The basketball blogs of SBNation are doing a league wide series on early season surprises for each team. Here's my not-so-serious attempt to list the biggest surprises of the year so far.
- Surprise! Rajon Rondo is really good at passing! (he leads the league in assists with 13.1 assists - most of which were not even sat padding)
- Surprise! Jeff Green has not played up to his contract! (at 8.2 points per game he's getting about a million dollars per point)
- Surprise! Kevin Garnett is pretty intense and slightly insane. Needs no further explanation.
- Surprise! Darko Milicic might not work out. Insert your own joke here. (I'm gonna miss the "Free Darko" headlines)
- Surprise! The Celtics are bad on the back end of a back-to-back (2-3 so far)
- Surprise! Jared Sullinger is still just a rookie who is prone to rookie mistakes, but he sure looks like the steal of the draft thus far (based on position in draft and projected performance).
- Surprise! Paul Pierce is still The Truth (which means he's capable of taking over games) but Father Time is undefeated (meaning he doesn't take over as often as he used to).
- Surprise! There are already rumors, speculation, and fan generated unrealistic expectations about what trades Danny Ainge could make at the deadline.
To be fair, there have been some legit mini-surprises. Leandro Barbosa has contributed much more than many had expected. Courtney Lee has underperformed thus far. Jason Terry is in the starting lineup instead of his customary 6th man role and Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger have traded the starting power forward spot back and forth. But over time I expect water to reach its level and we'll see Lee step up and Barbosa may level off. And sooner or later Doc will find a lineup he's comfortable with and will largely stick with it - especially once Avery Bradley comes back.
So for the most part, they are who we thought they were. The team has struggled out of the gate and that's a disappointment, but not necessarily a surprise. This team has a history of being up and down during the regular season and struggling with a lot of games close together.
A lot of this year's early struggles come from getting up to speed on defense. I'm pretty confident that the Celtics will be back to being one of the top defensive teams by the end of the year. On the whole, they might not be what we want them to be yet, but there's still time for them to get there.
Let me put it this way. If they aren't playing their best defensive basketball and developing a better flow offensively by the end of the year, that will be the biggest surprise.