Power Keeps Turning Off To Living Room
We’ve almost gotten accomplished the gravy blackout and pie escapades of Thanksgiving, but already, we are division of the way through this NBA season.
Throughout the league, there accept been surprises and disappointments, and at the one-quarter pole, we accept a faculty of how the alliance is abstraction up. So here’s our third poll of the year, pointing out what’s afraid and aghast about anniversary of the 30 teams.
LEROUX: How new barter borderline will appulse aggregation decisions
Quarter-season surprise: The Celtics, top-seeded in the East aftermost year, rebuilt the agenda and accept emerged a bigger team, alike with the season-ending abrasion to Gordon Hayward. They’re the top-ranked arresting aggregation in the league, accept been the league’s best clamp aggregation and, abaft Kyrie Irving, accept been the NBA’s third-best fourth-quarter team.
Quarter-season disappointment: The affluence are boring bottomward the offense, as the Boston bank ranks 30th in the alliance in field-goal allotment (35.4). Marcus Smart (29.1 field-goal percentage) gets the burden of the blame, but added than the big guys, all approved Celtics affluence are cutting beneath 40 percent.
Quarter-season surprise: Kevin Durant has appear aback from aftermost year’s MVP achievement in the NBA Finals with every bit as abundant aggressiveness and adeptness as he showed in that series. He’s averaging 24.7 credibility on 52.9 percent shooting, while authoritative 43.2 percent of his 3s.
Quarter-season disappointment: Turnovers are the one breadth that, in three years with the team, drillmaster Steve Kerr has harped on added than any other. That is not changing. Golden State gets too awkward with the brawl too often, averaging 16.5 turnovers, 28th in the league.
Quarter-season surprise: Eighth. Eighth! The Rockets rank eighth in arresting efficiency, an alarming about-face of contest for a aggregation accomplished by Mike D’Antoni. Aftermost year, Houston was 18th, which was acceptable abundant to accomplish them a 55-win team. If they advance their D now, they’ll win 60-plus games, easily, and James Harden will assuredly get his MVP award.
Quarter-season disappointment: Eric Gordon adeptness be absent in the drag of Chris Paul’s return. He got off to a arresting start, averaging 23.1 points. But he’s swung berserk the added way in the aftermost six games, scoring 13.2 credibility while cutting 31.1 percent and 21.4 percent from the 3-point line.
Quarter-season surprise: At age 33, LeBron James is arena at an MVP-level, announcement 28.5 credibility per game, his best in the aftermost eight years. He is cutting 58.0 percent from the acreage and 42.2 percent from the 3-point line, and both are career-highs.
Quarter-season disappointment: The defense, obviously. Aftermost year, Cleveland’s pick-and-roll aegis was the culprit, but this year, the Cavs are bad all over, acceptance 38.3 percent from the 3-point band (27th in the league) and 44.5 credibility in the acrylic per game, which ranks 19th.
Quarter-season surprise: The performances of youngsters Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons accept been a acceptable development, but the big abruptness actuality is the way the aggregation has performed in clamp situations. In amateur absitively by bristles credibility in the final bristles minutes, they’re 7-4, cutting 50.0 percent and 43.5 percent from the 3-point line.
Quarter-season disappointment: Top aces Markelle Fultz has played aloof two amateur with a accept injury, and abeyant barter dent Jahlil Okafor has connected to be a non-factor, adverse the team’s adeptness to accomplish a deal.
6. Trail Blazers
Quarter-season surprise: The breach has managed to breach afloat admitting a poor alpha from Damian Lillard, who is cutting 41.5 percent from the acreage and 33.8 percent from the 3-point line. That’s appear acknowledgment to the absorbing efforts of Jusuf Nurkic (15.2 credibility and 7.7 rebounds) and C.J. McCollum (22.0 points, 49.1 percent from the 3-point line).
Quarter-season disappointment: This has not been, in contempo years, the best motion-packed breach in the league, but the Trail Blazers accept been decidedly ablaze on assists this year, baronial aftermost in abetment percentage, at 48.6.
Quarter-season surprise: A few career-highs accept been active the Pistons’ early-season success, starting with the 3-point cutting (45.5 percent on 6.1 attempts per game) of Tobias Harris. Fellow amateur Avery Bradley is cutting 42.5 percent on 3s, and centermost Andre Drummond is (finally) authoritative chargeless throws, at 60.5 percent, and casual the brawl (3.4 assists, up from his career boilerplate of 0.8).
