Blogtable: First-quarter storylines

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.

30 Comments

  1. Bob daniels says:

    The Heat may really be getting better, maybe not, this is a team that looks great against lesser teams, and has days when lebron, D-Wade, and Bosh are all going, such as the Utah game or earlier in the season the game where they beat the Magic 96-70. The Surprise for me was that it wasn’t working better, but i think you can attribute that to all three players needing to have the ball to be most effective. However, i was really surprised by the knicks, i thought Amare would struggle without nash and that Felton was overrated (averaged 13 and 6 last year), but Amare has adapted well and has shown he can change his game and still be effective, i think this change is a blessing for him, he’s more multidimensional, no longer just a midrange jumper/finisher. Finally, the lakers are too good to keep losing to bad teams, celtics fans like me always hope that this year will be the one where the Lakers play falls off but they are too talented, im convinced only a serious injury to kobe could end their title chances. Even if Pau is out they have a great frontline of Bynum and Odom. Damn why are the lakers so talented! Then again, the Celtics are looking like a freight train, 3 rotation players injured but the wins keep racking up! this was fun to write, don’t judge a mainer too harshly!

  2. 76ersTillTheEnd says:

    wow…i dont understand laker fans….”the heat thought everything would come easy”…when the hell did they say that? they said it themselves…they need time to build chemistry and dont expect them to go 82 and 0…besides who cares about the season…come playoff time…i admit that boston would tear up miami if they were fully healthy come playoff time…but we’ll see…knowing the celtics history of recent years…shaq and garnett have to stay healthy for the celtics to be able to dominate…mostly garnett…hes the key to their defense….i wouldnt count out the heat though because they are young and they dont get hurt that easily…btw the way, the heat has beaten more good teams that the lakers….the heat destroyed the magic in their first match up and they raped utah in their second match up…havent seen lakers beaten anyone good, but i know come playoff time, they will bring it…,,i can see lakers vs heat this year just for the fact that vince carter always chokes in the playoffs and i dont think they celtics can be healthy for the whole 82 games….

  3. Dwayne says:

    lol i will say heat because of the hype about the so called big 3…. their a joke…. lequeen is overrated, bosh isnt as good anymore(my opinion), d wade is pretty good…….they wont win a championship because lakers are the team to beat…….also since their in the east they have to go up against boston which they cant go 7 rounds with if they make the playoffs………..boston is a way better team……plus magic is a better team then them……..also the banwaggers riding the heat need to realize something……. it doesnt matter if you bring the best players on one team if they cant work well with one another its doom……………….they only beaten one good team(utah) ……d wade, lequeen and lady bosh are the type of players that need the ball in their hands………drink the heat kool aid i just hope that when you wake up for the hang over your head doesnt hurt so much :)

    • gary says:

      Another Laker fan that doesn’t know anthing I see. Why do you guys keep bringing up the fact that the Heat only beat Utah. The Lakers haven’t beat any notable teams. And if you know anything about your Lakers you better get ready for a bad couple of weeks because when they’re on the road they simply suck. They had trouble with the Clippers and lost to Houston so the Bulls, 76ers, Pacers and Raptors are gonna own them. Keep in mind the wins the Lakers barely got over them at home.

      • Dwayne says:

        i see your as slow as they come………the heat thought everything would come easy to them cause the so called queens got together with their so called talents and they would be the best…..well guess what simpelton you and them were wrong……….. beating lesser teams doesnt prove a thing on this win streak the heat got……..the lakers or boston will win the title again and the heat and you and all the other banwaggers will wake up out of your minds or this fantasy you all have of them being a powerhouse or winning a champonship this year or any other year………….say they make the playoffs which they probably would cause east isnt a tough place…….theirs no way heat can go toe to toe with boston or magic they dont stand a chance in hell……… :)

        but hey i might be wrong and the heats will be the best team and win many titles in the years to come and their be the team to beat…………………(hahahaha sarcasm is so funny)…

  4. Belmont says:

    The most surprising thing I have seen is just how second rate the Heat are 2 many teams. They have yet to beat a top contending team but have had the S**t kicked out of them by the Celts, Mav’s and Magic. Christmas day match against the Lakers will be a good test. Celtics, Spurs and NO have all been good stories.

  5. Dave says:

    For me the biggest surprise is Kiwi sharpshooter Kirk Penney 1. Not getting the final roster sport with the Spurs and 2. another team not picking him up. Just watch what this guy did at the end of the NBDL last season, what he did in the World Championships this year, and what he’s doing in the Australian NBL this season, again! How can the 2nd leading ppg scorer in a World Champs not be in the NBA?

  6. Melo says:

    new yorks my surprise team cuz i thing amare and the knicks are ovr rated but thats jus my opinion =)

  7. Rob says:

    How are the Mavs not the biggest surprise of the year? They are playing grrreat and winning with defense. This year is all about Celtics, Magic, & Heat vs Lakers, Mavs, & Spurs… much better storylines this year than in recent past with teams like the Hornets (only a fast start, they will finish around 4-6th spot in the west), Nuggets, Trailblazers, Cavs, etc being good. Im rooting for the Lakers to start falling this season myself.. then itl be Mavs, Spurs, & Jazz.

  8. hornetsfan101 says:

    surprising is the hornets in the first quarter of the season because they are basically made up of talented bench players from other teams that seen a chance to make something out of nothing. not to mention having the best pointy gaurd in the game and david west playing david west basketball. rookie head coach and all i have a good feeling about this team long as the injury bug dont attack they will be a team to wrecking with.

