The NBA season is only three weeks in, and it has already been full of surprises. Going into this season, everyone knew there would be more parity and that there would be a lot of teams actively competing for a championship.
However, there was still a recognized order of who were legitimate contenders and standards that many NBA analysts believed the season would follow. On the other hand, these three teams are unseating everyone’s expectations.
Going into the season, no one would have expected these teams to be where they are currently in the rankings. This article will go over the three teams that are poised to continue to defy pre-season expectations.
Phoenix Suns (6-4)
Let’s go with the team that everyone is talking about first. As long time NBA fans know, the Suns have been a disgraced organization for years. Ever since Steve Nash left, they have been both irrelevant and the symbol of mediocrity.
In the past four seasons, they have not won more than 25 games in the regular season. They have consistently been a lottery team. Therefore, you can understand the genuine surprise in the media when Phoenix won six of their first eight games and the two loses they had were against the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz.
Not only are these two teams playoff contenders, but the Suns only lost to these teams by one point each. Now obviously, I do not believe that they Suns are contenders yet, but they have shown that they have the talent to make the playoffs in an incredibly competitive western conference.
The main reason for this significant improvement is really due to the additions made and the coaching of Monty Williams. Coach Monty Williams has utilized the strengths of Ricky Rubio, Aaron Baynes, and Kelly Oubre to create a cohesive offensive unit that also works with Devin Booker’s overall game.
Yes Booker has been great, but his success is due to the fact that he no longer has to shoot a multitude of shots every game and now has teammates that he can rely on to create their own shot. This is also without their starting center Deandre Ayton.
Overall, I would say that the Suns and their play so far is something many fans (especially fans in Phoenix) are happy to watch.
Boston Celtics (8-1)
The Celtics were a confusing team heading into the season. Many people were unsure about the core, and whether or not the chemistry problems from last year would continue. They also lost both Al Horford and Kyrie Irving in free agency.
Many thought that this team would have a decent season, but would be unable to compete against Philly or Milwaukee. In the course of the first three weeks, the Celtics have proved many of the doubters wrong by having the best record in the NBA.
Boston has also played extremely well by having both a top five offense and a top five defense. Jayson Tatum has taken many steps as a leader of the team by being called on to hit clutch shots and control the offense throughout the game. He is scoring a career high 22 points and is also making many defensive plays as he is also averaging around 2 steals a game.
Kemba Walker has also seamlessly translated his game into Brad Stevens offense as he is currently leading the team in points scored per game. Even the other players like Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown understand their role on the team and are doing the little things in order to win games.
While this past week was definitely challenging with the loss of Gordon Hayward, especially since he was playing his best basketball since his days in Utah, there are two positives from the situation. The first is that early reports have stated his injury does not appear severe, and the Celtics have the personal and the talent to compensate the loss.
If there is any head coach capable of getting the most out of their line-up, it is Brad Stevens. and as long as Hayward returns to the team playing near the same level, there is no doubt that they will be contending in the Eastern Conference.
Golden State Warriors (2-9)
I never said that this list would only focus on teams doing great. This list is focused on teams that surprised the NBA media, and right now no team has defied expectations more than Golden State. After being the undisputed favorites for the last few seasons, the dynasty has finally slowed down.
Kevin Durant is gone; Klay is injured for most of the season, and they could not afford many of their role players like Andre Igudola. Yet after years of domination, the NBA media was confident that Stephen Curry and Draymond Green could lead the team to a playoff berth. Then Steph got injured against the Suns, which led the Warriors to essentially tank this season.
Even if Steph were to recover this season, there would be no point as the team simply will be too far below in the standing to make the playoffs. Right now, they are tied with the New York Knicks for the worst record in the league.
While the NBA media is ignoring this fact, it is pretty historic considering how dominant this team has been for the past several years. The last time their was such a significant fall from the number 1 team was in 2007 season when the defending champions Miami Heat dropped to the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference and got swept in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.
Yet, even in that situation, it wasn’t like the team became arguably the worst team in the NBA and yes, Curry’s injury did affect the team’s standings, but regardless, this plummet to the bottom is nearly unprecedented. However, I honestly believe there is a silver lining in this entire situation.
While I believe that with Steph in the line-up, the Warriors could have potentially competed for a bottom seed play-off seed, but there is literally no way they would be contending for a championship. They simply did not have the roster this year to compete.
Now with the injury, they can both develop some of their talent while also using this year’s pick to acquire a potential top 5 prospect. This way the team can get healthy, trade some assets, and get ready to truly compete next season. Still if you told anyone this past summer that the Warriors would be a lottery team, few people would have believed you.