Where Your NBA Team Stands 5 Games Into The Season

It’s been a week and a half into the new season, let’s take a look at where each team stands.

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Image via: Grantland.com

Dwight Howard seems to be fitting in fine, Dennis Schroder may not have taken the league by storm, but he’s doing just fine as a full-time starter. Kyle Korver has been a bit shaky, but Tim Hardaway Jr. has covered that up a bit with his play. Paul Millsap’s play is not yet at the level we know he can get to, but the Hawks are fine thanks to the 2nd best defence in the league, so I expect the Hawks to get even better as Millsap adjusts to playing with Dwight and Schroder gets more and more comfortable as a starter.

Al Horford has not played like the second biggest player acquisition of the off-season and he’s going to have to wait a bit longer to adjust now that he’s out with a concussion. Avery Bradley has stepped up offensively – it’s still amazing how good of a shooter he has become, compared to where he was just 3 season ago – and Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder are still Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, although the Celtics will now be without Jae for a few weeks.

The Nets are bad. However, they’re not THAT bad. For the most part, they’ve been frisky and kept themselves in games, but I question how eager the organization is to win considering they’re already resting Brook Lopez.

The Hornets just continue to fly under the radar. They are the league’s third best defensive team (Defensive Rating: 94.1) and Kemba is still Kemba. Nicolas Batum is finding his stroke, MKG is doing MKG things, and even Roy Hibbert looked good in the one game he played before getting injured.

The Bulls are pretty good. On top of that, they’re fun. The #ThreeAlphas experiment has gone fairly smoothly, so far, even though their 3-pt shooting has been on-and-off. Taj Gibson is finally a full-time starter and has continued to be the reliable contributor that he is. The newest iteration of he Bench Mob has also been a positive sign: Mirotic and Doug McDermott are becoming real offensive weapons, Isaiah Canaan has a little Jamal Crawford in him, and Bobby Portis and Christiano Felicio have shown their potential.

The Cavaliers are rolling. Kyrie and Kevin Love are taking on a larger role in the offence and LeBron is just sitting back, setting them up, and taking over when he needs to. Their ball-movement is at a championship level and all of a sudden they look like the team that’s having the most fun. They still need to address their back-up PG problem, so expect a veteran to come out of the woodwork to sign with the team later in the season.

I feel bad for Dirk. The rest of his starting 5 consists of Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Andrew Bogut — three players who are all at the second phase of their careers after suffering injuries — and Harrison Barnes, who is good, but not good enough. Dirk is finally showing signs of slowing down, and now he’s dealing with an achilles issue to boot.

The Nuggets have a bright future. We expected last year’s phenom, Nikola Jokic, to make a jump this season, but instead, it was their phenom from two seasons ago, Jusuf Nurkic, who has taken a leap. If these two studs can develop some chemistry and Emmanuel Mudiay becomes an average shooter, the Nuggets could propel themselves into the conversation of being one of the league’s brightest young teams.

If you’re a Pistons fan, you probably aren’t complaining. Your starting PG is out with an injury, but your team is still over .500, largely thanks to Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris picking up the offensive slack, Andre Drummond still being a beast, and a top 5 defence.

The Warriors do not look like the Warriors as we know them. Steph is not shattering defenders’ souls by draining ridiculous 3’s from near half-court and Klay Thompson isn’t even really draining 3’s at all (by his standards). Oddly enough, Kevin Durant is the one that has looked the most comfortable. The Warriors biggest issue, however, is undoubtedly their depth. If the Warriors are actually going to need contributions from Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw, they might be in some trouble. It feels like they have a trade to make, or at least another signing or two, and I think they know it, too.

The Rockets are fun. Mike D’Antoni and James Harden are a match made in heaven. James Harden is currently leading the league in assists at over 12 a game and has already had 3 games of 15 or more assists. It helps that he’s flanked by shooters in Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, and Ryan Anderson, as well as a good PnR partner in Clint Capela. Their defence is 28th in the league (their offence is 5th), but they don’t have title aspirations so who cares.

Many thought the Pacers were a dark horse team in the East. They have, arguably, the 2nd best player in the conference in Paul George, a talented backcourt in Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis, the newly acquired Thaddeus Young, and the revelation that is Myles Turner. However, they have a bottom 5 defence, which is counter-intuitive considering they have Paul George on the wing and Myles Turner down low. However, this could all just be a result of new players and adjusting to a new coach.

The Clippers have not been as good on offence as in previous seasons, which I would attribute to J.J. Redick’s yet to get in rhythm, but they sport the league’s best defence, which is a great sign because it’s only a matter of time before their offence gets into a groove and become the machine they’ve been.

The Baby Lakers are a real thing. They’ve been drafting lottery pick after lottery pick the last few years and all their picks are looking pretty decent. D’Angelo Russell is slowly wiping away his tumultuous rookie season, Julius Randle is very solid, Larry Nance Jr. might secretly be very good, and Brandon Ingram hasn’t even looked that good yet. They beat the Warriors by 20, which is indicative of their potential, so things should only being going up from here.

Goodbye Grit N’ Grind? The Grizzlies are shooting! Marc Gasol has extended his range to outside the 3-pt line, albeit to the detriment of his FG%, but after a Grizzlies team that felt more or less than the same the last five or so seasons, even through a coaching change, the Grizzlies finally have a different feel to them.

