2 Weeks in of the NBA, 14 Realizations We See
This season has been off to a hot start! New guys in new threads, high scoring offense games, upsets and more! Through 2 weeks in, here are 14 things that the NBA community should realize and see as the season goes on!
1. The Memphis Grizzlies need Ja Morant
To say the Memphis Grizzlies have gotten off to a bad start would be an understatement. They have started 1-6 after getting their first win Sunday night against Portland. There seems to be no chemistry with this team, and let’s be honest, this roster constructed without Morant is not a good team. Sure they have some outstanding defensive players in Smart and JJJ and a scorer in Desmond Bane, but besides that nothing to special. The Grizzlies are missing that “it” to their team. Luckily, they have that in Morant. Ja Morant will return sooner than later, but the Grizzlies need to think in the sooner mindset. They need to string a few wins here and there to have a shot at the playoffs before Morant gets back. We know the skill and elite play Morant brings to the table, but without him, the Memphis Grizzlies will without a doubt miss the postseason.
2. The Victor Wembanyama hype was real
Just 2 weeks in the NBA, Victor Wembanyama has impressed many people who had many questions about him in this league. His length is probably the most impressive part about it. A top 5 shot blocker so far, long strides attacking to the basket, and his shear height just makes him so special. A unicorn? Indeed. Plus, his scoring attribute is legit, for the most part. He has done a tremendous job at putting the ball in the hoop. However, there have been games where he has gone very cold which right now is the true flaw of his game. Not saying he is a perfect player yet, but that is one thing that he can work on. If he continues to play at this level and develop himself and his teammates, the Spurs have a chance to make the playoffs. Wembanyama will win ROTY if he continues this play!
3. Nuggets are the best in the West
The Nuggets are off to a hot start to their back to back championship run this season starting off at 6-1. After an off-season of hype regarding the Lakers and Suns, the Nuggets had a quiet offseason and even lost a few key pieces to their title winning team. Well, they proved that all of that didn’t matter and have gotten to a hot start. Jokic is playing at an MVP level; yet again. Murray was playing at a very good rate before he got hurt. He is reported to miss an extended time which may hurt them. However, the role players have been playing excellent to start. MPJ is playing solid ball, I believe he will be there x factor this season for them if they want to repeat this season. The Nuggets will more than likely be a top 3 team in the West, more than likely 1 or 2.
4. Dillon Brooks is not a bad player
After a tough end to the season last year, many questions began to arise from the media and teams around the league if Brooks was still NBA level or not. So far, Brooks is playing at a very high level. He has started off the season to scoring nearly 18 points a game (17.8 PPG) off a 60.4% FG% and 60% 3-PT%. He has played solid basketball for the Rockets this season and has helped them stay a float in the tough Western Conference. Even though his antics on and off the court aren’t liked by many people, the guy is still an NBA level player. If he can a good 3rd or 4th scoring option, the Rockets have a chance to make a 7th or 8th seed this postseason. No title contender, but with the help of Brooks, they definitely can be a team night in and night out that can cause troubles.
5. 23’ Draft class is solid
Besides Victor Wembanyama being the best player by far, the rest of the rookies have also been jelling into the new league pretty well as well. Scoot Henderson has had some issues scoring the ball, but has still been a key to the Blazers win some games early on this season. Brandon Miller, Hornets forward, has started to a solid start averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds. He as well has had some scoring issues, but compared to the summer he has taken huge leaps. Jordan Hawkins, Pelicans guard, exploded for 31 points Monday night. Seeing 2 games of the Magic, Anthony Black has shown signs of potential 6th man capabilities for this young Magic core. Even Dereck Lively II has had a strong start to this NBA career. All around, this draft class can be one that people remember down the road and have many potential faces of the league.
6. Warriors aren’t done yet
Before the season even started there were a plethora of questions regarding their age and ability to contend for a title with team constructed. However, the start of the season has looked promising. Steph Curry has done what he usually does, be one of the biggest offensive threats in the league and the man who find ways for them to win. Chris Paul has looked pretty good as of now. I am not going to put them up in the top 4 teams in the West, but if they can slip away from the Nuggets, Lakers, and Suns, they can definitely find a way to get into the 2nd round, maybe even the WCF. As long as the Warriors have Steph Curry, they can not be counted out.
7. Brunson needs help
The Knicks have definitely gotten off to a slower start than they have wanted. There was a lot of hype around them about being the 2nd or 3rd best team in the East, and this start hasn’t been a good signal to that. Now, they haven’t been awful and the season is still young, but there have been a few concerns thus far. One being the play of Julius Randle. Randle has not shot the ball well at all. Shooting around 27 percent so far and if this play continues, that will not cut it. He has time to get past this slump and get his numbers up as the season wines down. Will he be traded? Probably not, but I don’t think it can be ruled out completely. Plus, the role players for New York have also gotten off to a slow start. If the Knicks want to be that 3rd seed in the East, Jalen Brunson can’t do it all.
8. Seeds 3-8 will be a toss up in the East
Besides the Bucks and Celtics more than likely being 1 and 2 in the East, there is not clear 3 or 4 and the rest is also a toss up. Teams like the Sixers, Knicks, and Cavs will more than likely fill out the top 5, but that may be the case if they are healthy. The 6-8 spots can really see anyone. Teams are have huge on and off nights. Some nights I believe the Nets can make a run at a 5 seed, but other nights it’s the opposite. The Magic, Pacers, Heat, Raptors, Hawks, and Bulls are all solid candidates to make the playoffs, but for 2 spots. All are solid teams with solid star players, but it will be such a toss up at the end of the season that betting on who will make it is a high risk.
