After the first week of the NBA season, the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Warriors are winning the title, and the Timberwolves have the best version of the Big Three.
Are these reactions fair or exaggerated?
Fair reaction: Bulls and Knicks can make it to the Top 6 in the East
The Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks have good and competitive teams at the same time. Is this the 1990s? After last night’s 104-103 victory, the Knicks moved into a tie for first place in the conference along with the Bulls, Hornets and Wizards.
Both the Knicks and Bulls have vastly improved on both sides of the ball. The Knicks are now shooting more triples than last year and it is paying off as the team is fourth on three percentage points. For Chicago, Zach LaVine finally has a good supporting cast in Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević.
It is still a long shot for both teams to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament, but it is not out of the question. If the Bulls and Knicks continue to be competitive all year, they have a legitimate chance to oust a team from the Top 6. The two possible candidates to fall outside the Top 6 are the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics.
For the Sixers, Ben Simmons’ status places the Sixers in a no-man’s-land. Simmons needs to play, or the organization needs to change him because Embiid desperately needs help. Sitting on the sidelines doesn’t help anyone. For Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are studs, but they lack a true point guard. Have fun taking turns with Marcus Smart and Dennis Schröder running the point. If the Celtics don’t trade for a PG, they are in danger of making it to the Play-In tournament.
Overreaction: Nets and Lakers should panic
We have been in season for just over a week and things couldn’t be worse for the favorites from the two finals. Brooklyn still misses Kyrie Irving because of the vaccine mandate, and James Harden can’t make it to the free throw line if his life depended on it. In Los Angeles, LeBron has already started his cargo handling, and the team blew a 26-point lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in an overtime loss to fighting. Josh Giddeys.
Both teams sit at 2-3 with clear squad problems that need to be addressed. The Nets need another scorer, while the Lakers can’t calculate their rotations. (Why is DeAndre Jordan starting?) Fortunately for both teams, their stars will help straighten the boat on its way to the playoffs. There’s no need to overreact, but let’s review this in late November.
Fair reaction: Utah Jazz are a good regular-season team
The fact that the Jazz are undefeated shouldn’t surprise anyone. Utah has all the pieces to be a good NBA regular season. That’s why I chose Utah to be the # 1 seed in the West heading into the playoffs. Utah is Top 10 in scoring and second in defensive rating. Say what you want about Rudy Gobert, he’s a monster on the glass and defensive end. Gobert is grabbing 17.8 (!!!) rebounds per game. The Jazz will have to conquer their playoff demons in the spring, but for now, this team should keep going.
Fair reaction: the Golden State Warriors may be a top 3 team in the West
I predicted the Warriors would be around .500 until Klay Thompson’s return, finishing eighth. Raise your hand, I think I’m going to be wrong. The Warriors are 4-1 and look like a completely different team than they did a year ago. Steph, well, he’s doing Steph stuff (43/40/96% splits), but unlike last year, his teammates are taking the offensive load. Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Damion Lee are averaging over 14 points per game. If the Warriors can stay in the top 3 by the time Klay returns, championship expectations will return to the Bay Area.
Overreaction: Minnesota Timberwolves are a playoff team
Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell account for two-thirds of the team’s points per game. It’s great to see your version of the Big Three healthy. I don’t want to rain on the Minnesota parade, but can we slow down a bit? Towns and Russell have played less than 30 games together. Edwards, who is an incredible player and personality, is only in his second year. The Wolves have had a winning record since 2005. Let’s see if all three guys can stay healthy before we talk about the playoffs.
Fair reaction: Mavericks should trade Kristaps Porzingis
I strongly believe in players who need a “new coat of paint” to revitalize their careers. Kristaps Porzingis seems lost in Dallas. He’s a long way from his “unicorn” days before his anterior cruciate ligament injury in New York. Porzingis averages 12.7 ppg, 6.0 RPG, and 0.7 apg. Those are good numbers for a backup, not a great player in the third year of a $ 158 million contract. The sooner the Mavericks find an offer for Porzingis, the better.
What do you think of the first week in the NBA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. or send us a tweet, @ unafraidshow.com.