Connect with us
Home » news » nba am teams underachieving and overachieving

NBA

NBA AM: Teams Underachieving And Overachieving

Lang Greene looks at how each team has played early in the season, labeling the underachievers and overachievers.

Updated

on

Overachieving, Underachieving or Overhyped

The grueling 82-game NBA season is a marathon not a sprint, so there’s a strong chance the trends you believe are developing as we head into December will be completely flipped down the stretch. However, every season brings a host of overachievers, underachievers and teams that were overhyped entering the campaign.

Let’s take a look around the association at all 30 teams and analyze their current trajectory after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Atlanta Hawks
2015-16 record:
10-7
Status: Underachieving

The Hawks won 60 games last season and were expected to be among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the season. After a hot start, the team has lost six of its past nine games and is currently seventh in the East. Atlanta has been hit hard with injuries during the early going and still appear to be missing a nightly grit after the departure of DeMarre Carroll in free agency.

Boston Celtics
2015-16 record:
8-7
Status: Performing as expected

The Celtics are a team that wouldn’t surprise most observers if they flirt with 50 wins or end up with just 35 victories at season’s end. The team’s core group is young, which leads to bouts of inconsistency but there’s no denying the talent the franchise has on the roster. As of now, the team is positioned to make a run for the playoffs and that’s a reasonable expectation.

Brooklyn Nets
2015-16 record:
3-12
Status: Performing as expected

Gone are the title expectations that were dreamed about with Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett once in the fold. Joe Johnson is the last remnant of that roster and he will be hitting free agency next summer. The Nets are in rebuilding mode and performing how most expected them to be entering the season.

Charlotte Hornets
2015-16 record:
9-6
Status: Overachieving

Hornets head coach Steve Clifford earned a multi-year contract extension based on the team’s performance to start the season. What makes Charlotte’s start even more impressive is the fact forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been watching from the sidelines injured. Charlotte is benefiting from two of their forwards, Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, having strong bounce-back campaigns. The Hornets appear to be headed in the right direction.

Chicago Bulls
2015-16 record:
9-4
Status: Performing as expected

Ushering in a new voice in the locker room is always a tricky terrain to navigate; however, the Bulls have looked strong to start under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. The team is 6-3 versus teams with a winning record and the squad suffered little moving longtime starting Joakim Noah to a bench role.

Cleveland Cavaliers
2015-16 record:
11-4
Status: Performing as expected

The Cavaliers are right where they expected to be, at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. The team should be boosted by the return of All-Star guard Kyrie Irving in the next month and forward Kevin Love finally looks comfortable. Of course, LeBron James is still putting up monster numbers. Cleveland will be a tough out come playoff time.

Dallas Mavericks
2015-16 record:
9-7
Status: Overachieving

The Mavericks have responded well after a rough summer that saw them lose the commitment of center DeAndre Jordan in free agency. But the team responded by trading for rugged center Zaza Pachulia and secured former All-Star Deron Williams after he parted ways with Brooklyn. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, but Dallas appears poised to be in the playoff mix down the stretch.

Denver Nuggets
2015-16 record:
6-9
Status: Overachieving

The Nuggets won just 30 games last season, but featured veterans Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. Lawson is now in Houston (more on this later), while Chandler has yet to see action this season due to a hip injury. But the team is on pace to surpass last season’s win mark with the arrival of talented rookie Emmanuel Mudiay and the reemergence of veteran forward Danilo Gallinari.

Detroit Pistons
2015-16 record:
8-7
Status: Overachieving

The Pistons have cooled off after a hot start, but the play of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson has the club above .500 and relevant again in the Eastern Conference (for the time being).

Golden State Warriors
2015-16 record:
16-0
Status: Performing as expected

This is what you expect from a defending champion, a take no prisoners attitude. The Warriors are running roughshod through the league and, barring any serious injuries, should make a run at the regular season win record (72) once it’s all said and done.

Houston Rockets
2015-16 record:
5-10
Status: Underachieving

The Rockets are in a tailspin. Center Dwight Howard is still working his way back from injury, All-Star James Harden started the season in a horrendous shooting slump, Kevin McHale was fired and Ty Lawson has failed to live up to expectations as the team’s floor general. Houston is struggling.

Indiana Pacers
2015-16 record:
9-5
Status: Overachieving

The Pacers took huge risks before the season. With David West and Roy Hibbert gone from their once deep interior, the team stated their plans to play Paul George at power forward. The franchise also signed prolific scorer Monta Ellis in free agency and vowed to play at a faster pace. It appears to be working out for Indiana, but can they sustain this success?

Los Angeles Clippers
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Underachieving

For a team that entered the season with title aspirations, the Clippers appear lost. Offseason acquisitions Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce haven’t provided the return on investment. All-Star point guard Chris Paul has spent time on the shelf due to injury. DeAndre Jordan hasn’t shown much in the way of improving his offensive involvement. If it wasn’t for the continued improvement of forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers would be in deep trouble.

