The NBA season has been underway for two weeks, and as such we are only six games into an 82 game season for most teams. It is certainly a small sample size and as such it is impossible to say we know much of anything definitive about how teams will finish the year.
Even so, there are plenty of takeaways from the first couple weeks of the season that have stood out and sparked conversation in NBA circles. Rather than making bombastic claims about this being the way it is, we decided to try and simply project out whether the early season performances we’ve seen are something worth buying into as legit or are worth remaining skeptical about, given that teams have more than 90 percent of the season remaining.
There are teams and players that have impressed, and those that have disappointed, so we wanted to try and sift through what seems to be real and what may be a 2017-18 Grizzlies-esque flash in the pan. Let’s get into it:
The Sixers Are The Best Team In The NBA
The Sixers are really, really good, sitting at 5-0 and holding the distinction of being the final undefeated squad in the league. They’re fifth in the Eastern Conference in both scoring offense and defense, their starting five might be the best in the league, and they won their toughest game of the year so far — a trip to Portland to start a four-game road trip — without Joel Embiid.
Seeing as how the Sixers were 8-10 without Embiid last season, being able to win tough games while he’s out is a gigantic boost. Al Horford gives them the kind of safeguard against Embiid picking up a knock or, as was the case this week, getting suspended that they just haven’t had in the past. When Embiid plays, the Sixers are obviously better, but one thing that gets magnified is how Philly’s size is a nightmare for opposing squads — their offensive and defensive rebounding percentages are both tops in the league. They also have Matisse Thybulle able to come off the bench and play defense. This is mostly in here as a reminder to myself to write something about him, because he is hilariously good at defense as a rookie.
Shooting is a concern, which isn’t much of a surprise to anyone that looked at the roster. The good news is that Philly has a couple traditionally solid shooters who, theoretically, should improve from deep as the season wears on. Tobias Harris, at 36 percent from three, is right around his career average, while a pair of career 36.8 percent shooters from deep, Horford and Josh Richardson, are at 27.3 and 21.7 percent from three, respectively. Still, relying on guys like Shake Milton, Mike Scott, and Furkan Korkmaz — all of whom have shot well from deep — as your primary shotmakers is a bit of a concern.
Perhaps Philly will look for some shooting help once trade season rolls around, as it is a legitimate weakness, but between their size and stout defense, the Sixers are the real deal when it comes to being a legitimate NBA title contender (aka, the best team in the NBA). – BD
The Phoenix Suns Will Be A Playoff Team
The Suns are pretty good! Particularly when grading them on the curve of [gestures at the last decade of Suns basketball], but even just generally, they’re a pretty good basketball team. As much as I have been pleasantly surprised by this team’s start and think they will hang around, however, I am still not taking them to make the playoffs.