By Albert Luna
3 Things I like and Don’t Like
The NBA has now completed its first full week of games around the league. The season, despite being in its infancy, has not failed to produce plenty of exiting storylines. Among the many pleasant surprises of the season have also come some major disappointments (don’t worry, Pelicans, I’m getting to you). So without further ado, here’s the latest installment of the NBA column, with 3 Things I like and Don’t Like plus power rankings.
Like: The Minnesota Timberwolves
Maybe I should have just said Karl Anthony Towns. This year’s number one overall pick in the draft had many scouts skeptical about how his game would translate to the NBA. I think he’s made his point. The rookie has come out of the gate looking every bit the part of the new rookie of the year. Towns, despite some thinking he was lacking the intensity to compete at the pro level, is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds in the first 10 days of the season.
His field goal percentage is even better than the league average from a year ago, showing he has the patience to settle for a good shot. Throw in the fact that the 3-2 Wolves have reigning MVP Andrew Wiggins with a 31-point game in a win against the Bulls, and T’Wolves look to have a bright future going forward.
Don’t Like: D’Angelo Russel
Unlike Town, the very next pick in the draft has not had the same luck so far in finding his identity. Although the Lakers guard is averaging 10 points in six games so far, he has not lived up to the public’s expectations of a number two overall draft pick. This is probably being magnified due to the two picks after him, Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis, having highly productive years thus far. Another reason is that the Lakers are off to a bad start with just one win, meaning the blame has to go to the main contributors.
Like: Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers are supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league after losing four of their five starters from last season. But they must not have received the memo. The duo of star Damian Lillard and third-year guard CJ McCollum have combined to be the second-highest scoring pair in the league thus far. Obviously, when you start mostly role players, the results are not sustainable but the Blazers have been a pleasant surprise to this point in the season.
Don’t Like: New Orleans Pelicans
This probably should have just said Anthony Davis. Although the Pelicans have a lot of injuries to deal with (and that is probably an understatement), you still have Anthony Davis. The fourth-year power forward has been healthy through all six of the Pelicans’ games, all losses. Davis is pegged by many to be the best player in the league as he starts to near the entrance of his prime. If Davis wants to prove he is capable of being a true all-timer in the league, he will have to start winning some games.
Like: Kevin Love’s Performance
Kevin Love is only a year removed from being widely regarded as the top player at his position of power forward, which is why the Cavaliers had no trouble giving up two number one overall picks for his services. However, in his first year with the team, he struggled to find his groove, with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving carrying most of the load. This year, with Irving out and LeBron getting his workload reduced with age, Love has responded well, seemingly returning to his previous form from just a couple of years ago while guiding the Cavs to a 6-1 start.
Don’t Like: The Eastern Conference
The East has been weak for the past few years. However, they have to turn it around at some point. It just looks like this year will not be that year. The East has only six winning teams so far, which is just about the amount they had last year. It would be nice to see some better competition, among other things, come out of the Eastern Conference this year. Look for teams such as the Pistons, Magic, and even Knicks to start competing in the conference soon.
- Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are still undefeated. They trailed in the fourth quarter for the first time this season in an eventual comeback versus the Clippers. Steph Curry’s season low in points (24) is most of the league’s best player’s season highs.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are undefeated after their opening day loss to the Bulls. As stated above, Kevin Love is doing it all for the Cavs, allowing LeBron James to take the first few months of the season a bit more easily.
- Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks, despite losing Demarre Carrol from last year’s team, have picked up right where they left off, leading the East in wins with seven. Al Horford and Paul Millsap have been consistent.
- San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have had some struggles, but they still have a winning record in a Western Conference that looks as loaded this year as ever.
- Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are the only team that has been able to give the Warriors a game thus far. However, they’re having problems getting consistent production from some key players. They probably would like to see max contract center DeAndre Jordan score a little more per game.
- Houston Rockets
The Rockets started out the season 0-3 and have gone on a four-game winning streak. James Harden and Dwight Howard have returned to form once more.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant has had some struggles, but the Thunder simply do not have a bench presence, with the one exception being Enes Kanter. Like many in the West, the Thunder will continue to look for consistency as the season progresses.
- Toronto Raptors
Toronto has cooled off some after starting the season 4-0, dropping two of their next three. However, with a schedule that looks favorable, the Raptors could very well end the month near the top of the East standings.
- Portland Trailblazers
As stated above, the Blazers are a feel-good story in the early season. Lillard, at the very least, will be a perennial all-star for years to come and a cornerstone for the franchise moving forward.
- Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have enjoyed some early success, due in large part to Andre Drummond playing at an all-NBA level. Add in guard Reggie Jackson shooting the ball well from three-point range and the Pistons have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs in the East.
Be sure to check back next week, same time, for the latest installment of the NBA column.
Albert Luna may be reached at Aluna32@NMSU.edu
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