The NBA season is only a month old and there have already been a handful of surprises- both good and bad.
5. Kyle Lowry
Over the past three seasons, Kyle Lowry has shown steady improvement in his scoring, assist and rebounding numbers. But this year, he is playing like an elite point guard; his 20.68 Player Efficiency Rating shows that he is a borderline All-Star. It’s questionable if he’ll make the All-Star team, but his average of 15.9 points, 8.8 assists and 6.9 rebounds speak for themselves. Playing in Houston without any big-name players, the average NBA fan will not recognize what he is accomplishing.
4. New York Knicks
Since acquiring Carmelo Anthony last season, the Knicks are just 21-28. Struggles were expected last year, but after a month into the 2011-12 season, the team has not shown improvement. The addition of Tyson Chandler has made them better defensively, but his impact has not resulted in more wins. With Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire trying to coexist, the offense tends to get stagnant too often. But much of the blame can be directed toward head coach Mike D’Antoni. This is the best offensive group he’s had since arriving in 2008, yet the Knicks only average 94.5 points per game (16th overall).
3. Utah Jazz
The Jazz are off to a 10-6 start and are fifth in the Western Conference. They are an early-season surprise after going 39-43 last year. With Deron Williams no longer in Utah, the frontcourt duo of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have made them a tough, competitive team. The Jazz do not excel in any categories statistically, but they do have a strong home court advantage, winning eight of 11 games at EnergySolutions Arena.
2. Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson is making a case for the Most Improved Player Award. Through 17 games, he is averaging 16.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. That’s nearly seven more points and two more rebounds than his career average. Anderson has clearly secured his role as the team’s second option behind Dwight Howard. Once a pure jump shooter, Anderson has rounded out his overall game by becoming more of an aggressive scorer.
The Sixers have been the biggest surprise of the NBA season after a month of play. At 12-6, the team is fourth in the Eastern Conference. Seven of those wins were by at least 20 points. What’s also impressive is that the team does not have a Top-10 player to rely on. Instead, head coach Doug Collins emphasizes team play and defense. It remains to be seen if they can keep this pace up, but who knew they would be this dominant after a month of action?
Travis Chan is a longtime football, basketball and baseball fan and contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Travischan1.