Panic mode for NBA teams is typically reserved for later in the season.
Some teams have only played 15 games so far, meaning there are 67 more games to get things back on track.
Injuries, COVID absences, and cold stretches could be to blame for slow starts.
Both teams have championship aspirations but sit at tenth and eighth in their respective conferences.
So, it is hard to say any team should be in full-blown panic mode at this point.
However, there are some teams that may be thinking of taking the panic button out of storage.
If they cannot right the ship by Christmas time, it may be time to worry.
3. Sacramento Kings
First up is the Sacramento Kings, a franchise that seemingly held different goals for the season than the public.
Luke Walton was brought back even though he finished the past two seasons at 31-41.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, and Walton is no longer the head coach of the Kings.
Sacramento is 6-11, good for the 12 seed in the West while giving up the fifth-most points per game in the NBA.
The Kings being bad this season is not a total surprise given how young they are as a team.
But the front office deciding to fire Walton after 17 games is a bit of a shock.
Why bring a coach back if you only let him coach for 17 games?
Panic mode for Sacramento is more in relation to what is happening off the court than on the court.
The Kings losing at home to Philly’s backups is an utter embarrassment. Luke Walton had to go but that won’t solve their issues. Major roster change is needed. I’m disgusted watching this team. What a hideous product. No wonder the other night that dude puked all over the court.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 23, 2021
They have some talented young players to build around, but the front office is seemingly incompetent.
The Kings haven’t made the NBA playoffs since 2006 – that is squarely on the shoulders of owner Vivek Ranadive.
2. New Orleans Pelicans
Next, we have the New Orleans Pelicans.
Another team with no championship hopes this season but at least dreams of making the play-in tournament.
Something looking less and less likely by the day.
The Pelicans are the second-worst team in the NBA so far this year with a record of 3-15.
They pair the seventh-worst scoring defense with the fourth-worst scoring offense.
However, they have had to deal with injuries.
Zion Williamson, the franchise cornerstone, also has yet to suit up.
The 21-year-old star suffered a right foot fracture in the offseason and was just recently cleared to participate in contact drills.
Rumors also surfaced that Zion reached north of 300 pounds after his foot surgery.
Report: Pelicans have changed their culinary practices for Zion Williamson https://t.co/ILelMoKt16
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 19, 2021
This is raising further concerns about his durability and fitness level.
If Williamson can return to the court and play like he did last year, the panic button will be sent back to storage.
But if the young power forward seems out of shape upon his return, that could mean trouble in the Big Easy.
1. Denver Nuggets
Last is the Denver Nuggets, a playoff team as it stands.
Everything seems fine on paper.
A 9-8 record through 17 games and the second-stingiest defense in terms of points allowed per game.
Nikola Jokic is off to another strong start to attempt to defend his MVP crown from last season.
The Serbian big man is averaging 26.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game.
His +11.6 Expected Plus/Minus also leads all players by a sizable margin – Steph Curry is the next closest at +8.8.
But the recent news on Michael Porter Jr. is ominous news for Denver.
Porter is reportedly dealing with a nerve issue in his back that could jeopardize his season.
REPORT: “Michael Porter Jr. is dealing with a nerve issue in his back that could jeopardize his season, league sources told The Denver Post.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 22, 2021
This is not the first time the 23-year-old has dealt with back trouble.
His first back surgery came while he was in college and sidelined him for four months.
His second back surgery cost him his entire rookie season.
Persistent back problems are a cause for concern in Denver.
The Nuggets just inked Porter to a five-year rookie-scale max extension back in September.
No doubt to incentivize their superstar center, Jokic, to re-sign in 2023.
Jokic, Murray, and Gordon make Denver a lock for the playoffs.
But it is Porter who turns them into a title contender with his offensive arsenal and shot-making ability.
Bad news on his back could throw a wrench in Denver’s future plans.