The 2019-2020 NBA regular season is roughly at the quarter-mark.
So far, it has not been disappointing. Several teams and players have exceeded expectations, while others are off to a poor start. Regardless of who you root for, the action has been fun to watch.
About 20 games in, here are the three most surprising team storylines in the NBA thus far.
The Luka Show = Team Success
Luka Doncic’s sophomore season is off to a red-hot start, and is historic for a 20-year-old. While the 2019 Rookie of the Year has taken his game to another level, the biggest surprise has been the translation into team success.
In NBA history there have been many cases of a superstar putting up huge numbers on a bad team. Doncic, however, is making his teammates better. The Mavericks sit at fourth place in the West, at 15 and six.
Dallas ranks first in offensive rating, and fourth in points per game. Even with Kristaps Porzingis not playing up to his All-Star level, as well as not having a clear third option, the Mavericks are having a surprising level of success.
Behind Doncic, the Mavs are a top team in the tough Western Conference. Not many people can say they saw that coming.
Defending the Title
When Kawhi Leonard left for L.A., a majority of people thought the Toronto Raptors would fall out of contention in the Eastern Conference. Instead, everyone on the roster, most notably Pascal Siakam, has stepped up, making them a surprise team so far this season.
Siakam, last year’s Most Improved Player, has taken another leap, averaging 25 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The team gave him a big contract before the season, and so far he is proving he deserved it.
Fred VanVleet has also improved, averaging nearly 19 points per game compared to last season’s 11. OG Anunoby, Norman Powell and others have all stepped up, giving Toronto the ninth best offense and the fourth best defense in the league.
The team’s success, much of which without Kyle Lowry- who has been injured, comes as a surprise. Behind Milwaukee, there are several team’s fighting for the two seed in the East. At 15-6, the Raptors are certainly one of them.
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs since 1997. However, that streak is in serious jeopardy this season, as the team sits at 8-14, and out of the postseason picture.
San Antonio is struggling at both ends of the court. They are 13th in offense, and while traditionally the Spurs have been a great defensive team under Gregg Popovich, rank 25th in defense.
The Spurs are in a difficult position. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are the team’s best players, both talented veterans with some level of value. Do they try and turn things around with the roster they have now, or trade these the two?
The team’s future is Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, with both seeing less minutes than they would probably like. Accepting that the playoff run is over, and trying to acquire fresh assets to pair with Murray and White probably makes the most sense for San Antonio.
While they weren’t considered title contenders, many thought the Spurs would still be a solid team this season. Their poor performance comes as one of the biggest surprises at the quarter-mark of the season.
Featured image credited to AP.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.