The NBA season tipped off Oct. 17, and just six minutes into it, a horrific stomach-turning injury dropped Celtics’ big offseason addition, Gordon Hayward, and is likely to end his season.
Since then, reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has been putting up triple doubles, Giannis Antekokounmpo has made an early case for this year’s MVP award, and the Cavs and Warriors have looked beatable.
Antekokounmpo, more commonly known as the “Greek Freak” (mainly because hardly anyone can spell or pronounce his name), has led the Bucks to a 4-2 start with a very impressive all around stat line of 39.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, all while creating highlight reel plays. Watch out for these Bucks should he keep putting up numbers like these.
The Cavs (3-4) and Warriors (4-3) are both off to slow starts, with the former currently on a three-game losing streak after losing by almost 20 to the Knicks. Lebron has had to make starts at point guard, and of course he dominated. It seems like with any Lebron-led team, the regular season is like preseason – he’ll mess around putting up a great stat line, and then get into the playoffs and kick it up another level to help his team.
The Warriors three losses have come to the Rockets, Pistons and Grizzlies, who have a combined 15-5 record so far. The point is, there is no reason to panic if you are a fan of Cleveland or Golden State. Both teams will still easily be top seeds in their respective conferences come playoff time.
As for other contenders, the Rockets are off to a 5-2 start, including a come from behind opening night win over the Warriors, without the services of Chris Paul. The new big three in Oklahoma City has shown great potential, and although only off to a 3-3 start, look for the wins to be coming as the season progresses and George, Anthony and Westbrook get more playing time together. The Clippers seem not to be missing Chris Paul at all, as they are 5-1 and have the best defense in the league (92.4 points per game allowed) and own the best points differential (+13.8).
The Celtics are still a strong 4-2 even after the loss of Hayward, thanks in large part to Kyrie Irving. Jayson Tatum has also stepped up with the absence of Hayward, averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Speaking of rookies, let’s talk about Lonzo Ball. After a poor debut against one of the league’s best defensive point guards in Patrick Beverly, he has shown flashes of greatness, including excellent court vision. He played very well defensively against John Wall, one of the better guards in the game. Fellow rookie guard De’Aaron Fox put up good numbers coming off the bench behind veteran George Hill, but struggled to find his shot Sunday in his first career start against the Rockets.
I think it’s prediction time. It’s hard to bet against Lebron, especially with the Celtics not having Hayward. Teams like the Bucks and Wizards could make some noise, but I foresee the Eastern Conference being represented by Lebron yet again. Who comes out of the crowded Western Conference? How about three superstars all chasing their first ring? Thunder over Cavs in seven games, Giannis for MVP and Ball for Rookie of the Year.