Quarter-season disappointment: Stanley Johnson is alone 21 and has solid arresting ability, but in his third season, he has not apparent abundant abhorrent progress. He is averaging 8.1 credibility on 39.5 percent shooting, authoritative it adamantine to absolve a starting role for him.
Quarter-season surprise: Two much-maligned veterans accept been accustomed the Spurs through the absence of Kawhi Leonard: LaMarcus Aldridge (21.6 points, 8.2 rebounds), the accountable of barter rumors this offseason, and free-agent signee Rudy Gay (11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds), who is authoritative a able case for Sixth Man of the Year.
Quarter-season disappointment: Missing Leonard for the alpha of the division has been tough, but the actuality that his cloister abrasion has been so abstruse to Gregg Popovich and aggregation assumption has fabricated it a bigger issue.
Quarter-season surprise: They’re not absolutely the Globetrotters aback it comes to actuality whizzes with the passes, but the Raptors set out to assemble a bigger ball-sharing breach and abate the assurance on the pick-and-roll. The agreement has gone able-bodied so far, and Toronto has a 56.9 percent abetment ratio, 15th in the league. That adeptness not assume like much, but aftermost year, the Raptors were asleep aftermost with a 47.2 percent abetment ratio.
Quarter-season disappointment: Toronto dumped DeMarre Carroll to the Nets aftermost summer, but never absolutely apparent its issues in the advanced spots. Serge Ibaka is not accepting a acceptable year, and amateur OG Anunoby has been advance into the starting five. This is not a abysmal aggregation up front.
Quarter-season surprise: The Nuggets accept gotten off to a acceptable alpha cutting the ball, authoritative 37.2 percent of their 3s. Gary Harris (44.9 percent) has congenital on his success as a ballista aftermost year, and Will Barton (41.1 percent) is cutting at a career-high mark. Nikola Jokic (16.3 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists) has accustomed himself as an All-Star.
Quarter-season disappointment: The Nuggets accept bigger their defense, which ranked 29th (110.5 credibility per 100 possessions) in adeptness aftermost season. But they’ve alone bigger to 18th (105.9), which is not abundant to agreement a playoff spot. The wrist abrasion to Paul Millsap, which will accumulate him out until at atomic the All-Star break, won’t advice those numbers.
Quarter-season surprise: The breach has been big on ball-sharing, and ranks third (63.3 percent) in abetment percentage, up from 14th last year (58.2 percent) and 19th (57.7 percent) in Alvin Gentry’s aboriginal year.
Quarter-season disappointment: Their accepted starting guards are Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo, who are cutting aloof 23.2 percent from the 3-point line, allotment of the team’s 34.1 percent cutting from the arc (26th in the NBA).
Quarter-season surprise: The botheration of cutting 3-pointers has not been such a affecting affair afterwards all. The Wolves accept fabricated 36.3 percent of their 3s, hardly aloft the alliance average. They don’t shoot a lot — Minnesota ranks 29th in 3-point attempts — but they accomplish abundant to accumulate defenses honest.
Quarter-season disappointment: Jimmy Butler was brought to Minnesota to brainwash a better, added complete access to defense. We’re not seeing that with this aggregation yet. The Wolves allowed 109.1 credibility per 100 possessions, 26th in the league, aftermost season, and that’s bottomward alone to 107.8 points, 25th in the league.
Quarter-season surprise: Victor Oladipo has taken the reins as the team’s leader, and he's shooting 44.9 percent from the 3-point line, area the Pacers advance the alliance (40.0 percent). He had averaged 15.9 credibility in his aboriginal four years, and is averaging 22.8 credibility this season.
Quarter-season disappointment: Myles Turner started the division with an injury, and aback returning, he hasn’t had the third-year blemish that was expected. He’s averaging 13.5 credibility and 7.7 rebounds.
Quarter-season surprise: At 23 years old, brilliant advanced Giannis Antetokounmpo has apparent no signs of slowing his advance into the league’s elite: 29.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
Quarter-season disappointment: The bank has been atrociously bad. The assets unit ranks 26th with a minus-3.3 point cogwheel and array a league-low 23.7 credibility per game. The accession of Eric Bledsoe has not afflicted that, either. The Bucks are averaging 22.5 credibility in the eight amateur aback he arrived.
Quarter-season surprise: A actual attenuate bank has begin its ballast in Kelly Oubre, averaging 11.2 credibility and cutting 41.5 percent from the 3-point line. The second-highest scorer on the Wiz bank is artisan Mike Scott.
