We take a look at what has happened in the NBA since opening night.
It has been a full 7 days since opening night, and so much has already happened since the first jump-ball in Cleveland, ranging from Superstar accession to a team out in the desert seemingly imploding. I'm so glad that basketball is back.
A superstar out east not named LeBron James:
I mentioned this last year but he can't be called the Greek Freak, as sick of a nickname that is, it doesn't do Giannis justice, which is why we should start calling him a Greek God.
Giannis, picked by many as a dark horse MVP candidate --even though it's not really a dark horse if everyone is picking him and we start the MVP campaign in the summer-- has taken the leap many expected after having a break out year last season, and that might be underselling it. In his first 3 games, he has put up a staggering 38.3 PPG/9.7 RPG/5.0 APG while shooting 67% from the floor (LOL) and 75% from the free throw line. He is also averaging 2.7 steals per game and has done what many superstar players do, take over games. In the first game against The Celtics, Giannis dropped 16 points in the 4th quarter to help the Bucks pull out a 108-100 victory in Boston, and then followed it up by out-dueling the best player on the planet, LeBron, albeit in a loss. You think he couldn't go higher? Well... he did and dropped a career-high 44 points against the Blazers while making several key plays down the stretch to help the Bucks pull out another close win.
This was after he missed two key free throws, but he certainly made up for it.
He then sealed the game away with a game-saving block.
Giannis so far has blitzed the season in a way Steph Curry did the first ten games of his 2015-16 MVP season. It will be interesting to see how long Giannis can hold up these ridiculous numbers. Either way, Giannis has stated pretty loudly, that he has arrived.
*He followed up his Trailblazers destruction with a ho-hum 32 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists while shooting 13/21 against the Hornets on Monday, come on Giannis step it up...*
Small Sample Size season: The Nets lead the NBA in points per game
Yeah, yeah, small sample size (you guys are no fun). The Nets, who I had as one of my interesting to watch this season, lead the league with 124.3 points per game, and they have been pleasant to watch so far. They have interesting players, Caris LeVert who I loved at Michigan despite his injuries, is doing some fun things off the bench, and the salary dumps, Allen Crabbe and Demarre Carroll are playing well. Rookie center Jarrett Allen is big, long-armed and tracking his development as a defensive player and a rim runner is going to be one of my favorite things to watch.
More importantly, as I and many other Nets enthusiasts predicted, D'Angelo Russell has been good as advertised...so far. He is in a system that is tailor-made for his skill-set, he has the ball in his had a lot --especially after Jeremy Lin suffered a brutal season-ending knee injury--, he has opportunities to play off ball in the Nets' Windows XP version of the Rockets offense, and more importantly he has a hard-nosed coach who believes in him. He is no longer in the mess that was festering in The City of Angels, and he continues to have ice in his veins.
No, I don't expect the Nets to keep this offensive pace up, and yes they still don't own their own draft pick, but they have a good coach, and a smart GM and they'll finally have their own lottery pick in 2019 --just in time for the stupid lottery reform that is really pointless, to take effect-- things are looking up as they finish their sentence term in the prison that is the Kevin Garnett - Paul Pierce trade.
The Suns; Oh boy, the Suns
Just imagine on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the actual Sun implodes, well you have 8 minutes -- the time it takes sunlight to reach the earth-- before everything goes to hell.
That's seemingly what happened to the Suns' basketball team on Sunday. After starting the season 0-3 in which two of those losses were by 40+ points, disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted this...
Then a few moments later this was reported...
Then the Woj bomb completed the implosion...
It's pretty hard to stick out as a not-so-good coach on a bad, rebuilding team, but Earl Watson did it. From the beginning, everyone labeled this as a questionable hire, and after a full season in 2016-17, that opinion was further solidified. The Suns have a hodge-podge of young talented players, but they still need to figure out how those players will fit and who is going to develop into an actual guy instead of theoretical projections. Booker is definitely going to be a star, Josh Jackson plays hard, and is a nice athletic wing. Will Dragan Bender develop? Will Marquese Chriss harness his raw athleticism into an actual basketball player?
So many questions but the most pressing one at the moment, is what will happen to Bledsoe? Well, that question has been answered in a really funny way. GM Ryan McDonough asked Bledsoe what that now infamous tweet was about, and while Bledsoe didn't give the usual "I was hacked" response, he might have offered up something better, or worse depending on how you look at it....
So with trade calls already flying according to NBA reporters, Bledsoe has played his last game in Phoenix.
Side-note: Whenever I sub-tweet somebody or something, I'm just gonna say I was at a hair salon, even if it doesn't make any sense.
GARPAX *SHAKES FIST ANGRILY AT THE SKY*
Bulls' Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, John Paxson and General manager Gar Forman continue to frustrate the living hell out of Bulls fans and NBA fans who are believers of common sense.
When the team traded Jimmy Butler in a laughably lopsided trade on draft night, the Bulls signaled that they were ready to rebuild, which, you know, involves keeping cheap, young and talented prospects, and not selling said prospect to possibly the greatest team ever assembled for $3.5 million dollars.
But what did we expect? This is GarPax we're talking about, the guys that gave Dwyane Wade a 2 year $47.5 million dollar deal last season that had A $24 MILLION DOLLAR PLAYER OPTION FOR THIS SEASON. Of course, they reached a buyout with him out last month after Wade took the player option for this season, but that's besides the original point of this.
While rookie Jordan Bell has gotten consistent minutes with the defending champs, Paxson gave an explanation that's about as incomprehensible as him actually selling Bell to the Warriors. First, he said, the five players they had on their board were gone in the second round, which is just stupid for a team that needs any type of talent it can get its hands on. He then followed up by saying that he wanted to "take the opportunity to build equity within the organization for future decisions". WHAT???
Here's your equity right here.
I mean, what team wouldn't want a prospect that has the defensive upside to defend all five positions, has athleticism and can protect the rim in the modern NBA?
I have a few friends who are Bulls fans, they have checked out, and I don't blame them one bit.
- The Memphis Grizzles are 3-0 to start the season including two impressive back to back wins over the Warriors and the Rockets. The new slimmer looking Marc Gasol has been great in those two particular wins, and Mike Conley is still consistently good. First-round rookie Dillon Brooks looks like he belongs in an NBA rotation right away and might be the first draft pick in a while that has worked out for the Grizzlies, who need cheap young talent coming down the pipeline with so much money locked into Gasol, Conley, and Chandler Parsons the next few years.
- Can we please stop overreacting to rookie performances 4 games into the freaking season? "This guy is a star!" "See I TOLD YOU THIS GUY WAS A BUST". Rookies are gonna be up and down, it's their first year playing against grown men.
- Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid provided a glimpse of what Sixer fans could possibly look forward to for the next 10 years with their first win of the season on Monday against the Detroit Pistons. Simmons posted his first career triple-double, notching 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. While JoJo was JoJo, scoring 30 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and absolutely owning Drummond by doing slick things like this.
- Injuries freaking suck. Get well soon Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin.