With the NBA season in full swing, there have been many surprises and disappointments over a month of basketball games. Here are the high-profile teams and players that have had great starts to the year.
5. Phoenix Suns
It was only a matter of time before the Phoenix Suns put everything together and became a true contender in the loaded Western Conference.
That time is now.
The Suns are a real contender to make the playoffs in the West behind the play of superstar Devin Booker, who is averaging 24.1 points, 6.2 assists,and 3.7 rebounds per contest this season. Other players who have stepped up include Deandre Ayton (18.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.0 blocks per game), Kelly Oubre Jr. (17.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals), and Ricky Rubio at the point guard position (12.6 points, 8.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds).
With Monty Williams taking over as head coach, the Suns will have a great chance to become a playoff team this year.
4. Devonte Graham, Charlotte Hornets
Many of you probably have no clue who Devonte Graham is.
He’s a second-year player drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft out of Kansas and plays for the Charlotte Hornets.
Graham has been the leader for a team who is flirting with a potential playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. He is averaging a team-best 18.7 points per game to go with 7.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He’s also only behind Houston Rockets MVP James Harden for the league-lead in three-pointers made.
That’s how good Graham has been this season.
As long as he continues to produce, the Hornets have a chance at a playoff berth in the East this year.
3. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Many questioned Jimmy Butler’s decision to sign with the Miami Heat, but he is proving the doubters wrong.
Butler, who is averaging 20.1 points, 6.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game this season, has the Heat as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The emergence of rookie Kendrick Nunn has also been a big boost to the team. Nunn is third on the team in points (15.3) behind Goran Dragic (15.9 ppg).
Bam Adebayo (13.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.2 bpg) is another player that has made an exceptional start for the Heat who have a legit shot at a run in the Eastern Conference this season.
2. Toronto Raptors
With Kawhi Leonard’s departure to the Los Angeles Clippers, people were quick to write off the defending NBA champions.
Not so fast.
The Raptors are once again a force to be reckoned with, as they are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. At one point during the season, they managed to string together a seven-game winning streak, which included victories over the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers.
Pascal Siakam has turned it up a notch now as the ringleader for the Raptors. He is averaging a team-best 25.1 points per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Other contributors include Kyle Lowry (20.7 ppg, 7.0 apg), Fred VanVleet (18.7 ppg, 7.4 apg, 2.0 spg), Serge Ibaka (13.8 ppg) and Norman Powell (13.4 ppg).
1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
If there was a panel eligible to vote, I think this selection would without question be unanimous.
Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic has become must-watch television.
Doncic has the Mavericks currently in fourth spot in the loaded Western Conference, and he is undoubtedly in the discussion for the league MVP. He is averaging 30.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game this season, and has managed to put together unbelievable performances on a nightly basis.
On Nov. 18 against the San Antonio Spurs, Doncic had a season-high 42 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a 117-110 win, and against the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec 3. he had 33 points with 18 rebounds from just 28 minutes in a 118-97 victory.
He is without a question the biggest surprise of the NBA season.