Pouring over the standings this morning, I saw lots of intriguing potential trends. For instance, has Atlanta’s trapping defense made them an elite team? They did make a major change bringing Jeff Teague out of mothballs last spring and it made them into a much tougher second round playoff opponent than most people expected. OTOH, the Hawks have beaten the Washington Wizard and the New Jersey Nets, two teams widely forecast to make it back to the lottery this season.
Then it happened as I looked at Indiana’s offensive balance, Charlotte’s backcourt rotation Boston’s suddenly porous defense, and several other potential trends. In the end I have to conclude that while it’s natural to think we can have a pretty good grasp on the NBA season by the time the calendar winds down and it’s time to go shopping for some bubbly, this year is too different. Not only is the sample size too small, the circumstances leading up to this compressed season are too unique. Older teams might need more time to find their groove. Surprise teams might need a week on the road against tough opponents, injuries will need to heal. We might need 15, even 20 games to get a decent handle on what’s going on.