Basketball fans are fully aware that the Miami Heat, led by LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, is still the team to beat when it comes to capturing an NBA title. Right now, there are five teams that have opened the season on a high note, and are worth of watching as the season progresses.
New York Knicks (8-2)
The Knicks are playing well in part because Jeremy Lin is no longer dominating the headlines. It also helps that J.R. Smith isn't partying as much. And now that Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler are on the same team again, the Knicks resemble the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. It'll be interesting to see how well the team plays when Amar'e Stoudemire returns.
Los Angeles Clippers (8-3)
The Clippers have really been helped by the upgrade of Jamal Crawford (19.7 ppg) over Nick Young for sixth-man scoring help and a more experienced roster to meet the demands of point guard Chris Paul, giving the other Los Angeles team substance in addition to style. Paul has the ability to keep the Clippers in the game, and he can dominate if necessary.
Memphis Grizzlies (8-2)
The Grizzlies are very fortunate that the punishment wasn't a lot worse for Zach Randolph following his altercation with Kendrick Perkins last week. And, it doesn't hurt that they have big early-season wins over Miami, New York, and Oklahoma City. Playing in the tough Southwest Division, they'll need as many wins as they can get.
Charlotte Bobcats (5-4)
Kemba Walker (18.8 ppg, 5.3 apg) is playing like he's at Connecticut again, which has been a huge help in getting the Bobcats off to a good start. Brendan Haywood has given them a real presence in the low-post, a void from last season that has been addressed. With Walker outside, and Haywood inside, the Bobcats have established a nice balance which could make them a solid team all season.
Milwaukee Bucks (6-4)
The Bucks played well at the start of the season, primarily due to Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, both sharing the ball despite how much each of them would rather have it in their own hands. In addition, third-year center Larry Sanders has improved significantly.
Of course, no one knows how well these teams will perform as the season rolls on. But at this point, we have reason to believe that they're worth keeping an eye on.