NBA: Who Are Pretenders or Contenders Early in Season?
Real Or No Deal: Five NBA Teams Who May or May Not Be Legit
We all know that sometimes records and stats don't tell the true story behind what it means to be a winning organization. Even undefeated teams fall under the microscope. The Indiana Pacers are blazing hot at 9-0 and they still have plenty of doubters out there. I agree that those nice looking numbers can be very deceiving, leading to heartbreak for any fan base who had legit hope for their overrated teams.
I have seen teams go undefeated for a stint and then turn around and not make the playoffs. It's not only basketball that suffers from this; all sports fall victim. A prime example in the NFL right now are the Kansas City Chiefs; they seem to be the only undefeated team in history this late in the season that's not mentioned in championship conversation. They have a chance to prove their worth as the Denver Broncos await their arrival on Sunday Night Football this week.
This whole smoke and mirrors thing works both ways as well. There are also teams that totally stink at one point, but are later able to dig deep and finish off the year strong, maybe even making it to the playoffs or deep in a tournament.
Time is usually the ultimate test in finding out if these teams or players are legit. That doesn't mean I can't debate on which teams or players at the moments are for real or not. That's just what I intend to do in this post: list five top NBA teams that are what we think they are or just pretenders parading around as winners.
Charlotte Bobcats: Real
There's nowhere to go but up for this young Charlotte Bobcats team. They sit at 5-4 even with Kemba Walker starting off the year shooting only 33 percent for 14.6 points per game. All members of the starting five are in double figures for the year, but the team as a whole is shooting slightly above the 40-percent mark. Those are some bad numbers, but they've still been able to win. It'll only take more experience for this team to really start getting some attention. This isn't the same old sorry Bobcats team and they've done a great job early in the 2013-14 season.
Portland Trail Blazers: No Deal
Who would of thought that the Portland Trail Blazers would be sitting with a 7-2 record even this early in the season? The answer is, probably no one. It's not like I'm saying they aren't a good team, but more like I'm saying they just aren't that good of a team. 7-2 is very good, but there are a few teams in the Western Conference that will eventually get thing going; one of those teams being the Los Angeles Lakers who are anxiously awaiting the return of Kobe Bryant. Damian Lillard is shooting below 40 percent, while LaMarcus Aldridge's play has been outstanding thus far. I don't think they'll be able to stay on the same page in this marathon of a season.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Real
The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost two-straight games this week; they now sit at 5-3. One of those games was against the Los Angeles Clippers and the other against the Golden State Warriors. There's no shame in losing to great teams on the road early on. The Thunder have nothing to be worried about, as its only worry at the moment is their inconsistent bench play. This team needs Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb to give more on a nightly basis, as well as to figure out what they're going to do with rookie Steven Adams. Everything should eventually fall into place like blocks in a game of Tetris. You expect good things to happen when you're lead by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Philadelphia 76ers: No Deal
ThePhiladelphia 76ers may be in more trouble than any team I've talked about in this post. They sit at 5-5 in what's been a bumpy season so far. There's been some highlight moments, including wins against the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. It just makes you wonder how they've managed to lose to teams with less skill than some of the teams they've beaten. This team is in its position due to the bad play that seems to be contagiously spreading throughout the Eastern Conference. Projected playoff teams like the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks have struggled early, making it easier for the Sixers to slide up in the standings. Look for the East to get things together, eventually pushing the 76ers out of the spotlight.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Real
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of the most exciting teams to watch so far this year. When you're inching closer to the top, more and more doubters will emerge. They have a 6-4 record, not being able to play up to their potential in road games. How about the resurgence of Kevin Martin? He was once known as one of the best scoring guards in the league until it seemed evident that age had gotten the better of him. An up and down year with the Thunder only made things more tough for Martin. Now back in a starting role, he's making the best out of it, averaging 24.9 points per game. Martin's great play has been overshadowed by his own teammate Kevin Love's MVP-like play with 27 points, 10 rebounds and nearly five assists per game. If this team can stay healthy, they'll find themselves amongst the playoff mix late in the season.
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