- Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week’s Games: Jazz (L, 95-100), Wizards (L, 85-97)
Next Week’s Games: Warriors, @Rockets, Trail Blazers
I didn’t expect the Thunder to be in this spot, but a double-digit loss to the Wizards means you end up in the doghouse. With three really tough games coming up, OKC might stay here for at least another week. One of the lone bright spots so far has been Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, who has looked really good as a scorer through two games (27 PPG). Danilo Gallinari averaged 19.5 points and 6 rebounds, which is good for his trade value. An already likely move might have become even more likely this week. Hamidou Diallo did some good things in both games. Nothing else really went well for the Thunder. Chris Paul played well in a close game against the Jazz, but dropped an absolute dud against the Wizards. He doesn’t appear to want any part of this, but no one will bite on his contract unless he consistently puts up numbers. Steven Adams was solid as a rebounder, but did very little as a scorer. Terrance Ferguson played 46 minutes and scored 2 points. Darius Bazley played 34 minutes and scored 5 points. Mike Muscala played 28 minutes and scored 7 points. Dennis Schroder played 56 minutes and scored 12 points. Those four combined for 164 minutes, and 26 points. Yikes. The Thunder are better than this, and Andre Roberson will be back at some point. Still, this was a nightmare start in terms of on-court results.
- Memphis Grizzlies (0-2)
Last Week’s Games: Heat (L, 101-120), Bulls (L, 102-110)
Next Week’s Games: Nets, @Lakers
The Grizzlies didn’t start well either, but at least they had no expectations of success. The reason for the low expectations is the youth of their core, and that showed loud and clear at the end of games. Memphis was +19 in the first half. In the third quarter, they were -16. In the fourth, they were -30. That’s a 65 point swing between the two first halves and the two second halves, and a stat like that is almost always going to lead to two losses. Jaren Jackson looks better, especially offensively. Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke both did some really good things and are likely going to be studs, but the first two games showed that they’re going to have plenty of growing pains on the way there. Luckily, Jae Crowder looks like a great fit for this team, and he will help the young guys grow. Jonas Valanciunas might have his role limited by Clarke, but he showed he can still be effective against the Bulls. Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Marko Guduric, Justin Anderson, and Tyus Jones are all getting the opportunity to show they belong right now, and the Grizzlies have to be hoping that at least a few of them succeed. This year is all about development in Memphis.
- Washington Wizards (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Mavericks (L, 100-108), Thunder (W, 97-85)
Next Week’s Games: @Spurs, Rockets
The Wizards didn’t actually look all that bad to start the season, so kudos to them. Bradley Beal is still Bradley Beal, and both Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura had very promising starts to the season. Davis Bertans and Ish Smith are reliable role players. Moe Wagner averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds off the bench, and he, Isaac Bonga, and Admiral Schofield are going to get plenty of NBA experience this year. Both Bonga and Schofield also did some encouraging things this week. Chris Chiozza might be a contributor as well. Really, the only negative for this team that is not expected to compete was the loss of Jordan McRae to a broken finger. The Wizards might be better off than I thought. Hachimura and Bryant look like future studs, and the team will have a ton of minutes to give around this year as they try to figure out which young guys fit around the newly extended Beal and the injured John Wall. Next year could be interesting in Washington.
- Charlotte Hornets (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Bulls (W, 126-125 OT), Timberwolves (L, 99-120)
Next Week’s Games: @Lakers, @Clippers, @Warriors
The Hornets are not very good at basketball, despite their win over a very poor Bulls team. On the bright side, PJ Washington has looked very good in the first games of his career. He hit 7 threes on the way to 27 points in his debut. Devonte Graham averaged 23.5 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds this week, and his development is big for a Hornets team that is lacking overall talent. Miles Bridges and Dwayne Bacon also had their moments, and they will look to build on those as the season progresses. Terry Rozier was not great, although he did have ten assists against the Timberwolves. Nic Batum will be out for a few weeks after a finger injury, and outside of solid opening performances from Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams, the rest of the rotation didn’t do much. There’s just not a ton to like right now in Charlotte, and any positives from this season will come from the development of their youth.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (0-1)
Last Week’s Games: Magic (L, 85-94)
Next Week’s Games: Pacers, @Bucks, Bulls, @Pacers
The defensively stout Magic suffocated the Cavs in a low-scoring game. On the bright side, Cleveland held Orlando to 94 points, and while this was a slow game against a mediocre offense, progress is progress. Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and Larry Nance were all solid, coming one point from Nance short of a triple double-double. These three will be the stable group on this team while Colin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., and Cedi Osman attempt to mature as NBA players. The Cavs are going to struggle unless that maturation comes very quickly. Luckily, there is no pressure to win now, so these guys can take their time as they work towards being ready for Lebron’s return in 2023.
