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The Bucks already look like the team to beat
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NBA: Season update

Most teams across the NBA have played at least nine games this season, with the standings starting to take shape and there have been some early surprise strugglers, as well as a few over-performing sides.

Despite preseason worries about tanking impacting the season, the league looks as competitive as ever right now. There are plenty of pre-season contenders from both conferences, so let’s look over how they’ve performed so far.

Runaway Bucks

The unbeaten Milwaukee Bucks have won nine straight games to start the season top of the league. They’re the only team across the NBA not to lose yet, although they have been helped with a home-heavy schedule.

The Bucks have been on the road just twice this term, but they’re about to set off on a three-game trip to face the Hawks, Thunder and Spurs.

The Bucks are +500 to win the NBA title this term after their great start, with Giannis Antetokounmpo averaging 32.6 points per game alongside 12.9 rebounds per night.

It says a lot that we’ve not even seen Khris Middleton so far and the Bucks are still out in front.

Their big tests are yet to come, with their mid-November clash against the Cleveland Cavaliers one worth circling.

Has Mitchell made the Cavs contenders?

In the summer it was reported that Donovan Mitchell literally jumped for joy down a golf course when he found out he was heading to Cleveland.

The Cavs didn’t have to surrender any of their core talents in that trade, slotting Mitchell straight alongside a team which impressed last season.

When healthy last season, the Cavs sat among the top four in the Eastern Conference. Given that, it shouldn’t be a shock that this team with an All-Star in Mitchell has made a stellar start to the campaign.

The Cavs lost in Toronto on opening night after a spirited Raptors comeback, but they’ve won their seven games since then to leap into second in the league. They’ve made a stronger start than the Phoenix Suns, who had the league’s best record last season.

The chasing pack in the East remain some way behind the Cavs as well. The Boston Celtics in third have a 6-3 record this season, following two losses to the Cavs already this term.

Despite that, the Celtics are still +550 to make up for last season’s Finals defeat, with Cleveland a +2200 shot for the title.

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Jazz on a great note

The Suns top the Western Conference with a 7-2 record, but the best story from the West is the 7-3 Utah Jazz.

The front office led by Danny Ainge went into full rebuild mode in the summer, after years of impressive performances in the regular season followed by postseason disappointment.

The Jazz shipped Mitchell to the Cavs, saw three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert head to the Minnesota Timberwolves and lost some good role players.

They appointed a coach who was the youngest in the league at the time, but he’s led them to a fantastic start.

The Jazz were predicted as one of the league's worst teams and still aren’t rated. They can be backed to win 30 games - just 23 more from their next 72 - at -160.

Tough start for the Champions

The Golden State Warriors are 13th in the West with a 3-7 record, which is a terrible title defence so far.

Their road trip out East didn’t work out too well for them, as they’ve lost five straight games to slump towards the bottom. The Warriors are still expected to get it together, given that they are +700 for the championship.

The same can’t be said of the Lakers, who trail the Warriors in 14th. The Lakers are +3300 to simply make it out of the West, having lost six of their opening eight.

Russell Westbrook is starting to show his quality, but the Lakers keep losing. With a real lack of shooting threat from their role players, the Lakers need a rebuild.

Of the other contenders, it’s been more of the same for the Brooklyn Nets. Off-court problems and an offence-heavy team have cost them games and now a coach. Steve Nash is out after a bad start with the 4-6 Nets in need of a turnaround.

They’re joined by the Miami Heat on 4-6, with the loss of PJ Tucker really starting to bite.

Unfortunately, his move to Philadelphia hasn’t paid off either, with the Sixers also 4-6 to start the year. It’s still early on, but the Eastern fancies have a lot of work to do to catch the Bucks.

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