The NBA So Far: Jennings and Hawks Surprising Us All

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The NBA So Far: Jennings and Hawks Surprising Us All

Heading into the 2009-10 NBA season it seemed like the league was going to be a little too predictable. We knew who the best teams were (the Lakers, Spurs Cavs, etc.) and who the best players were (LeBron, Kobe, Dwight Howard, etc.) but only three weeks into the season, there have already been some unexpected stories, starting with:

Brandon Jennings: It was hard to know what the Bucks were getting when they took Jennings 10th overall in this year’s draft since he opted to play in Europe for a year rather than attending college, but it appears they have the steal of the draft. The rookie announced his arrival when he dropped 55 on the Warriors last week and although Golden State has one of the worst defenses in the NBA, a performance like that cannot be ignored. If Jennings continues to be successful, it will be very interesting to see if more and more youngsters begin to follow in his footsteps and opt to play professionally in another country right out of high school. If someone intends to only play a year of college ball anyways, it probably makes more sense to play in Europe where they can focus soley on basketball and get used to the difficulty of playing a longer season than what college offers. The up tempo European style of play got Jennings ready for the NBA and has the Bucks in good shape to contend for a playoff spot. One team that is definitely not contending for a postseason spot in the East…

The New Jersey Nets: No one really expected the Nets to be good this year, but 0-12, give me a break! This team cannot get to Brooklyn fast enough. Its not just how many games New Jersey has lost either, it is who they are losing to (the Wolves, Bobcats, Pacers, and Wizards). The Nets are second to last in the league averaging just over 84 points per game and dead last in the NBA with a shooting percetage just over 40. What makes their offense truly horrific is their lack of a go-to-guy. The team’s leading scorer is Chris Douglas-Roberts. That’s right, Chris Douglas-Roberts. The same player who missed time early in the season while suffering from the H1N1 virus. On the bright side, second year man Brook Lopez looks to be the real deal: he leads the NBA in blocks at over 2.5 per game while averaging over 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. While the Nets been unbelievably bad thus far, one team heading in the opposite direction is…

The Atlanta Hawks: It has been obvious for the last few years that there is quite a bit of talent on this team, but the Hawks appear to really be putting everything together this season and look to be legitimate contenders in the East. Atlanta is an NBA best 10-2 and has been winning in impressive fashion: they beat the Heat by 15, the Celtics by 11, and the Nuggets by 25. They have five players averaging double figures in points (Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, and Jamal Crawford) and this is all despite the fact that Marvin Williams has yet to get things going. Mike Woodson has improved the team’s win total in each of his first five seasons and this year looks like it will be no different. The Cavs are banged up, the Celtics are old, and the Magic just lost their second best player to injury and are still a big question mark. All of this opens the door for the Hawks to start building a lead and possibily become the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. While the Hawks have easily been the most pleasant surprise in the East, in the West, that spot belongs to…

The Dallas Mavericks: If you were going to hand out an early MVP award, it would almost have to go to Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki (27.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game). Dallas is 9-3 and has 10 players scoring at least five points per game this season. They are probably the deepest team in the league and that sets them up well to make a run this year because they won’t have to wear out their veterans early in the season and can handle an injury to anyone other than Nowitzki. When the Spurs were winning titles they did it with an MVP big man (Tim Duncan) and a great scorer off the bench (Manu Ginobili). The Mavs seem to have that formula down with Nowitzki and Jason Terry (17 points per game). If players like Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden, and Kris Humphries can continue to take some of the workload off Nowitzki, Terry, and Jason Kidd, Dallas could position themselves to make a run at one of the top two seeds in the West.

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