NBA Weekly Vision Oct. 24 - Oct. 30
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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 team’s news or statistics. A few games may be occasionally highlighted that need to be mentioned such as the season openers or marquee games for example.
Two weeks are in the books for the 2017-2018 NBA season. We as fans have been itching to see how our favorite teams are shaping out. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors have been looking a bit shaky while other teams have been shining. Orlando is the top team in the East and the Memphis Grizzlies have beaten the Warriors and Houston Rockets (the Rockets twice). It’s time to smell the coffee because we need to stop sleeping on teams that were thought to be lottery winners. After two weeks of the season, here’s a vision of the action.
Atlanta Hawks (1-6): Last week the Hawks won one game. This week the Hawks still have that same one win. Being outscored by almost 10 points every game, Atlanta has not improved since last week. While improvement for any team will take longer than a week, Atlanta needs to show something to win anyone over. After winning the opener, they only had one close game in which they still lost. Dennis Schroder has missed a few games due to an ankle injury but he looks great when he does play. Marco Belinelli and John Collins are great off the bench but the production stops there for the Hawks.
Boston Celtics (5-2): The Celtics have bounced back from their first two losses and won four straight. It seems that the offense is starting to mold with Kyrie Irving leading the way. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have stepped up in the absence of Gordon Hayward. The C’s look ready to challenge the Western Conference as they defeated the San Antonio Spurs behind Kyrie’s 24 points.
Brooklyn Nets (3-4): After an explosive start, the Nets have managed one win this past week. That win though was against the Cleveland Cavaliers even without the help of D’Angelo Russell. As the second week has shown, Brooklyn has slowed a bit and who knows if that they would pick back up even with Russell back fully healthy.
Charlotte Hornets (4-3): Charlotte had a good week, winning two of their three games. The Hornets picked up the fourth-year option on Frank Kaminsky, rewarding him with his great play off the bench. A strong win against Memphis is surely a confidence booster for both the players and the fans. Dwight Howard is still averaging a double-double and seems to found a spark back in his game. Also, just like last week, Kemba Walker is playing at an all-star level.
Chicago Bulls (1-4): The Chicago Bulls are at the bottom of the East and their only win is against the only team that’s worse than them, the Atlanta Hawks. After their win, the Bulls were dropped by 32 by the Thunder. The Bulls roster is still relatively weak but with a lot of potentials. Kris Dunn made his debut this season due to a finger injury and hopefully, that gives the team a push. Lauri Markkanen and Justin Holiday are holding the team up but clearly, that is not enough to pose a threat to other teams in the league.
Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4): Yea so Cavaliers are 3-4. That’s not terrible but the expectations of the Cavs were so high. Last week they started 2-1 and then bounced back with a win against the Chicago Bulls. Then came a three-game skid. Cleveland loses came from both New York teams and got hit by 20 by the New Orleans Pelicans. The New Orleans loss is understandable because of the all-star big men but other two were a little suspect. Coach Tryonn Lue switches up the lineup multiple times with LeBron running point guard for a couple games but Lue hasn’t found the lineup that works for wins. Injuries to both Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade doesn’t help since they were added this offseason to provide help for LeBron. Until Isaiah Thomas comes back, it will be hard to see the Cavaliers become consistent. Unless LeBron, well, act like LeBron of course. Also, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson, where art thou?
Dallas Mavericks (1-7): The Mavericks are looking rough. They did pick up a win at home against the Grizzlies but is having a tough time against the other squads. The Mavs were blown out by the Warriors but most of the team's losses were relatively close. Dennis Smith Jr. looked great in their only win and that’s a start. With Dirk showing his age, The Mavericks are going to have a tough time this week with mostly road games coming up. Mark Cuban may be rich but his team is seriously playing the lottery.
Denver Nuggets (3-4): The Nuggets are sitting slightly under .500 currently and it has shown it their gameplay. Denver has been up and down thus far in the season and even had a two-game winning streak until they fell to the Knicks. Nikola Jokic is playing great basketball, leading his team in three categories. The Nuggets currently have six players in double figures and seem to have found great chemistry this past week.
Detroit Pistons (5-2): Just last week, the Detroit Pistons were 2-2 and tied with a bunch of teams, just adjusting to the new season. Now, the Pistons are the top team in the East. Yes, its early but Detroit is winning games and against great teams. The Pistons beat the Minnesota Timberwolves by 20, handed the Los Angeles Clippers their first loss, and even defeated the Golden State Warriors. Good old Stan Van Gundy has him a great team again but doesn’t deserve all the credit. Andre Drummond is averaging a double-double, Tobias Harris is playing great basketball (21 PPG), and Avery Bradley has been providing more defense to an already defensive squad. Three wins in a row last week, let’s see if they can keep it up.
