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.
Besides the Lakers, what’s one thing you didn’t see coming this season?
Steve Aschburner: The Golden State Warriors. No way, no how did I see these guys winning more games by the midpoint than they won last season (23 in 66 vs. 25 in 40), being 12-5 against winning teams, ranking among the top contenders in both offensive and defensive field-goal percentages, showing such road chops, boosting their rebounding diligence and on and on. The personnel changes have been modest but surgical – Landry, Jack, Barnes, Ezeli – while much of the improvement has come from within, with the chemistry and continuity of coach Mark Jackson‘s second season. (Even now, it feels weird writing that whole paragraph.)
Fran Blinebury: The Clippers challenging for the best record in the league and home-court advantage all the way through the NBA Finals. There was no doubt that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin had them moving forward. But after last spring’s playoff sweep by the Spurs, this is a Bob Beamon-like leap ahead. Jamal Crawford has been a turbo-charger and Eric Bledsoe makes the backcourt an embarrassment of riches. Their offense and defense rank in the top five, they are 17-7 against teams with winning records, 13-6 on the road and 22-7 against the West.
Jeff Caplan: I could go negative here and say I didn’t see Boston struggling to this degree, although I was never one who thought they’d barnstorm through the season either. So, allow me to spread sunshine across the land and praise Mark Jackson’s Golden State Warriors, who are 25-15 and playing a total team game that’s entertaining as heck to watch. Oh, and they haven’t even seen Andrew Bogut yet.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Didn’t see these Knicks coming. If anything, I saw them going: going down a notch in New York City thanks to the Nets’ arrival, going away while relying on a lot of AARP members, Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire. Instead, they’re keeping the pressure on for the top spot in the East. Surprise, surprise.
John Schuhmann: If you told me before the season that the Warriors would win 25 of their first 40 games, rank 12th defensively and rank sixth in rebounding percentage, my response would have been, “Wow, I’m looking forward to seeing Andrew Bogut healthy and playing well.” That they’ve done all that without Bogut is pretty incredible to me. Mark Jackson and Mike Malone deserve credit for devising a defensive system that works for their personnel, and Stephen Curry and David Lee deserves credit for improving on that end of the floor. I’m still looking forward to seeing Bogut healthy and playing well.
Sekou Smith: The Knicks. Given the way they finished last season (getting trounced in that first round matchup against the Heat), I honestly didn’t see a top-two team in the East coming from whatever the Knicks cobbled together over the summer. I didn’t see “Carmelo Anthony, MVP” coming either. But he shut his critics up with some of the best basketball of his career through the first half of this season. The Knicks basically had the first half I was expecting from the Lakers.