- New York Knicks (0-2)
Last Week’s Games: Spurs (L, 111-120), Nets (L, 109-113)
Next Week’s Games: Celtics, Bulls, @Magic, @Celtics
The Knicks didn’t win either of their games, but they looked fine against two better teams. RJ Barrett is looking good as a scorer so far. Julius Randle has produced two double-doubles and ten total assists. Against the Nets, Marcus Morris showed he isn’t going to score 26 every night, but he’s a solid vet on the wing. Allonzo Trier showed off his scoring ability by dropping 22 on Brooklyn. Kevin Knox is looking much better as a scorer. Mitchell Robinson has been limited by injury so far, but is very promising at the 5 spot. Elfrid Payton has looked fine, at the expense of Dennis Smith Jr. Their battle for minutes will be something to keep an eye on. This team might not win that many games, but they should be much more competitive this year.
- Chicago Bulls (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Hornets (L, 125-126 OT), Grizzlies (W, 110-102)
Next Week’s Games: Raptors, @Knicks, @Cavs, Pistons
The Bulls avoided disaster by coming back to beat the Grizzlies. An 0-2 start against the Hornets and Grizzlies could have sent Chicago tumbling towards the bottom of these rankings, which would have absolutely crushed team morale. The bright side of the pretty ugly start for the Bulls is the performance of their young core. Lauri Markkanen had 35 points and 17 rebounds in the opener, and nearly dropped another double-double (9 and 11) against the Grizzlies. Zach LaVine is averaging 26.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Wendell Carter Jr. has been solid. Coby White looks like a potential Rookie of the Year candidate; he’s averaging 21 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. Kris Dunn is looking solid off the bench. The problem is that the defense has been pretty porous, and the rest of the team hasn’t been great. Otto Porter, Ryan Arcidiacano, and Tomas Satoransky have been quiet so far. Outside of going for 17 points in the opener, Thad Young hasn’t been very productive either. The Bulls will need these guys to step up to push for the playoffs, but the play of their youth is a very encouraging sign.
- Sacramento Kings (0-2)
Last Week’s Games: Suns (L, 95-124), Trail Blazers (L, 112-122)
Next Week’s Games: @Jazz, Nuggets, Hornets, Jazz
The Kings have had a nightmare start to a promising season. They played a pretty terrible game against the Suns and then didn’t have quite enough to keep up with the Trail Blazers. Buddy Hield has done his job, averaging 24.5 points per game. De’Aaron Fox was great against Portland after struggling against Phoenix. Bogdan Bogdanovic also looked much better in the second game. The rest of the guys haven’t done too great. Harrison Barnes has been fine. Cory Joseph has been decent. Richaun Holmes and Nemanja Bejelica have been okay. Dewayne Dedmon hasn’t done a ton. Trevor Ariza has been poor. The Kings need these guys to step up, and they need Fox and Bogdanovic to bring it every night. To make matters worse, Marvin Bagley III is out for 4-6 weeks. The Kings are trending in the wrong direction, and they need to right the ship soon. There is no room for error in the West this year.
- Indiana Pacers (0-1)
Last Week’s Games: Pistons (L, 110-119)
Next Week’s Games: @Cavs, @Pistons, @Nets, Cavs
The Pacers ran out of steam against the Pistons, going -12 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 9-point loss in a battle between teams without their best player. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Victor Oladipo will be out much longer than Blake Griffin. Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, and Malcolm Brogdon were all very good. Turner and Sabonis combined for 52 points and 23 rebounds while Brogdon threw in 22 points and 11 assists. To stay afloat without Oladipo, the Pacers will need these three to maintain something close to that level of play. They’re also going to need some other guys to step up. TJ Warren, Jeremy Lamb, and the rest of the role players in Indy will have to produce more for this team to win games.
