Blogtable: Biggest West Surprises

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.

Which team most surprises you in the West at this point: Clippers, Jazz or Suns?


Steve Aschburner: Utah. In winning five straight through Tuesday and six of their last seven, the Jazz are navigating close ones and blowouts, high-scoring tilts such as the 113-105 pasting of Cleveland and grinders like their 85-73 victory over Milwaukee last week. The ball is moving – even through notorious stopper Al Jefferson, a great guy with something to prove. They’re also getting quality work from contributors young (Alec Burks, Derrick Favors) and old (Earl Watson, Josh Howard).

Fran Blinebury: After the Jazz opened up the schedule getting clobbered in three of their first four games by an average of 15.6 points, it certainly looked like the first full season P.S. (Post Sloan) was going to bring nothing but misery. Instead coach Tyrone Corbin has shown a stubbornness to stick with the ancient Raja Bell in his starting backcourt and a willingness to let his kiddie corp – Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks — learn on the run. It’s paid off with some fun, aggressive ball.  The Jazz are in deep Northwest Division water with OKC, Portland and Denver, but it looks like they’ll be able to tread water until ready to make a splash in the future.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Slight edge to the Jazz because they have recovered from a slow start despite having the farthest to go. The Clippers were always going to be good and the Suns were always going to be competitive, but Utah has been particularly encouraging with such a young roster.

Shaun Powell: Not really surprised by any of the teams and their records, just some of the situations. Thought Utah would give more time to Derrick Favors (just 23 minutes a night). Thought the Clippers’ backcourt would be a bit more vulnerable defensively, with three smallish point guards in the rotation (CP3, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups). Thought the Suns would trade Steve Nash by now, and maybe they will in two months. Biggest team surprise in the West is Memphis. That playoff stretch last spring seems like it happened years ago.

John Schuhmann: Phoenix. The Clippers have been inconsistent on both ends of the floor and I think Utah’s record is inflated because of some close wins over bad teams. The Suns actually have a better point differential than both of them, despite playing one of the tougher schedules in the league. Marcin Gortat has proven himself to be a valuable defensive anchor, and his presence in the starting lineup has the Suns in the top 10 defensively thus far. Really, the Suns! I thought this team was going to stink this season, so any signs of life, especially defensively, are surprising.

Sekou Smith: The Clippers are supposed to play well with the moves they’ve made. And while I love what Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Alvin Gentry continue to do in Phoenix, the Suns don’t strike me as a team built for the long haul. What I do know is that the Jazz are doing things right now, five wins in a row, that not even the die-hards in Utah thought was possible out of this bunch. The Jazz are easily the biggest surprise of these three outfits, right now.

12 Comments

  1. phamie says:

    Phoenix suns is the biggest surprise this season. STEVE NASH is still healthy and great. Look how he developed his teammate.

  2. matt says:

    I agree with br33ze, I love my Jazz, but I love how the Clippers have a strong fighting chance right now.

  3. Johnny P says:

    I’m a die hard Jazz fan and they’re suprising me! I didn’t have real high hopes for this season given the turnover and youngsters, but here we are. I think they can only continue to improve and will surpise a lot of folks when they make the play offs. Plus, KOC still has the $10.8M trade exception from the Okur trade and I think he’ll put it to good use soon and make the Jazz even better. The west leaders better keep cheking their 6.

  4. Nick says:

    I’ve been surprised by all 3 teams. As a die-hard Jazz fan, I’m actually not that surprised. The Jazz have always been the perpetual underdogs, they’ve always fought against tough odds, and through their excellent coaching staff and GM Kevin O’Connor, the Jazz have always fought their way to the top.

    Don’t forget, this is Jerry Sloan’s club. It doesn’t matter that he’s not coaching anymore. Sloan built and shaped the Jazz into what they are now and will continue to be for years and years to come. If you know anything about the culture of Jazz basketball, it’s that they will always be fighters. No surprise there. Western Conference Contender next year.

  5. Antonino says:

    The team that surprise me the opposite way around is Minnessotta. I thought at the begining that with the adquissitions for this spring to go alone with the duo of Love and Randolph they would do better. However is the contrary,thou they are loosing very close games with the elite. They better get up. Its time to grow .

  6. martin cota flores says:

    l love clippers !! :)

    • daniel21 says:

      i hate how so many ppl are loving the clippers. come on, there were barely any fans before blake griffin came. ppl need to stop rooting for whatever team is actually doing good

      • br33ze says:

        Why do people hate the fact that people love a certain team when they get some good young stars? I am a huge basketball fan and what makes me a fan are the players of the game, not necessarily the teams themselves. As a Canadian, if I was forced to only love my Raptors just because I am a Torontonian, well I probably would have stopped watching basketball years ago.

        I love what the clippers have done in the off-season and how they have built around some very good draft pics. Its like watching a disney feel good sports movie (a la Mighty Ducks) in real life. Why not love the players and cheer for them when they are exciting to watch and entertain us, the fans. That is what they are paid to do, make us ooooh and ahhhhh. Go Clippers Go!

  7. matt says:

    I love how all of the responses so far cannot even read. The question is which of the three teams, the Jazz, the Suns, or the Clippers are most surprising and everyone says completely different teams like Portland, or Denver. Of the three teams, I think the Jazz are the most surprising. The Clippers are expected to be this good, and who cares what Phoenix has done, but the Jazz who looked like one of the worst teams of the season with their opening games have really made a switch somewhere and are playing well.

  8. Lester says:

    hahahahaha WHAT?! The Blazers are the biggest surprise in the west. No doubt! Starting 7-2. Beating the clips, thunder, and lakers to top it off. They are easily the biggest surprise. No Roy, No Oden, no expactations. But look where they are!!!!

  9. I would have to agree with Powell here. Both the Jazz at 6-3 (http://randomnbafan.com/12/22/2011/utah-jazz-2011-2012-game-by-game-predictions/) and the Suns (http://randomnbafan.com/12/22/2011/phoenix-suns-2011-2012-game-by-game-predictions/) have the exact records that I predicted the would have at this time of the season.

    The Clippers are one game below what I expected. But the Grizzlies (possibly due to the injury to Zach Randolph) are two games below what I predicted and are on an unexpected three-game losing streak.

    None of the three teams mentioned in the question are doing anything really surprising, from my perspective, so far this season.

    The Denver Nuggets is the Western Conference team that has surprised me with their early season success. I expected the absence of Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith to be a little bit too much for them to overcome. However, they have proven me completely wrong so far.

    • earndub says:

      i think Chris Paul ruined his career for the next 2 years signing with the Clippers. the Clippers curse continues and will forever be unfortunately. i feel sorry for Chris Paul however he made that decision to sign 2 years instead of just 1 year. a good solid prediction is Clippers will definitely lose Chris Paul in 2 years and Blake Griffin if healthy, depending on his maturity level in 2 years most likely will go to another team as well after his contract is up.