Over the first five-plus weeks of the 2019/20 season, a handful of teams from each conference have been among the NBA’s most pleasant surprises, outperforming preseason expectations. Since it’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States, it only seems right for tonight’s Community Shootaround discussion to focus on those teams – and players – that fans should be most thankful for so far this season.
In the East, the Celtics and Raptors were expected to be among the conference’s strongest playoff contenders, but few expected them to be quite this good. With matching 13-4 records, Boston and Toronto are nearly on a 63-win pace in the early going. It seems unlikely that either team will maintain that pace, but they look like legit contenders. The Raptors, who have been missing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka due to injuries, have been especially impressive, relying on youngsters Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet en route to their fast start.
The Heat and Pacers are among the East’s other pleasant surprises so far. Led by Jimmy Butler and rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, Miami is 12-5 and has yet to lose at home. Meanwhile, things could have gone south for an Indiana team already missing Victor Oladipo after it dropped its first three games and Myles Turner went down with an injury, but the Pacers have won 11 of their last 14 since then, with Turner returning earlier this month.
Further down the standings, the Wizards (6-10) and Hornets (7-12) are outside the Eastern playoff picture, but not by much. They were expected to be among the league’s bottom-dwellers, but have been surprisingly competitive.
Out West, the Lakers were viewed as a probable contender, but their league-best 16-2 start has still raised some eyebrows. The LeBron James/Anthony Davis duo hasn’t exactly been suffering through any growing pains so far, and the supporting cast has done its part.
Thanks to a leap to superstardom by Luka Doncic (30.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 9.5 APG through 17 games), the 11-6 Mavericks are currently a top-five team in the West and look like a legit playoff team. The Timberwolves (10-8) and Suns (8-9) haven’t been quite as convincing as Dallas, but both Minnesota and Phoenix are currently in the top eight in the conference despite being viewed as near-locks for the lottery.
We want to know what you think. Which teams (and players) have you been most pleasantly surprised by so far in 2019/20? Which strong starts do you believe are sustainable? Are there any in particular that you’d like to see continue?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your two cents!