- Phoenix Suns (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Kings (W, 124-95), Nuggets (L, 107-108 OT)
Next Week’s Games: Clippers, Jazz, @Warriors
Are the Suns…good? They steamrolled the Kings and then went into Denver without DeAndre Ayton and came a point away from taking a victory back home with them. The Ayton suspension is a big deal, regardless of whether or not it stays at 25 games. Ayton is a legit 20-10 threat every time he steps on the court. He’s also really young and needs major work as a passer and shooter. Every game counts at this stage. On the bright side, the rest of the team is looking good. Kelly Oubre Jr. has been great, averaging 22 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Ricky Rubio is averaging 10 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds per game, and has been exactly what the Suns need from the point guard spot. Devin Booker looks like an improved passer too, although the jury is still out on his efficiency as a scorer. Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, Dario Saric, and Tyler Johnson are four solid vets that have helped raise this team’s floor, and Jevon Carter has looked solid off the bench. The next week will tell us a lot about how competitive this Suns team can actually be.
- Atlanta Hawks (1-0)
Last Week’s Games: Pistons (W, 117-100)
Next Week’s Games: Magic, 76ers, @Heat, Heat
The Hawks looked really good in their opening game. Granted, Blake Griffin didn’t play, but there are still plenty of positives to take away. Trae Young was fantastic, dropping 38 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds on 6-10 from deep. He’s not going to shoot 60% from three this year, but he becomes even more dangerous if he has taken a step towards more consistent shooting. John Collins put up 18 points and 10 rebounds alongside Young, DeAndre Hunter looked good on the way to 14 points in his debut, and Bruno Fernando impressed off the bench. Jabari Parker dropped 18, and he might actually fit in as a good bench scorer on this high-speed, offensively focused team. Evan Turner was a solid, stabilizing presence in his Hawks debut. This team is still incredibly young, and, as Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish showed in the opener, there is a lot to work on. On the other hand, Reddish contributed 7 rebounds and Huerter pitched in 9 combined rebounds and assists, both signs of a Hawks team that appears to be better equipped to succeed despite the growing pains. Four games against playoff contenders this week should tell us more about how ready this team is.
- Brooklyn Nets (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Timberwolves (L, 126-127 OT), Knicks (W, 113-109)
Next Week’s Games: @Grizzlies, Pacers, Rockets
The Nets won the Battle of New York, which is not nearly as impressive as it sounds. Still, they will take the win after losing a heartbreaker in the opener. Kyrie has done plenty of scoring, but as the first game of the season showed, that won’t always be enough. This might not be anything more than an average team this year. Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie can also score, but they probably aren’t second and third options on a good team, at least right now. They are the second and third options on this team. Joe Harris and Taurean Prince have been solid, but they aren’t going to produce nearly enough to carry a team. It looks like Jarrett Allen needs more time, and DeAndre Jordan is no longer a game changer. Brooklyn is buzzing, but the real excitement should be saved for next year and the return of Kevin Durant. This team has a good shot at the playoffs, but it’s far from a guarantee right now.
- Detroit Pistons (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Pacers (W, 119-100), Hawks (L, 100-117)
Next Week’s Games: 76ers, Pacers, @Raptors, @Bulls
Detroit split two games without Blake Griffin against decent competition, which has to be considered a positive. Andre Drummond averaged 26.5 points and 16.5 rebounds in two dominant showings in the paint. Luke Kennard appears to have taken some steps as a playmaker, and Derrick Rose averaged 22.5 points per game. The Pistons have some solid role players, Reggie Jackson should be better once he gets over issues with a tight back, and Griffin should be back in a few weeks. If Kennard and Rose can continue to produce, the Pistons should be set up well for a run at the playoffs.
- Orlando Magic (1-0)
Last Week’s Games: Cavs (W, 94-85)
Next Week’s Games: @Hawks, @Raptors, Knicks, Bucks
The Magic kept last year’s defensive success going in their season opener. The offense is still a question mark. Nicola Vucevic had 21, but only three other players hit double figures. One of them was Markelle Fultz, who flashed his athleticism and had 12 points and 6 assists in an encouraging performance. Issues with his jumper still remain, but any signs of an ability to contribute despite that are a huge positive for Fultz at this point. Aaron Gordon needs to be more consistent offensively, and Jonathan Isaac needs to continue to develop an offensive game. The role players were solid, and the Magic have a good enough defense to have a solid chance at the playoffs. If they want more, they need to be better offensively.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0)
Last Week’s Games: Nets (W, 127-126 OT), Hornets (W, 121-99)
Next Week’s Games: Heat, @76ers
The Timberwolves are tied for the best record in the league right now. It doesn’t get any better than that. Karl Anthony Towns is a monster, averaging 36.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game to start the year. He might be able to carry this team into the West playoff race. Andrew Wiggins scored some points. Rob Covington, Jake Layman, and Shabazz Napier look like good additions, and Treveon Graham and Jeff Teague were solid in their roles. Josh Okogie looked more comfortable offensively. Jarrett Culver clearly needs some time to adjust to the NBA, but he will get it this year. The battle between Jordan Bell and Noah Vonleh for what (so far) looks like the tenth and final rotation spot is something to watch. Minnesota has a chance to make some noise this year.
