Believe it or not, the 2022-23 NBA season is halfway complete.
All teams have played in at least 40 contests.
This means there is enough of a sample size out there to prove if teams genuinely are what they appear.
Everybody knew the Philadelphia 76ers were better than their 1-4 start indicated.
Similar to how everybody knew the Utah Jazz would not continue to go 10-3 through all 13-game stretches.
But sometimes teams prove early season indications were not a total fluke.
These two teams demonstrate they are better than analysts predicted before the season.
1. Sacramento Kings
The Jazz were the surprise team for much of the season.
Preseason analysts who predicted the Jazz to be in the race for the top pick in the draft saw them race out to a 10-3 start.
As late as December 22 they sat at 19-16, good for seventh in a loaded Western Conference.
But since then, the Jazz have lost seven of nine and are clinging on to a play-in spot.
Instead, we will focus on the Sacramento Kings.
A team that has not made the playoffs since 2005-06, yet sits fifth in the West.
The Kings boast one of the NBA’s best offenses – first in points per game and third in offensive rating.
Their defense leaves much to be desired but they have proven they can hang with the best of them.
Sacramento has already notched wins over the Cavs (2x), Warriors, Nets, Grizzlies, Clippers, and Nuggets.
Star forward Domantas Sabonis has Kings fans believing they can light the beam all the way to the playoffs.
"Just the best sound in basketball."
🗣 LIGHT THE BEAM pic.twitter.com/0tHrvjOiuS
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 12, 2023
2. Indiana Pacers
The other surprise team from the NBA this year is the Indiana Pacers.
Owners of a 23-19 record, they need just two wins to beat their preseason win total of 24.5.
Instead, they have remained steady all year – never losing more than three games in a row.
The Pacers are the No. 6 seed in the East and the Kings are the No. 5 seed in the West.
Tyrese Haliburton leads the NBA in AST and Domantas Sabonis leads the league in REB.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 11, 2023
The Pacers play with good pace (eighth in the NBA) and share the ball well – their 26.9 assists per game as a team ranks fifth in the league.
Time will tell if they can maintain their level of play if Hield and Turner are dealt at the deadline.
But as of now, the Pacers sit comfortably in the seven spot, primed for their first playoff appearance since 2019-20.