There are a few young teams that are surging through the league and causing heads to turn. Then there are teams that just makes you shake your head. Here is our list of the 10 biggest surprises of the 2011-2012 season.
10. Kevin Garnett: “Have you ever been in a bar fight?”
I don’t know if you would consider this a surprise coming from KG, but the randomness of it qualifies this interview as an NBA surprise. We all know that Kevin Garnett can get intense and emotional, but comparing a basketball game to a bar fight? I can see the analogy, but really KG? The Celtics were playing the Orlando Magic that night and erased a 27 point deficit to win the game. And at the end of it all, this was Kevin Garnett’s reaction to Craig Sager: “Have you ever been in a bar fight?” No, KG, I haven’t.
9. Russell Westbrook’s $80 Million Contract
Image via Flickr User: Tiago Hammil
$80 million dollars over five years for a guy who is known as a ball hog. I’m not sure if this is one of the best decisions made by OKC’s front office, but I’m no general manager. Now Russell Westbrook is a tremendous talent and can provide scoring relief for Kevin Durant when he is tired or is having a bad night. But I believe that teams should be balanced, and Westbrook doesn’t provide that balance for the Thunder. Right now the NBA glorifies individual play rather than team play, and Westbrook’s contract is an example of that. Some may agree with me, some may not, but giving Russell Westbrook that much money is questionable.
8. Ricky Rubio
Many critics doubted Ricky Rubio because they weren’t confident that he would be playing well in the NBA and they haven’t seen enough of Rubio to make a judgement. Now that his season debut is under way, Rubio is turning heads everywhere with his passing and his strong candidacy for Rookie of the Year. Drafted to the NBA in 2009 at a young age, nobody believed that he would be playing this well. With his smart decisions and crafty passing, Ricky Rubio will be a point guard to watch for in the years to come.
7. Denver Nuggets
Image via Flickr User: dherrera_96
After the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, many people were sure that the Denver Nuggets were entering a rebuilding phase. Taking a look at this season right now, the Denver Nuggets is anything but rebuilding. They are currently second in their division and the Western conference, and ranks first in the league in assists and points. What is the key to their success? Balance. The Nuggets are one of the most balanced teams in the NBA. Six players averages double-digit points, and they all pass the ball. In an era where most teams have at least two dominant scorers, the Denver Nuggets proves to everyone that team basketball can still win games.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
In the 2010-2011 season, the Sixers managed to make their way into the Eastern Conference Playoffs with a record of 41-41. Fast foward to the 2011-2012 season, the Sixers are turning heads throughout the league with a dominant start. Just like the Denver Nuggets, the key to the 76ers’ success is their balance. Seven players are averaging double-digit points and everyone is touching the ball. Shot attempts are spread throughout, and everyone understands their role. If the Sixers continute to play this team style of basketball, they will be making noise in the playoffs.
5. Indiana Pacers
What a season it’s been for the Pacers. After struggling last season, Indiana is surprising everyone throughout the league with a 12-5 record. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference, right behind the Bulls and the Heat. The Pacers play hard-nosed defense and is currently tied with the Lakers in fifth place for points allowed. They are also a strong rebounding team. Second in the league for rebounds, the Pacers average 45.1 boards a game. With their team defense and rebounding, the Indiana Pacers makes it hard for any team to score and convert second chance points.
4. New York Knicks
Image via Flickr user: Africana Online
After signing Tyson Chandler during the off season, everyone thought that the Knicks would be part of the East’s elite. The Knicks do not have a winning record (7-11) and their style of basketball consists of isolation plays and sloppy defense. The team turns the ball over, they don’t have a set offense, and their not dedicated to playing team basketball. This is a high contrast to Carmlo Anthony’s former team, the Nuggets, as they rely more on passing the ball than isolation plays. Knicks fans did not expect this after the acquisition of Carmelo and they sure aren’t happy.
3. Dallas Mavericks
The reigning NBA champs started the season with a three game losing streak. Even though they lost their big man, Tyson Chandler, to the Knicks, no one expected the Mavs to be playing this horrible. Though their record doesn’t show it, Dallas is finding trouble scoring and isn’t playing near the level they were playing in last year’s playoffs. In a game against the Lakers this season, Dallas and LA played one of the most boring games ever as both teams found it difficult to find score and compete. Dirk Nowitzki isn’t himself and is averaging 17.5 points per game, his lowest since the 1999-2000 season. Maybe it was all the partying that they did during the summer or the loss of personnel, but the Mavericks aren’t in championship form.
2. Chris Paul (Trade & Snubbed Trade)
When David Stern vetoed the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, the league was stunned. People wanted to file lawsuits against the league and teams that were involved in the trade were stuck with unhappy players. Then when the Clippers proposed a trade to New Orleans and received CP3, people were shock even more. This situation lasted for about two weeks, with the Clippers coming out on top, and the Lakers and Rockets having to deal with disgruntled players.
1. Brandon Roy’s Retirement
Right before the season was about to start, Brandon Roy was forced into retirement due to multiple injuries. Many players took to Twitter to display their reaction to this situation and many were surprised. B. Roy’s retirement signifies the loss of a great player and left many fans wondering what if. Over the course of his short career, Roy displayed a tenacity that can only be compared to the most competitive players in the NBA. The basketball world will sorely miss a great talent in Brandon Roy.
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