5. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have been far and away the best team in the league. Record-wise, it's not close as their 40-10 record is 2.5 games ahead of second place Golden State and 6.5 ahead of third place Memphis.
They've dominated teams, but they've also been quite entertaining when they’re pushed to the limit in the fourth quarter. No one executes crucial late possessions quite like Monty Williams’ crew and a lot of that has to do with Chris Paul. The CEO of the fourth quarter is not only distributing the ball well, but is shooting an absurd 73 percent from the field in close fourth quarters, according to stats provided by NBA.com’s John Schumann.
Chris Paul deserves plenty of roses and maybe even more money for making Bismack Biyombo learn how to effortlessly catch a basketball. But he also should get love for making close Phoenix Suns fourth quarters must-see TV.
4. Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte was hot a few weeks ago but has stalled since. They lost all four of their games last week, causing them to slip down to ninth in the East with a 28-26 record. Their offensive efficiency has dipped while their defense reverted back to a low-effort mess.
Despite all that, no player produces highlights like LaMelo Ball. He’s allergic to the basic pass. Everything LaMelo does has to be lit – like his off-court persona.
Put two arms up... TOUCHDOWN! 🏈 @MELOD1P x @MilesBridges#AllFly | @HornetsOnBally pic.twitter.com/qdj3WHY4nY— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 5, 2022
The Hornets seem to be one of those teams that’s one smart trade away from becoming a solid contender. While their front office plugs away, let LaMelo keep us entertained.
3. Denver Nuggets
This list is trending towards naming singular players, and not necessarily teams. That continues with the Denver Nuggets, who have lost three of their four games last week. Don't blame Nikola Jokic though – he’s been playing out of his mind all season.
Nikola Jokic is a master at manipulating the defense! #NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure reveals how often the reigning KIA MVP is double teamed and the Joker’s ability to pick them apart!— NBA (@NBA) February 2, 2022
Jokic and the @nuggets take on the Utah Jazz TONIGHT at 10pm/et on ESPN pic.twitter.com/XaKxe7QIi4
Jokic leads the Nuggets in scoring, rebounding, assisting, and stealing. The Nuggets haven’t been playing the prettiest brand of basketball, but Jokic has made it work. If the mark of a true superstar is being able to maximize what you have, then Jokic definitely deserves to be at the top of MVP rankings so far this season.
It’s going to be rough sledding for the Nuggets as they try to patch up the holes in their roster left by injured key players. These Nuggets will make the playoffs kicking and screaming with the giant Serbian MVP dragging them there.
2. Toronto Raptors
As the league moves towards load management and restricting playing time, Nick Nurse has swerved and pushed the Toronto Raptors’ starting five to the limit.
Here’s a staggering stat for you: Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes all rank in the top 10 of total miles ran this season, according to Schumann. All of the players mentioned average at least 35 minutes a game, five minutes more than the league average.
These guys playing that many minutes has opened the door for the Raptors to morph into one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. They've won their last five games and have rocketed to seventh in the East at 28-23 with just half a game between them and Brooklyn.
The Raptors’ best players are also some of the more fun players in the league starting with VanVleet and Siakam, who just recently rekindled his spice. Barnes has continued to be a Swiss army knife, while Gary Trent Jr. has turned into Spurs Danny Green.
Toronto has been an excellent watch because of their off-the-cuff style and they’ve become an excellent team on the court recently, as well.
1. Memphis Grizzlies
If you’ve been excited about the Grizzlies only because you’ve seen a Ja Morant highlight, then you’ve been missing out.
Memphis has been amazing for so many reasons, mostly because of their chemistry. One of the best games last week was the Grizzlies coming into Madison Square Garden and romping the New York Knicks. The game was chippy with a lot of players talking trash and the Knicks managing to make a small comeback towards the end.
But for three and a half quarters, the Grizzlies played like the Harlem Globetrotters.
The @memgrizz got the win as Ja Morant & Jaren Jackson Jr. combined for 49 PTS on the road in NYC!@JaMorant: 23 PTS, 9 AST, 3 STL@jarenjacksonjr: 26 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/gcw6yw3YmP— NBA (@NBA) February 3, 2022
Morant has been playing like a viable MVP candidate. Jaren Jackson Jr. has lowkey been making a leap into stardom this season. Desmond Bane not only has one of the coolest names in the league this season, he’s also been one of the best role players. If you’re a fan of the UAAP, he should remind you of Matt Nieto’s playing style, intensity, and posture.
The Grizzlies are creeping up the West standings. They should be your top watch on League Pass.