5. Sacramento Kings
‘Fox and Huerter’ sounds like a ‘70s ripoff of Starsky and Hutch, but De'Aaron and Kevin have made the Kings infinitely more watchable this season.
Fox is continuing his strong finish to last season, averaging 25.5 points on 54.8 percent shooting with 5.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.3 steals. Huerter, who was traded by the Hawks in the offseason as a salary dump, has been Fox's sweet-shooting sidekick, dropping 16.6 points on 51.1 percent shooting from deep – both career-high marks if the season ended today.
Combine that pair with a fun rookie in Keegan Murray, Domantas Sabonis’ funky game, and Mike Brown’s fast-paced offense and you get the least miserable Kings situation in more than a decade. Will it be enough to get them to the playoffs? Don't look now, they’re on a four-game winning streak.
4. Dallas Mavericks
There's only one reason to watch the Dallas Mavericks. That’s a bad thing because that one reason is Luka Doncic.
Doncic’s usage rate for the season is at 37.3 percent this season, leading the league by a wide margin. Usage rate is basically the percentage of possessions a player finishes by either shooting, assisting, or turning the ball over. The highest usage rate for a season was recorded by Russell Westbrook when he had a 41.7 percent rate in his MVP season.
Luka could very well match that this season since, outside of him, the only other creators for Dallas are math nerd Spencer Dinwiddie and the crucifix Christian Wood. If Dallas finishes the regular season as a top four seed, Luka deserves two MVP awards.
3. Boston Celtics
They’ve been the best team in the league all season because they’ve been great on both ends of the court. These are the same Celtics that suspended/fired their head coach a few weeks before the season.
Jayson Tatum might be the early MVP favorite, averaging 31.9 points on 49.1 percent shooting. He's been demolishing defenses with an array of moves, mostly geared towards getting him more looks in the paint to draw fouls. Jaylen Brown has also been lights out, dropping 25.4 points per game. Tatum and Brown are undoubtedly the best duo in the league and they’re both under 26 years old.
The Celtics just come at teams in waves as they've gotten deeper with the addition of Malcolm Brogdon. The guard rotation of Brogdon, Marcus Smart, and Derrick White provides zero respite for opposing backcourts. When they get Robert Williams back, the Celtics might just start blowing everyone out.
2. Indiana Pacers
When someone asks who put you on the Indiana Pacers, don’t forget about this column. This is like when your uncle played you the Bee Gees vinyl.
The Pacers have gone all in on doing whatever it takes to be interesting. It helps that they have a future All-Star in Tyrese Haliburton but it’s been mostly about Rick Carlisle’s coaching decisions. Faced with the inevitability of rebuilding, Carlisle has used this season as the throwing-pasta-at-the-wall phase of whatever system he ends up cooking up after this.
There’s been five-guard lineups, pressure defense, college zone defenses, and a whole lot of Buddy Hield jacking up shots. Try putting on a Pacers game one of these mornings. You won’t regret it.
1. Toronto Raptors
Reddit channel r/NBA’s favorite team is also NBA Philippines’ early morning fix. We’re the hungry customer and Nick Nurse is our Michelin-starred chef cooking up our omakase breakfast.
It's ridiculous how funny and absurd the Raptors can get, even if they aren’t healthy. It’s almost way more fun to see what Nick Nurse will try when his starters are sidelined.
Take their most recent game against the Detroit Pistons for example. Without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Gary Trent Jr., the Raptors opted to go with an all-6-foot-7 starting and closing five. We got Scottie Barnes and Dalano Banton, both as exciting as they are gangly, running plays for a playoff team. Of course, it worked.
This is the future of the league: 7-footers with no position doing ridiculously athletic things. The Raptors are at the cutting edge.