Even with the NBA season being only but a week old there have been an abundance of subplots and headlines formulating. From inconceivable stat lines, budding rivalries and rookie debuts, it’s safe to say this NBA season will be one for the ages. Let’s drum over the most prevalent stories around the league.
Unless you spent your summer under a rock you know all about the NBA’s biggest storyline, Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors. His addition, some said, would birth the greatest offense to ever step on the court. Many thought this to be a factual statement until this team encountered Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs in the season opener. Golden State would go on to be lambasted in front of their home crowd at Oracle Arena. The Spurs dominated every facet of that matchup and showed the NBA and its fans that the Golden State Warriors are indeed human just like the rest of the league. The Warriors have since found their rhythm and are now 3-1 but one can make a convincing argument stating as to why they might not run away with the West as many of us has predicted.
What does Russell Westbrook think about Durant? (via Facebook/Aijalon O) https://t.co/KGFldPBJxi— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) July 29, 2016
On Thursday night, the Warriors routed the Thunder behind a dominant night from Kevin Durant. The former Thunder star scored 25 first half points en route to a 122-96 win. Westbrook and Durant have been anything but cordial this summer, so there was plenty of hype heading into it and match one goes to KD, who finished with 39 points. Westrbook, meanwhile, only made four shots.
Ray Allen officially decided to take his name off the Free Agent list despite having not played for the last 2 years. Ray Allen hails from the star studded draft class of 1996 and was the last to bow out. Revered as one of the greatest three point specialists of all time, it’s hard not to envision Allen as a first ballot Hall of Famer, especially given all that he has accomplished.
UPI Player of the Year (1996)
Big East Player of the Year (1996)
2× First-team All-Big East (1995, 1996)
New Faces in New Places
Atop the heap of transactions this summer Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade lead the category in terms of shock value, both having left the teams whom selected them in draft via Free Agency. Wade went on to join his hometown Bulls and Durant went on to sign with the Golden State Warriors. In my estimate they both played extremely well in their debuts. Wade led the Bulls to a home opener victory against the Boston Celtics, sealing the deal with a three point basket with 26.3 seconds left in the matchup. He dialed up 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in his debut. While Durant’s debut was spoiled by the stellar performance put together by Kawhi Leonard, it goes without saying that Durant wasn’t the issue. Kevin led his team in scoring with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. The Warriors came out flat as a unit and paid for it for 48 minutes. All in all, these gentlemen seem to be settling in just fine and seem to take solace in making the decision in joining their new organizations.
Stat Sheet Stuffers
As far as I can remember, I can’t recollect seeing so many preposterous stat lines in the NBA’s opening week. It could very well be a culmination of things; possibly opposing defenses having not quite yet meshed or it might just be these players worked their tails off in the-offseason, regardless, it is happening. These four players below are whom I believe have a head start on the far too early MVP race. Honorable Mention (Damian Lillard avg. 32.6 PPG thru 5 games).
50 points, 15 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks -10/26
45 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assissts, 2 blocks/steals -10/28
41 points, 15 assists and 7 rebounds -11/1
51 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds -10/28
4 games straight of at least 30 points, averaging 36.3 PPG
I'm going to try to be as partial as one can be when one supports the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of evaluating rookie debuts and how they stack up across the league. Let's get the obvious out of the way, Joel Embiid has been phenomenal thru 3 games. He leads all rookies in PPG (17.3) Rebounds (6.3) FG's made (17) Blocks (2.67 PG) and double doubles with 1 on the year, all while only averaging 20 minutes per game. Now that he has been addressed there are three other rookies I'd like to highlight and they are Malcolm Brogdon, Dario Saric and Wade Baldwin. These three players have all been playing above and beyond the expectations that preceded them. Saric is second among all rookie in PPG at 11.3, albeit he averages the second most minutes among his class as well. Brogdon (37th pick 16' draft) and Baldwin (17th pick 16' draft) have been playing like anything other than rookies. Their respective coaches have been able to plug them in to either run the offense and/or lock down a man on defense without missing a beat that that the starters who precede them provide. Believe me, both of these players will be players that you should keep an eye on in the long run.