What's in store for early surprises?
It was just a month ago that the Kings and Bucks were perceived by many, if not most, fans as the doormats of their respective conferences. As we flip the calendar to December, the Bucks are 9-7, the Kings 8-8.
It's time to check the expiration dates on this year's surprise packages and try to separate the legitimate trends from the quirky blips.
But the Suns' 14-3 start isn't entirely smoke and mirrors. The emergence of a couple of floor-burned hustlers in
Still, with a defensive efficiency rating in the bottom third of the league and an inability to force turnovers (22nd) or prevent offensive rebounds (dead last) by their opponents, the Suns are likely to once again have problems with the grind of postseason competition. But as someone who picked Phoenix to again miss the playoffs, I've seen enough already to admit I was wrong.
Nobody should expect the Kings to maintain their .500 pace into April, in part because they still struggle defensively (ranking 23rd in defensive efficiency and 30th in points allowed in the paint), and in part because opponents will learn not to underestimate them. And for that the Kings have
A closer look at the numbers, however, illustrates how similar the two have been this season. Evans averages 4.7 assists and 3.2 turnovers compared with 5.7 and 3.3 for Jennings. And while Jennings is scoring three points more per game (21.8 versus Evans' 18.8), it is largely because he has attempted 66 more shots. No matter the numbers, it's no coincidence that the league's two best rookies are playing for the NBA's two most surprising overachievers.
The flashy stat in OKC may be
More to the point, the Thunder's upgrade on defense (they were
That the Rockets have been able to persevere speaks to their ability to maximize their available talent. Landry is averaging 15.9 points in 25.6 minutes.
In the East the biggest disappointment is the Wizards' 5-10 pratfall.. Excuses can be made; Washington once again suffered through an early spate of injuries, most notably to power forward
Jumbled roles from shifting responsibilities because of the team's history of injuries is a factor in this toxic chemistry, and so is the fact that more than a half-dozen players in the rotation are