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NBA Weekly Vision is a recap and analysis of the NBA each week. Each team will get a very brief overview weekly even if nothing much is coming from the club, news, or statistics. A few games will be highlighted that need to be mentioned such as season openers, unbelievable performances, and playoffs for example.
After an unbelievable offseason, the 2017-2018 NBA Basketball season has begun. A full week of action has brought the fans excited, injuries, hope, and insight. While some questions from the offseason have slightly been answered, more questions have been poised. Will the Golden State Warriors repeat? Did the Cleveland Cavaliers gain enough fire power to get revenge? Is Lavar Ball really the GOAT? Here’s an analysis of the first week this NBA season.
Last week, the season kicked off with the Celtics at Cleveland. During the offseason, both clubs added to their roster but the big story was the trade that shipped away Kyrie Irving. Kyrie Irving (who requested the trade) was sent to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, & an unprotected 2018 first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets. Both teams had a fruitful offseason with Cleveland acquiring free agents Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade while Boston signed Gordon Hayward to a four-year deal. With all this game was thought to be an amazing first game but an unfortunate event would arise for the C’s and Gordon Hayward. Halfway through the first quarter, Hayward went up for an alley-oop only to get unintentionally bumped by LeBron in the air. Hayward fell awkwardly on his leg visibly breaking his ankle and leg. The sight of the injury was very gruesome as almost immediately camera was inches away from his leg. The players on the bench, the players on the court, and fan in the stadium all looked in disgusted and frightfulness. It would be learned that he dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia, likely out for the season. It was visibly obvious the Celtics players lost a bit of fire in their fight as play continued but Marcus Smart brought back the flame with his intense play. As the became close and down to the wire, the Cavaliers ended up winning 102-99 with Kyrie missing the game tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1): The Cavs look to pick up where they left off and win a championship but this time without Kyrie Irving and some of the season without Isaiah Thomas due to an injury he sustained in the playoffs last season. Cleveland looked good in their first three games. LeBron still looks like the king and unfortunately Derrick Rose already has an injury that would keep him out for two games. D Wade began the season starting but will now come off the bench behind JR Smith. Let’s see how this works for the future. The Cavaliers are now 2-1.
Boston Celtics (1-2): After the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward, Boston looks to regroup and still challenge Cleveland in the East. The C’s need to make up for Gordon Hayward’s scoring and Jaylen Brown seems to take that mantle. The loss of Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder took away a lot their size but the addition of Aron Baynes and rookie Jayson Tatum looks to fill that void. Overall, Boston needs some time to mesh to challenge Cleveland and the other powerhouses in the West.
The following game, the Warriors unveiled their championship banner and received their championship rings (11-carat and holds more diamonds than any other ring in NBA history). The Warriors faced off against the Houston Rockets in the Bay and look to start another great season. James Harden and the Rockets added a new general to their club in Chris Paul. Chris Paul came over as a free agent to join the Rockets to challenge Golden State and a chance for the championship. The Warriors was thriving in this bout until they let the Rockets get back into it in the second half. Eric Gordon was big in this game and set the tone for Houston, showing that they’re gunning for the Warriors belt (or ring in this case). This was a tight game until the very end, literally with Durant hitting the final shot at the buzzer only to be waved off because his finger was still on the ball at 0.1 seconds on the clock. The Rockets would win 122-121.
Houston Rockets (3-1): Now the Rockets was 3rd in the West last year, and the addition of Paul is big, very big. How big? Big enough to wait and see how good they would mesh because Chris Paul injured his knee in the match against the Warriors. As of now, there is now exact time when CP3 will be back so the Rockets must focus around James Harden for now. Eric Gordon has been playing spectacular so far and his play has been keeping Houston afloat at the top of the West.
