My Top 10 Takeaways from the Beginning of the NBA Season
Warriors, Cavaliers already in cruise mode:
The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have met in the finals for three straight years. Because of the injury to Boston Celtic’s small forward Gordon Hayward and the Warriors pure dominance, it’s sure looking like these teams will meet again. Neither team has locked in defensively, with Golden State allowing team’s to score 111.7 points per game (ppg) and the Cavs are allowing teams to score 113.5 ppg. We shouldn’t be surprised by the team’s first few performances, as these two teams will work their way into form throughout the season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the early front-runner for MVP:
The Milwaukee Bucks’ small forward took a big leap last year, and he’s taken an even bigger leap in the beginning part of the season. Antetokounmpo, known as the Greek Freak, is averaging 31.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game. And he’s doing all this while shooting an efficient 58.3 percent from the field. The Bucks are sitting at 4-6 at the moment, but they will improve as the year progresses. The team just traded for Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, who will be the automatic starting point guard for the Bucks. Milwaukee is a young team that is a dark horse to be a top four team in the Eastern Conference this year.
Another Year of Rebuilding in Phoenix:
From the onset of the season, this was going to be another rebuilding year in Phoenix. However, recent events have led to more turnover in Phoenix. The Suns fired their head coach, Earl Watson, on Oct. 22. He was only the team’s coach for a year, but he was supposed to be brought in to mentor the young players on the team. This obviously isn’t working, as Phoenix is being outscored by 9.7 points per game and is a horror show on the defensive end, giving up 117 ppg. Also, they just traded their point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Bucks for picks.
Gordon Hayward Injury takes the fun out of the East:
It was mostly assumed that the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers were going to meet up in the Eastern Conference Finals. And while many people would pick Cleveland to win the East, before the season started there was a strong sense that the potential ECF matchup would be much more competitive than last year’s Cavaliers 5-game assault. However, as previously mentioned, Hayward suffered a horrific ankle injury in the two team’s opening night rematch on Oct. 17. Hayward will not be back this season. This is a huge blow to a team that was relying on their superstar signing to provide more scoring. Kyrie Irving is great, and I really like the Celtics in the future if second year swingman Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum turn out to be good NBA players. For this year though, the Cavaliers have too many stars for the Celtics to compete without Hayward.
Timberwolves, Thunder need time to gel:
The Oklahoma City and Minnesota Timberwolves both underwent huge changes this season. With these changes, they were considered to be contenders for a top five spot in the Western Conference. However, this will be a process for both teams. The Timberwolves brought in perennial all-star Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford. The T-wolves will improve on their 31-win mark from last year, but it’s going to take time for the new Big 3 consisting of Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins to develop. As for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they brought in Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton. It’s the same principle as Minnesota for OKC. It will take time for the reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, George and Anthony to play well together. It would be considered a disappointment for both teams if they were ranked lower than 5 at the beginning of the 2018 playoffs.
Trust the Process? Hip Hip Hooray!:
For the first time since what felt like a decade, the Philadelphia 76ers are finally showing progress in their rebuilding process. The term “Trust the Process,” first used by star 76ers center Joel Embiid to describe Philadelphia’s rebuilding process, is officially over. The 76ers are now competing for a playoff spot and not for top draft position. What’s changed? Most of their players are healthy! This team’s rebuilding process has been slowed down by many injuries over the past five years. Even this year, rookie shooting guard Markelle Fultz has been shut down to deal with a shoulder injury. However, the other young players in Philly are stepping up their game. Center Joel Embiid is averaging a double-double with 20.5 ppg and 10.8 rpg, Ben Simmons is sharing the ball and getting his teammates involved in the offense, and they are receiving key contributions from role players. Free agent addition JJ Reddick is shooting over 43 percent from three on the year, and the Sixers are also getting nice bench play from power forward Dario Saric and point guard Jerryd Bayless. All in all, it is nice to see the 76ers starting to win games, as they have currently have a 6-4 record which includes a win over the Rockets.
Good Start for Lonzo Ball:
Wait? You’re saying Lonzo is off to a good start to his rookie year even though he’s shooting 30 percent from the field? Yes, I am saying that. Basketball is about more than scoring the ball. The Lakers, with the addition of rookie Lonzo Ball, are one of the more fun teams to watch. Even though they are young and don’t play good defense, they are showing a lot of improvement on the offensive side of the ball because of Ball, who is doing a great job spreading the ball around and getting his teammates open shots. Rookie Kyle Kuzma is one of the biggest benefactors from Ball’s passing ability. The Lakers will not make the playoffs this year in the stacked west, but they can take positives away from this season if they show improvement over the year.
Denver’s offense is off to a slow start:
The Nuggets’ league best offense was one of the biggest surprises in last year’s second half of the year .They were lead by emerging star Nikola Jokic, who scored 111.7 ppg. With the addition of Paul Millsap and departure of Gallinar, their offense seemed primed to improve this season. However, this hasn’t been the case, as they are averaging only 105.8 ppg. I think the offense will improve as the season goes on but I want to see them playing at a faster pace. They have the sixth slowest offense in the association so far.
Blake Griffin Showing Off His Skillset:
I thought the Clippers were going to regress after the Chris Paul trade during the offseason. However, they have been fun to watch and have been winning games. One of the biggest takeaways from the Clippers’ early success is Blake Griffin showing off his offensive skills. With Chris Paul running the show at point guard over the last five years, Griffin hasn’t been able to show his skills with the ball in his hands. However, he is showing us his full offensive arsenal this season by taking defenders off the dribble, setting up other teammates and even drilling three pointers. Overall, the Clippers are better than I thought they would be and are for sure a playoff contender.
Ben Simmons is My Favorite Rookie:
Continuing my talk about the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons is my favorite rookie this season. Simmons has a way of getting his teammates involved in the offense while also scoring himself. However, when I watch Simmons play, his points do not come from set plays or certain offensive sets suited for him. His points just come as the game goes along. Simmons is averaging 17.8 ppg while shooting 48.7 percent from the field. And at the same time he is averaging 10.1 rebounds per game and 8.0 assists per game. Simmons reminds me of Magic Johnson. Obviously Simmons has a long way to being as good as Johnson, but they have some of the same characteristics such as their passing and unselfish play.
coverphoto of Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks