Early Surprises of the NBA Season

Cade Counsell, Cub News Writer

*As of 11/13*

What’s going on in the NBA? Predicted low-rank teams are succeeding and title contenders occupy the lowest rungs of the standings ladder. After a month or so of play, there have been many early surprises in the 2022-23 season.

In the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz have shocked NBA fans. During the offseason, they traded away their two star players, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Mitchell was sent to the Cavaliers in return for Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton. While Markkanen and Sexton are great players, they are nowhere near the level of Mitchell. Or so we thought. The Jazz currently sit at the 3rd seed in the West, dominating their conference with a 10-5 start. This run has been led by Markkanen, one of the players they traded for. Markkanen is currently listed as a top scorer due to his 21.8 points-per-game (ppg) this season. Rotation players gained from Minnesota in the Gobert trade, like Malik Beasley and Jared Vanderbilt, have also contributed to the Jazz’s success. Some might say that Utah’s run is just a fluke, but nevertheless, the Jazz have a bright future ahead.

On the uglier side of the Western Conference, teams like the Warriors and Lakers aren’t doing so well. The reigning champions are the 13th seed and currently have a record of 5-8. Although superstar Stephen Curry continues to shine, the Warriors have gotten off to a rough start and hope to turn things around. At the 14th seed, sits the Los Angeles Lakers with a record of 3-10. Their record isn’t the major problem though. LeBron James is beginning to show his age. Currently in his 20th season, at 37 years old, James is still putting up big numbers, but not as efficiently. This season, he is only shooting 23% from three. Skip Bayless, like other critics, claims that “LeBron James can no longer carry a team in games they should win.” Like the Warriors, the Lakers are hoping to adjust and work as a team to improve.

In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks are the first seed with a record of 10-2. This is the best start to an NBA season in Milwaukee’s history. Their success has been attributed to team chemistry and the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

While things have gone well for the Bucks, other Eastern Conference teams have had a rough start to the season. The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets each occupy some of the lowest seeds in the East, 10th and 12th respectively. For the Nets, team chemistry might be the cause of their rocky start. Their team has the assets to win out the East, but their stars are either injured or just underperforming. As for the Heat, the team chemistry is there. They have been a consistent contender for the past few seasons, but they haven’t been able to pull off a championship run because of the competition in the East. Each of these teams is hoping to improve their record and their chances at an NBA championship.

Overall, it is too early to assume these results are too important. The standings change with each game, and it is likely that the predicted top teams will transform their rough starts into seasons of great success.