Golden State Warriors (2-2): Coming off a championship season, the Warriors have not been looking like their champion selves. The Dubs lost in the season opener and let their tempers fly in the lost against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz had the Warriors on lock the whole game which led Steph and Durant getting ejected from the game (with Steph being fined 50k). Is it time to panic? No but it should be noted that the Warriors have new players on their team and adjustments need to be made. Also, Swaggy P (Nick Young) seems to have finally found a home.
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Atlanta Hawks (1-3): The Hawks are a shell of their old selves. They traded Kyle Korver last season and lost Paul Milsap in the offseason. So now what? Led by Dennis Schroder, Atlanta look to prove they are not in a rebuilding state. So far, they haven’t looked good. Schroder is playing at a nice level but the drop off is pretty far with Marco Belinelli coming off the bench as the second scorer with 14.7 ppg so far. Going off the first week, the Hawks might be looking at a lottery pick but things can change.
Brooklyn Nets (2-1): The Brooklyn Nets was busy in the offseason by acquiring Allen Crabbe and traded away their star center Brook Lopez to the Lakers. In return, the Nets received former lottery pick D’Angelo Russell. Russell have actually been playing great and is a prime candidate for most improved player this year. Unfortunately, Brooklyn lost Jeremy Lin for the season with a new injury. This first week has shown that Brooklyn is looking to make the playoffs in the East and D’Angelo Russell is making that statement loud and clear.
Charlotte Hornets (1-2): The Hornets are coming off a playoff appearance and look to keep the ball rolling. Kemba Walker now has some help with Dwight Howard joining the club. While Dwight performances has been faulting the past few seasons, he has started the season well. Though the Hornets have a couple of loses, Dwight playing good is great sign and playing alongside Frank Kaminsky may cause problems for teams down the road. Howard is also averaging a double-double thus far so which is a plus.
Chicago Bulls (0-2): Welp, everyone knew the Chicago Bulls were in for a rough season but no one expected to lose players from a team fight. Bobby Portis became Bobby Ali when he punched Nikola Mirotic in the face, injuring him indefinitely. Portis received an eight-game suspension for the punch. So, no Mirotic, no Portis, and no Zach Lavine due to injury. Now that Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo left in free agency and Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota, the Bulls are in full rebuild. One positive is 7th overall pick Lauri Markkanen looks great and resembles Kristaps Porzingis which gives him a high ceiling.
Dallas Mavericks (0-4): The Dallas Mavericks are off to a rough start as the club has not won a game yet. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is off to a great season but the Mavs are struggling to score at this point. Dirk is not the Dirk we knew and father time has pull up on his front porch. Harrison Barnes is leading in scoring but more is going to be needed from the other players (Where’s Wesley Matthews??). Smells like a lottery pick is coming for the Mavericks.
Denver Nuggets (1-2): The Denver Nuggets was just outside of the playoffs last season but this year might be different. Paul Millsap joined the team to get them over that playoff hump. The arrival of Millsap and loss of Danilo Gallinari has put a shift on the scoring for the Nuggs. Nikola Jokic might fill that scoring void as well as being a factor on defense. Gary Harris has played well thus far and it is great to see him stepping up. The Denver Nuggets will be interesting to watch this year. PS, what happened to Kenneth Faried’s all-star performances?
Detroit Pistons (2-2): The Detroit Pistons added Avery Bradley in the offseason to build on their defense. Tobias Harris seemed to be taking the lead of the team and have been playing well. Reggie Jackson is his usual self and Avery Bradley looks to fit just nice. Andre Drummond looks like he has taken a step back on offense, maybe focusing on defense with the added offensive players. The Pistons are another team that needs more than a week to show their identity.
Indiana Pacers (1-2): Even without Paul George, the Pacers looked good in their opener, until they lost they star player, Miles Turner, to a concussion. The Pacers would lose their next two games showing how vital of piece he is. Newly acquired Victor Oladipo is back playing at high level like he did in Orlando and showing the world that he can hoop. Darren Collison is also filling the PG void, adding help to Oladipo while Turner is out. It is to early to say if the Pacers will make the playoffs or not as this week only leaves us with a question mark.
