Every season, most if not all NBA teams suffer heartbreaking losses primarily due to fatigue brought by tight schedules. The current NBA season is no different – actually, it's worst. With teams playing back-to-back-to-back and with players not being able to practice regularly during the summer, a huge drop in offensive efficiency and a disappointing increase in turnovers and lackluster plays have haunted the NBA's first month.
Older teams particularly the Boston Celtics and the defending champions Dallas Mavericks are now feeling the harsh effects of a shortened and compact NBA season. Nevertheless, there are quite a few highlights that injected the much needed excitement in the NBA's first month.
1) Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets is sitting at second spot behind the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder at the Northwest Division and fourth overall in the Western Conference currently with an 8-4 win-loss slate but what makes such feat so impressive is the fact that the Nuggets doesn't have a go-to-guy type of player to rely on.
Gone are the days when the Nuggets parades one of the better scoring small forward in the league in Carmelo Anthony. Nonetheless, a strong argument can be made that the departure of Anthony improved the Nuggets.
Five players led by Ty Lawson average in double figures
while two more (Rudy Fernandez and Andre Miller) average at least nine points for the Nuggets. The Nuggets is a more balanced team when it comes to offense and the team's record is no fluke – the team has won games against some of the better teams in the league including the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat and the defending champs.
While it's too early to really gauge how deep will the Nuggets be come playoffs (if they qualify), it's safe to say that the league should not take the Nuggets for granted.
2) The Chicago Bulls' defense
The Chicago Bulls own the league's best record currently at 12-2
and they're doing it in a less exciting yet very impressive manner. It's been said over and over again that offense wins games but defense wins championships and if it will ring true this season, there's no stopping the Bulls.
On the other hand, offense was the Bulls' major problem during last year's second-round series against the Miami Heat. Derick Rose is the heart and soul of the Bulls' limited offense, take him out and the house will crumble, at least offensively.
Fortunately, they almost always pull off something like this;
3) Kobe Bryant playing excellent basketball on his 16th season
Now on his 16th NBA season, Lakers' superstar Kobe Bryant is playing the best stretch of basketball in recent years. Bryant is leading the league in both scoring and injuries. The five-time world champion is averaging 32 points per game with a bad knee and a swollen wrist.
He scored at least 40 points in the Lakers' four (and counting) straight games
. The problem is, how long will it last? At 33-years-old, Bryant (or perhaps Mike Brown) needs to learn how to pace himself. Bryant is averaging 37 minutes per game in the Lakers' 14 games including more than 40 minutes in the last four.
4) The Miami Heat offensive onslaught
With the so-called "Big Three" led by LeBron James (or Dwayne Wade for some), offense has become the main weapon of the Miami Heat. The Heat is currently averaging 106.2 points per game, which ranks first in the league. The Erik Spoelstra-run (or Pat Riley-run for some, again) team also leads the league in FG and FT conversions.
James is averaging close to 30 points while Wade and Chris Bosh are averaging close to 20 points per game. The "Big Three" alone averages close to 70 per game and that's close to 70 percent of the team's offense. Anyway, who cares about balanced scoring when treated with highlights such as this one below;
5) The new and improved Andrew Bynum
Watching the Lakers this season made me realize that the purple and gold doesn't need Dwight Howard. Don't get me wrong Howard is better than Bynum in many aspects of the game but outside of Howard, Bynum is the best center in the league and what's more amazing is that Bynum has yet to reach his full potential.
Bynum averages dominant numbers in both low-post scoring and rebounding, something that the Lakers haven’t seen since The Big Diesel departed for South Beach.
On a less serious note, listing Bynum in this list and using The Big Diesel reference might just be my excuse for posting my most favorite NBA YouTube clip;
The best part is when Bryant confronts Shaq as if saying, "Hey he's a kid for God's sake." Fast forward to 2012, kid no more.