After what felt like a summer of trades, signings and drama that you would only see in NBA 2K, the season has finally come. The players whose decisions we all obsessed over actually get to play basketball and the surprises did not stop.
Kings & Suns reversal:
Coming into this season many people saw the Sacramento Kings as a young team that could fight for a low seed playoff berth after an impressive 2018-19 season. What we have seen so far is just shy of a disaster. The team started the year 0-5, the worst start for the franchise since 1990, and has been underwhelming in their performances. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns have started the year going 5-2 and have beat some of the league’s most respected teams, winning games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns have put together a competent roster for the first time since the Steve Nash years and they are outperforming everyone’s expectations. With the loss of DeAndre Ayton, who was suspended for 25 games for use of PEDs, it will be interesting to see if they continue their impressive play
Blazers in trouble:
The Portland Trailblazers were picked by many to see a decline in performance this year after their stellar 2018-19 and it looks like this may be the case. With Jusef Nurkic still sidelined and the injury to Zach Collins, the Blazers have been left with no depth or defense at the forward position. Even with stellar performances from Damian Lillard, the team has not been to hold stronger opponents at bay. The addition of Hassan Whiteside has been underwhelming, especially with the necessity of his talents. The Blazers could very soon be put in a position where it they have to choose between making some trades to have any shot or packing it up and waiting for the 2020-21 season to make a run.
West goes through LA:
Both the Clippers and the Lakers have shown why they are the two favorites in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard has not missed a beat, continuing his incredible form from last year and the combination of Lebron James and Anthony Davis has looked unstoppable at times. The Clippers have shown that their depth is truly unmatched with Lou Williams and Montrez Harrell leading their second unit while the Lakers bench has proven to be stronger than many thought with Alex Caruso and Dwight Howard putting together some impressive games.
Houston’s new problem:
The Houston Rockets had one of the strangest off seasons this year. They were able to get Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder, but at the cost of Chris Paul and 4 first round draft picks. Then right before the season began General Manager Daryl Morey put himself into one of the oddest controversies the NBA has seen when he voiced his support for the Hong Kong protests. Now as the season is underway, the Rockets have struggled to find their rhythm. Through the first 7 games the team is shooting 31.2% on three point attempts. For a team that shoots more of half of their shots from beyond the arc these numbers should be concerning. Even James Harden has struggled to find the same efficiency he has had in the past. While he does lead the league in scoring, his field goal percentage is only 38.1% and his three point percentage is 25.3%, both significantly lower than his career averages. While it is still early, if this poor performance continues, the Rockets will be questioned for their extreme moves this summer and Morey will be further thrusted into the hot-seat.