After about nine games into the 2016-2017 NBA season, we see the top three teams in the West as we have expected -- though not in the order we thought 'em to be. On the other end of the court, there are basically two 'new' entrants into the East's top four with the Cavaliers and the Raptors as a given..

And they are the Atlanta Hawks (7-2) and the Charlotte Hornets (6-3).

ATLANTA HAWKS

Atlanta has actually been up there before but.. With Al Horford and Jeff Teague gone, the Hawks whom we thought could be groping is actually thriving! And guess who's leading the pack? Yep, Dwight Howard!

More than the steady play of Millsap and Schroder, Howard's resurgence seems to have rubbed off with the whole Atlanta team. Thanks to the 'strong' bond developed between coach Budenholzer and Dwight Howard, the big fella is now back to his All-Star form.

Yet you know what? Horford and Teague had good rapports with the Hawks' coach and players, too, remember? This was why the Hawks had been among the East's top teams the past years. Then again, if they retained Horford and Teague, they would probably still have had the same PlayOff results. Failure.

Why? Because Horford and Teague has got a 'double' in Millsap and Schroder! They basically occupy the same position and somehow, the same kinda style. But with Howard, not only did they eliminate the duplicity but they acquired a legitimate threat in the middle. Yes, that's why.

If being the first team to deal the defending champs their first loss of the season mean something -- then that must be -- watch out for us come April!

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Did journeyman Roy Hibbert actually lift the Hornets' kind of play? Well, what we could say is that he gave the team a different kind of look with the departure of Al Jefferson. However, the 'real' difference maker is not just the All-Star play of Kemba Walker, but the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as well as the team style imposed by coach Steve Clifford.

See. While Walker has been producing 25.3 ppg, the succeeding scorers are averaging not so far from each other -- led by Batum with 13.6 ppg. This means, the Hornets have simply been playing 'team' ball. Hey, they almost beat the Cleveland Cavaliers if only they were able to adjust to the fourth quarter lineup change of the Cavs in their recent game!

Okay, now MKG. Defense. Perimeter D. This was what they were lacking when they lost him to injuries last season. But with Kidd-Gilchrist back to go along with their 'team' play, we could now expect an even more competitive Hornets' squad as the season wears on. And so, don't be surprised anymore if they happen to make the 'final four' this postseason!

Say what you?

Published by Consumer Live