By Isaac Bourne, Staff Writer
November 11, 2022
Just nine games into the season, the NBA is heating up with plenty of storylines around the league.
The biggest surprise of the young season must be the Los Angeles Lakers who started the season on a four-game losing streak before snapping it to the hobbled Denver Nuggets. The Lakers are shooting 26.7% from three-point range on the year, making them the worst three-point shooting team of all time since the NBA introduced the shot in 1979. With stars such as Lebron James and Anthony Davis on the roster, many expected a playoff appearance at the least, yet with Russell Westbrook averaging a career-low 13.3ppg, that goal seems lofty at this point. No team in NBA history has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, but the Lakers hope to be the first.
Out in Brooklyn, the Nets also seem to be underperforming as they sit at 2-6 on the season. After trading James Harden to the 76ers last season for Ben Simmons, many expected Simmons to be an impact player for the Nets since he finished top three in defensive player of the year voting just two seasons ago, but, so far, Simmons’ play has not reflected his prior value as he averages just 6.2ppg on the season, and his defense has noticeably taken a dip since he was last seen on the court.
Out in the Eastern Conference, many teams are vying for the top spot, with the Milwaukee Bucks sitting on top as the only undefeated team left in the league at 7-0. Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (Yan-is On-tet-ow-koon-pow) is averaging 33.6ppg on the season and is on a tear, playing like the best player in the league. This has all been without his co-star, Kris Middleton, who has been out all season with a wrist injury.
Back in the Western Conference, the play of Dallas Mavericks’ star, Luka Doncic, has turned heads. Doncic is leading the league in scoring at 36.1ppg with two 40-point games and two triple-doubles under his belt in just seven games. His play has been expedited by the loss of Jalen Brunson for the Mavericks, who have failed to surround Doncic with a supporting cast that can help lead the team to a championship as the Mavericks sit at just 4-3 with Doncic looking like an MVP right now.
The final surprise of the season has to be the spectacular play of the supposed “rebuilding” Utah Jazz, who have started out the season 6-3 with no real stars on the team. They have six players averaging double-digit points, with forward Lauri Markkanen leading the team with 21.7ppg. After trading away stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert this offseason, the Jazz expected to tank this season for the number one pick in the draft, but so far, they seem to be in pursuit of a championship by the way they are playing. With it being so early in the season, it is hard to tell if this play will keep up, but keep your eye on the team in Salt Lake City, as they may string together a surprisingly successful season despite the low odds.