LA Clippers (2-0): The Clippers looking to regain success without Chris Paul. The first week showed that Blake Griffin is ready to step up and take over the team. LAC are also without Jamall Crawford but has a nice replacement in Lou Williams coming off the bench. Danilo Gallinari is coming from the Nuggets and is looking great so far adjusting to his new team. One downfall for the Clips is losing Milos Tedosic for the year with a foot injury who they signed this summer (Eric Bledsoe?). The Clippers might be a sleeper team in the West. PS, Wille Reed looks great off the bench, what a steal.
LA Lakers (1-2): Ball Time. Was Lavar Ball right about his soon taking the LA Lakers to the playoffs? Don’t ask Patrick Beverly that question as he made point to play the hardcore defense on Lonzo Ball because of his dad’s comments over the summer. Lonzo responded the next game almost getting a triple-double. The Lakers are still young and have a lot things to work out but the team looks great production wise. All the young guys are working to make wins with the help of veteran Brook Lopez, acquired in the trade with D’Angelo Russell. While the focus may be on Lonzo Ball, rookie Kyle Kuzma is playing good basketball. Larry Nance Jr. and Brandon Ingram has also improved. Looking to see more from Julius Randle though.
Memphis Grizzlies (3-0): The Grizzlies are playing great basketball this season. Memphis have beaten the Warriors and the Rockets both behind Marc Gasol who’s averaging a double-double currently. Who knew that even after losing Tony Allen and Zach Randolph that the Grizz would still be playing stellar defense. Great coaching and great defense has Memphis up top early in the West.
Miami Heat (2-1): The Heat are playing well as a team so far. With 5 plus players currently averaging points in double digits, there is no star, just a team. Hassan Whiteside has been hurt for two of the games with a knee injury but that was an opportunity for others to shine like Josh Richardson would looked great in the win against the Hawks. Once Whiteside comes back, it will be easier to see the direction of the team. So far, so good.
Milwaukee Bucks (3-1): Giannis Antetokounmpo is next up. He is the real deal. Currently averaging almost 40 ppg, Antetokounmpo is leading his team four categories and leading his team to wins. Even in the loss to the Caverliers, he looked amazing. While his teammates have been playing well also, Giannis is on another level. The top level. MVP level. We are witnessing greatness and we should be aware that Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks are here and here to stay.
Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1): The new look Timberwolves are finally here and they look great. Many acquisitions were made this offseason by the T-Wolves but the most impactful is trading for Jimmy Butler. Butler joins Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns to pursue a championship. Also adding Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, and Taj Gibson. Of course, adjustments are needed to be made but it looks like coach Thibbs found a team that could go deep into the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans (1-2): Fire & Ice. Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are finally playing a full season together and are want to make some noise in the West. With the addition of playmaker Rajon Rondo, they might find the balance they need at guard. Unfortunately, Rondo is out for up to six weeks due to injury so Ian Clark and Jrue Holiday has to pick up their performance. So far, both are starting off well. There has been rumors of signing Jameer Nelson is the absence of Rondo. The Pels are going to be an interesting watch.
New York Knicks (0-2): The Knicks are on the road for life without Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo Anthony agreed to be traded to OKC for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott. Kristaps Porzingis is now the star of the team and he is definitely playing like it. Though the Knicks have come up short so far in the season, Porzingis has been doing his best to keep the team afloat. The signings of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Michael Beasley is clear proof of the Knicks wanting to make up for Carmelo’s scoring but those plans haven’t panned out. This may be another year the Knicks may miss the playoffs but hey, Porzingis may make the all-star team.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2): OK3 they are calling them. The Oklahoma City Thunder look to make big noise in the West. They acquired Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Same summer, OKC acquired Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott. The two all-stars join the reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook, to top the West and a shot at the championship. After watching the team play, it is obvious that they need some work but they still look great so far. The three played well in the season opener against the New York Knicks with Westbrook achieving a triple-double. A heartbreaking loss to the Timberwolves could have resulted from some missed calls but OK3 will be amazing to watch this season. Also, Paul George is playing great, he might be making a MVP campaign.
