Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What’s the biggest first-quarter storyline that you DIDN’T see coming?
Steve Aschburner: Everything Hornets. From Chris Paul‘s unexpectedly focused and committed start to the season (after all the trade-demand speculation) and rookie coach Monty Williams‘ immediate impact, to the New Orleans team becoming a ward of the NBA, everything about the franchise’s first couple of months has been surprising. To me, anyway.
Art Garcia: I assumed, like most I think, that the Lakers were headbands and shoulders above everyone else in the Western Conference. That may still turn out to be true by the time we get to April, but right now the Spurs, Mavericks and Jazz seem more than capable of taking down the two-time champs.
Fran Blinebury: New Orleans on and off the court. I didn’t expect the sale to fall through and definitely did not expect Monty Williams to quickly turn the Hornets back into one big, happy family that can play a pretty good brand of basketball and be right back in the West playoff picture.
Scott Howard-Cooper: New Orleans, and not just the team. The city, the franchise – everything. In a season with several surprises, good and bad, the great start that quieted speculation about Chris Paul being on the move, the leveling off and then the sale have made the Hornets an ever-shifting storyline. More than that, it’s the storyline with the greatest impact on the entire NBA landscape.
Shaun Powell: There’s no question, the Heat’s ragged start dominated the NBA at the quarter-pole, because it hit you like Ray Lewis from the blind side. Given the build-up and star power, this was unexpected. Same, too, for the Clippers struggling for wins. Never woulda thunk it.
John Schuhmann: The Spurs getting off to a 17-3 start, and doing it with offense. I didn’t see how they would be a much different team than they were last season. Not only are they better, but they have a different identity, playing a much faster pace than they ever have in the Tim Duncan era. It’s hard to pick against the Lakers, but it seems they have at least one more serious challenger than I thought they would have.
Sekou Smith: Greg Oden‘s season coming to an abrupt end before it got started is the one thing I know I didn’t see coming. I knew there was a chance the Heat would get off to a slow start. And there is always an upstart team that stuns us the first two weeks of the season with a great start. But Oden’s latest setback was a blindside lick from Lawrence Taylor (Terrell Suggs for all you ’80s babies). Never saw it coming.