It’s been a month since the National Basketball Association tipped off its season. Going into the season, it was all about the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James’ move to Los Angeles.
There have been several other headlines though. Like the eventual trade between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs that would have Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan that we spoke briefly about in the last article. As you read along, I will tell you how that trade continues to benefit each team.
But since then, there has been a new emergence in the East. Well, not yet, but it’s coming. The emergence is in Philadelphia, where we should all trust the process. Because whether or not it was part of the process, Jimmy Butler is now a Sixer. It was announced on Saturday during the mist of all the college football games, so in case you missed it, Joel’s got you covered.
What does this mean for the Sixers and the East? We’ll talk more about that as well. So let’s see how things have changed from the last time we did a season review.
1. Raptors (12-2) 1. Warriors (12-3)
2. Bucks (10-3) 2. Trail Blazers (10-3)
3. 76ers (9-6) 3. Nuggets (9-5)
4. Pacers (8-6) 4. Clippers (8-5)
5. Celtics (7-6) 5. Thunder (8-5)
6. Hornets (7-7) 6. Spurs (7-5)
7. Pistons (6-6) 7. Grizzlies (7-5)
8. Nets (6-8) 8. Kings (8-6)
If you have been keeping up, you would have noticed there’s been a slight change to the current seedings. It will continue to be changing all season long. But where is your favorite team now?
There are also good teams who have gotten off to a slow start and look completely ice cold.
The Nuggets got off to a hot start in the first five games going 4-1, but since then they have gone 5-4 and lost four straight games after winning five in a row. The Nuggets looked like one of the top teams in the West. Some might have had them as an early favorite to finish as a top two team and a possible challenge for the Golden State Warriors. With the way they have been playing lately, that may be harder to believe. As of this point in this season, the Nuggets could very well be a playoff team, but they still have a lot to figure out. The first thing they need to figure out is how to get back on the winning side of things and off the cold teams list.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS:
The Pelicans started off hot as well, with a 4-1 record like the Nuggets. But they have since dropped five of the last nine games. This is expected from the Pelicans after losing DeMarcus Cousins to the Warriors. It is going to be a long season for Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, but we do expect them to be a playoff team.
Let’s be honest, this was going to happen whether we all liked it or not! The Wizards have never really been a super great team, regardless of having the talented guards like John Wall and Bradley Beal. They may be able to inch their way into the playoffs in a weakened Eastern conference, but they don’t have much expectations besides that. We may end up leaving them off the list all together come next time.
The Pistons are looked at as a team that could make a huge jump from last year. They finished 9th in the standings last year and could be a 7th or 8th seed this year and make the playoffs. They looked good the first two weeks of the season, as Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond were dominating the boards, but they have since slowed down. I expect things to pick up for them again like they have already.
With the cold, there is the hot! And apart from teams we expected to start strong, there are more!
The Raptors are looking like the team to beat in the East so far, although the Milwaukee Bucks handed them their first loss the night of the first article of this series. They didn’t let that bother them, as they continued to stay hot and hold control over the Eastern conference. Has Kawhi Leonard given the Raptors what they need to get to the next level? I guess only time will tell in this long NBA season, but it’s going to be a good competition for the top spot in the in the East.
The Jazz started the season off strong with a quick 4-2 start. Since then, the Jazz dropped to 7-6 after losing four straight. Ironically though, the Jazz are currently on a three-game streak. That could be a sign of better things to come on the young NBA season. The Jazz are still trying to figure themselves out and look to continue to increase their record, as they are one of the teams who were on the high expectations list.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS:
This is no surprise, the Blazers have put a good team together. Their only problem has been in the playoffs, where they can’t win a series. Luckily for them, they don’t have to worry about the playoffs until the summer and they can focus on taking the top spot in the toughest division in the league. Portland has to compete with the Jazz, Nuggets, Thunder and Timberwolves just to win their division. It will be an interesting watch as to who can take control over the division this year.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER:
After a quick 0-3 start, the Thunder have found themselves right back in the midst of the competition. Their biggest challenge this season is going to be figuring out how to play without their Triple-Double, Russell Westbrook, who is having a rough time staying healthy in the earlier part of this season. As the season goes on, we expect Westbrook to return and play alongside Paul George, Steven Adams and all the new additions to the team that could play big roles in their success this season.
This time, instead of giving you teams on the rise and teams with high expectations, we’ll just give you teams to watch for. And this should change each time.
Teams to Watch:
SAN ANTONIO SPURS:
Did you have any doubt about the Spurs without Kawhi Leonard? I didn’t! I’ve grown up watching the Spurs battle and claw their way through the season and make the playoffs each year. And as a Lakers fan, it’s hard for me to admit, but coach Gregg Popovich is possibly the greatest coach of all time. He has managed to take several late draft picks and make them into something good. He doesn’t look like he’s interested in slowing down any time soon. That could be a problem for several teams in the league, especially those young teams trying to take it to the next level.
The Celtics are one of those young teams trying to make it to the next level. Fortunately, the Celtics only have to face the Spurs twice, so they won’t be affected by Pop’s Spurs. Instead, they will be part of a wide open Eastern conference without LeBron James for the first time in 15 years. Can a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward take the Celtics back to the finals and hope to win it for the 18th time (most in NBA history), or will they continue to be a middle of the pack team like they are currently?
The Grizzlies have been on a surprising hot start for what they have gone through with injuries over the past two seasons. They might be a surprising team this year and could sneak into the playoffs behind a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. If the Grizzlies can manage to stay healthy, they could likely get themselves a 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs. Let’s keep an eye on them as the season goes on.
Now here’s where things get interesting! The Sixers were already one of the favorites to come out the East, and with the Butler trade they are now considered the front-runner in the East. We have debated in this week’s “Buy or Sell,” so make sure you check that out later in the week. The thing to watch about the Sixers here is how Butler will connect with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons over the length of the season. Butler probably had a better team around him in Minnesota in terms of talent, but they just couldn’t learn to play together. Hopefully he can change his attitude and help the Sixers during their process of wanting to win a championship.
Let us know how you feel about your favorite team and where they are right now. Also, don’t forget to visit us again in two weeks for an update on the season and how each team is doing!