The overwhelming majority of the league’s teams are 10 games into a long and demanding 82-game NBA schedule, and a handful of surprises have already raised the eyebrows of basketball fans all over the world. Here’s a breakdown of the four hottest teams after the first two weeks of action.
Many expected the Los Angeles Lakers to run rampant through the league after the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to an already talented lineup. Surprisingly, they are not on this list, which is headed by the New York Knicks, who got out of the gates with six consecutive wins and have established themselves a dominant force in the Atlantic Division. Amare Stoudamire is been playing up to his All-Star potential, and Carmelo Anthony has kept his ego in check while averaging nearly 24 points per game.
The Memphis Grizzlies played some excellent basketball down the stretch last of year’s NBA playoffs, and they picked up where they left off this November and are clearly hoping to build on an solid foundation and make a run at this year’s championship. After winning seven of their first eight games, the Grizzlies find themselves at the top of a highly competitive Southwest Division that has traditionally been dominated by the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. If Memphis continues to get solid guard play and develop their team chemistry, they could soon be regarded as one of the NBA’s perennially successful teams.
The Oklahoma City Thunder may have lost popular offensive weapon James Harden, but the beat still goes on in the Midwestern basketball capital with the help of superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant is averaging nearly 25 points per game and over 10 rebounds, and if he stays healthy the team is a lock to make the playoffs. Much like every division in the league, the Western Conference’s Northwest group is stacked with talented teams, including the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves.
The final slot is a tossup between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Miami Heat had their time in the sun in recent years, so it only seems fair to give a little ink to the Clippers. The team is clearly coming together under the guidance of Head Coach Vinny Del Negro and the leadership of point guard Chris Paul. Add to the mix incredible athleticism and the star appeal of Blake Griffin, and this team is a dynasty in the making. It seems that many teams in the Pacific Division are going to have an off year this year, which opens up the window of success for the Clippers even wider. The next month of the NBA schedule will go a long way toward determining how serious of a contender the Clippers can be.