We’ve officially crossed the two-week mark of the 2022-23 NBA season and now is the perfect time to take stock of what we’ve seen so far. To say this season’s start was a whirlwind would be an understatement, with title-challenging teams stumbling out of the gate and lottery teams topping the conference rankings.
It’s a very confusing time for the entire league right now, and while the two-week gap is certainly too short to make any sweeping statements, that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss some early season trends. So here are 10 sightings from the first two weeks of the season, from the disaster that continues to rage in Brooklyn to the resurgence of Lauri Markkanen in Utah.
1 Brooklyn’s Disastrous Start
A new chapter was added to the Brooklyn Nets’ chaotic book over the past five months when the team announced it was parting ways with head coach Steve Nash on Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t a completely unexpected revelation, especially after it was revealed in the off-season that Kevin Durant had effectively given team owner Joe Tsai an ultimatum, saying that either he wanted to be traded or Nash should be fired along with general manager Sean Marks. The Nets were reported to be watching Marx denied these reports Tuesday evening.be their next head coach though
Whoever the next head coach is, whether Brooklyn stays with interim Jacques Vaughn or brings in someone new, they’ll have quite a bit of work to do with a 2-6 team to start the season. The defense was the main culprit in Brooklyn’s disastrous start, finishing 28th in the league and allowing opponents to shoot 41.2 percent from three-point territory, fourth most in the league. The Nets also allowed seven players to score 30+ points in their first eight games, including two players who broke the 40 mark: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic. They even allowed Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Maturin to a staggering 32 points. from the bench adding more salt to the wound, which is a highly ineffective defense.
It’s been an open season against the Nets defense, and if that team wants to seriously challenge for the championship, they’ll need to figure out how to at least be a mid-league team on this end of the floor. . It’s just one of the problems the Nets have faced pre-season, including Ben Simmons still feeling uncomfortable on the floor and Kyrie Irving making headlines for sharing on Twitter, and not because of his real game on the floor.
2. The Lakers are desperate for shooting.
The Lakers picked up their first win of the season on Sunday night over the Denver Nuggets, against whom LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 49 points, with Russell Westbrook adding an effective 18 points off the bench. But this does not negate the glaring problems with this composition. At the beginning of the season, it was obvious that this team was not made to fight for the championship, and it lacked quality shooters to keep the defenders honest on the perimeter. However, no one could have guessed that it would be this is Badly.
The Lakers make just 26.6% of three-pointers, which is the last in the league. They generate 18.3 3-point shots per game and have a shooting percentage of just 28.2%. It shows that teams aren’t afraid to leave guys open behind the arc, and the Lakers don’t give them a reason to guard them there either.
There have been reports that the Lakers are “unlikely” to make moves before Thanksgiving in hopes of finding the perfect deal that can meet their shooting needs and get rid of Westbrook. However, as my colleague Sam Quinn wrote about this Lakers plan a week ago,. If the Lakers continue to slide, the chance of a perfect trade could evaporate and they could be stuck with Westbrook much longer than they would like or make less profit than they expected. If the Lakers fail to significantly upgrade this roster, they will likely miss the playoffs for the second season in a row.
3. Business as usual for Giannis and the Bucks
The skies are blue, the water is wet, and the Milwaukee Bucks are playing defensive choke again. That defense allowed Milwaukee to start 6-0, which includes capping opponents to a league-leading 42.3% from the field. Overall, Milwaukee has the best defense in the league, which isn’t surprising given their roster structure. But that tight defense was kind of a necessity given the Bucks’ offense was slow at the net. Milwaukee is only 17th in offense in the league, which is uncharacteristic for a team that has consistently been in the top 10 in offense in each of the past four seasons.
Giannis Antetokounmpo even admitted that now out of rhythm, which is a horrendous claim given that he’s already lost over 40 points in straight games and is averaging a career-high 33.8 points on a career-best 58.9 percent from the field. If it’s not in the spirit of a two-time MVP, then he’s going to have a monster season. The Bucks are also still waiting for the return of Chris Middleton, who is recovering from off-season wrist surgery, so if the Bucks can start 6-0 with offense still trying to get into rhythm, imagine how much better this team is. maybe in a few months.
4. Donovan Mitchell spins the Cavaliers
Mitchell’s fit with the Cavaliers was flawless, with Darius Garland still on the ball after being poked in the eye in the season opener.first of all. The Clevelands are now fourth in offense in the league, which seemed impossible a year ago when Garland wasn’t playing. Last season, when Garland was on the floor, the Cavs scored 9.1 more points per 100 possessions than when he was on the bench, which ranked 96th in the league according to Glass Cleaning. Even more dramatic, the Cavs played as a 58-win team when Garland competed last season, compared to a 24-win team when he rested.
But with Garland only playing 13 minutes, Mitchell took on the daunting task of spearheading that team’s offense, and he led the Cavs to a 5-1 start, second most in the East. When Garland returns, there may be an adjustment period, but having two dynamic ball handlers can only lift the Earth.
5. Is it too early to worry about Kawhi Leonard?
It was no big deal for the Clippers to bring Leonard back into the rotation after he missed all of last year with an ACL tear. However, the Clippers are in a 3-4 position and Leonard has only played in two of those games, having missed the last four due to treatment for an injury to his surgically repaired knee. The Clippers are hoping to get him back on schedule with more treatment and rest time, but this early setback is certainly worrying for a team aspiring to the title.
When healthy, Leonard is one of the best two-way players in the league, but has been hampered by various injuries throughout his career with the Clippers and has missed at least 20 percent of the regular season in each of the last five full seasons. Perhaps this setback won’t stop Leonard from moving forward too much, and he will return to his dominant two-sided self. But now he’s watching from the sidelines as the Clippers put on some truly terrible offensive basketball, finishing 29th in the league, ahead of only the Lakers.
6. Trail Blazers exceed all expectations
I don’t think anyone thought the Blazers would start 5-1, but here we are. The return of Damian Lillard certainly had a big impact on this team’s early season success, but what’s most impressive about Portland is that Portland now has a top 10 defense. Considering that Portland has consistently ranked near the bottom of the league for so many years, this is a huge achievement, despite the small sample size.
Jerami Grant played a huge role in bolstering Portland’s defense, and Anfernee Simons was also heavily involved in that game. It’s yet to be decided if the Trail Blazers can hold out, but if there’s any reason to believe their defense can finish the season in the top half of the league, it will be because of Gary Payton II, who hasn’t played yet. minute of this campaign. Peyton is a defensive pest and can wreak havoc on the perimeter if needed. It’s unclear when he’ll return as he has a torso injury, but if he recovers it will help ensure the Blazers have another tough quarterback in the rotation.
Another intriguing aspect of Portland’s start was Simons’ offensive play. He is averaging 20.5 points per game, building on the success he had last year after Lillard’s injury. He looks real, and as a versatile defender who can play with or without the ball, that gives Portland another capable shotmaker after Lillard. Oh, and then there’s rookie Schaedon Sharp, who’s electric from the bench.
7 Pelicans Fly High In The West
The health of the Pelicans will be a major storyline that will be followed throughout the season, and already Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones have all missed time due to various illnesses. But when this team is healthy, they are nice to look at. They have the third place in offense, they have a lot of universal weapons. Because Williamson was…