Yes, we know the season is still young. There are a lot of games left to be played in what should be a great year, but still, it seems there’ll be a surprise for us waiting around every corner.
This season has already given us some unexpected gut-punches in the first two weeks of the season. Even before opening week ended, we were treated to some moves that garnered a lot of attention and excitement, and I think the regular season will have the same compelling feel as the offseason did.
With that being said, let’s get into all of the story lines that we’ve seen thus far. Some of them have been, well, shocking to say the least. Others have been kind of expected. That doesn’t make them any less captivating though.
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10. THE CLIPPERS CHANGE IN PHILOSOPHY
With Chris Paul, everyone expected the Clippers to be good this season. The question was whether they’d be championship-caliber good. Through the first seven games of the season, though, they’ve looked like they’ll have a shot to win the Western Conference.
The season is still young, and you don’t want to necessarily say the Clippers are a championship contender just yet when it’s so early, especially since not many picked them to win the Pacific Division against their “roommates.”
With their history, putting the words championship and Clippers in the same sentence seems pretty absurd. But this is a different Clipper team. They’ve even improved tremendously from last season.
On the defensive end, the Clippers went from being 18th in defensive rating last year to being ninth in that category so far this season (all stats via basketball-reference.com). Also, in order to take advantage of their incredible depth and athleticism, they have moved considerably higher in pace – which is how many possessions a team accumulates per game – from 27th last season to fifth this year, while they rank third in the entire league in offensive efficiency. The Clippers have considerably improved on both ends of the floor with new pieces like Jamal Crawford and improvements from players like Eric Bledsoe.
I think that they have a great chance to be around in June if they continue to play this way.
9. DERON WILLIAMS’ SLOW START
Deron Williams is off to a slow start once again… except this time, he’s surrounded by arguably the best talent he’s ever had. While he’s shooting a much higher percentage from the field right now – increasing from 40 to 45 percent – he’s down in many other statistical categories.
Williams is averaging 7.2 assists per game, which is the lowest since his rookie campaign, and only 16.0 points per game, which would be the lowest since his sophomore campaign.
A few years ago, Williams was considered the best point guard in the NBA by many pundits. But right now, Chris Paul is obviously miles ahead of him and a few others have jumped him as well. We can add Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook to that list. Some even argue that Kyrie Irving is better, especially after the duel between Irving and Williams last night.
Throughout the season, we will see if Williams can return to form or not. With all of the moves and additions Brooklyn made over the last few seasons, Williams has no excuse to be performing so poorly on both ends of the floor.