With a month to go until Christmas and about a quarter of the way through the NBA season, things are not going as one might have expected. Some of the favorites from both the East and the West are faltering, while there are some surprise teams making waves.
As of this point in the season, the Raptors are the clear leader in the East. At 18-4 they have the best record not only in the Eastern Conference but in the entire league. The addition of Kawhi Leonard at small forward this season has made their already solid lineup that much better. They have depth all over the court and play with a flexible lineup that is hard for teams to combat.
22 games into the season, many things can change. Other teams in the East may get things together and give the Raptors a run for their money. But as of right now, they are looking good to rival whoever it is (chances are the Warriors) that comes out victorious in the West.
The Milwaukee Bucks
If you were surprised to see the Raptors at the top of the list, then it may come as a surprise to see Milwaukee in second. The Bucks have the second best record in the league at 14-6. They have hitched their wagon to the rising star of Giannis Antetokuonmpo and he seems to be rising fast. With Bledsoe and Middleton filling out the backcourt, the Bucks have a very solid scoring force up top.
Donte DiVincenzo has played well when healthy, and Pat Connaughton has also helped off the bench. While not quite as deep as the Raptors the Bucks are on a tare in the first quarter of the season. The only worry come playoff time is if competitors shut down Antetokuonmpo, the Bucks may be out of luck. But shutting down Giannis is no easy feat.
The Golden State Warriors
The only surprise about the Warriors being in the top three is that they are not at number one. The Warriors are only at 14-7 so far this season. Of course, it’s not a bad record but more can be expected of Golden State. Recently they have been suffering from injuries. Both Steph Curry and Draymond Green have been absent in the past few games.
Curry and Green along with Durant are the most important players on the team but the Warriors have a lot of talent besides these three. So it’s interesting that they have really gone down hill without Curry and Green. The Warriors still have Durant to carry the team as well as Thompson to score points and Jerebko down low and Iguodala who provide support on offense or defense wherever he’s needed.
It’s possible that the Warriors are plagued with the curse of being too good to put forth a real effort during the regular season. After all, the team knows that come playoff time, assuming everyone is healthy, they are the overwhelming favorites to win the finals. The regular season almost doesn’t matter for the Warriors as long as they make the playoffs. Anyone they face has their hands full and needs a miracle to take them down.
So perhaps a combination of apathy and missing Curry and Green is what is slowing the Warriors down at the moment. But when Curry and Green are both back and healthy, they Warriors are sure to be back to their normal selves. They just can’t help but win with all their best players on the floor.