Quarter-season disappointment: Depth issues are killing the Wizards, and the abrasion to John Wall, which will accumulate him out two weeks, will alone accomplish those problems added glaring. His advancement is Tim Frazier, who has attempt 39.4 percent from the acreage in only 43 amateur as a amateur in his career.
Quarter-season surprise: The leash of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony accept appear calm accurately — on the arresting end. The breach needs assignment and will improve, but the aegis has been the second-most able in the alliance (99.0 credibility per 100 possessions).
Quarter-season disappointment: The Thunder’s struggles in the clamp are killing them. They’re 1-9 in amateur aural bristles credibility in the final bristles minutes. Cutting percentages of their big three in the clutch: Anthony, 21.1 percent; George, 33.3 percent; Westbrook, 40.0 percent.
Quarter-season surprise: In aloof 19.2 account per game, Kelly Olynyk has been the assets big man the Heat capital aback they active him this summer. He is averaging 8.9 credibility and authoritative 45.8 percent of his 3s, and he has gotten a bang up in account as a result.
Quarter-season disappointment: The Heat paid out big money to two role players in the accomplished two seasons, analogous a balloon-payment arrangement for Tyler Johnson ($19 actor per year for abutting year and 2019-20) aftermost summer and signing Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 actor addendum this year. Both are struggling, cutting a accumulated 35.1 percent and scoring 17.9 credibility total.
Quarter-season surprise: The Knicks fabricated the offseason accommodation to advance in the approaching of Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway, and the brace has been outstanding, averaging 45.5 credibility combined.
Quarter-season disappointment: The 3-point band has been a concern. The Knicks accord up 12.9 3s per game, best in the league, while authoritative alone 8.7 per game. That’s a aberration of 12.6 credibility at the 3-point line, a significant deficit. Hardaway (31.5 percent) has been a big allotment of the problem, but has attempt bigger lately.
Quarter-season surprise: Amateur Donovan Mitchell has been affected into added activity than the aggregation intended, but he has not disappointed. His attempt has been inconsistent, but he is additional on the aggregation with 14.8 credibility per game, and he has been convalescent from the 3-point band (41.2 percent in his aftermost six games).
Quarter-season disappointment: Any angle that Ricky Rubio was not overrated during his time with Minnesota has been debunked by his connected struggles in Utah. More than that, it’s been injuries that accept batty any adventitious the Jazz had to appearance the accident of Gordon Hayward didn’t annihilate their playoff chances. Dante Exum is out, again, this time with a accept injury, and Rudy Gobert will absence about a month. Joe Johnson is out about a month, too, with a wrist injury.
Quarter-season surprise: Dwight Howard has not been a botheration for the Hornets (well... mostly), and that should calculation as a win for the aggregation — he’s been appropriate abundant as a scorer and rebounder, admitting he has angry the brawl over too abundant and is not authoritative chargeless throws. The bigger abruptness adeptness be Jeremy Lamb, arena his best in his sixth NBA season, scoring 15.9 credibility per game. He’s ambidextrous with a hamstring abrasion now.
Quarter-season disappointment: Aback absolutely healthy, this should be a almost abysmal team, with the brand of Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Lamb off the bench. But the Hornets affluence accept been awful, with a minus-3.5 point differential, third-worst in the NBA.
Quarter-season surprise: In the deathwatch of this year’s draft, there was boundless belief that the backward abduct would be Kyle Kuzma, called at No. 27. But Kuzma has been added than a abduct — he has been bigger than No. 2 all-embracing aces Lonzo Ball, arch the aggregation in scoring (16.8 points) while cutting 49.8 percent from the field.
Quarter-season disappointment: They can’t shoot, and it’s not aloof Ball, whose struggles (31.5 percent from the field) accept been well-documented. Overall, the Lakers accept fabricated 31.0 percent of their 3-pointers, which ranks aftermost in the league, and 70.5 percent from the free-throw line, additionally last. Kuzma is the alone Laker cutting about the alliance boilerplate from the 3-point arc.
Quarter-season surprise: Blake Griffin never absent a footfall off his adeptness to be the hub of the offense, arch the aggregation in scoring (23.4 points) and assists (5.0). The Clippers are active the breach through him, and with bigger support, he adeptness be putting up alike bigger numbers.
Quarter-season disappointment: Injuries to Pat Beverley, Milos Teodesic and Danilo Gallinari accept been the bigger cesspool on this roster. But drillmaster Doc Rivers has struggled to acquisition the appropriate fits in his rotations.
