10 Biggest Shockers from First Quarter of the 2012-13 NBA Season

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIDecember 13, 2012

10 Biggest Shockers from First Quarter of the 2012-13 NBA Season

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    The 10 biggest shockers from the first quarter of the NBA season have run the gamut. 

    Five games in, a coach was already fired.

    At the quarter turn, the same team that fired him continues to struggle.

    There is also an unexpected leader in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the defending champs out West continue to roll despite major changes.

    The front-runner for Rookie of the Year is from a school that most wouldn't recognize. The worst team in the league won a game that most never thought they could win.  

    An All-Star center injured himself while bowling. A 36-year-old power forward is in the midst of a renaissance.

    All this and more as we look back at the 10 biggest shockers this season, in no particular order. 


    *All statistics accurate as of December 12, 2012. 

New York Knicks Top Eastern Conference

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    There was a prevailing thought this summer that the Knicks weren't even the best team in New York.

    With one-quarter of the NBA season in the rear-view mirror, however, they currently hold the best record in the Eastern Conference.

    At 16-5 as of Wednesday, the New York Knicks are hitting on all cylinders.

    Carmelo Anthony is second in the NBA in scoring at 27.7 points per game. Tyson Chandler is leading the league in field-goal percentage. 

    They are winning games by an average of 7.3 points, which is good for fourth overall in the NBA.

    The Knicks show no signs of slowing down, either.

    They are a legitimate threat to win the NBA championship, regardless of where Amar'e Stoudemire fits in upon his return.

Lakers Fire Mike Brown, Hire Mike D'Antoni

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    The Los Angeles Lakers fired Mike Brown five games into their season.

    It was the quickest firing of any coach since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.

    Brown had a reported $11 million remaining on the $18 million contract he signed just one year prior.

    Two days later, after discussions with Phil Jackson, the Lakers replaced Brown with Mike D'Antoni.

    D'Antoni's most recent coaching stint had ended abruptly after stepping down from his job with the New York Knicks last year.

    In five games under Brown, the Lakers were 1-4. Since taking over, D'Antoni has gone 4-8 as of Wednesday.

Andrew Bynum Further Injures Knee While Bowling

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    I didn't even know that bowling was dangerous.

    Andrew Bynum didn't either, apparently. 

    After missing the first 10 games of the season, Bynum re-injured his knee while angling for a 7-10 split.

    There is currently no timetable set for his return.

    Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in August after averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 60 games as an All-Star for the Los Angeles Lakers a season ago.

    He's yet to play his first game in Philly.

    The Sixers are 12-10 at the quarter turn without him.

Thunder Keep Rolling Despite James Harden Trade

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    The adjustment to life without James Harden in Oklahoma City was supposed to be difficult.

    So far, it hasn't been.

    The Thunder have picked up right where they left off last year after trading Harden to the Houston Rockets just before this season began.

    The 3.7 assists per game he averaged in OKC have since been absorbed by Russell Westbrook.

    After dishing out 5.5 assists per game himself in '11-12, Westbrook has improved his total by almost that many through one quarter of play this year.

    He is currently fourth in the NBA at 8.5 assists per game as of Wednesday. 

    Kevin Durant is the league's third-leading scorer at 27 points per night, and Serge Ibaka is second in blocks

    At 18-4 overall, the Thunder also have the league's best record.

Rookie of the Year Front-Runner Is from Weber State

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    Damian Lillard played for Weber State University last season.

    College players hailing from power-house programs like Kentucky, Florida, Syracuse and Kansas were all drafted ahead of him.

    Through one-quarter of the season, however, Lillard is the NBA's best rookie.

    He leads all rookies in scoring at 18.4 points per game as of Wednesday. He's also first in assists at 6.4.

    Unless something changes drastically, he will win Rookie of the Year.

Atlanta Hawks Are Flying High

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    Maybe the Atlanta Hawks should have traded Joe Johnson two years ago.

    Regardless, that was the old Atlanta. This year's version is the third-best team in the Eastern Conference.

    The Hawks won six straight games at one point and finish off the first quarter of the season having won eight of their last 10.

    Josh Smith is averaging 17.2 points and 8.3 rebounds. Al Horford is posting a double-double every night with 16.6 and 10.4, while Lou Williams is adding 13.8.

    The future could be now for the 13-6 Atlanta Hawks.

    At least it looks that way in the standings.

Washington Wizards Beat Miami Heat

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    On Dec. 4, 2012, the unthinkable happened.

    The lowly Washington Wizards rose up and defeated the Miami Heat, 105-101.

    The Wizards had won only one game heading into the matchup. As of Wednesday, they are owners of the NBA's worst record at 3-16 overall.

    To lead the way that night, Jordan Crawford finished with 22 points and six assists off the Washington bench.

    Kevin Seraphin posted a double-double as well with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

    Meanwhile, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined to score 70, but it wasn't enough.

Tim Duncan Back Leading the Spurs

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    Tim Duncan is a Hall of Famer.

    It's not necessarily surprising that he's playing well, but at 36 years old, it is surprising how well he's playing.

    Duncan is averaging more points and rebounds than he did in each of his previous two seasons.

    He's also shooting over 51 percent from the floor and blocking more shots on a nightly basis than he has in seven years.

    At 17.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game through Wednesday, Duncan is also fifth in the NBA in terms of Player Efficiency Rating.

    He's as healthy as he's been in quite some time and is a major reason why the San Antonio Spurs hold the NBA's second-best record.

James Harden Is a Scoring Machine

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    We all knew James Harden could ball.

    We weren't so sure, however, that he could come out in his first season as a primary option offensively and post the type of numbers that he has.

    Harden has scored at least 30 points six times in 19 games with the Houston Rockets as of Wednesday.

    He is also the NBA's fifth leading scorer at 24.7 points per night.

    He's averaging a career-high in assists and rebounds too, at 5.6 and 4.4, respectively.

    Every time he steps onto the floor, Harden makes Rockets GM Daryl Morey look even smarter for bringing him to Houston.

Los Angeles Lakers Open Season at 9-13

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    To watch how they arrived at this point, it's not a complete shock that the Los Angeles Lakers are struggling.

    Steve Nash has played only two games. Pau Gasol has been out the last five. Dwight Howard is learning to play alongside Kobe Bryant, and they already fired a coach.

    But if you told me in October that the Lakers would lose 13 of their first 22 games, there's no way I'd have believed you.

    If the season ended today, the Lakers would miss the playoffs.

    They have the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference and have lost seven of their last 10.

    All this while Kobe Bryant is scoring 29.2 points per night to lead the NBA.