A quick look at the Western Conference standings shows a somewhat surprising development, as the Golden State Warriors aren't in the top spot they've become accustomed to the past few years.
That spot belongs to the Houston Rockets, who have been playing incredible basketball all year long. However, that doesn't mean the Warriors are playing poorly, by any means.
In fact, Golden State is once again lighting up the rest of the league. A less-than-stellar 4-3 start certainly hurt coach Steve Kerr's squad, but they're back in a groove as we head toward 2018.
The Warriors have dealt with more injuries than they have in years past, but none are expected to be too serious, so reinforcements should be coming in the near future.
Based on their three-straight NBA Finals trips (including two titles), the other Western Conference teams shouldn't take Golden State lightly, as the Warriors are still dangerous.
Here's how each starter, as well as a couple of key bench players, have graded out through the early part of the 2017-18 season:
Kevin Durant: A
Durant took over during the NBA Finals last year, winning the MVP award for the series while leading the Warriors to their second title in three years.
Now that fellow star Steph Curry is injured (see below), Durant has stepped up even more, taking on more of a scoring role while Curry's ankle heals.
The Warriors have a great team and often win by spreading the workload around to different players on different nights, but Durant has emerged as Golden State's leader and is having yet another outstanding season.
Steph Curry: A-
Curry was leading the Warriors with 26.3 points per game through 23 games, but then recently went down with an ankle injury. It's not expected to be as serious as previous ankle injuries have been, but it's still a setback for the sharpshooter.
Curry's all-around game has been incredible this year, as he's averaging 6.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, too.
Though the Warriors have enough star power to withstand Curry missing some time, they'll need him back soon if they're going to challenge the Rockets for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Klay Thompson: B+
Thompson doesn't always get the credit he deserves from fans outside of the Bay Area, but the second half of the Splash Brothers continues to plug away and is putting together another outstanding season.
As the only one to appear in all of Golden State's games so far, his consistency is to be admired, as is his 20.7 points-per-game average.
He's the perfect complement to all the other star power on the Warriors' roster, and Thompson will likely decide a few games down the stretch and in the playoffs, as long as he stays healthy.
Draymond Green: B
Green has missed the Warriors' past few games with a shoulder injury, but he shouldn't be out for much longer.
That's good news for Golden State, as Green is the team's outspoken leader and the Warriors' heart and soul on the defensive end of the floor.
Green's point average (10.1 per game) won't impress anyone, but he's averaging 7.3 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game, as well as 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks. Green's contributions will never be able to be fully measured, but the Warriors will need him back as soon as possible to keep pace with the Rockets in the West.
Zaza Pachulia: C
Pachulia is the Warriors' fifth starter, but only plays 14.4 minutes per game. However, the Warriors don't need much from their big man in order to succeed.
Pachulia is always going to be overshadowed by the Warriors' stars, and there are also several other players who could be starting for the Warriors instead.
However, Pachulia fills his role admirably, and serviceable performances are all that Golden State needs from its big man.
Andre Iguodala: C-
Iggy is yet another Golden State player who has dealt with injuries this year, though his came at the beginning of the season.
Now, he's back in the rotation, though he's gotten off to a bit of a slow start. Iguodala is a veteran, though, and he's been through this before, so there's no reason to worry.
Iggy will be just fine moving forward and will likely round into shape starting in 2018.
Nick Young: B-
Young is one of the hardest players in the league to grade, as he is so streaky.
In the five games starting on Dec. 6 and ending on Dec. 18, Young scored 10 points, two points and 12 points, then did not play against Dallas and then scored 10 points against the Lakers.
He's one of the best offensive players when he's hot, and one of the worst when he's not, so Kerr will have his hands full trying to ride Young's hot streaks as the season wears on.News Now - Sport News