- New Orleans Pelicans (0-2)
Last Week’s Games: Raptors (L, 122-130 OT), Mavericks (L, 116-123)
Next Week’s Games: @Rockets, Warriors, Nuggets
The record doesn’t tell the full story in New Orleans, but this week’s schedule poses a very real risk of an 0-5 start, which is less than ideal no matter how it happens. Despite the loss of Zion Williamson, the Pelicans could have won either or both of their first two games. Unfortunately, they lost both. Brandon Ingram still has plenty of room to grow, but he’s been good to start the year. The same is true for Lonzo Ball. Josh Hart has been really good off the bench. Derrick Favors has been solid. Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick have been alright, but need to do a little bit more offensively. Kenrich Williams and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have flashed some potential off the bench, but they will likely need more time to develop. The alarm bells should not be ringing yet in New Orleans, but they are going to need to be a little bit better to stay afloat in the West.
- Miami Heat (1-0)
Last Week’s Games: Grizzlies (W, 120-101)
Next Week’s Games: Bucks, Timberwolves, Hawks, @Hawks
The Heat rolled in the fourth quarter against a young Grizzlies team, winning by 19 after entering the quarter down 1. With Jimmy Butler out after the birth of his daughter, a win is a win. Justise Winslow was great (27/7/7), and this team is in a very good spot if he has taken a big step. Tyler Herro showed that his preseason was real on the way to 14 points and 8 rebounds. Kendrick Nunn has emerged as a starting guard after a year in the G League, and Goran Dragic looked rejuvenated coming off the bench behind him. Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk were solid. Butler will be back fairly soon, and this is looking like a playoff team right now.
- Dallas Mavericks (2-0)
Last Week’s Games: Wizards (W, 108-100), Pelicans (W, 123-116)
Next Week’s Games: Trail Blazers, @Nuggets, Lakers
The Mavs have to be feeling good right now. Luka Doncic followed up a 34 point performance in the opener with a 25 point triple-double against the Pelicans. Kristaps Porzingis followed a 23 point performance in the opener with a 24 point performance in game 2. Delon Wright had 20 against the Pelicans, and is fitting in well at the 1 spot. Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber, and Dorian Finney-Smith have been solid. Seth Curry and Justin Jackson have brought some scoring off the bench. Dwight Powell hasn’t played yet, but will be back soon. Tim Hardaway Jr. has been struggling with an ankle injury too. Things are looking up in Dallas right now, and the Mavs could be strong contenders for a playoff spot if they keep it up.
- Toronto Raptors (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Pelicans (W, 130-122 OT), Celtics (L, 106-112)
Next Week’s Games: @Bulls, Magic, Pistons
The Raptors split two close games against solid teams. Right now, they look like a decent team. It doesn’t look like much more than that. Pascal Siakim has taken another leap, and both he and Kyle Lowry were great in both games. Fred VanVleet had a monster opener before falling back to Earth a little in game 2. He’s a good player, and he’s showing an ability to contribute in a variety of ways. OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka were solid. Norman Powell was fine. Marc Gasol was very quiet, and there has to be some concern there. No one else really did anything, and only Terence Davis (24 minutes) and Stanley Johnson (5 minutes) also saw the floor. Toronto needs Gasol to show signs of life, and they need to find some more guys that Nick Nurse can trust to be on the court.
