Coming into this season, we all had our own unique ideas of how this season was going to pan out. There’s teams that we think are going to the finals. There’s teams that we think are going to be in the draft lottery. We all have our own expectations. I too, had predictions or expectations coming into this NBA season. I had an idea of how every team would place at the end of the season, the underrated and the overrated, and even who would win the awards. So far, little to none of my predictions have come true, but that’s the NBA for you, full of surprises. On that note, here’s two NBA teams that have shocked me so far this season.
The Phoenix Suns
Even without their former #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, the Suns have managed to win 5 of their first 8 games while being extremely efficient. According to team efficiency, the Suns have the 9th best offense, and the 11th best defense (NBA.com). Although being slightly above average isn’t impressive it is a major improvement from last season, as they were ranked as the 28th best offense and the 29th best defense. You would think that this is all because of the immense input from the Suns young star Devin Booker, which is correct to an extent. I believe that this shocking start isn’t 100% because of Booker, but because of the pieces around him. For example, Kelly Oubre is averaging 17ppg, Ricky Rubio is averaging 12ppg, and Aron Baynes is averaging 16ppg (NBA.com). Another reason the Suns have gotten off to this great start is the fantastic performance on the defensive end by Jevon Carter. He is the 11th most efficient defender in the league with a 96.9 defensive rating. That means every 100 possessions that he is guarding the scorer, he allows only 97 points. He surpasses defensive superstars like Draymond Green, Patrick Beverly, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and many more. An impressive feat for only a 2nd year player.
Another reason why the Suns have made a fantastic improvement since last year is the contribution made by Aron Baynes. Baynes has gone from a rim-protecting, glass cleaning, big man, to a stretch five. Last year on the Celtics, he attempted 0.4 threes a game, and hit them at a 34% clip, what you would expect from your traditional “big man center.” Over his first 8 games, Baynes is now attempting 2 threes a game and hitting them at a 47% clip. He is ranked 20th in 3pt% across the league, 2nd among centers. Is it safe to say that Phoenix basketball is back? Will the Suns finally make the playoffs after a 10 year drought? We will have to see.
The Golden State Warriors
As an NBA fan, I’m all for the fall of one of the most overpowered dynasties in league history. For the past three or four years it’s as if the Warriors have been cheating their way to the finals every year. After the addition of superstar Kevin Durant in 2016, the Warriors were virtually unstoppable on both ends of the floor. Ever since, Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Dubs in the 2019 Finals, the Warriors have never been the same. Durant left the Bay Area to join Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson is out with a torn ACL, and Stephen Curry along with Draymond Green are “injured” as well. For the first time in recent memory, it seems that the Golden State Warriors are tanking for a lottery pick. Warriors basketball has become nearly unwatchable. They are ranked 15th in offensive efficiency, mainly because of the effort made by former all-star D’Angelo Russel and the rookie Eric Paschall. Golden State is also ranked last in the NBA in defensive efficiency, truly horrendous. On the bright side, Eric Paschall, the 41st overall pick in last years draft has been having a great rookie season, averaging 16ppg on 54% shooting, and 4 rebounds. As of 11/7/19, he has been placed 2nd on NBA.com’s “Kia Rookie Ladder.” In conclusion, we may be witnessing one of the greatest declines of a dynasty in league history, and to be honest, I’m all here for it.