Three weeks into the season sample sizes get bigger and insights more relevant. As expected the Warriors and the Cavs are the hottest teams in the league. The former just continue with incredible form and an unbeaten run, the latter are easily on pace for best Franchise record in history. While those are not surprising facts, let’s take a look at two teams with particularly noteworthy performances in the past week.
The Dallas Mavericks had a great run finishing the week with a 3-1 record, including wins over high profile teams like the Clippers or the Rockets. The Clippers game held some extra spice due to the DeAndre Jordan saga this summer. Consequently he was booed by the fans every time he touched the ball and owner Mark Cuban joined the fun with some smug comments of his own. In retrospect Dallas’ familiar failure to finalize big signings doesn’t seem to hurt them this season: they rank 4th in the highly competitive Western Conference, which is far better than expected.
A big contributor to the success is Dirk’s highly efficient play: he’s almost on pace for his second 40/50/90 season and his rebounding average is the best since 2009-10. Even Kobe paid his dues when the 7-foot German hit him with a sweet step through move. On the other end of the court he is liability more than ever, which is why limiting his minutes is a good call from tactical mastermind Rick Carlisle.
The other changes to the starting lineup are good fits: Deron Williams, while not the super star he was a few years ago, still gives them a major upgrade over sulking Rajon Rondo and Zaza Pachulia’s scoring and rebounding numbers are pretty much equal to Tyson Chandler’s. Wesley Mathews is not the same offensive weapon as Monta Ellis, but a much better defender.
To make an early call, expect this team to make the playoffs.
John Wall’s claim the Wizards have the best backcourt in the NBA before the season seemed like a bit of a stretch with the splash brothers wrecking havoc in the Bay Area. But with Klay Thompson not playing to his potential this year, he might have a valid point. And while Bradley Beal is bringing the business with career high in points per game, Mr. Wall is lacking with kobesque efficiency numbers and a career low assist to turnover ratio. Let’s see how he can turn that around, but the verdict for the time being is the best backcourt still belongs to Golden State.
A 0.5 record (1-1 last week) and the final playoff spot is underwhelming for this Wizards team, which makes their fans’ campaign for a return of Washington native Kevin Durant even more understandable. KD handled the return to his home town like a pro and deemed the Washington fans’ behavior disrespectful to the players they have, while handing the Wizards another loss. Most would probably have been honored by such a warm welcome, but it seemed that Durant wanted to manage expectations since leaving OKC in the 2016 free agency is highly unlikely.