EARLY NBA STANDINGS SHOW SOME SURPRISES

If the NBA season ended today, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be on the outside looking in. Yes I know, it’s way too early to read much into their slow start, but there are other surprises as we look at the NBA standings in early November.

The Eastern Conference is led by the Boston Celtics, which is not necessarily a surprise, but they are followed by the surprising Detroit Pistons who have won 7 of their first 10 games. The young Philadelphia Sixers are in the 5th position in the East as both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid appear to be better than most people predicted.

Then you have the underachievers. The Washington Wizards are only playing .500 ball and sit in the 8th slot while the Cavs are 10th and the Milwaukee Bucks are 11th in the early season standings.

In the Western Conference, Houston and Golden State lead the way with identical 7-3 records in their first ten games, which is not a real surprise. The surprise is that the Warriors have already dropped three games, including two on their home court. The San Antonio Spurs are barely over .500 and currently holding down the final playoff position in the West, but the fact that their star player (Kawhi Leonard) has not played has a lot to do with that.

And even though Oklahoma City added two new superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, they are not off to a great start at just 4-4. In a league with a good amount of parity outside of the favorites, did anyone see a team starting out 1-10 after eleven games as the Dallas Mavericks have done. I’m sure Mark Cuban didn’t.

As far as individual players are concerned, there are some worth mentioning. Last years MVP Russell Westbrook probably wasn’t going to repeat his season-long triple-double this year, but I didn’t really see him as the 33rd best scorer in the league at just 19.5 per game after his first eight games.His rebounds are also down at 9.4 per game, however he is leading the league in assists at 11.8 per game, a full 1.4 higher than the next closest player.

Another rising star, the Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo, may have leaped to the top of the early MVP race with a terrific start. Antetokounmpo leads the NBA in scoring with 31.0 points a game and is rebounding at a 9.9 per game clip as well. Throw in his 5.0 assists a game, 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks, and that spells a lot of production.

But remember that the NBA season is long, and chances are that the good teams will rise to the top as expected, but there’s always room for a few surprises. Only time will tell.