2022-11-15 · 4 min read · NBA/Basketball
Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns

Christian Petersen/Getty Images | Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

10. Dallas Mavericks (7-5)
Dallas has been a bit of a one man show thus far. Everything runs through Luka Doncic, and though he’s been absolutely bonkers offensively (34.3 ppg, 8.1 apg, 8.7 rpg), if the Mavs want to get where they ultimately want to go, they’re going to have to find a way to get some other people more involved.
Case in point: they rank dead last in the league in both assists and pace. Having said that, Luka has the early MVP lead right now, and their top 10 defence helps. Dallas has a tough stretch coming up with a game against the Clippers, a home and home with Denver and an east coast road trip through Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee to follow.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-5)
After a scorching hot start to the year, the Cavs have been hit with the injury bug of late, with injuries to Jarrett Allen and Donovan Mitchell. As a result, they’ve lost four in a row. They still profile as a top 10 defence and offence when everyone is healthy, so not a total concern.
Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell have been great together when sharing the court at the same time, and the length and size they have up front makes them a very tough team to go against in the half court. They’re slow, and I don’t love the bench, but Cleveland will be there when it’s all said and done.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (9-5)
The Grizz are chugging along, despite not having a great statistical profile. Still an early sample size mind you, so nothing to be totally alarmed at yet, but it is worth noting that they rank 20th in defensive rating and 10th in offence.
They do rebound better than anyone in the league on both ends, and they take care of the ball, and trust each other. They just have a lot of depth and they come at you in waves of energy.
Some times, teams just have a knack for winning games, and Memphis is one of those teams. One other thing to keep in mind though is their schedule has been a cake walk. Here’s a list of teams they’ve beaten so far: New York, Houston, Brooklyn, Sacramento, Portland, Charlotte, Washington, San Antonio and Minnesota….Not exactly a world beating list.
When the schedule turns a bit, we’ll see what this Memphis team is really made of.
7. Phoenix Suns (8-5)
Phoenix has been off to a solid to start, in a year when many thought they would be taking a step back. The main reason is Devin Booker, who’s 26.7 ppg average is keeping the Suns’ offence on track. Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges have both picked up the slack to make up for the departed Jae Crowder, and Deandre Ayton at least looks engaged after a tumultuous summer.
The main thing to worry about with the Suns right now though is Chris Paul, who’s averaging under 10 points a game for the first time in his career, and is already injured. When you watch the games, the eye test just doesn’t look right either.
Booker can keep them afloat for the regular season, but their playoff destiny is tied to how far Paul can make it.
6. Atlanta Hawks (9-5)
Atlanta’s hot start can be attributed to their stingy defence (6th in the league) and the brilliance of newly acquired Dejounte Murray, who’s putting up splits of of 21.7 ppg, 8.0 apg and 6.3 rpg.
He’s a perfect fit next to Trae Young because he can hide Young on the defensive end and guard the opposing team’s better guard, while simultaneously taking pressure off of him in the half court offence.
Surprisingly, the offence is just average with this group, but overall they look like a much more engaged team than the one that limped through the year en route to a disappointing 8 seed finish last season.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband


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