The Chicago Bulls are on the precipice of dropping a tier lower, as the start to the season has been about as disastrous as possible for this team. They had a “players-only meeting” that wasn’t a meeting after just their first game, were blown out by the Pistons, and are already complaining about the team’s construction through the media. This team seems destined for a midseason fire sale.
The bad? Jalen Green hasn’t taken a step forward, Amen Thompson has suffered another ankle injury and Fred VanVleet can’t seem to find the bottom of the basket. The good? Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun look great, Dillon Brooks is on fire, and this team has been in every game since their opening night blowout and just clobbered the Sacramento Kings. New head coach Ime Udoka has this team defending (they rank 17th), and if that holds up this team will start to get dangerous quickly.
The Portland Trail Blazers were supposed to be at the bottom of the ladder this season after trading Damian Lillard, but they added enough veteran talent back into the mix that they can execute like a real NBA team, and it’s added a couple of extra wins thus far. Shaedon Sharpe is having a breakout season, Toumani Camara looks like a real NBA player, and DeAndre Ayton may lead the league in rebounds.
The Memphis Grizzlies were supposed to be near the top of the ladder, but they have completely fallen apart to start the year. Missing Ja Morant and Derrick Rose has put a lot of pressure on their other perimeter creators, and missing Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke has pressed overmatched players into the big rotation. Desmond Bane is having an excellent start to the season, but Jaren Jackson Jr. hasn’t been able to step up and Memphis is the league’s only remaining winless team.
Whenever a player has an unexpectedly great season, there is always the concern that they will fall back to earth the following year. That hasn’t happened with Lauri Markkanen, who is having another great season and looks the part of a star. Utah has to figure out their guard rotation and find a lead creator to orchestrate this offense, but this is also a team that doesn’t mind losing for another season.