The first quarter of the NBA season has nearly come to a close, and the script isn't exactly being written the way we thought it would. The Warriors nearly imploded. The Celtics can't figure it out. The Raptors and the Bucks are the class of the NBA. Hey, this is why they play the games.
Because of the increased pace and proliferation of 3-point shooting, scoring is way up across the league, which has led to some pretty crazy statistical achievements. We've seen this before, and a lot of times players and teams come back down to Earth, deviating to the norm. But sometimes -- just sometimes -- they can keep it up, and we witness something truly special.
Here's a look at five eye-popping stats from the early season, and we've evaluated whether or not they can last.
*Stats accurate as of Nov. 25
Stephen Curry: 49.2 percent 3-pointers
Before missing several games due to a groin injury, Curry was playing perhaps the best basketball of his already remarkable career. The only player to shoot over 49 percent 3-pointers in a season with more than 300 attempts was Kyle Korver for the Hawks in 2014-15, when he averaged 6.0 3-point attempts per game. Needless to say, Curry shooting 49 percent for the season would have an exponentially larger impact because he's averaging 10.5 attempts per game from deep. Shooting that high of a percentage at that volume (50-50-90 season, anyone?) would add another unfathomable feather in the cap of Curry's revolutionary career.
Will he sustain it? It'll be tough. Curry said he came into the season feeling better physically than he ever has, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he thought that was a factor in Curry's hot start -- that his leg strength was helping him gain consistency in his jumper. Now that Curry has already been injured and missed a chunk of games, you have to wonder if it will throw off not only his shot, but also his rhythm and confidence when he returns. Chances are his 3-point percentage will eventually drop back down to the low-to-mid 40s, which is in line with his career average.
Milwaukee Bucks: 116.1 offensive rating
New Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has unlocked Milwaukee's offense, and they've been the story of the NBA so far this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leading MVP candidate, thanks to coach Bud's ball movement and 3-point-heavy attack that's led to a league-leading 14.5 3-pointers made on over 40 attempts per game. As a result, they're pounding opponents by nearly 12 points per game, and they've produced an offensive rating of 116.1, which would be the highest for an NBA team since the 1973-74 season -- ahead of the 1986-87 Lakers, the 2016-17 Warriors and the 1991-92 Chicago Bulls.
Will they sustain it? Probably not. Common sense dictates that teams will eventually figure out ways to stop Budenholzer's shiny new toys, but it won't be easy since they have the ultimate trump card in Giannis -- an indefensible player who collapses the defense to free up shooters. Perhaps defenders will begin sticking to shooters and letting Giannis get his 2-pointers, which will mean bigger individual numbers for their star, but perhaps a drop-off in offensive efficiency because of a decline in 3-point shooting.
Kemba Walker: 28.2 points per game
Walker would be an early-season MVP candidate if the Hornets had performed a little better out of the gate. He's pretty much a one-man show on offense, boasting a career-high usage rate of 32.1, which has led to some huge scoring outbursts like his 60-point game against the 76ers. Adding to Walker's point total is the fact that he's shooting nearly 10 3-pointers per game this season, up from 7.5 last year.
Will he sustain it? Why not? Walker has taken his offensive game to a new level, and he has to score a ton for the Hornets to have a chance to win on any given night. He's in a contract year, so it's in his best interest to maximize his value for the deal he eventually gets from the Hornets or another team. He'll likely get fatigued as the season goes on and his efficiency will probably drop, but averaging over 28 points per game seems like a good bet.
James Harden: 11.1 3-point attempts per game
Harden has increased his number of 3-point attempts every season since he's been in the league, and this year he's reaching historic levels. Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey value the 3 as much as any team in the league, but Harden is on pace to become the only player since Steph Curry in his unanimous MVP season of 2015-16 to average more than 11 3-point attempts per game. The big difference: Curry made 45 percent of his 3s that season, while Harden is currently at 36 percent.
Will he sustain it? Absolutely. The Rockets' reliance on 3-pointers combined with a lack of offensive pop due to the departure of Trevor Ariza and the failed Carmelo Anthony experiment means that Harden is going to be relied upon to take even more of the offensive load. His usage rate is already a career-high 36.9, and if Chris Paul is forced to miss an extended period of time, which he's been prone to do, Harden's 3-point attempts could go even higher.
Hassan Whiteside: 24.4 rebounds per 100 possessions
Say what you will about Whiteside's impact on a team, but he's been a rebounding machine so far this season. Only two players since 1973-74 have averaged more than 24.3 rebounds per 100 possessions while playing in 50 or more games. Reggie Evans did it most recently for the Nets in 2012-13, and Dennis Rodman did it for the Spurs in 1993-94. That's it.
Will he sustain it? Seems unlikely. After falling out of Erik Spoelstra's favor last season, particularly in the playoffs, Whiteside clearly came into this year trying to prove that he belongs in the rotation. As a result, he's been incredibly active on the boards, specifically on the offensive end, where he's averaging 7.4 offensive boards per 100 possessions (up from 6.4 last season). As the energy wanes as the season goes along, it's pretty easy to see that number coming down and lowering his total rebound numbers.