The Miami Heat are a decent basketball team. Hassan Whiteside is scoring nearly 20 points a game and eating up opponents shots about 4 times a game. Goran Dragic is looking like the Goran Dragic that was 3rd-team All-NBA three seasons ago, and Justise Winslow has shown his potential. Tyler Johnson has been a bright spot, and Josh Richardson is on his way back.

Giannis. Antetokounmpo. He might just be better than what we imagined. He is quite literally doing everything. He’s blocking shots like a center, rebounding like a PF, defending like a SF, and setting his teammates up like a PG. He is currently leading the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. His jumper is average, and he doesn’t take enough 3's, but expect that to change as time goes on, and as Giannis goes, the Bucks will go.

We may or may not have expected too much from the Wolves. Many of us have projected a big leap for them based on Karl-Anthony Towns, but we’re overlooking the fact that their team is devoid of veterans who know how to win. Hence, why they are struggling to close out games, a continuation of last season.

The Pelicans’ 2nd leading scorer is Tim Frazier, who, unless you’re a very hardcore NBA fan, you probably have never heard of. Anthony Davis continues to put up eye-popping statistics, but him and his team continue to rack up losses, and it would take a lot to convince me that AD is not becoming increasingly frustrated. Brace yourself for the inevitable “AD is thinking about leaving New Orleans” rumours.

The Knicks have a decent starting 5. Porzingis continues to blossom, Derrick Rose is looking like an above-average PG, and Melo is still Melo. Their bench, however, is a different story. The Knicks really do not have any contributors you can rely on on a night-to-night basis, outside of Brandon Jennings, which is indicative of the problem, considering Brandon Jennings is not known for his consistency and reliability (except maybe on Twitter).

The Thunder have a better record than the Warriors. They got destroyed by the Warriors, though, and they almost lost to Sixers, but they beat a very good Clippers team, which probably all balances out to a slightly above average team. Newly acquired Victor Oladipo has not been able to take that leap into becoming a 20 points per game scorer, which I would attribute to not being able to play off-ball. Steven Adams has looked very good, and I think Jerami Grant will fit in quite nicely with the rest of this bouncy, energetic squad.

The Magic started off the season by losing 3 consecutive games. They then won 3 straight games, albeit, against the Sixers, Kings, and Wizards, all of whom are not very good. Evan Fournier is Orlando’s 1st option on offence, and while I like his game, I don’t think he scares any team, especially when the threat of him kicking it out to a shooter is near non-existent, because they have no other shooter.

The Sixers are once again winless, but there’s something different about this season’s Sixers. There’s a positivity surrounding the team, and we have Joel Embiid to thank for it. He is truly looking like the player many pegged as the #1 pick in the draft from two seasons ago. He is extremely nimble and agile for his 7'2'’ size, and has a shooting touch that makes me think of Yao Ming. They are still without a real PG, though Sergio Rodriguez is serviceable. Here’s hoping we get to see a bit of Ben Simmons before the end of the season.

I refuse to buy into the Suns. There roster is not all that different from last year’s lottery team, and they seem to have a habit of hoarding too many players at certain positions. It also seems like a waste to have Tyson Chandler (and Jared Dudley, as well as Leandro Barbosa) on this team with young players, but little (realistic) expectations. Now if only they can get bought out and sign with a certain contender that needs a center…

Damian Lillard wants that MVP trophy. He wants it bad. Looking at the Blazers’ roster, you wouldn’t think they’re as good as they are, yet they are. Terry Stotts will make sure his team is in any game they play, and as long as Damian Lillard is on the court, the Blazers will have a shot to win the game. There newly acquired Festus Ezeli has yet to play, too, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he might be the best center on the roster.

The Kings are decent. So far there has been little to no drama, and the basketball has been decent. Dave Joerger seems to really like Rudy Gay, and the team has been holding their own, even without starting PG Darren Collison, which is a good sign. Maybe this will finally be the season we talk about Kings basketball more than we talk about Kings drama.

The Spurs are still the Spurs. Even without Tim Duncan. His replacement, Pau Gasol, has not played well, yet it hasn’t seemed to matter much. Kawhi has taken his game to another level, LaMarcus is still getting buckets, and new contributors are emerging from the bench in Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon. The team has been without their starting backcourt in Tony Parker and Danny Green for a few games already, so look for them to get even better as they return and get into a groove.

I may have been wrong about the Raptors. I thought they were going to take a step back this season and I thought DeMar DeRozan was way overpaid. So far this season, they’ve been good. However, they still have a large hole to fill at PF and if Jonas gets injured, they will be in a lot of trouble now that Bismack Biyombo is no longer on the roster.

So far, so good for the Utah Jazz. The team held their own without Gordon Hayward, and now that he’s back, they could rack up some wins. George Hill has been incredible, Rodney Hood has been good, Derrick Favors is just getting back from an injury, and Joe Johnson has looked good.

What happened to the Wizards? John Wall had two off-season knee surgeries and has still been the Wizards’ best player. Their defence is bad and their offence is worse. If things don’t start changing soon, look for Scott Brooks’ chair to start getting a bit warm.

What has stuck out to you so far this season? Comment below!

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I strive towards a career that ends up leaving me somewhere between Howard Beck and Howard Beale.

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