The 2017-18 NBA season started earlier than usual, not necessarily the easiest sell for a league that doesn't kick into full gear as quickly as others. But thanks to a wild offseason and some early losses by elite teams, the NBA is doing its best to get everybody's attention with a wild start.
It's still too early to diagnose any substantial trends, but that's what makes wild starts the best. It's a burst of exciting energy with the expectation that most of it will calm back down into normalcy. The Cavaliers barely look like a playoff team, the Grizzlies are apparently the greatest team ever, the Clippers don't miss Chris Paul one bit and the Warriors look mortal. It's more than likely that most of this will situate itself by Christmas, and at that point we'll get a clearer picture on the season.
Right now, though, small sample size and all, the league is losing its collective mind. A coach got fired less than a week in! The Magic and Pistons are playing in the Eastern Conference finals! Let's get wild.
|Barring one bad loss to Dallas, the Grizzlies look great. Marc Gasol is playing like an early MVP candidate and the youth on the roster is already coming into their own. Even Chandler Parsons is playing well. The "Grit 'N' Grind" era might be over but these Grizzlies have not skipped a beat.
|The Rockets aren't quite the Rockets yet. They're winning games and playing efficient basketball, but they're a below average team in pace and an average team on offense right now. This will surely go back to normal as the season continues on, but it's odd to see them playing this way with slow-game maestro Chris Paul sitting out injured.
|Playing well does wonders for getting over your ex. The Clippers look rejuvenated and Blake Griffin is playing like the superstar everybody thought he could become. It's still early, but Los Angeles isn't missing Chris Paul at the moment. Its missing Milos Teodosic, however. His quick and fun style turned the Clippers into a must-watch League Pass team, but he's out indefinitely because life is unfair.
|Portland is trying to avoid its usual early-season slump. The Blazers are scoring in bunches and their losses have come against good teams in close games. C.J. McCollum is playing out of his mind right now and Portland looks good.
|The Pistons look good. They beat a good Charlotte team, smacked the heck out of the Wolves, stunned the Warriors and knocked off the undefeated Clippers. More importantly, Tobias Harris is looking like a much-needed third option on offense. He's averaging 23 points while shooting 52 percent from the field. That'll surely regress at some point, but right now the Pistons will take it.
|Steve Kerr has said multiple times the Warriors aren't locked in yet and it shows. Every win has been fought for and the losses have felt like they beat themselves. We could chalk it up to Golden State having a target on its back, boredom, or maybe its still feeling the effects of a preseason overseas. Whatever the reason, the Warriors are still winning despite it and will be better when they get over it.
|The Raptors had a chance to knock off some really good teams early on, but against both the Spurs and Warriors they failed in the clutch. Toronto is running a new pass happy-offense and it's working for them, but when games get tough it easily falls back into single-player isolation sets.
|The Orlando Magic are near the top of the Eastern Conference. Yes, you read that correctly. They whooped up on the Cavaliers and Spurs, they have a great offense, an improving defense, and play at a really high pace. This team is fun. They're about to hit their first true test of the season, but for now they're crashing the party of contenders.
|The Spurs bench looks really bad aside from Rudy Gay. When Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker get back that should add a lot of depth to this group. San Antonio started off strong but they've had two awful losses to the Magic and Pacers. On the plus side, LaMarcus Aldridge has been incredible early on.
|Boston may have lost Gordon Hayward for the season, but Kyrie Irving is fitting into Brad Stevens' new system incredibly well. He's making great kick-outs and it's helping players like Al Horford look even better. Boston even managed to get a revenge win against Milwaukee after starting off the season 0-2.
|Not only does Giannis Antetokounmpo look better every year, but he somehow manages to exceed expectations as well. He was a popular dark horse MVP candidate before the season, but now it feels like he should have been in the conversation all along. The Bucks are young and fun.
|The Wizards have played well against even tough teams. They've struggled a bit in the clutch, which is concerning. John Wall appears to be forcing things. There's time to work stuff out, but there are some early concerns about the offense right now. They can't lose to the Lakers. That's inexcusable.
|When the Wolves have Jimmy Butler they look like world beaters -- two wins against OKC is proof of that. Without Butler they get blown out in horrendous fashion. Karl-Anthony Towns' defense is still really bad and Andrew Wiggins, while a good scorer, is struggling to make a team-wide impact. This looks like a lot of the same problems from last season, which is concerning. It's still early.
|The Hornets are forever a mark of consistency. They've looked good in losses and even better in wins. Dwight Howard is protecting the rim with force and pulling down rebounds like a mad man. He's also posting up more than any other big in the NBA and shooting painfully bad on those chances. The point guard situation is a mess right now with injuries and they can't afford to have Kemba Walker off the floor too long.
|Russell Westbrook now has recorded a triple double against every team in the NBA, outside of his own club (obviously). OKC's defense is out-of-this-world good and the new stars are beginning to acclimate. The Thunder have some bad losses right now, but we're chalking it up to new players trying to gel.
|The Pelicans were in trouble with Rajon Rondo injured, but the Jameer Nelson signing fixed a lot of issues. Yes, you read that right, but New Orleans was in desperate need of a point guard that could just run the offense. Nelson has freed them a bit and saved them from an embarrassing loss to the Lakers.
|The Pacers outscored the Nets and ran the Wolves off the floor. They're a blast on offense and can't defend a lick on defense. There are few better teams entertainment-wise than the Pacers. However, they still have a long way to go before they play like a complete team. Victor Oladipo is thriving in this system and putting up 26 points a game on 50 percent shooting, including 44 percent from 3-point range, and 88 percent from the free throw line. Watch a Pacers game sometime. It'll be fun.
|Well they've already ran through three different starting lineups and the point guard situation is a mess, but LeBron James is still LeBron James and they've recognized mistakes. They're doing what they can to put Dwyane Wade in a position to succeed which they'll need. The losses have been embarrassing though.
|This Heat team looks a lot like the team that started 11-30 last season. Goran Dragic said after their loss to Boston, that they "don't want to have a season like last year." They have yet to beat a solid team. Their schedule eases up a bit in November and that'll be a good chance to get back on track.
|Brooklyn is going be feisty all season long. The Nets are fun to watch and ready to expose any team that's caught sleeping on them with their barrage of 3-pointers. Kenny Atkinson is an awesome coach and D'Angelo Russell is thriving in his new system. However, they're still the Nets so it's still hard to really consider them as a solid team.
|This team is weird. They beat teams like the Thunder and the Nuggets, but then they lose to the drama-filled Suns. They did manage to blow the Lakers off the floor at least. Ricky Rubio looks really good running the offense and even better on defense. Utah is still an incredible defensive team, but it needs someone to step up and score some points.
|So much for the upstart Nuggets. They cut Jameer Nelson, who is thriving in New Orleans, in order to give the keys to their young guys and it is not working. The offense has not been able to repeat what it did last season and it's ugly to watch right now. On the plus side, their defense isn't an absolute train wreck and they have plenty of time to possibly turn it around.
|Lonzo Ball Mania is in full effect and Los Angeles is a lot better when he's off the floor, which isn't surprising because he's a rookie and all rookies are bad in some way. He has shown some incredible court vision and skills for a rookie which has Lakers fans salivating at his potential future. The team itself is bad, but its win over the Wizards was hilarious.
|The Knicks are really bad, not fun to watch, and Jeff Hornacek is a popular pick to be the next mid-season coach firing. So things are going fine. Kristaps Porzingis scoring is the lone bright spot at the moment, but there's some hope Frank Ntilikina will fix things as he learns on the job. However, they smoked the Nets to get their first win of the season and then knocked off a struggling Cavs team, so there are some positives.
|What in the world is going on with the Sixers and Markelle Fultz? If he's too hurt to shoot properly then he shouldn't be playing. The team itself is fun and Joel Embiid is unsurprisingly great. Ben Simmons already looks like a great player with plenty of upside. Philadelphia only has two wins right now, but it has had a pretty tough schedule early on.
|The Kings are a really entertaining bad team, if that makes any sense. That's about all they have going for them right now, because the team itself isn't very good. De'Aaron Fox looks really good for a rookie and the "Your favorite player is ducking Fox" meme is really funny. The Kings are a fun upstart to keep an eye on, but they're not going to be winning right now.
|Somehow the Mavericks have already played seven games and they've looked awful in most of them. This is not a good basketball team. Which means somehow Rick Carlisle will squeeze 35 wins out of them.
|The Bulls had one of their players punch another one of their players and send them to the hospital. On the downside, this makes them a mess and October isn't over yet. On the plus side, they're not a complete disaster right now.
|Atlanta lost to the Bulls and haven't won a game since its opener against the Mavericks. Without Dennis Schroder on the floor the Hawks are even worse and they weren't very good with him on the floor to begin with. Despite all this, they run a sound system and play to it. They're just being out talented.
|From a basketball perspective the Suns aren't the worst team in the league. Three of their four losses were to good teams and they've beaten bad ones. However, they fired their coach three games into the season after a 40-point loss. They're currently paying Eric Bledsoe to not show up to work and they have killed his trade value every time a reporter puts a microphone in front of them. It's a full-blown disaster and it's not even November yet.