- Boston Celtics (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: 76ers (L, 93-107), Raptors (112-106)
Next Week’s Games: @Knicks, Bucks, Knicks
The Celtics gutted out a win against Toronto, reestablishing themselves, for now, as the best of the rest in the East after a disappointing loss to the Sixers. Jayson Tatum has looked really good to start the year. Gordon Hayward looks to be closer to his old self. Both Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown bounced back from disappointing openers with good showings against the Raptors. Marcus Smart has done what Marcus Smart does, and both Grant and Robert Williams have shown signs of being able to contribute as role players this year. Romeo Langford will get a chance to show he can do the same when he returns from knee soreness. Enes Kanter was fine in his debut before suffering a knee injury that will likely see him miss a few more games. This is a good team, but they will need to show more to break into the next tier.
- San Antonio Spurs (1-0)
Last Week’s Games: Knicks (W, 120-111)
Next Week’s Games: Wizards, Trail Blazers, @Clippers, @Warriors
The Spurs have a weird opening schedule that sees them take on two of the worst teams in the league before 4 straight against title contenders (Lakers next Sunday). That won’t faze Gregg Poppovich as much as the third quarter of the Knicks game, which saw the Spurs completely relinquish an 8-point halftime lead. Because they’re the Spurs, and because the Knicks are the Knicks, they recovered in the fourth. They’re probably not going to win with style very often, but they’re still going to win more often than not. They go 10 deep with rock solid players. They have shooting, they have defense, and they have go-to scorers in DeRozan and Aldridge. The lack of a superstar has led to doubts about the dynasty, but the Spurs aren’t going anywhere.
- Golden State Warriors (0-1)
Last Week’s Games: Clippers (L, 122-141)
Next Week’s Games: @Thunder, @Pelicans, Suns, Spurs
The Warriors did not have a good first game in their new arena. They just couldn’t keep up with the Clippers. The defense was a problem, and it’s not clear where the fix is going to come from. Draymond Green can only do so much. On the bright side, Steph looked good, D’Angelo Russell had a solid debut, a bunch of guys chipped in offensively, and the Warriors don’t have to play the Clippers every game. Their offense is going to be good enough to win games while they work on the defense. It may be their undoing at the end of the season, but that’s a while away. There’s plenty of time, and I’m not buying that Klay won’t play this year.
- Utah Jazz (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Thunder (W, 100-95), Lakers (L, 86-95)
Next Week’s Games: Kings, @Suns, Clippers, @Kings
The Jazz have gotten off to a bit of an underwhelming start offensively, although they should improve on that end just by default. New addition Bojan Bogdanovic missed the second game and was somewhat limited in the first. He’ll be back at full strength soon. Mike Conley has shot 15% from the field so far. I wouldn’t bet on that continuing. Joe Ingles and Jeff Green will also need to step it up offensively. Donovan Mitchell has been fantastic offensively, and Royce O’Neal and Emmanuel Mudiay have been solid so far. Utah just needs its new additions to mesh. On the other side of the ball, it’s been business as usual for Utah. Getting Bogdanovic back will help the offense, and the odds of Conley, Ingles, and Green continuing to struggle are not high. The Jazz are fine.
- Portland Trail Blazers (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Nuggets (L, 100-108), Kings (W, 122-112)
Next Week’s Games: @Mavs, @Spurs, @Thunder
Damian Lillard is averaging 33.5 points and 6.5 assists per game. Hassan Whiteside is averaging 19 points and 14 rebounds per game, and has been pretty good outside of one terrible defensive possession against Denver. CJ McCollum is throwing in 15.5 points per game, and will probably do a little bit more as the season progresses. Zach Collins, Kent Bazmore, Rodney Hood, and Skal Labissiere have all had their moments to start the year. The Blazers lost a close game against the Nuggets, but they’re still in a good spot.
- Los Angeles Lakers (1-1)
Last Week’s Games: Clippers, (L, 102-112), Jazz (W, 95-86)
Next Week’s Games: Hornets, Grizzlies, @Mavs
The Lakers were outgunned by the Clippers before suffocating the Jazz. Against the Clippers, Lebron was 2 assists short of an 18-point triple-double. Against the Jazz, he was three rebounds short of a 32-point triple-double. The Lakers need to find more ways to run the offense through others in the regular season, because this isn’t a load they want Lebron to carry every game. The eventual returns of Rajon Rondo and Kyle Kuzma might help with that. James is also struggling on the perimeter defensively. Anthony Davis has been pretty good, averaging 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. On the other hand, he hasn’t made a three yet and his passing doesn’t appear to have taken another step. It’s only been two games, but Los Angeles will need both of these things to turn around if they’re going to reach their potential. Danny Green has been good. Troy Daniels has shown off his shooting touch. Dwight Howard has rebounded well and Avery Bradley has been solid, but the Lakers haven’t gotten a whole lot from the rest of their role players to start the year. They’re a good team, but they need to figure out how to adjust to the new Lebron. They need AD and the bench to be better, and they need Kyle Kuzma to return looking like a real third option.