10. Cam Thomas will be in the Scoring Title race
Last season the league was put in notice when Cam Thomas averaged about 40 points over a 3 game stretch. He then barely played the rest of the season which got people wondering if that was just a fluke. No, it was not. This season Can Thomas is off to a very hot start, averaging a solid 28.7 points per game. Now he is currently the 7th best scorer as of now following some of the NBA’s best players, but I believe that by the end of the year he will be in at least the top 3. Out of the 7 games he has had 4 games over 30 points and one of them being 45 points. However, he did have a 13 and 17 point performance which is tanking the average a little bit. If he can limit the teens scoring games and keeps at least in the 20s and 30s all season, Cam Thomas will be in the race for the 23-24 Scoring Title.
11. Timberwolves can be title contenders
I know this may sound weird to some people, but the Timberwolves are legit. Anthony Edwards is playing at an All-NBA level. Their 3 centers are all in double digits in scoring. Finally, the bench isn’t playing too bad. One thing that has mainly caught the attention so far is that 2 of there 4 wins are against the Celtics and Nuggets. Both the Celtics and Nuggets have the top record in their respective conference which has turned the heads of some people. They grinned out wins against the the two best teams in the league at this point. They currently sit at the 4 seed which I believe they can sit around for the rest of the year. They are going to have to get more scoring production out of KAT, but that can be an easy fix because it’s just having to convert on his attempts. The team doesn’t have to do much else on getting him the ball because he has shown in recent years he can take over a game when he chooses. With Edwards playing at this level, the Timberwolves are a team that you do not want to see.
12. NBA In-Season Tournament will make the NBA better
In the inaugural season of the NBA In-Season Tournament, there have already been ways that it can have a positive impact on the league. First, it gives real purpose to the city edition jerseys. The teams now have a real reason when to wear their special jerseys. It gives the jerseys a special meaning, in more of a special game and environment. Secondly, there will be more competitive games. When it comes to winning hardware or money incentives, the players will play the hardest they can. In this case, they are fighting for both. This gives more meaningful games at what some believe are “meaningless game”. The NBA is giving the opportunity to give playoff level games in the middle of the season. Finally, the league is getting more money. Especially with the knockout stage games, more meaningful games, more people will tune in and attend these games. Once again, playoff like atmosphere in the middle of the season is something the fans want and complements the NBA profit in these games. After the first round of games, people seem to like the idea of it. This season can also bring up new ideas and rewards for the tournament in the next couple years.
12. If healthy, the Cavs will be the 3 seed in the East
The start to the season hasn’t gone exactly to plan for the Cavs, but that has mainly happened because of injuries. Jarrett Allen started off the season on the bench with a foot injury. Even Darius Garland has missed a few games because of injury. In some of the games we have lost, it was obvious we were missing those two guys. Our new additions and rest of the bench can only do so much. Garland is a top player in the league for a reason. His play changes the team immensely when he is on the court. Donovan Mitchell has done most work for the Cavs this year averaging 32.5 PPG, leading the NBA. Some of the role players, such as Levert and Strus, need to step up a little more and be the factors the Cavs need them to be. If the Cavs remain healthy, they are well equipped to be the 3 seed in the East. If not, seeing them drop to 5 and 6 should not be a surprise.
13. Lebron is still top 10
Lebron James is playing only about 35 minutes a game this season, one being 29 minutes. He is scoring an efficient 25 points and is looking good doing it. Still hitting his midrange fadeaway, hitting his signature side step 3-pointer, and attacking the rim like he did 20 years ago. He also is playing electric on the defensive side of the ball scrapping for loose balls, chase down blocks, and acrobatic steals are all things James has continued to do. The Lakers have had a some what of a slow start, but that was to be expected with all of the new pieces they brought in. Especially hitting the 3-pointer has been their main issue. LeBron James does not have to be the number one scoring option anymore, but at the end of the day, LeBron should be in the top 10 player debate still to this day. Even after 20 long, hard seasons, he just has that motor to him.
14. Clippers are very uncertain
Following the trade to acquire James Harden from the Sixers a couple weeks ago, the Clippers have a lot of questions that need to be answered as soon as possible. How will he play with PG-13 and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is not to be worried about as much as George because he is great with the ball and off the ball. Paul George however has always had the ball in his hands no matter what team he has been on. Do I think this two ball dominant players can co-exist? Yes. At this point for these two guys, even Westbrook, it should be more about getting your first title and cementing your legacy with a ring. Secondly, will the Harden-Westbrook backcourt work? I don’t know yet. We haven’t seen these guys together since they were young bucks in the league, but they are both evolved now. I trust that Westbrook can adapt to this change and realize that Harden is going to be looked at more by the other guys than him now. Finally, what will the Clippers do with height. They have very minimal height, especially after the Harden trade. Will the guard dominate lineup work with Zubac at the 5? Maybe. It will be interesting to see how they stack up against the Lakers and Nuggets, two teams with extreme length at every position. This team has the skill, but do they have the continuity and trust in one another in winning a title for the Clippers this season.
I am more than exited to see what this season has in store and am excited to watch these storylines remain the same or possibly change.