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The NBA has three remaining undefeated teams, but which of them will be the last one standing?

Monday night time was not sort to the NBA’s finest groups via the primary week of the season. When video games started, we had seven undefeated groups remaining. When video games concluded, we had three. The Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards all fell on Monday, leaving us with simply three undefeated groups remaining. 

The Utah Jazz are right here comparatively predictably. Their internet score recommended that they performed on the stage of roughly a 65-win workforce final season, and so they’ve solely taken the ground twice up to now. The Golden State Warriors have an MVP candidate in Stephen Curry, so their presence atop the standings is not terribly stunning. After which we’ve got the Chicago Bulls, offseason darlings who’ve backed up the preseason optimism up to now with 4 wins in 4 tries. 

Ultimately, all three groups are going to lose video games. It ought to shock nobody to listen to that no NBA team has ever gone 82-0. However that does not imply we will not have enjoyable making an attempt to determine who the final undefeated workforce standing can be. So let’s check out how issues have gone for the Bulls, Jazz and the Warriors up to now and predict which NBA workforce would be the final to lose a sport within the 2021-22 season. 

Chicago Bulls

The case for them: We’re coping with tiny samples right here, however it needs to be famous that Chicago has performed twice as many video games as Utah. The distinction between 80 video games and 82 is minimal, however the distinction between 4 and two is a little more significant. In case you absolutely ignore earlier season’s, we’ve got twice as a lot proof in favor of Chicago as we do Utah. A 4-0 begin is nothing to sneeze at. A 2-0 fluke is considerably likelier to be fluky. 

And thru these 4 video games, Chicago has answered a number of the main questions that confronted them coming into the season. For the entire concern surrounding their protection, the Bulls rank sixth on that finish of the ground up to now. We’re clearly coping with tiny samples right here, however no protection has allowed 97.7 factors per 100 possessions or fewer over a full season because the 2003-04 season. Their depth hasn’t been fairly as spectacular, however it’s value noting that Alize Johnson is the one reserve taking part in actual minutes with a detrimental internet score. Their starters are destroying opponents and their bench is not getting destroyed in return. 

This does not assure something over the lengthy haul, and there is in all probability regression coming in sure areas. That protection is not going to stay impenetrable ceaselessly. They in all probability aren’t going to maintain capturing 42.3 p.c on 3’s both. However a very powerful gamers on this workforce have largely performed nicely collectively up to now. The core idea, in the meanwhile, seems sound. 

The case in opposition to them: Let’s begin with the apparent: the schedule. Chicago has now crushed Detroit twice with out Cade Cunningham, New Orleans as soon as with out Zion Williamson, and on Monday, Toronto with out Pascal Siakam. That is not precisely a assassin’s row. Here is who’s coming of their subsequent 10 video games: Knicks, Jazz, Celtics, 76ers, 76ers, Nets, Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, Lakers. So… yea, the Bulls are about to get examined. The convenience of their schedule would not negate their wins, however it means that we all know a bit much less in regards to the Bulls than their file can show. Going 4-0 in opposition to that slate would not be particularly tough. 

Capturing has lined up a variety of points for the Bulls on each ends of the ground. Opponents have made solely 30 p.c of their wide-open 3s in opposition to the Bulls. That is going to regress. So is Chicago’s 42.3 p.c mark from behind the arc. The Bulls have wanted nice capturing as they’ve labored via a few of their very own questionable offensive matches. They’re scoring 111.5 factors per 100 possessions when Zach LaVine performs with out DeMar DeRozan and 114.7 when DeRozan performs with out LaVine… however collectively, they’re scoring solely 99. That is going to enhance, however not essentially to elite ranges. LaVine can operate simply high-quality off of the ball, however DeRozan’s worth correlates strongly along with his utilization. He is now on a workforce with a number of gamers who want the ball, so it is truthful to query his utility inside this offense when the very best gamers are all on the ground collectively. 

The Bulls are doing what good groups ought to do in opposition to dangerous groups: stack up wins. That is going to assist them come seeding time within the postseason, however these wins alone simply aren’t sufficient proof to recommend that they’ll preserve successful at the same charge. We’ll know way more as soon as they’ve made it via this tough stretch of schedule, however for now, it appears unlikely that they outlast groups like Utah and Golden State. 

Utah Jazz

The case for them: As we have lined, the Jazz had been the very best regular-season workforce within the NBA by a rustic mile final season. They path solely the Miami Heat in internet score via two video games, and their shot profile up to now has been as analytically glorious as all the time. They take the third-most 3-pointers within the NBA (44.5) and permit opponents to take a roughly league-average 35.5 in return. This can be a vital benefit over a game-long pattern. Taking 9 extra 3-pointers per sport than the opponent presents an infinite cushion for dangerous capturing nights. 

They’ve wanted that cushion up to now, as a result of offensively, they’ve struggled out of the gate. They’re making solely 33.7 p.c of their 3-pointers thus far and Donovan Mitchell is hitting solely 35.7 p.c of his area aim makes an attempt. There is no rapid trigger for concern right here, although. In spite of everything, it has been solely two video games. That the Jazz have received regardless of poor capturing suggests they’re going to get even higher after they regress nearer to the place they had been final season. Proper now, they’re leaning on Rudy Gobert‘s elite protection, and till additional discover, that is not going anyplace. 

The case in opposition to them: For starters, Utah has performed solely twice. Beating the Thunder and Kings is not going to impress anybody. Their schedule is pretty manageable in the meanwhile. They’ve Denver on Tuesday, however that is at dwelling and the Nuggets are on the second night time of a back-to-back. A fast journey to Houston precedes their showdown with the Bulls, however even when the Jazz get via that, the Bucks are ready for them on Sunday. 

Depth is a slight concern right here is as nicely, particularly with Rudy Homosexual out. Utah leans very closely on seven gamers. Mike Conley and Joe Ingles are 34. Bojan Bogdanovic is 32. Some age-related decline is fully potential for any of them, and any core rotation items taking a step again issues on a roster so reliant on a small variety of gamers. The Jazz added Homosexual and Eric Paschall so as to add a little bit of stylistic versatility, however till Homosexual is wholesome and Paschall has extra time within the system, the Jazz are pretty connected to the way in which they play: bombing 3s and funneling ball-handlers into Gobert. That is going to work more often than not. For now, on nights when it would not, the Jazz do not have many stylistic pivots accessible. 

Golden State Warriors

The case for them: From a pure scheduling perspective, Golden State must be the favourite right here. They’ve already performed the hardest a part of their early-season schedule, a three-game highway journey round California through which they defeated the Lakers, Clippers and Kings. On Tuesday, they play a highway sport in opposition to Oklahoma Metropolis earlier than returning dwelling for eight straight video games. None of their opponents on that stretch are particularly daunting: they play the Grizzlies, Thunder, Hornets, Pelicans, Rockets, Hawks, Timberwolves and Bulls. There’s room for an actual run right here. 

The Warriors are usually pretty reliant on Stephen Curry on the offensive finish however keep in mind, they beat the Lakers with him capturing 5-of-21 from the sector, and in a tiny pattern, their bench is outscoring opponents by almost 10 factors per 100 possessions when Curry rests. If these Jordan Poole-led bench lineups stick with it, the Warriors aren’t going to lose as many video games when Curry goes to the bench as they’ve in years previous. 

Their depth has shined via with Curry on the ground as nicely. Changing the sub-NBA-caliber gamers on final 12 months’s roster with good veterans like Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and Andre Iguodala has given them a baseline competence inside Steve Kerr’s offense that has been missing over the previous two seasons. There are legitimate questions on their ceiling, however for now, they are a very harmful common season workforce. They play a considerably distinctive model that is tough to organize for and so they’re now doing it with out making the errors that stored them out of the playoffs over the previous two years. 

The case in opposition to them: The Warriors could also be via the toughest a part of their early schedule, however that does not imply it was particularly tough. The Lakers had been destined to wrestle on opening night time with so many new faces. The Clippers do not have Kawhi Leonard. The Kings are the Kings. As with the Bulls, these are video games the Warriors are speculated to win. That does not assure that they’ll preserve successful. 

Additionally they have the worst internet score of the three undefeated groups at plus-7.3. That is not dangerous by any means, and over a full season it is an elite quantity. However you’d anticipate an undefeated workforce so early within the season to be successful a bit extra comfortably. The Warriors have not received a single sport comfortably but. They very simply might be 0-3.

Curry is among the many most dependable regular-season winners in basketball historical past… when he has a full roster. He received 73 video games within the 2015-16 season, however he did so with Klay Thompson by his facet. Thompson is not going to be again earlier than the Warriors lose their first sport. Proper now, there’s nonetheless an infinite offensive burden on Curry’s shoulders. The Warriors can win video games through which he struggles, however it takes a team-wide effort. If he is off, no one else could be. 



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