- The Northwest Division is the only division in the entire League, where all five teams are at or over .500 on the season. Oklahoma City (.781), Portland (.531), Denver (.529), Minnesota (.517) and Utah (.500). The next best division is the Southwest Division: San Antonio (.743), Memphis (.667), Houston (.576), Dallas (.394) and New Orleans (.219).
- The Western Conference has ten teams at/over .500 (five of which hail from the Northwest).
- The Eastern Conference has seven teams at/over .500 (three from the Central Division).
- The Western Conference has one team under .300 (the New Orleans Hornets, .219).
- The Eastern Conference has three teams under .300 (the Cavaliers: .235, the Bobcats: .250 and the Wizards: .129).
- If the NBA did away with conferences and simply took the best 16 teams, the Wolves are currently the 15th seed in the NBA.
- Staying with that no conferences theme, if those type of playoffs started today, the old Western Conference would be represented by 9 teams (Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Grizzlies, Rockets, Blazers, Nuggets, Wolves) and the old Eastern Conference would then have 7 teams in the playoffs (Heat, Knicks, Hawks, Bulls, Pacers, Nets, Bucks).
- Of the top 7 records currently in the NBA, Western Conference teams hold 5 of those top seven spots (Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Grizzlies). The two East teams are Miami & New York.
- If the playoffs started today, the Wolves wouldn't be in them, however neither would the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers or the Dallas Mavericks (all three of which made the playoffs a season ago). In the East, the 76ers and the Magic would also miss the playoffs (two teams who made the postseason a year ago).
It's still early in the season, but there are definitely a couple of teams that have REALLY surprised me...
- The Golden State Warriors. There isn't a person alive that thought the Warriors would be 22-10 right now, sitting at #4 in the Western Conference standings. If someone tells you they knew GSW would be doing this well, they're a liar. Every preview I read prior to this season was all about how the team had to stay healthy if it wanted even the slight chance to challenge for the 7th or 8th seed in the West. In all honesty, I HIGHLY doubt this team is the 4th seed come playoff time. They're currently sitting ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets; two teams I fully anticipate to be higher seeds than GS. The craziest part about the Warriors' success is that they're doing it without Andrew Bogut. They're starting Festus Ezeli and center and they've still only lost 10 games. It'd be crazy to think they won't be better when/if Bogut returns, but I'm really struggling to see the longevity of their success, honestly all it could take is another Curry ankle sprain to rock the boat. I could be totally wrong though too. They could continue to excel and be a high seed come playoff time (I do think--barring any serious injuries that the W's will be a playoff team). They're certainly an improved squad and if I had to pick one thing I really liked about them, it's their depth. Although they lost Rush for the season, they've still got some serious 6th man of the year candidates in Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry.
- The Los Angeles Lakers. Unlike the Warriors, the Lakers are surprising NBA fans for all the wrong reasons. When L.A. got Dwight Howard, I honestly thought, all right--that's it, gear up for a Miami-L.A. Finals. Now, it's seeming more likely that the L.A. team come June is the Clippers--and let's be honest, we knew the Clippers were good, but 17-game win streak good? Second-best team in the West (currently)--behind OKC? Back to Kobe's Lakers though. A coaching change just a few weeks into the season. The hiring of Mike D'Antoni (which I still can't fathom...why?!). Loss upon loss piling up, Kobe getting frustrated, Pau Gasol getting the majority of the blame, Steve Nash breaking his leg...it's been a tough couple months for these L.A. Lakers. Of course, find me anyone whose simply an NBA fan that feels bad for the usually dominant Lakers. To me, it's almost sweet justice. They're always looking to build these miraculous super teams and now, they're once again stumbling. I still remember the Kobe, Shaq, Gary Payton and Karl Malone year, when they were supposed to win it all in 2003-04 and instead lost in the Finals, in five games, to the Detroit Pistons. Now, with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard as their 'superteam' I'm not so sure they have what it takes to even make it to the Western Conference Finals, let alone the Finals. Of course, they have to start taking big steps up the standings if they even want to make the playoffs this season. That being said, if you honestly believe that the Lakers won't make the playoffs (or won't advance out of the first round) you're delirious!
- The Washington Wizards. I don't follow the Eastern Conference teams as closely as I do, the headlines out West, however the Wizards are one team that're making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Washington currently holds the worst record in the NBA at 4-27! Coming into the season, I knew John Wall would be missing an extended period of time, however I still believed that a vastly improved Wizards team (on paper) would be a whole hell of a lot better than this. Despite being without Wall, these Wizards still have Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Emeka Okafor and a slew of promising young prospects: Bradley Beal, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton & Kevin Seraphin (yes, I intentionally left out Jan Vesely). I know they've had to deal with some injuries to key players too though: beyond Wall, I know Nene has missed some time as has Booker...among others. Not only are the Wizards losing, but they've dropped some games to some pretty pathetic opponents: two losses to the Cavaliers, two losses to the Bobcats and two more to the Detroit Pistons. Of their two victories, two came against teams that are currently above .500 on the year: the Blazers and the Heat. Their season is already over, they're lotto bound once again. Lastly, I can't believe that Randy Wittman still has a job. I know they probably don't want to fire him, pay him and then pay someone else (plus what they're probably still paying to Flip Saunders after they fired him) to coach a team that is going nowhere this season. I don't envision a scenario where Wittman is on the sidelines come 2013-14.
I really wanted to go through some of these stats and surprise teams to further illustrate a fact you probably already know: the Western Conference is leaps and bounds superior to the Eastern Conference. I can't even begin to explain how frustrating it will be if the TWolves don't make the playoffs, but an East team like the Milwaukee Bucks or Orlando Magic do (two teams I don't think have any business being in the postseason).
I apologize if I rambled on a bit at certain points in this, I did write it VERY early Saturday morning (like 3am early), but I hope you enjoyed some part of it! Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!