  9. Anthony says:

    IDK bout you guys but what about the knicks i mean i have been a fan since the early 90s have stuck with them and i can not seem to tell you how proud i am nd da fans are tru story i live in NYC right next to the tri boro was walking nd in da parking lot on da fone was a shofur nd walkin was ronny turiaf so i went up to him he is a very cool dude and he told me they will do work dis was pre season i saw him nd i got to say he has kept his word but da knicks man should definitly be mention on dis list

  10. Bigd28(LAKERS) says:

    Alright everyone doesn’t need to get real excited because for the first quarter of the season the reigning champs aren’t superior in the west. The Lakers are the best team in the league and they have consistently made everyone aware of that fact come the crucial playoff games in April. We don’t care about the regular season when we reign supreme in April and all you punk jazz, mavericks, and hornets fans are getting excited for no reason.

    • Non Laker says:

      honestly….. lakers are my least favorite team…. not because i hate any players, but because of the laker FANS…
      they are PROUD of nothing. ok, lakers got pau and kobe and bynum coming back soon…. but clippers being the worst team in the league right now, lakers beat em with that luckky ass buzzer fisher put up
      u guys all talk about how other fans are BANDWAGONERS but look at ur guy’s self… everytime i see lakers fan, i ask why lakers?
      they allllll say kobe or cuz im from LA, well,, u know there is a such team called Clippers in LA right?
      and i respect and understand kobe’s game. the best player in league until last year
      once he retires, u think pau gasol would stay in lakers? maybe but i wouldnt be so sure about that
      and once that happnes, i want to see all u so called “TRUE LAKERS FAN” stay faitful to that no-hope/kobe team

      • Ray says:

        It’s like Heat Fans vs Lakers fans. After that, the rest are pretty reasonable with their comments. Less trash talk too.

      • gary says:

        Man I hear you. I’m in the LA and Laker fans can only be found when they win a championship.

  11. Mojo says:

    loll I gotta say man, the most suprising thing to me was the timberwolves so far, they got size, range and talent.

  12. pKone says:

    I love the Spurs this year…. and I’m a Suns fan! Hahaha!

    Seriously, not surprised that they are doing well, but I am surprised at HOW they are doing well, more like the Suns of last year ;)

    And Chris, other teams don’t “lose championships” to the Spurs, the Spurs make them lose! They are consistant and smart. And if other teams play “streaky” ball against them (Lakers and soon the Heat?) then they lose to the superior play of a superior team :)

    I am looking forward to seeing the Heat in the finals, but as far as I can see, the only way that the Heat rival the Lakers is in having equally as obnoxious and blind fans!

  13. steelkobe says:

    ya chris, shut up, ur a douche bag, im a laker fan, and the miami heat have beaten 1 good team during this win streak, they still lose to all the good teams, like the lake show on xmas day, thatll be fun, but then u and every other BANDWAGON heat fan will say, “they need time to jell”, this loss to the lakers means nothing. ahahahahahaha
    p.s. all heat fans are bandwagoners cuz u idiots were nowhere to be found before they assembled the choke brothers

    • gary says:

      Don’t be a hypocrit. The Lakers haven’t beaten ANY good teams this season. If you can think of one please answer. The Heat have played the Spurs, Magic, Celtics, Dallas and Utah which most of their loses came from. The Lakers are losing to Memphis and Houston and for the most part teams that are just getting to 500.

  14. chris says:

    And as far as Oden goes, heres what you can expect for next year. The Blazers WILL release him because they wont feel he has any value. MOST teams will be unwilling to take a risk on his injury problems but a FEW will because his age is more of an upside than his injury problems. ONE of them WILL be the HEAT. Now im not saying he WILL come to Miami but it would improve our team and I would be willing to sign him. In Miami all he would have to do is the 2 things he does best, get rebounds and block shots.

  15. chris says:

    lol dude you’re the only one not surprised by the spurs success. even they cant believe they’re doing this good. And i’ve noticed a trend with the spurs over the years. One: they dont win championships, other teams lose them and yes there is a difference. And two: spurs fans are douchebags lol. Anyways a seven game win streak by the heat is worse than you expected? Besides its not how you start the season, its how you finish. How much momentum can you pick up going into the playoffs? IDK but i think them ancient spurs are going to run out of gas by the end of the season while my heat are startin to pick up steam lol. Barring anymore injuries, we’re only gonna get better

    • Jake says:

      9-8 to start the season is worse than I expected idiot. Seems that some Heat fans make a lot of douchebag comments. LOL.

    • Vincent says:

      It doesn’t matter how well the Heat do in the regular season. They are eventually going to have to face the Celtics in the playoffs, and their inability to match up with Boston’s size underneath will ulitimately be the Heat’s path to an early exit from there run to the championship- no matter how well the so-called “BIG 3″ play.

    • mike says:

      Spurs win championships genius

  16. Jake says:

    The Spurs’ success doesn’t surprise me at all (because I’m a Spurs fan and I feel they can compete for a championship every year–I only get surprised when they lose). The Heat have been worse than I expected, but not a ton lot worse. I figured they would get off to a slow start. Oden incurring a season-ending injury is about as predictable as the sun rising in the east and Christmas coming on Dec. 25. The most surprising thing for me has been the Hornets. I didn’t anticipate anything about their season.

    • gary says:

      That’s true about the Spurs. They always play great and each year I expect them to at least go to the conference finals. Last year the Suns just happend to be extra hot with the threes. To bad it burned out when they got to the Lakers.