We are two weeks into the young NBA season. There are some things we know like the Nets and 76ers are winless and Kobe has as many shot attempts as points (81 points in 79 shots), whereas the league’s MVP Steph Curry has scored 237 points in 233 minutes of playing time. The season is young and we are already off to a great start, now onto the weekly update.
Three Positive Plays
Bucks Win 4 In A Row
After starting the season 0-3 the Milwaukee Bucks took advantage of their soft schedule to win the next four games. What really improved for the Bucks was their defense. After allowing 122, 118 and 106 to their opponents, they held their next four to below 100 points per game. The efficiency of Giannis is out of this world. He is scoring 154.6 points per 100 shots, essentially the opposite Kobe. The main reason for the turn around was Jabari Parker returning to the lineup. Although he has struggled out of the gate, his presence makes the bench a little deeper. Greg Monroe continues to impress with his new team putting up 18 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The Bucks were able to weather an early storm but will look to make a push for home court in the first round as Kris Middleton and Jabari Parker find their groves. The Bucks are getting players back at the right time as John Henson returns and they await the return of OJ Mayo.
Orlando Is A Must Watch League Pass Team
Another team that started 0-3, although their three losses include a one point defeat against the Wizards, a thriller double OT battle against the Thunder and a tough close game on the road in Chicago. The Magic have been this year’s surprise team. The small ball line up of Watson, Oladipo, Harris, Fournier and Vucevic are currenty the 17th best line up in the league. Realistically, the better line up would be Elfrid Payton instead of CJ Watson, which is what they usually run. The Magic are an exciting team to watch. They have since won three out of four games including wins against the Pelicans, Raptors (giving them their first loss) and 76ers. Their only loss was a 5 point defeat in Houston. They have received great bench play out of Aaron Gordon and rookie Mario Hezonja is still adapting to the NBA and the American life. The Magic will make it hard on teams most night which is why they are my must watch League Pass team this season.
CJ McCollum & Isaiah Thomas
These two names are in the top 12 scoring in the league currently. We knew Isaiah would be putting up around 20 points a game. With Marcus Smart out with a foot injury, Isaiah has started for the Celtics. He is putting up 22 points in 29 minutes per game. Isaiah is a top four scorer in the league in the Per 48 minutes ties with Russell Westbrook and James Harden. His scoring is a very important asset for the Celtics and they rely on it at times, especially in the fourth quarter where he excels. CJ McCollum on the other hand was a forgotten person in Portland. No one expected Portland to compete the way they have so far this season. The offseason was an indication that Portland was in a rebuild. CJ McCollum has other plans as he is putting up 22 a game with 47% field goal and 46% three point field goal percentages. These percentages will most likely fall as the season goes on but for now, CJ McCollum has played a perfect Robin to Damien Lillard’s Batman.
Two Negative Plays
The Raptors Are Human
After starting the season 5-0 the Raptors have come back down to earth for a few games with losses against the Magic and Heat. In their defense, they have played five out of their first seven games on the road. They had an impressive win against the Thunder on the road but since dropped one in Orlando and followed that with a 20-point defeat against the Heat. The Raptors were averaging 106 points per game but failed to reach 90 in their following two contests. Toss it up to fatigue if you will but they have not received much from their bench, or lack thereof. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan can not continue at 34 and 36 minutes all season long at a high level. This team will need players like Jonas Valanciunas, Corey Joseph, Terrence Ross, and DeMarre Carroll to step up when their two stars aren’t playing well. It’s early in the season and the Raptors started off hot but I would be weary of their past couple of offensive performances.
Nets & 76ers
At what point do the fans stand up and say something? The lottery system needs to change because with the current format, there will be teams like this who purposely put out a horrible product in hopes of receiving that superstar through the draft. I don’t need to run through the horrible odds at finding a superstar in the draft (look at Bulls: Elton Brand (1) 1999, Marcus Fizer (4) 2000, Eddy Curry (4) 2001, Jay Williams (2) 2002, Kirk Hinrich (7) 2003, Ben Gordon (3) 2004) as one of the reasons to not rely on the lottery ping pong balls or your management’s ability to make the right selections in that position. It is just bad basketball and in the Nets case, their draft selection this season belongs to a divisional opponent, the Boston Celtics. The Nets are a long way away from being competitive again. They are in cap hell, have sold their assets for that small title window, and lack prospects to develop. The 76ers on the other hand have been rebuilding for a few seasons now and we see glimpses in Noel Nerlens and Jahlil Okafor but the verdict is still out if they will join the NBA elite player’s club.
It has been a while since the NBA community agreed on jerseys but here we are with a ringing endorsement from NBA twitter on the 2015 Christmas day jerseys. These jerseys are stylish, smooth and subtle. For once the league didn’t go overboard with a Christmas day jerseys. The best part about these uniforms will be the socks if the Bulls preview is any indication. I am looking forward to seeing how the players match their shoes and socks to their uniforms.
One rookie we have not spoken of is the man, the mystery, the myth: Kristaps Porzingis. He has been putting everyone on a poster lately. His causalities include the names of Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. He has already shown his freakish body as an asset but durability will be a question with his skinny frame. He has been active on both ends of the floor and is making Phil Jackson look like a very smart man again. He makes the Knicks watch-able again. (Sorry Melo).
Triple Double Watch
We welcome Rajon Rondo to the triple double club this season. Rondo is a veteran of this group as I call him a “walking triple double”, that is when he wants to be one. Against the MVP and defending champions usually brings out a good Rondo game for the fans.