The most surprising and disappointing NBA teams at the All-Star break

Hansel Chu, Assistant Sports Editor

With the 2022 NBA All-Star break occurring just this past week, many teams found themselves comfortable in the playoff standings. However, other teams that were expected to perform at a high level simply haven’t met expectations. With teams gearing for one last playoff push, here are some teams that were either surprising or disappointing at the All-Star break.

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Surprising

The Memphis Grizzlies have been the talk of the season so far. Led by the All-Star point guard Ja Morant, the Grizzlies sit comfortably at the third seed in the Western Conference with a record of 41-20. Last season, the Grizzlies finished ninth in the Western Conference. After defeating the Spurs and the Warriors in the play-in tournament, Memphis was defeated in five games against the Utah Jazz. Many analysts and fans expected the Grizzlies to finish as a lower playoff seed in the Western Conference this season. However, with the superstar emergence of Ja Morant, as well as the improvements of other role players such as Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies are a force to be reckoned with.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings in the past couple of seasons. Ever since the departure of LeBron James, the Cavs relied on the draft and young talents in hopes to be relevant once again. This season proved to be that season Cleveland had been hoping for as they sit at fifth in the Eastern Conference. The two All-Stars, point guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen, have been the main focal point in the surprising success of the Cavs this season. Rookie power forward Evan Mobley brings a strong defensive presence as well as offensive versatility and is looking like the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. With a strong young core mixed with some veteran leadership, the Cavs are going to be a fun team to watch come playoff time.

Disappointing

The Los Angeles Lakers are the most disappointing team so far this season. With the trade for superstar point guard Russell Westbrook and free-agent signings of former All-Stars to pair with the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers were expected to be title favorites. However, the team just doesn’t seem to mesh well when they play on the court. A lack of defensive intensity and a discombobulated offense saw the Lakers sitting at ninth in the Western Conference. There is still time for this Lakers team to come together and string in a couple of win streaks, but the time to do it is fastly closing.

The New York Knicks were one of the most surprising teams last season as they finished fourth in the Eastern Conference. After losing to the Atlanta Hawks in five games, many analysts and fans thought that the Knicks were back into playoff contention once again. The trade for former All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and the free-agent signing of Evan Fournier had many fans excited for the upcoming season. However, Walker has become a shell of himself and has slid out of the rotation, and Fournier has been inconsistent with his play on the court. With struggles on both the offensive and defensive side of the basketball, the Knicks find themselves 12th in the Eastern Conference standings. If the Knicks want to make it into the playoffs, they will have to go on a massive win streak and find the groove they had last season. 

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