a tragedy in the NBA family, which makes the Timberwolves surprising start all the more heartwarming. This young team was meticulously constructed by Saunders, and fans have to be excited about what they are already seeing. The decision to draft Karl Anthony-Towns with the No. 1 pick has already proven to be the right choice, as he has posted a double-double in five of his first seven games. Andrew Wiggins is nearly averaging 20 points per game, Ricky Rubio has learned how to at least draw iron on perimeter shots (and even make some of them), and Kevin Garnett is forcing this Timberwolves team to grow up faster than any other human being could. Watch out, this promising start is no fluke.
4. New York Knicks Fans Don’t Despise Kristaps Porzingis
The most surprising rookie thus far has undoubtedly been Kristaps Porzingis. The New York Knicks selected the Latvian star with the No. 4 pick and many expected it would take 3-4 years for Porzingis to get comfortable in the NBA. However, that process seems to have been expedited, as Porzingis has posted an impressive stat line of 11.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in only 23.8 minutes per game. Booed in Brooklyn by Knicks fans when his name was announced by Adam Silver at the NBA Draft, Porzingis has played well enough to turn those boos into cheers at Madison Square Garden. It’s still too early to call Porzingis a franchise player, but the fact that Knicks fans don’t already hate him has to come as a huge relief to Phil Jackson and the rest of the front office.
5. The Cleveland Cavaliers Look Unstoppable… Even Without Kyrie Irving
No Kyrie, no problem for LeBron James and the Cavaliers who have raced out to a 7-1 start. While plenty of Western Conference teams would give the Irving-less Cavaliers fits, no Eastern Conference team can compete. Irving is expected to return in December, which comes as scary news for the rest of the NBA. LeBron is too good, Kevin Love looks much more comfortable, and quite frankly, it doesn’t matter who the other three players on the floor are for Cleveland. We can save time now and just put them in the NBA Finals. The only question will be which Western Conference team they will be facing.