The Top 10 Surprises of the NBA season

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It’s exactly 10 days into this NBA regular season, it feels like 10 weeks for those who cover the league on a regular basis, and a whole hell of a lot has already happened.

Few things have gone as expected, of course the undefeated start for the Pacers is an exception, and surprises abound across the league. Here are 10 that immediately came to mind, including a pair of dazzling young point guards, one major market team in big trouble and another that’s downright irrelevant right now.

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Scotto: Williams Holds Keys to Brooklyn’s Title Hopes

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It’s now or never for Deron Williams to prove he is worthy of being the $100 million face of the Brooklyn Nets.220px-Deron_Williams_Team_USA_(cropped)

Is Williams still an elite point guard? Is he a winner?

Or is he the reason his coaches are sent packing and his teams don’t quite measure up?

Despite a blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who have championship rings and 25 combined All-Star selections, it is Williams who holds the key to Brooklyn’s title hopes.

Consider this: Brooklyn is 28-4 when scoring over 100 points dating to last season. The winning formula has been established. The Nets win when Williams pushes the tempo as the floor general.

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Heisler: Lakers long-term targets: Love, Durant, Kyrie

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nicholsonIt’s already been a long season (and decade) in Lakerdom, even if fans knew the team is rebuilding.

They just didn’t think it would last this long.

Ding, ding, ding!

Reality check!

Nothing that’s happened has been a surprise – Kobe Bryant is out, Steve Nash is trying to get his legs under him, Nick Young is Nick Young – but it’s a bad time for Lakers fans, half of whom cheer every win in the hope … well, the team can’t really win a title, can it? … as the other half cheer every loss, in the hope … well, the Lakes aren’t likely to get the No. 1 pick, are they?

Lakerdom under water. And folks out here aren’t used to drowning like this.

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Sprung: Alec Burks tries to grow along with young Jazz

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UTA_Burks_AlecBROOKLYN – Through three regular season games, Alec Burks led the Utah Jazz in points per game (18.0), two-point field goal percentage among players who took at least one shot per game (57.6), offensive rating (107), win shares, win shares per 48 minutes (.131) and PER (19.2).

Sounds like someone who should start for a rebuilding team like the Jazz, no? Yet the 12th overall in the 2011 draft has yet to start a game in his NBA career.

Why?

“He’s deserved to start for us, but right now he could help us coming off the bench and give us some bench scoring,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He’s continuing to grow. He’s been a great guy, his game is growing. He’s worked his butt off for us all summer to continue to grow his game. He’ll play a lot of minutes for us.”

After Burks averaged just under 18 minutes per game last season, Corbin has rewarded his work with a bump in playing time. The 22-year-old Burks is now playing a solid 30 minutes a game. Although Utah hasn’t had success as a team, Burks’ work is paying off, and he credited his assertiveness for his fast start.

“I’m just being aggressive,” Burks told Sheridan Hoops. “Shots happen to fall. It’s been good.”

The 6-6 Grandview, Missouri native was extremely soft-spoken, almost to the point of being shy, but he has already gained the respect and admiration of his teammates.

“He’s been playing brilliant,” said veteran guard Brandon Rush. “Just attacking, attacking.”

“He’s playing really well right now,” rookie reserve Ian Clark said. “He’s stepping up, playing a big role for us on this team both offensively and defensively. He can guard with his size, and his offensive ability is really helping us down the stretch in the games.”

The problem is that Utah hasn’t won any of those games, and it only got worse on Tuesday night. The Jazz were overmatched by the Nets on the defensive end and were sloppy on offense in a 104-88 loss that exploited Burks’ greatest weakness.

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Schayes: A Statement about “Statement Games”

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dannyschayesThe NBA season is barely under way, and already there is talk of some statement games having taken place. Those are the games that match up two teams that possibly have implications for later playoff matchups or showcase two rival players battling for recognition as King of the Hill.

On Opening Night in L.A., the Clippers-Lakers “rivalry” started with the Lakers playing an inspired game and beating the “other LA team” that is poised to make a serious run at the title this season for the first time in two centuries. What does it mean? Are the Clippers going to disappoint again? Will the Lakers shock the world and make the playoffs?

The Miami Heat make a statement every time their bus pulls into an arena.