Quarter-season surprise: They’ve accustomed a appearance of comedy and are fun to watch, active the fastest clip in the league, 105.72 backing per 48 minutes. They’ve had boxy luck with injuries, but accept been bigger than accepted admitting them.
Quarter-season disappointment: We alone got to the see the backcourt of Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell calm for 25 account afore Lin’s division concluded with an Achilles injury. They were 25 acceptable minutes, though, as the brace accumulated to account 48 points, and the Nets put up 131.
Quarter-season surprise: There accept been a brace of feel-good belief advancing out of Memphis this season, starting with the awakening of Memphis’ own Tyreke Evans, who has averaged 17.7 credibility on 49.1 percent cutting and 41.3 percent 3-point cutting with the Grizzlies. Second-round aces Dillon Brooks has accurate to be a acceptable find, too.
Quarter-season disappointment: Why can this authorization never acquisition 3-point shooters? The Grizzlies rank 29th this season, and they accept not accomplished in the top bisected of the alliance on 3s aback 2007, a amount that covers four coaches. In the aftermost 11 years, they’ve been amid the 10 affliction 3-point teams in the alliance nine times.
Quarter-season surprise: Aaron Gordon’s fourth division has gotten off to a abundant start. He is averaging 17.5 points, cutting 50.5 percent from the acreage and 41.9 percent from the 3-point band and accession a career-high 8.1 rebounds.
Quarter-season disappointment: Inconsistency plagues this team, and their disability to handle affliction has beatific them ambagious into an eight-game accident streak. They rank 23rd in arresting efficiency.
Quarter-season surprise: Two of the big problems on the Suns’ account were that Earl Watson was not the appropriate drillmaster for the aggregation and Eric Bledsoe was accomplishing added abuse than acceptable in the rebuilding process. Jay Triano adeptness not be the abiding answer, but the 7-11 almanac has so far is absolutely absorbing because this roster.
Quarter-season disappointment: The Suns accept four players who were top-eight picks in the aftermost bristles drafts — Alex Len, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Josh Jackson. None of the four are averaging double-digit scoring, and alone Len, a center, is cutting aloft 40 percent from the field.
Quarter-season surprise: Dennis Smith Jr. showed some affiance during summer league, and while his attempt still needs a lot of assignment (38.3 percent from the field, 30.5 percent from the 3-point line), his activity and scoring instincts accept him apparent as a abeyant star.
Quarter-season disappointment: It’s boxy to see Dirk Nowitzki, acceptable in his final season, operating in an breach as chiffon as this one. The Mavs boilerplate 99.4 credibility per 100 possessions, 27th in the NBA.
Quarter-season surprise: While the blow of the agenda has been ransacked, Dennis Schroder has been thriving, averaging 19.7 credibility and 6.8 assists. With amateur John Collins (11.5 points, 7.1 rebounds), the Hawks at atomic accept the adequacy of a solid chaotic combo.
Quarter-season disappointment: The Hawks’ highest-paid amateur is Kent Bazemore, authoritative $17 actor per year, and for a aggregation abominably in charge of a adept leader, he has not done abundant on the floor. Bazemore is averaging 12.7 points, and cutting aloof 39.3 percent from the field.
Quarter-season surprise: The big abruptness adeptness be that Dave Joerger still has his job. The Kings accept been the jumpiest aggregation in the alliance aback it comes to battlefront coaches — Joerger is the seventh appoint in the aftermost 12 years. Joerger got an addendum in September, but he has done little to absolve it.
Quarter-season disappointment: No one on this aggregation can score. Buddy Hield was brought over as the big award-winning in the DeMarcus Cousins trade, and admitting he has attempt well, he is not a ascendant NBA scorer, averaging 12.4 points. Amateur De’Aaron Fox has apparent potential, but he is added of a playmaker. Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson — there is not a advance abhorrent advantage amid any of the Kings’ adolescent players.
Quarter-season surprise: There has not been abundant activity able-bodied for the Bulls in the aboriginal ages of the season. Amateur Lauri Markkanen has at atomic looked competent so far, alike if a little over his arch — he’s averaging 14.4 credibility and 8.3 rebounds. And Zach LaVine will be aback in a brace of weeks.
Quarter-season disappointment: The aboriginal division action amid Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis was all too adumbrative of how aberrant this authorization has become. Drillmaster Fred Hoiberg has struggled to advance ascendancy of his team, and alike with a adolescent core, he still does not accept a close anchor on the locker room. That’s a abiding problem.