3 Surprises/Overreactions to the First Month of the NBA Season

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By Adam Kerr

2023-2024 NBA Season – First Month

Almost one month into the NBA season, and it already is shaping up to be one to remember. there are big threes, a competitive race for Rookie of the Year, the (kind of) return of the 7-second or less offense, and everything in between. Some things have gone just as expected like the Nuggets and Celtics headlining the league’s top contenders, but just as many things have come out of the left field. This is a list of the three biggest surprises of the first month of the season and explanations for just how each one has come to fruition.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are a Top Seed in the West
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After the trade deadline last year, Minnesota finally started to pick up the pace. The acquisition of Mike Conley was huge down the stretch of the season. They had finally got the point guard to fit the rest of their roster, and they made the playoffs as the 8 seed. In the offseason, everybody wondered how the front office could retool to put Anthony Edwards in the best position to succeed.

Many thought Karl-Anthony Towns would be the one to go since he would get the best return. However, they liked their roster and now they sit with one of the top records in the Western Conference. This can largely be attributed to the jump of young star Anthony Edwards, who is currently averaging 25.8 points per game and 5.1 assists. On top of this, they match up better than most against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets should they face them in the postseason. The season is far from over, but Minnesota Timberwolves fans can rejoice that they finally have a contending team again.

The Rise of the Tyrese’s
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Both Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers and Tyrese Maxey out in Philadelphia have been some of the league’s promising young players so far in their careers. Both were part of the 2020 draft class, and they have each taken massive leaps of their own early in their fourth seasons. Haliburton is leading Rick Carlisle’s high-speed Pacers offense (who put up over 150 in regulation on Tuesday).

In this role, he has the argument as the best point guard in the league this first month, rivaled only by Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic. Out East, however, Tyrese Maxey is absolutely running away with the Most Improved Player award so far, beating his previous career bests in points-per-game by 7 and assists by 3.5.

Many expected him to take a big jump without having to be the third scoring option behind both Embiid and James Harden. However, showing signs of true superstardom would’ve been something only delusional Sixers fans would have even thought of saying. Both have consistently improved throughout their careers, but we’ll have to wait to see just how far

Ausar Thompson May be a Generational Talent
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On the defensive side of the ball, it’s hard to come up with a player of Ausar’s size who has been as good as he is so far in his career. With his massive vertical leap, he is able to block shots at the basket and jumpers from the elbow alike. The way he blocks the jumper, however, is very intriguing. He has a consistent way of blocking jump shots that is almost incomparable to any other player – stopping the ball’s momentum mid-air with his fingertips.

This may sound great by itself, but Ausar is also a lockdown defender, averaging more steals per game than Jrue Holiday and other players known for their defensive presence on the perimeter. If Thompson couples this all-defensive caliber play with a reliable jump shot down the line, Detroit may have a future superstar.

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