Top five NBA teams feature a wide variety of talent, teamwork

Top five NBA teams feature a wide variety of talent, teamwork

Nikhil Sriram, Sports Editor

The NBA season has gotten off to a wild and surprising start. After nearly a month and a half of play, teams that were not expected to have a successful season sit atop the conference leaderboards, while others have fallen drastically. Shakeups continue to occur, but those in control seem poised to stay in control. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at the top five teams in the NBA at the moment.

#5: Philadelphia 76ers

Current Record: 14-8

After an impressive 52-30 season last year, the 76ers have been looking to fill in any remaining holes to give them the push they need to go far in the playoffs. With the acquirement of all-star small forward Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 76ers may have done just that. The trio of Butler, center Joel Embiid, and 6’10” point guard Ben Simmons has proven to be a recipe for success so far this season.

The 76ers appear to be ready to make a run deep in the postseason. However, in the past, this team has been plagued by injuries, so it will be crucial for their stars to stay healthy over the course of the regular season. If the necessary steps occur, the 76ers will likely be seen playing well into the end of the season.

#4: Milwaukee Bucks

Current Record: 14-6

Led by the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 26.8 points, the Bucks have gotten off to an excellent start to the 2018-19 season. Behind Antetokounmpo, small forward Khris Middleton and guards Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon have continued to grow, developing into formidable offensive threats. This multifaceted offensive attack has readily manifested itself, as the Bucks on average score 121.0 points a game, the highest in the league.

Now in a LeBron James-less East, the Bucks are serious contenders for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. Even if not this season, the Bucks’ talented, young roster likely foreshadows success for years to come.  

#3: Los Angeles Clippers

Current Record: 13-6

Perhaps the most surprising squad on this list, the LA Clippers have gotten off to an exceptionally strong start, currently sitting at the top of the Western Conference. The team does not have any superstars; in fact, this season was expected to be a rebuilding year, as the Clippers traded away all-star power forward Blake Griffin and lost big man DeAndre Jordan in free agency.

The key to the Clippers’ success has been balance. Five different players average double-digit points, allowing the team to stretch the floor, as each player is a threat. Small forward Tobias Harris has especially stood out, leading the team in points, rebounds, and minutes played, and also shooting 52.5% from the field. The Clippers were not expected to have so much success, but as long as the pieces continue to fall into place, they could likely keep their dominance going, even in the playoffs.

#2: Golden State Warriors

Current Record: 15-7

The reigning NBA champions have gotten off to a rocky start, despite still holding the second seed in the Western Conference currently. An internal incident between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant after Green elected to hold onto the ball late in the game became highly publicized, slightly rattling the team’s morale. Additionally, Golden State is presently without their star point guard Stephen Curry, who has been nursing a groin injury.

Nonetheless, the Warriors will likely still be seen in the NBA Finals, as has been the case for the past few years. The return of Curry, as well as the introduction of all-star center DeMarcus Cousins, who has been out with an Achilles injury, should be more than enough to ensure a fantastic season for Golden State.

#1. Toronto Raptors

Current Record: 18-4

While several teams could make a strong case for the number two slot at the moment, the Toronto Raptors are the only deserving squad of the number one slot. They started off the season 6-0 and now hold a solid lead in terms of wins over the rest of the league. Despite being under rookie head coach Nick Nurse, the team appears more than comfortable playing together and should continue to succeed.

The offseason trade for small forward Kawhi Leonard has boded very well for the Raptors. Leonard is averaging 24.7 points and 8.5 rebounds. That, along with point guard Kyle Lowry’s league-leading 10.4 assists, has proven to be too much for opposing teams to handle. The Raptors have a firm grasp on the Eastern Conference currently and appear ready to make their first ever appearance in the NBA Finals.