- Houston Rockets (0-1)
Last Week’s Games: Bucks (L, 111-117)
Next Week’s Games: Pelicans, Thunder, @Wizards, @Nets
Concerns about the Harden-Westbrook pairing appear to be overstated after the first game of the season. Westbrook was great in the loss, bringing energy and going for 24 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists. He boosted the transition game as well. Harden was effective despite being terrible from the field, pitching in 14 assists and 19 points mostly from the free-throw line. He and Eric Gordon both shot under 22% from the field, which does tend to happen for this team. It’s probably their biggest flaw. PJ Tucker looked really good, and the defense as a whole was solid for most of the game. Clint Capela and Tyson Chandler were both very good at the 5 spot, and the group of wings (House, McLemore, Sefolosha, and Rivers) that Houston ran out were solid.
- Philadelphia 76ers (1-0)
Last Week’s Games: Celtics (W, 107-93)
Next Week’s Games: @Pistons, @Hawks, Timberwolves
The Sixers looked really good defensively in their first game, holding the Celtics to 93 points, the second lowest total of any team over the first three days of the season. Boston wasn’t able to get much of anything going beyond Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward (46 points combined). As expected, the starters carried the heavy load, and they did it really well, with all 5 starters chipping in at least 15 points. They had 87 of 107 points, 21 of 24 assists, and 44 of 62 rebounds. Matisse Thybulle came off the bench for defense, and Furkan Korkmaz, James Ennis, and Mike Scott filled the rest of the minutes. The lack of great bench options could be an issue down the road. Zhaire Smith was a healthy scratch, and his situation is something to watch.
- Denver Nuggets (2-0)
Last Week’s Games: Trail Blazers (W, 108-100), Suns (W, 107-108 OT)
Next Week’s Games: @Kings, Mavs, @Pelicans
The Nuggets came away with two wins this week despite some struggles from Gary Harris. After going for 20 points and 13 rebounds, Nikola Jokic had a 23 point, 14 rebound, 12 assist triple-double against Phoenix. Jamal Murray has looked good. Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant have been solid. Harris looked better against the Suns. Will Barton had 19 in the opener, Malik Beasley had 17 in the Suns game, and Monte Morris, Torrey Craig, and Mason Plumlee have all been pitching in. We haven’t even seen Michael Porter Jr. yet. The Nuggets are in a good spot right now.
- Milwaukee Bucks (1-0)
Last Week’s Games: Rockets (W, 117-111)
Next Week’s Games: Heat, Cavs, @Celtics, @Magic
The Bucks were sloppy to start, but they pulled out a great road win in Houston. Giannis dropped a 30-point triple-double despite major foul trouble. Eric Bledsoe was likely limited by a rib injury, but he hit some shots and looked good in limited minutes. The rest of the guard rotation was great, with Wes Matthews, Pat Connaughton, George Hill, and Kyle Korver making significant contributions. Brook Lopez flashed his rim-protecting ability and contributed in a variety of ways offensively, and Ersan Illyasova had a double-double off the bench. Khris Middleton won’t often shoot 4-16 from the field, and he was solid in other areas of the game. The Bucks showed off their depth in finishing the game with a win after Giannis fouled out with about 5 minutes to go.
- Los Angeles Clippers (2-0)
Last Week’s Games: Lakers (W, 112-102), Warriors (W, 141-122)
Next Week’s Games: @Suns, Hornets, @Jazz, Spurs
The Clippers were very impressive against two contenders to start the season, and they did it with Paul George sitting on the bench with his shoulder injury. Kawhi picked up right where he left off last year, averaging roughly 26 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds per game. He matched last year’s high with 9 assists against Golden State, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep that up. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell were great off the bench, Patrick Beverley brought it defensively, and Landry Shamet hit 5 of 8 threes. Maurice Harkless, JaMychal Green, Ivica Zubac, and Patrick Patterson all played well too. This is a really good basketball team, even without their second best player.