In the second half of November, not all records are created equally, even in the NBA.
Teams can get off to blazing starts (or slow ones, if you're more unfortunate), but looking at a win-loss record in a vacuum only means so much. And that's what makes grades so important—and difficult—in an NBA landscape that has failed to help many teams emerge from the pack.
To show you what I mean, take a look at two hypothetical teams and tell me which one should receive the higher grade:
- Team A: 5-5
- Team B: 5-5
Hmmm. No idea, right?
Now, let's give you a little bit more information:
- Team A has played a ridiculously hard schedule, had mediocre expectations entering the season and outscores its opponent by two points on the average night.
- Team B has faced an easy slate of "competition," was unquestionably considered a contender going into the campaign and has been outscored by two points per night.
At this point, it's quite clear that Team A should be receiving the higher grade, even if the two squads boast identical records.
Expectation matters. Context matters. As The Wire's Lester Freamon might say, "All the pieces matter."
Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from ESPN.com and are current as of Nov. 16. Additionally, teams with the same grade are listed in alphabetical order, so don't read into the intra-grade orders.