- Advertisement -
HomeBasketballNBAImpressions from a great first week of a new NBA season

Impressions from a great first week of a new NBA season

- Advertisement -

We’re less than a week into the start of the 2023-24 NBA season and it feels like this is shaping up to be a helluva run.

Competition has been stiff all around. There’s only a few teams right now that haven’t been competitive. Some storylines are playing out like I thought they would: Damian Lillard is going to be The Man at the end of games for the Milwaukee Bucks. Lillard on Thursday scored Milwaukee’s last 11 points in a 1-point win over Philadelphia. That 76ers team hung with the new-look Bucks despite being without malcontent James Harden. Philly guard Tyrese Maxey had a fantastic game in Harden’s absence, leading the Sixers with 31 points, 8 assists and no turnovers.

Those are just a couple of the highlights of a great first week.

Praying for health

Through the first few days of the season, we’ve seen a lot of high- level, competitive basketball. That’s what happens when everybody, for the most part, is healthy. I can’t remember the last time virtually every player in the league was healthy at the same time. It’s been refreshing. Not one team has looked completely overmatched. Hopefully it stays that way. It’ll be nice to actually have a real race for a title with everybody who matters on the court.

Slick Vic the Ruler

No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama very early on looks to be living up to the hype. He started a little slow in the Spurs season and home opener against Dallas, getting in some foul trouble that kept him out for a chunk of the second half. Wembanyama looked comfortable upon his return in the fourth, essentially taking over the game and keeping San Antonio afloat before the Spurs ultimately lost. Wembanyama started by floating around the 3-point line for a lot of the first half of the opener against Dallas. The fourth quarter saw Slick Vic establish some dominance on the block, as he hit turnaround jumpers and scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth. In San Antonio’s Friday night win over Houston, Wembanyama had a strong game on both ends, punctuated by this sequence at the rim against Jabari Smith Jr.

Lakers still leaning on LeBron?

LA is 1-1. In their opening night loss to Denver, LeBron James played just 29 minutes and Lakers coach Darvin Ham alluded to a possible minutes restriction for the 38-year-old James. On Thursday, LeBron played the entire fourth quarter in LA’s 5-point win over Phoenix. That’s not a good sign. Phoenix on Thursday was without two starters, but the Suns led for much of the game. I don’t know which team that says more about. It’s year 21 for James. It’s unfair to him that the Lakers continue to rely so heavily on him to lead the way. LA has to figure some things out if it has real championship aspirations.

A step back

Memphis over the last couple of years has played well without its superstar Ja Morant. It doesn’t look like that’ll be the case this year. Memphis just doesn’t have enough offensive options. Desmond Bane has developed into one of the better shooters in the league, but it’d be a lot to ask Bane to get 30 a night until Ja comes off suspension. Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t have the offensive skill to be a go-to player on that end. Ja will be back around Christmas. Memphis by then may be in too big a hole to dig itself out of.

‘King stay the king’

One of my favorite quotes from one of my all-time favorite TV shows is a perfect way to describe the defending champs. Denver found a way to close a lot of close games on its way to a title last season. That’s continued for the Nuggets. The Nuggets home opener vs. the Lakers was close late into the fourth until Nikola Jokic, the best player in the world, ran a clinic on 4-5 straight possessions to help Denver pull away. As I write this, the Nuggets are rolling a hungry Oklahoma City squad, and have held Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in check better than any times I’ve seen for a couple of years. Some questions remain about Denver’s depth, just like last season, but as long as the Nuggets core five remains in tact, they’ll be my favorite to win the title.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisment -

Most Popular