The thing we most love about sports is the stuff we never see coming. They don't make movies about the favorite winning the game they're supposed to win -- instead it's the scrappy underdog who defies the odds and people's expectations with an unprecedented show of fortitude. A lot in the NBA has gone according to plan so far in the 2019-20 season -- the Clippers, Lakers, 76ers and Bucks are all among the league's best, James Harden is leading the league in scoring -- but there are also plenty of storylines we never could have predicted.
With that in mind, we decided to go through and rank the biggest early surprises so far this season. Of course, with just a seven- or eight-game sample size, many of these things are sure to change by season's end. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't appreciate them (or criticize them) for what they currently are. Oh yeah, and we've also defined the level of each surprise by using a GIF -- because GIFs are awesome. Enjoy.
1. The Phoenix Suns are ... good?
After averaging fewer than 22 wins over the last four seasons, the Suns are the feel good story of 2019-20 so far. They've been in the top three in net rating for pretty much the entire season, and already have signature wins over the Clippers and 76ers, both of which were undefeated at the time. Defense is the most glaring change, where they've gone from allowing 114.2 points per 100 possessions last season (29th in the NBA) to just 100.9 this season. Devin Booker continues to be elite offensively, but his improved defense, along with the additions of players like Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes and Jevon Carter, have allowed the Suns to thrive even without last year's No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton.
2. The Santa Cruz Warriors
Even with a healthy Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell, the Warriors looked terrible to start the season. Once those three went down with injury -- with Klay Thompson already out -- they've been fielding a roster that looks more like their Santa Cruz G League affiliate than an NBA team. The practically unrecognizable youngsters have played hard, and even picked up an unlikely first win in Chase Center history over the Blazers, but for the Warriors to go from a perennial championship favorite to the top half of the lottery in such a short time is absolutely jarring.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns leading NBA in 3s per game