Golden State Warriors (5-3): The Warriors are 5-3. That’s an ok record but we are talking about the defending champs. They lost the opener and again to the Memphis Grizzlies last week but seemly had bounced back with three wins. That’s when the Dubs ran into the now top team in the East, the Detroit Pistons and lost. The Warriors obviously have some work to do. They are not the Warriors we knew to blowout teams easily. Teams are coming for the Dubs and the pressure is coming. The Washington Wizards showed toughness, enough toughness to prove a fight between Draymond Green and Bradley Beal. The Warriors were down 18 but with help of Kevon Looney and Omri Casspi, they squeezed out a win. The Warriors looked to have bounced back with a great performance against the Clippers led by Steph Curry with 31 points. The champs might have finally found their rhythm.
Houston Rockets (5-3): Houston have two losses against Memphis Grizzlies. So, the Rockets are great unless they play the Grizz. They also lost to Philly but the 76ers young players can challenge Houston’s bigs. James Harden is close to averaging a double-double and Eric Gordon is playing like someone said something wrong to his mom. It is finally good to see Gordon getting past the injuries and playing at an elite level. Even without Chris Paul, the Rockets are in good shape.
Indiana Pacers (3-3): The Pacers are doing well without their star. How? They found another star in Victor Oladipo. Oladipo lead the Pacers to two big wins over the T-Wolves and rare win over the Spurs. After getting traded from the Thunder, Oladipo has found his place to shine and glowing now, averaging 28 points per game and 60% from the field. He was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Once Turner returns, the Pacers might need some respect on their name.
LA Clippers (4-2): The Clippers are one of the top teams in the West and Blake Griffin is leading the way. Though they did drop a game to Detroit and Golden State (understandable), LA looks like a well-oiled machine. Blake is almost averaging a double-double with his 9 rebounds per game and DeAndre Jordan is grabbing a massive 17 rebounds per game. With the Clippers having a dominate rim protector and Patrick Beverley providing solid defense at the point, the Clippers will continue to strive in the post-Chris Paul era.
LA Lakers (2-4): We last saw the Lakers in a 1-2 hole but LA grabbed a great win against the Washington Wizards. The Lakers showed grit and a glimpse of what could be of the future. Lonzo Ball is not an insane scorer but can handle the ball well and oddly enough, is leading the team in rebounds. The scoring rookie seems to fit Kyle Kuzma way more as he is averaging 13.7 points per game. Even off the bench, Jordan Clarkson is leading the team in scoring which gives the Lakers a spark. Unfortunately, the Lakers are having trouble with defense. Their opponents are outscoring them by 7 points and their bigs are looking lost. Larry Nance Jr. is picking up the scoring and rebound slack that center Brook Lopez should be providing. Julius Randle was big in the Washington win but he needs to be more in either the scoring, defense, or rebounding. A showing in one of these categories will be of much help.
Memphis Grizzlies (5-2): Leading the Western Conference, the Grizzlies are playing great. Adding two more wins since last week, the Grizzlies are the surprisingly up top, defeating three high caliber teams in the process. One of Memphis’ losses come at a surprise also, which was handed to them by the lowly Dallas Mavericks. The Grizz did get their revenge on the Mavs the next game after so it seems as the Grizzlies are still in tip-top shape as the season progresses. Also, shout out to Tyreke Evans making big contributions off the bench and being the third scorer for the squad.
Miami Heat (2-4): Miami are on a three-game skid currently after starting the season well. The three losses came from three projected playoffs teams but that still is not a reason to do so. The skid shows that this club needs their star in Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside, who is sidelined with a knee injury, scored 26 points and 22 rebounds in the lone game he played this season. That production is desperately needed for this team to turn around.
Milwaukee Bucks (4-2): The Milwaukee Bucks are in great shape to start the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is front runner for MVP currently and the Bucks only lost one game this past week. Unfortunately, center Greg Monroe will be out two weeks due to a calf injury. The other Bucks player will need to step up and make for Monroe’s production rather than putting the load on Antetokounmpo’s shoulders (though he might be able to). John Henson should be primed to shine in the absence of Monroe.
Minnesota Timberwolves (4-3): The T-Wolves have had an up and down season but they are currently on the upside of things. Minnesota is currently on a two-game winning after a close battle with the Heat. Jimmy Butler has missed two games due to an infection and that’s when the T-Wolves went on a two-game losing streak. Butler did return and was key to beating the Thunder. An interesting match-up is ahead for Minnesota against the Pelicans and now healthy, it will be the battle of the bigs.
New Orleans Pelicans (3-4): New Orleans has been looking great and Demarcus Cousins have been leading the squad. The Pelicans only loss this week came from the Trailblazers but New Orleans lost Anthony Davis to a leg injury early in the game. The injury sidelined Davis for a game but that game was against the Sacramento Kings, the same Kings that got rid of Demarcus Cousins. Cousins made a statement in the win versus the Kings, going off for 41 points and 23 rebounds. Sheesh. Davis was back for the next game where the Pelicans easily took care of the Cavaliers with Cousins grabbing a triple-double in the process. With Davis healthy and Cousins playing dominate, it will be hard to challenge New Orleans this year.
