Words cannot describe how happy I am to have the NBA back on television. It’s the greatest domestic sport we have and this season is already shaping up to be extraordinary. The Golden State Warriors aren’t playing the pity card and embracing the “Villain” role they feel like the media and public have cast upon them since signing Kevin Durant. The reigning NBA Champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, look free and relaxed now that LeBron finally brought a championship to the city. It’s still extremely early but a 3rd consecutive NBA Finals clash, a rubber match, between these two teams would be the greatest thing the NBA could hope for. We are officially in the golden age of the NBA and as someone who lives and dies by the late 80’s/early 90’s Jordan era I can admit that without any regret.
From an individual performance stand point we have seen some unbelievable stat lines in the first ten games of this season. We’ve seen 7 triple doubles so far and that number should grow exponentially, hell Julius Randle recorded one last night. Five players (DeRozan, Westbrook, Davis, Harden, Lillard) are averaging 30+ PPG while only Curry accomplished that feat last year. Russell Westbrook and James Harden might be on pace for the most prolific statistical seasons in the history of the NBA. We also can’t forget about the incredible tear DeMar DeRozan is on in Toronto, LeBron James playing as great as ever and the giant step forward we’re witnessing from the future of the Association in Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and DeMarcus Cousins.
There are so many things to watch for and appreciate this season, here’s a few:
- Andrew Wiggins is shooting 54.1% from 3 point range on 3.7 attempts per
- Hassan Whiteside is averaging 23.8 rebounds per 48 mins
- DeMarcus Cousins leads the league in fouls per game at 4.3
- John Wall is your early leader in ejections with 2 in back to back games
- George Hill is averaging 20.4 PPG on 54% FG (career highs)
- Warriors (116 PPG) and Cavaliers (110 PPG) are #1 and #2 in Team Scoring
- The Los Angeles Lakers are #1 in Opp. PPG (92.2) and FG% (40.9%)
- Gordon Hayward is the best player no one is talking about
- The Greek Freak might be the most athletically talented player we’ve seen since LeBron
Top 5 Performances to Date
- Russell Westbrook – 51/13/10/2/0 vs. Phoenix
- Russell Westbrook – 41/12/16/0/0 vs. Orlando
- Anthony Davis – 50/15/5/5/4 vs. Denver
- Anthony Davis – 45/17/3/2/2 vs. Golden State
- James Harden – 41/7/15/1/0 vs. Cleveland
♦ Trust the Process? Despite the 76ers being 1-9 to start the year there is definitely optimism for the future. A future that hopefully will revolve around a healthy and thriving Joel Embiid. The former #3 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has turned heads in his first games of his NBA career. While still facing minutes restrictions he’s posting 18.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.3 BPG in 22 minutes per night. The ceiling is very high and let’s hope for the greater good of the NBA community he reaches it.
♦ The Post Kobe Lakers are 7-5 and well on their way of improving significantly over last year’s 21 win season. Luke Walton has his team playing well and naturally with a young team like this they’ll experience high highs (def. Warriors 117-97) and low lows (loss T’Wolves 125-99). While I don’t expect the Lakers to make the playoffs based on what we’ve seen they can surely hover around .500 and that would be a tremendous step in the right direction for year one.
♦ When all the dust settles it looks like I’m going to have to eat my words surrounding DeMar DeRozan. I was critical of him last year in the playoffs and I went on record saying I didn’t want the Lakers to break the bank for him in free agency. All he’s done this year is average 34.0 PPG on 52.8% from the floor. On mid range shots he’s shooting 59% and on long twos an astounding 52%, both of which are up drastically from his prior three seasons. I might’ve been wrong on this one…
♦ Is there another great player who is more wasting the best years of their life than Anthony Davis? Once again the New Orleans Pelicans are going no where and Anthony Davis will spend year five in his NBA career on another losing team. The Pellies are 2-9 with no reason to be optimistic about the future. Even with Jrue Holidy and Tyreke Evans this team is a lottery team. Davis is averaging an astounding 30.5 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.9 BPG while heading to his 4th straight All Star appearance.
♦ From NBA Finals punchline to Dallas Mavericks’ leading scorer, Harrison Barnes has came out firing to start the season. The man who was literally left wide open during the Finals, who couldn’t hit a baseline mid range jumpshot to save his life, is averaging 22.3 PPG and has topped 30 points three times already this season. His production will dip once Dirk Nowitzki returns from injury but it’s nice to see the big money signing (4 year, $94M) bringing early production.
♦ I’m calling Russell Westbrook’s 2016-17 season “Unplugged” as he’s detached from the Matrix and out there like Neo battling agents like it’s nothing. Through the first 11 games, he’s recorded 3 triple-doubles. We’ve already seen a 51 point, 13 rebound, 10 assist night against the Suns. His stat-line is remarkable: 32.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 9.9 APG with a 31.69 PER. Westbook has a usage rate of 41.6% which thanks to Kevin Durant’s departure has increased exponentially from last year’s 31.8% rate.
G – Russell Westbrook, OKC (Damian Lillard, POR)
G – James Harden, HOU (Steph Curry, GSW)
F – Kevin Durant, GSW (Kawhi Leonard, SAS)
F – DeMarcus Cousins, SAC (Blake Griffin, LAC)
C – Anthony Davis, NOP (Karl Anthony Towns, MIN)
G – Isaiah Thomas, BOS (Kyrie Irving, CLE)
G – DeMar DeRozan, TOR (Kemba Walker, CHA)
F – Jimmy Butler, CHI (Paul George, IND)
F – LeBron James, CLE (Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL)
C – Dwight Howard, ATL (Hassan Whiteside, MIA)