Los Angeles Lakers
2015-16 record:
2-12
Status: Performing as expected

This is about where you expected Los Angeles to be, but in a more competitive position. Instead, future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant appears to be completely shot and the team is 0-10 when opposing teams score 100 points or more. Ultimately, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for Lakers fans, but right now there isn’t a flicker on the horizon.

Memphis Grizzlies
2015-16 record:
9-7
Status: Underachieving

While we currently classify Memphis as underachieving, the team has been playing spirited basketball as of late and appear to be finding a rhythm. The trade for veteran guard Mario Chalmers has given the team a much needed offensive spark off the bench.

Miami HEAT
2015-16 record:
9-5
Status: Performing as expected

The post LeBron James era hasn’t been as tough for the franchise, as most expected. With that, the team appears headed toward a playoff berth after a one-year absence.

Milwaukee Bucks
2015-16 record:
6-9
Status: Underachieving

More was expected from this Bucks unit than what they’ve shown thus far. The team invested big money in free agency to retain Khris Middleton and secure Greg Monroe. For a team sitting under .500, this isn’t the return that was expected.

Minnesota Timberwolves
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Overachieving

Andrew Wiggins looks like a future star. Karl-Anthony Towns appears to be a strong interior building block. The veteran presence of Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller has paid dividends. Minnesota’s young core appears to be on the verge of making some noise in the next two or three years.

New Orleans Pelicans
2015-16 record:
4-11
Status: Underachieving

For a team that won 45 games last season and reached the playoffs, the Pelicans have been a disappointment. Yes, there has been a plethora of injuries. But remember, departed head coach Monty Williams flirted with 50 wins last season and didn’t have Anthony Davis at his disposal for 16 games. Alvin Gentry may prove to be the better long-nterm fit, but he’s gotten off to a rocky start.

New York Knicks
2015-16 record:
8-8
Status: Overachieving

For a guy booed relentlessly on draft night, Kristaps Porzingis has been a huge reason for the Knicks’ strong start to the season.

Oklahoma City Thunder
2015-16 record:
10-6
Status: Performing as expected

Although former MVP Kevin Durant has missed time, the Thunder are right in the thick of things at the top of the Western Conference. All-Star guard Russell Westbrook is putting up an MVP-caliber season of his own and new head coach Billy Donovan seemingly has the buy-in of his troops.

Orlando Magic
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Performing as expected

The Magic are slowly becoming more relevant after a patient rebuild following Dwight Howard’s departure years ago. The team is still missing a true star, but the franchise has plenty of young assets to target someone via trade.

Philadelphia 76ers
2015-16 record:
0-16
Status: Underachieving

Some would argue the Sixers are performing right along with expectations. But at 0-16, we can’t fully endorse that logic. The team should have at least two or three wins on the table at this point.

Phoenix Suns
2015-16 record:
7-8
Status: Performing as expected

The team’s exciting backcourt, which consists of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, continues to put up gaudy night statistics. However, it will be the development of young supporting cast members such as T.J. Warren and Alex Len that will ultimately determine how far this franchise can go this season.

Portland Trail Blazers
2015-16 record:
6-10
Status: Overachieving

For a team that lost LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Arron Afflalo during the offseason, the Blazers have held it together – relatively speaking. Talented guard Damian Lillard could make a run at a scoring title and the emergence of C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee have been pleasant surprises.

Sacramento Kings
2015-16 record:
6-10
Status: Performing as expected

Rajon Rondo is reestablishing himself as one of the league’s better playmakers and DeMarcus Cousins’ game continues to evolve. While a playoff berth may not be in order, the Kings look more cohesive on the floor.

San Antonio Spurs
2015-16 record:
12-3
Status: Performing as expected

Father Time is undefeated when dealing with athletes on a one-on-one basis, but as a collective unit the old man Spurs continue to win. LaMarcus Aldridge is still adjusting to his new environment, but the team is still on pace to win 65 contests.

Toronto Raptors
2015-16 record:
10-6
Status: Performing as expected

The question surrounding the Raptors isn’t whether the team can reach the playoffs. They’ve overcome that hurdle. The question surrounding the Raptors is whether they have the “it” factor to advance past the first round of the festivities.

Utah Jazz
2015-16 record:
7-7
Status: Performing as expected

The Jazz slow the game down and play hard-nosed defense, which is the foundation for success. The team is young and getting better. Not sure if we’re ready to make a playoff prediction, but the future is getting brighter in Utah.

Washington Wizards
2015-16 record:
6-6
Status: Underachieving

This is a Wizards team that should make a run at 50 wins this season – on paper. Of course there’s still time, but the unit has been wildly inconsistent to start the season and could easily find itself fighting for its playoff life come April.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

Top Betting Offers

NBA Team Salaries

Trending Now