New York Knicks (3-3): The New York Knicks started the season with three straight losses. New York would then win three straight games, which includes the Cavaliers, all behind the greatness of Kristaps Porzingis. In the win against the Cavs, Porzingis went off for 32 points and 12 rebounds. The next game against Denver, Kristaps scored a career high 38 points. While this week some thought that coach Jeff Hornacek should be on the hot seat, the Knicks have completely turned things around. So now it’s time to put the hot seat back in the closet and time to put Kristaps Porzingis in the MVP conversation.
Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3): So far, even with Carmelo Anthony & Paul George, the Thunder only won when Russell Westbrook gets a triple-double. This is like last year but Westbrook did not have this caliber of players. Most if not all the team’s production comes from the three stars and Steven Adams while the bench is almost inexistent. This may force Anthony or George to come off the pine. OKC beat the George’s former team, the Pacers, and demolished the Bulls. Next up, they have the Bucks on the schedule and they will need a big night defensively for Steven Adams to step up to the Greek Freak.
Orlando Magic (5-2): Not much has changed since last week for the Magic. Orlando is still dominating the East and currently have three players averaging over 20 points in scoring. Evan Fournier has stepped up greatly in the small absence of Aaron Gordon. In Monday’s win versus the Pelicans, Marreese Speights came up big for the Magic hitting a career high 6 three pointers. If this play continues, Frank Vogel will get a nod for coach of the year.
Philadelphia 76ers (3-4): The 76ers picked up two wins last week against the Dallas Mavericks but that’s not the big news. Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely due to a shoulder injury. While there was no structural damage, Fultz’s shoulder is preventing him from even shooting his free throws correctly. Philly seems to always have a rookie that’s out for the season and Fultz is no exception. Ben Simmons was balling last week, achieving his first triple-double of his career. Joel Embiid is also playing great, showing that he is becoming an elite center in this league. Both Embiid and Simmons were huge for the 76ers in a win against the Rockets. There was also talk of Philly looking to trade Jahlil Okafor so keep notice of that situation.
Phoenix Suns (2-4): Well the Phoenix Suns are not looking that bad. The Suns split their games last week with their loss being in a close game against the Trailblazers. The Suns have yet to move Eric Bledsoe so that move might be happening in the next coming week. Also, there are rumors that Tyson Chandler will be included in the trade with Bledsoe if made. With a new coach, things are looking slightly up for Phoenix.
Portland Trailblazers (4-3): Portland took a slight dip in the past week but nothing of concern. They fell to the Raptors and Clippers who are both high profiled. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are playing great and Jusuf Nurkic is fitting in well in his first full season with the club. The next week should be a bounce back for the Blazers.
Sacramento Kings (1-5): The Kings are freefalling currently with no end in sight. So far, De’Aaron Fox is leading his team in scoring with 12 points per game and the only help comes Bogdan Bogdanovic but he can’t stay healthy. The Kings have potential in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein but they have not stepped up at all. The production that Demarcus Cousins provided has not been filled by any means. They did beat the Mavs though, that’s a start. We are looking at another contender for number one draft pick.
San Antonio Spurs (4-3): The Spurs started on a four-game winning streak and now they are on three game losing streak. It is hard to say why the Spurs are losing at this rate but one clear reason of the losses is missing Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. Coach Popovich usually have one of his stars to fall back on but Lamarcus Aldridge cannot handle the load by himself. The Spurs look to get their spark back against the Warriors in which a win would get the ball back rolling.
Toronto Raptors (4-2): After dropping two games, the Raptors came back and won two. They’re missing their starting center Jonas Valanciunas due to an ankle injury and was without Serge Ibaka the last game though they won. It should be noted that Kyle Lowry has seen a drop in production this season in scoring but upped his assist total a bit. Once healthy, the Raptors should be back in playoff form. Toronto are currently on a Western Conference road trip and are looking to end it on a positive note with Denver and Utah coming up.
Utah Jazz (4-3): Just above .500, the Jazz has been on a slight roll behind Rodney Hood. Utah is still searching for that scoring void that Gordon Hayward provided as no player is close to the production of the former star player. Hood has looked good when has played but in his absence, the Jazz have trouble in the scoring department. The team does play well together and that is a plus. Rudy Golbert now has the chance to step up to stardom and most of us are waiting to see that.
Washington Wizards (4-2): Washington is a team that should not be slept on, even if sometimes they fall asleep on themselves. The Wizards have two losses that should have been W’s. The first came at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Wiz were in a tight game but shot as if they were up 40. Just some mistakes on Washington’s part but the Lakers deserve credit. The second loss came when they were up 18 in the third against the Warriors but the Dubs came back leaving Washington shook. The Wizards are doing good but need to tighten up in the clutch. Otto Porter Jr. (19 PPG) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (12 PPG) are really making the team shine, giving opposing teams a starting five to be worried about.