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We have now seen a decent sample size of every single team in the NBA over the last three weeks and we have seen some things that are good, bad and interesting. So, for those who haven’t paid attention for various reasons, let me catch you up on what you have missed. Welcome to the debut edition of “The NBA Review.”
Who would have predicted at the beginning of the season that the Cleveland Cavaliers would have the second-best record in the NBA with All-Star Point Guard Darius Garland only playing in two games?
If you did please go to Vegas immediately and there are some amazing SportsBooks where you can place your bets going forward. Newly acquired All-Star Shooting Guard Donovan Mitchell has exceeded early season expectations.
Not only is he averaging 31.1 points per game (which is a career-high) but it’s his 48.1% shooting percentage and 7.1 assists per game that’s especially eye catching. So far in the opening seven games in Cleveland, Mitchell has been even more efficient while taking more responsibilities.
Not only has the offense been outstanding (sixth in the league in points per game), but the team defense has been even better (fifth in points allowed per game). At this point, New York Knicks fans can leave the chat.
The major feel good story in the opening few weeks has been Mitchell’s former team the Utah Jazz. Yes, the same Jazz team that traded four of their five starters and loaded up on young talent and draft picks has gone off to a 6-3 start this season. Led by former Cleveland Cavalier Lauri Markkanen, the Jazz have found ways to win against teams they were not supposed to win against.
The Jazz have already defeated the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies (twice) in their first nine games. All of those teams were in the playoffs last season. I’m not sure how much longer the Jazz will be third in the Western Conference but they continue like this the statue for new CEO Danny Ainge will constructed sooner rather than later.
It’s easy to pick out the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers for their struggles in the early going. Since everyone is talking about them, I’m going to go in a different direction – the Golden State Warriors and their 0-5 record on the road have the defending champions on this list right now.
The Warriors have been known for winning at home and playing well at the Chase Center but away from it, they have been subpar. The main reason has been the defense.
They have allowed over 116 points in all of their road games and given up over 120 in three of them. Opposing teams are shooting 39% from downtown against the Warriors and are getting to the line at an average of 31 times a game.
They’re giving up 48 rebounds per contest, including 13 offensive boards. This is a far cry from last year’s team that gave up less than 108 points per game and allowed only 42 rebounds.
Injuries cannot be the excuse as the Warriors have started the same starting lineup in all but one game thus far.
There’s an old saying that goes “One Man’s Trash, Is Another Man’s Treasure”, and in the NBA this season it has shown itself in Orlando Magic forward Bol Bol. Between injuries (in college and in the NBA) being stuck on one of the best teams in the NBA over the last few seasons, we haven’t seen the potential of Bol unless it is a highlight of him doing something amazing.
Now that Orlando is still rebuilding, trying to figure out how to build around top overall pick Paolo Banchero and with Jonathan Isaac only playing in three games since January of 2020, Bol has not only taken over the small forward job, he’s looking like he could be a cornerstone piece in Orlando.
Bol leads the NBA in total blocked shots (including at least one in every game he’s played this season) and leads the league in 2-point field goal percentage (shooting 71.7%). Interesting things happen when talent actually gets a chance to see the floor. Now if they can find a way to somehow unlock R.J. Hampton, then the Magic will become almost a nightly viewing team.
On every edition of “The Review”, I will provide you a top-5 of two different categories. You will always get my “MVP Top-5” and an additional Top-5 of something unique.
MVP Top 5
- Donovan Mitchell – Cleveland Cavaliers
- Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
- Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
- Ja Morant – Memphis Grizzlies
- Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard was higher up on my list until he hurt his calf and will be forced to miss at least a week or two. I could not penalize him by keeping him off either. The reason why Mitchell is my MVP is explained above.
Doncic has scored 30 or more in every game this season, Antetokounmpo is putting up monster numbers everywhere and the Bucks are the only undefeated team in the league.
Morant is the leader of a Grizzlies team that has not had Jaren Jackson Jr., that just got back Dillon Brooks from injury and he’s still scoring over 31 points shooting 53% from the floor-51% from deep- 86% from the free throw line.
Top 5 Things To Watch For
- Ja Morant
- The Detroit Pistons
- Shadeon Sharpe
- Bennedict Mathurin
- Oklahoma City Duo of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey
Morant does something in every game that makes you have to press rewind to watch it again. The Detroit Pistons are a collection of young talent that on any given night can have someone go off for a big game. Don’t let the 2-7 record fool you, this team is extremely fun to watch.
Sharpe has gotten more chances to play over the last few games and has provided at least one highlight worthy dunk in each. Mathurin, the rookie from Arizona, is averaging over 20 points per game and he’s doing it coming off the bench.
The Thunder duo’s ability to play off each other’s skill sets is amazing to watch. Giddey knows how to find Gilgeous-Alexander in the right place at the right time and that’s why he’s is in the top five in the league in scoring.