After the first couple of weeks of the NBA season, there are a lot of early storylines for hoops fans to keep track of and monitor. Some are expected, while some are anything but (Raise your hand if you thought the Spurs and Cavaliers would be hanging around the No. 8 seed — or lower — in their respective conferences at this point in the season!).
One of the biggest trends that caught our attention as we perused the standings recently is the amount of NBA teams that appear to be, at least on paper, overachieving. Now, that’s not to say all of these squads are great basketball outfits, but examining their rosters and statistics make us wonder out loud, to put it bluntly, “How is a lineup like that winning a game in the NBA?”
Some examples are more extreme than others, as this list includes teams both winning records and losing records, but, in our opinion, each of the ballclubs listed below qualifies as a member of the Overachievers Club. Who would you add to this list?
The Pacers are only 3-5, but honestly, after Indy lost Lance Stephenson to free agency and Paul George to a horrific injury in a summer USA Basketball exhibition, that’s probably two or three more wins than we realistically expected the Pacers to have at this point. Indiana has at least been competitive so far, with no losses by more than 10 points, and the Pacers are riding a two-game win streak after last night’s victory at Miami. Not bad when four of your top five scorers are Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, Solomon Hill, and A.J. Price.
The Bucks finished last year with a lowly 15-67 mark, so a 4-4 start to 2014-2015 is impressive, to say the least. Give credit to new coach Jason Kidd, who’s doing a nice job with a roster where the top two scorers are Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo. Milwaukee has won two games in a row, and if Jabari Parker blossoms into a superstar, this team could be on the rise in the near future.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been decimated by injuries so far this year, with reigning MVP Kevin Durant sidelined and Russell Westbrook joining him in street clothes after just two games. Somehow, though, OKC has managed to win three games already in nine tries, despite trotting out a lineup of Reggie Jackson, Lance Thomas, Steven Adams, and Jeremy Lamb to go with Serge Ibaka (pictured). How many of those athletes would you recognize if they walked past you today without their uniforms on? Exactly.
The Orlando Magic are also just 3-6, but for a roster with this little talent, that’s still a solid accomplishment from our way of thinking. Quick, how many of Orlando’s top eight scorers can you name? If you managed to come up with the names of Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris, Channing Frye, Ben Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Maurice Harkless, and Luke Ridnour — in order — congratulations, you’re either an NBA general manager, live in Florida, or have way too much time on your hands.
Last on our list is a team that’s actually on the right side of .500, as the surprising Sacramento Kings have won five of their first eight games. For a franchise that’s missed the playoffs eight seasons in a row and hasn’t even managed 30 wins in a season since 2008, it’s safe to say Sacto qualifies for this season’s Overachievers Club. Veteran leadership has been a key — the team’s top four scorers are Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, Darren Collison, and Carl Landry — but can the Kings sustain their high level of play through 82 games?