We’re still a few weeks away from hitting the quarter mark of the NBA calendar, but the more games played the clearer the title contention picture becomes.
True, the playoffs feel like forever from now, but realistically speaking, we’ve seen enough from a bunch of teams to feel confident crowning legit contenders and pinpointing the pretenders.
Of course, things can change in the NBA with a big injury or a massive deal nobody saw coming just before the deadline. We’ll throw in the usual disclaimer this time of the year that we’re dealing with a small sample size and some teams have barley played anybody (ahem, Lakers). Some teams we're still, truthfully, undecided about. But after scanning the league and seeing a bunch of these squads in person, we’ve identified six contenders and four pretenders before Thanksgiving. All stats and records were compilied before Tuesday's action tipped.
Jury’s still out: Jazz and Pacers. Once we have more data we reserve the right to render an opinion. But we suspect we'll call the Jazz contenders even if they looked awful in their first trip to Staples Center this season against the Lakers and the Pacers will likely be pretenders even upon the return of Victor Oladipo.