5 NBA Teams That Deserve More Attention in the 2012-13 Season
Those who are regular viewers of SportsCenter on ESPN may believe that the NBA only consists of about five teams.
While coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat can be fun to watch, there are other teams out there who are going virtually unnoticed despite their impressive play.
Though they reside in a small market and lack superstars on their rosters, these team are off to surprisingly strong starts and deserve some more recognition in the 2012-13 season.
Note: Stats are accurate as of Dec. 4, 2012.
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Record: 8-8, 2nd in Central
Key Stat: 7.6 blocks per game, 2nd in NBA
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings—the only players on the Bucks receiving more than 30 minutes per night—have their team off to a strong start this season.
As impressive as those two have been, Milwaukee is relying on a balanced attack from the rest of its players, an approach that has yielded positive results thus far.
The biggest surprise for the Bucks has been Larry Sanders. The third-year pro has career highs of 8.1 points, 3.0 blocks and a team-high 7.6 rebounds a game. His PER of 18.65 is also the highest on the team.
Mike Dunleavy has found a nice role off the bench, chipping in 10.7 points per game in just under 27 minutes a game.
Is Ersan Ilyasova can get things going, Milwaukee has a real shot of keeping pace with Chicago and Indiana in the Central division.
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Record: 9-10, 3rd in Northwest
Key Stat: 13.8 offensive rebounds per game, 3rd in NBA
Despite a changing of the guard at the point, the Jazz have gotten off to a respectable start.
Mo Williams (14.3 points, 6.9 assists) has been playing well since his return to a starting lineup that features a pair of All-Star caliber big men in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
The Jazz also have the next great NBA big coming off their bench in Derrick Favors, who leads the team with 1.9 blocks per game. His minutes (22.8 per game) need to go up, even if it means trading away one of their veteran talents.
With additional young up-and-comers in Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, Utah has the potential to make the playoffs whether or not they pull off a blockbuster deal.
While the Minnesota Timberwolves get more publicity in the division, they are currently looking up at Utah in the standings.
Golden State Warriors
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Record: 10-7, 2nd in Pacific
Key Stats: 45.3 rebounds per game, Tied-4th in NBA
Hands up if you had the Dubs ahead of the Lakers a month into the season?
Stephen Curry leads the Golden State attack with his 18.9 points and 6.4 assists per game, while David Lee is having another double-double year averaging 17.4 points and 10.7 rebounds.
But the real strength of the team has been the second unit, with offseason acquisitions Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack picking up the slack left from Andrew Bogut's absence.
If the Warriors can somehow get a healthy Bogut back on the court this season, this could be a top-four team in the West.
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Record: 7-9, 3rd in Southeast
Key Stats: 7 wins (the same total they had last season in 66 games)
It would be hard for anyone to argue against Charlotte as the most improved team in the league, as the Bobcats have already equaled their win total from last season in the first week of December.
Playing two rookies in their starting lineup, the new-look Cats have exceeded everyone's expectations even if there has been a hiccup or two along the way.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor have been nice draft additions while Ramon Sessions has proven to be one of the better free-agent bargains as the team's second-leading scorer (15.6 ppg).
Kemba Walker (16.6 points, 5.9 assists) has taken more of a leadership role in his second pro season and has the Bobcats' rebuilding plans well ahead of schedule.
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Record: 12-3, 1st in Southwest
Key Stat: 90.7 points allowed per game, 1st in NBA
Never has a team started this well and been talked about so little. No one besides the Spurs, anyways.
Memphis is tied for the best record in the NBA with the Miami Heat, yet go virtually unnoticed by the sports media world.
You could argue they don't have a true superstar, although Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are all knocking on the door.
You could argue their offense has been just average thus far, which is fine considering their defense is the best in the league.
But for whatever reason, people aren't ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet. With four starters all over 15 points per game and the fifth starter arguably serving as the best perimeter defender in the game, Memphis' starting unit may be the best in basketball.
A deep playoff run should get the Grizzlies the respect they deserve.