San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are 8-14. While it is early, you don’t have time in the loaded Western Conference to sit around and wait for your team to develop. It’s really not the record that is the biggest surprise, it’s more the style of play that we have seen from San Antonio. Greg Popovich is a future Hall of Fame coach that has found a way to adapt his players to the style that is necessary to win. They have always been a solid paced team that was able to play defensively at a high level. That’s no the case in 2019. Currently the Spurs are sitting behind the New York Knicks in team defensive rating. The NEW YORK KNICKS!
The Spurs have an interesting problem, they have two stars that don’t shoot threes. That is an uncommon trend in today’s NBA. While San Antonio has become a faster paced team on the offensive end they have not caught up with the trend of shooting from deep. They are mid-range happy. With their defensive issues they have to find a way to put more points up. The Spurs don’t have a lot of time to figure this season out, if they continue to flounder in mediocrity it may lead to a moving of one or potential both their star players LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar Derozan. Derozan would make a lot of sense as he is an impending free agent in 2020.
Brooklyn Nets with
The Brooklyn Nets surprised many last year making it to the playoffs while expectations were remarkably low. The summer hit and in comes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With the additions of Irving and Durant the spotlight was now on Brooklyn. The Nets knew they would have to wait for the Durant debut, but they still had Kyrie.
The disappointment has been the Nets with Kyrie. The record is the first thing to stand out, 4-7 with Kyrie, 6-3 without Kyrie. Over this Irving-less stretch, Brooklyn is 13th in net rating per NBA.com, ranking 20th offensively and ninth defensively. In comparison, it was 20th overall in the first nine games with Irving, ranking 11th in offense and 25th in defense.
The offense obviously was going to take a hit without Kyrie, but the defensive numbers and the progression of players is noticeable. Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jared Allen have all stepped up to become the focal points of the team. Kyrie is set to return from his shoulder injury in the next few games. The Net’s have progressed as a full unit, will they continue their positive regression with the impending return of their star??
The Blazers are fresh off a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Coming into the season the rest of the West made improvements but the Blazers were still considered a legit playoff contender. That has not come to fruition. Portland sits at 9-13 and that’s after winning 4 of their last 5.
Why is Portland struggling?
The Trail Blazers lost a lot of their depth over the offseason. Jake Layman (Minnesota), Seth Curry (Dallas), Mo Harkless (LAC), Al-Farqou Aminu (Orlando), Meyers Leonard (Miami), Enes Kanter (Boston) and Evan Turner (Atlanta). That is seven players are the Portland roster that had moved on to different teams. Team chemistry is an understated element of any successful team. Portland was now relying on a group of young players that haven’t developed into their roles.The biggest addition of the offseason was adding Hassan Whiteside to replace their rising star Jusef Nurkic. Another new player to try and build chemistry with.
Portland has seen the biggest impact to their changes on the defensive end. They are ranking 24th in the league in defensive efficiency. An early season injury to Zac Collins has forced the Blazers hand to bring in Carmelo Anthony to help with on the offensive end. This team has some young talent but it needs time to grow.