Orlando Magic (2-1): Nikola Vucevic, remember his name. Vucevic is playing at an elite level and is carrying the Magic to wins. Averaging a double-double thus far, he is the main piece to this team. Not as close to an elite level but Evan Fouriner is starting the season well, especially in the absence of Aaron Gordon whose been out with a bum knee. The bottom half of the East is open and the Orlando Magic may have a slot waiting for them.
Philadelphia 76ers (1-3): Trust the Process. The very young 76ers finally have all their young players that they drafted and led by Joel Embiid, are ready to show us the process we were told to trust. Embiid was on a minute restriction in the season opener and did not play in the 3rd game due to injury but he is playing at an elite level. Ben Simmons has also hit the ground running, earning his first triple-double of his career in their first win. Rookie Markelle Fultz needs a bit more time to get the ball rolling but as we learned, trust that process. The 76ers might be playoff bound.
Phoenix Suns (1-3): Ouch, the Suns are going through some things. The first week for the Suns has been rough because of the firing of their head coach, Earl Watson and Eric Bledsoe tweeting that he does not want to be there. Now Jay Triano is the head coach and Eric Bledsoe is being heavily shopped with him not playing in the Suns only win of the season. So, expect some new faces in Phoenix soon. Other than madness, rookie Josh Jackson is looking good and if Bledsoe is out, expect Devin Booker numbers to rise. This was thought to be a lottery year for Phoenix and starting out this may still hold true.
Portland Trailblazers (2-1): Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are doing their thing. The two are leading the Blazers to blowouts (until they ran into the Greek Freak) and looking good doing it. Even with McCollum suspended in the season opener, they easily took care of the Suns. The Blazers now have Jusuf Nurkic for a full season and that may propel them to the top half of the West. The Trailblazers might need some respect on their name.
Sacramento Kings (1-3): A young team, the Kings led by rookie De’Aaron Fox are dealing with the first full season without Demarcus Cousins since 2010. Zach Randolph and George Hill were added to give the Kings some experience to a young squad. The Kings are off to a slow start but many players contributing so that’s good. Looking for an identity, the Kings might need more time to figure out where this team is going.
San Antonio Spurs (3-0): No Kawhi, no problem. The Spurs begin the season with a hot start without their star player, Kawhi Leonard, due to injury. Tony Parker is also injury but so far, the Spurs are holding good without them. LaMarcus Aldridge is playing like he did in Portland and newly signed Rudy Gay has filled the void from the missing players. There are no surprises here, under Pop the Spurs will be in great shape.
Toronto Raptors (2-1): Toronto is back to try for another season at the top of the East. Demar DeRozan signed a big deal to come back to the Raptors and he’s playing like he wants to stay there. The loss of DaMarre Carrol did hurt but CJ Miles has replaced that spot quite well. The Raptors are starting the season well and it would take more than one week to see if they will have any changes to their team performance wise.
Utah Jazz (2-1): Now without Gordon Hayward, the Jazz are making a change. Now equipped with Ricky Rubio, Utah needs to find scoring. Ruby Gobert Is great and plus he’s amazing at both sides of the ball but help is needed. An aging Joe Johnson and unproven Rodney Hood is putting forth the effort of fill the Hayward scoring void but more is needed. This team will win with defense which is nowhere near bad unless they run into a shootout of course.
Washington Wizards (3-0): Is it time to stop sleeping on John Wall and Bradley Beal? The Wizards are playing at a high level and that starts with the backcourt. Wall and Beal are on a mission and a 3-0 start proves that. With the role players like Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. improving and Markieff Morris recovering from injury contributes handsomely. Watch out for an all-star season from both Wall and Beal plus a high playoff berth. Cleveland needs to look out.