The NBA is already a month into its 2022-23 season, and what a beginning it has been. Luka Doncic has been amazing, although he is just one of several players off to an outstanding start to the season.
Nine players are averaging over 29 points a game, and 14 are averaging a double-double through the first four weeks of the season. Four players produced at least 30 points per game last year.
Several teams are also off to solid starts. The Celtics and the Bucks lead the Eastern Conference (on Nov. 16), while Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Jazz have the top records in the Western Conference. The following are the most surprising teams in the Association, with the records being as of Wednesday afternoon.
Washington Wizards, 8-6
The Wizards are off to a strong start for the second straight NBA season. However, the Wiz hope this year doesn’t turn out like a year ago when they finished with a 35-47 record after beginning the campaign with a 10-3 mark through the first month.
Washington has won four straight despite star NBA guard Bradley Beal being out due to Covid. The Wizards have done most of their recent work at home and have impressive victories during this stretch over the Grizzlies, Jazz, and Mavericks. Five of the Wiz’s wins have been over teams with a .500 or better record.
A big reason for the Wizards’ success is due to their defense. The Wiz defend well as they limit opponents to a 52.2 effective field goal percentage– which ranks sixth in the league – and collect 74.4% (3rd) of all defensive rebounds. They also do an excellent at protecting the rim and in transition defense.
Kristaps Porzingis leads the way for the Wizards, and he has been outstanding during his time in DC since coming over from Dallas before the trade deadline last year. Porzingis and Daniel Gafford form one of the best center combinations in the league though they rate higher defensively than on the offensive end. The same goes for their entire frontcourt, which is ranked 12th in efficiency.
Indiana Pacers, 6-6
Not much was expected this season of the Pacers, whose win total of over/under 23.5 was one of the lowest in the league. However, the Pacers are on pace for around 40 victories. They are 4-3 against teams with a winning record.
Indiana is one of the best offensive teams in the league. The Pacers also do a good job rebounding the ball and protecting the paint.
The Pacers shoot a ton of 3-pointers, and they shoot it well, making 15.5 treys a game (2nd) at a 38% clip (6th). The Pacers rank fifth overall in rebounding (52.3%) as they collect 32.3% of all offensive boards (3rd) and 73.3% (8th) of the rebounds on the defensive end.
Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Myles Turner lead the way. But the Pacers also get a lot of help from their bench, including No. 6 draft pick Bennedict Mathurin, Aaron Nesmith, Andrew Nembhard, and Isaiah Jackson.
Portland Trail Blazers, 10-4
Portland expected to increase their win total after getting decimated by injuries last year with the return to health of Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic, along with the offseason acquisition of Jerami Grant and Gary Payton Jr. – though Payton has yet to play. But no one saw this coming, as they are off to their best start since 2018-19.
The Trail Blazers are doing it by shooting well from the 3-point line, rebounding the ball, controlling the pace, and playing well defensively. Lillard, Grant, and Anfernee Simons lead the way. But the Blazers are pretty deep overall, with 11 players averaging 15 or more minutes.
Utah Jazz, 10-6
The Jazz are the team that everyone thought was “ the bride left at the alter” with the trade of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. But their return haul was vastly been underrated as Lauri Markkanan, Jared Vanderbilt, Kelly Olynyk, Walker Kessler, and Rudy Gay have given the Jazz a top-10-rated frontcourt.
Utah has lost three straight though they have played a tough schedule with 11 games against teams with at least a .500 record – posting a 6-5 record in those contests. The Jazz are an efficient NBA offensive team that shoots it well from long distance, shares the ball well, and is excellent on the offensive glass. The Jazz also defend the 3-point line well and do a fantastic NBA job turning opponents’ mistakes into points.
Sacramento Kings, 7-5
The Kings are very talented on the NBA offensive end, led by De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, Terrance Davis, and Keegan Murray. The Kings are the second-highest-scoring team in the league at 119.5 points while posting a shooting slash line of .493/ .381/.774.
The Kings are fantastic in transition on both ends of the NBA floor. The Kings are also a great passing team that doesn’t turn the ball over, and they are excellent on the defensive glass.
Sacramento has won four straight and five of six, as the Kings have topped 120 NBA points in each of those wins. The Kings are just 2-4 against teams with at least a .500 record.
San Antonio Spurs, 6-9
The Spurs have returned to earth after starting the season with five NBA wins in their first seven games. Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have been excellent, but the Spurs NBA bench has struggled after a productive opening two weeks.
Oklahoma City Thunder, 6-8
The youngest team in the NBA has gone through stretches of wins and losses. The Thunder have already gone through two winning streaks and two losing streaks. Their season scoring margin is even, as they score 116.3 points and allow 116.3 points a game.
OKC is a surprising 5-5 against teams with a .500 or better record. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is producing a career year and has carried the Thunder, who are without No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren this season.