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Gary Washburn’s surprises and disappointments after the first two weeks of the NBA season

Tyrese Maxey, 23, is thriving with James Harden out of Philadelphia.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

This story originally appeared in Sunday Basketball Notes. Read the full article here.

The NBA season is two weeks old and already there are teams rising or sinking.

There are stars in the making and those who have yet to make an expected impact. Let’s look at the top five surprises and duds:

Surprises

Victor Wembanyama, Spurs

We know he has the makings of a star, but we didn’t expect this process to begin immediately. The 7-foot-4-inch wunderkind has looked like not only a Rookie of the Year lock but an All-Star and All-NBA candidate through five games. Wembanyama is averaging 20.6 points, 8 rebounds, 2.2 blocked shots, and 1.4 steals in just 29 minutes per game. He took over the fourth quarter Thursday as the Spurs beat the heavily favored Suns for the second time in three days. He outplayed the likes of Kevin Durant and Devin Booker down the stretch and his transition to the league has been smooth and rather stunning. The NBA has been seeking another face to see worldwide and he has fallen into its lap. League executives in New York couldn’t be more excited about Wembanyama’s development.

Dallas Mavericks

A team not picked to finish in the top four in the Western Conference is off to a 4-0 start, averaging 122.5 points per game, third in the NBA behind the Celtics and Hawks. Two of Dallas’s wins came without Kyrie Irving, who was out with foot issues. Luka Doncic, who reported to training camp in shape and primed for a MVP-caliber season, has emerged as one of the top five players in the league. Through four games, he’s averaging 33.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 9.8 assists, and is shooting 51 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been a pleasant surprise off the bench, averaging 20.3 points in 29 minutes. The Mavericks have a top-heavy roster with Doncic and Irving but also some quality complements led by Grant Williams and Derrick Jones Jr.

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Cam Thomas, Nets

Remember when Thomas was dropping 40 points in meaningless games with the green light? Well, he’s now dropping 30 points in meaningful games as part of the rotation. Thomas is averaging 28 points per game as Brooklyn attempts to move forward without its previous stars, Durant, James Harden, and Irving. Thomas is only 22 and is emerging as a franchise cornerstone.

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Golden State Warriors

After a season-opening loss to the Suns, the Warriors have won four straight, including impressive victories over the Kings (twice), Pelicans, and Rockets. Stephen Curry is averaging 31 points in just 32 minutes per game and is shooting 45.9 percent from the 3-point line. The Chris Paul experiment is working. He’s leading the club with 8.2 assists in 30 minutes per game and has helped galvanize the bench with the return of Draymond Green to the starting lineup.

Tyrese Maxey, 76ers

Celtics fans watched as he almost helped the 76ers win the Eastern Conference semifinal series with his scoring prowess. Without Harden, Maxey has developed as expected, averaging 27.3 points for a revived team that can move forward without the Harden situation hovering. Maxey, who turned 23 Saturday, is shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line and has emerged as that reliable second scorer behind Joel Embiid.

Duds

Marcus Smart and the Grizzlies are off to a slow start.Steve Dykes/Associated Press

Memphis Grizzlies

A team expected to compete for the Western Conference crown has started 0-5 start and is last in the league in point differential at minus-11.4. Injuries haven’t helped. Steven Adams is out for the season after knee surgery and Brandon Clarke has yet to return from a torn Achilles’. Superstar Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games because of a league suspension, and while Desmond Bane has taken a step forward as the leading scorer, the Grizzlies are 23rd in scoring, 23rd in 3-point percentage, and 29th in field goal percentage. Marcus Smart has been solid offensively (16 points per game) in attempting a career-high 12 shots. But he’s been a step slow defensively and the Grizzlies are 24th in points allowed. In other words, they aren’t scoring consistently or stopping anybody.

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Miami Heat

We expect the Heat to figure out a way to be a thorn to the Celtics in the playoffs, but they are on a four-game losing streak and dealing with injuries. Caleb Martin, perhaps Miami’s best player during the Eastern Conference finals, has yet to play this season because of knee issues. Jimmy Butler is 34 and off to a slow start, while veterans such as Kevin Love and Kyle Lowry aren’t producing at their normal clip. The Heat will get things together, but they are falling behind fast in the East.

Houston Rockets

It’s not that the Rockets were expected to compete for a playoff spot, but they were supposed to be more competitive under Ime Udoka. They began the season by losing by 30 at Orlando, and also lost to the Spurs and Warriors. Houston is going to need more production from Jalen Green, considered an All-Star candidate entering the season, and Fred VanVleet, who signed a three year, $130 million deal to become the team’s veteran presence.

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Julius Randle, Knicks

The power forward is off to a ghastly start, averaging 13.2 points (12 fewer than last season) and 27.6 percent shooting. The Knicks need premium Randle along with Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett to compete in the Eastern Conference. Randle began the season by missing 17 of 22 shots against the Celtics and he was 8 for 29 in the previous two games entering Friday’s In-Season Tournament opener against the Bucks.

Jordan Poole, Wizards

He was a vogue pick to lead the NBA in scoring because he would get the full green light for the rebuilding Wizards, but he has been abysmal. He’s averaging 17.3 points on 38.5 percent shooting and 24.1 percent from the 3-point line. Poole’s shooting discipline has never been strong and he’s been chucking up shots. When Washington was behind by 20 at Atlanta, he tried throwing an alley-oop off the glass to Kyle Kuzma. That didn’t sit well with his coaches.

This story originally appeared in Sunday Basketball Notes. Read the full article here.


Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at gary.washburn@globe.com. Follow him @GwashburnGlobe.