The NBA has not disappointed in its’ first week back. Some expected story lines have started their predicted outcome but new and unforeseen tales have started to unfold in this young season. Here are some quick notes on topics that caught our eye over the first few games of the season.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Michael Carter-Williams
Somehow the “Tanking for Wiggins” Sixers have managed to start the season 3-0 with wins over the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and Chicago Bulls. You read correctly. Wins over two Eastern Conference powerhouses and a win over a team expected to compete for a playoff spot has gotten the 76ers a lot of buzz in the early season. The team is averaging 110 points per game (5th in the league) and are being led by rookie Michael Carter-Williams. MCW nearly quadruple-doubled in his opening game against the Heat and has looked like the best rookie by far with averages of 20.7 points, 9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals to open the season. YIKES!
Philly isn’t likely to stay this hot and their lack of depth should eventually catch up to them but for now they are winners and the biggest surprise of the season.
Russell Westbrook returns for the Oklahoma City Thunder
News broke that Westbrook could return early from his knee procedure in the beginning part of the week but most reported and assumed it would be at least two weeks away. Then boom! Westbrook’s doctors cleared him Sunday afternoon and he was back in the OKC starting lineup that evening against the Phoenix Suns. He was a bit rusty but still played a huge hand in getting the Thunder their second win of the season with 21 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds were his numbers. If only we all could only be so rusty.
It’s great to have him back.
New York Teams look more mortal than elite
The battle for New York has looked like a battle for futility to start the season for the Knicks and Nets. Both teams are 1-2 and are struggling to find their way ranking in the bottom third in points scored and rebounding. Obviously these two teams will be better than they have been and there are some new parts that are trying to be worked in especially on Brooklyn’s side of the city.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Kevin Love
Minnesota is in the top ten in scoring, rebounding and assists to begin the season with two impressive wins over the Thunder and the Knicks. Kevin Love is healthy and dominating the league to lead his team to an astonishing 3-0 start. Love’s numbers are gaudy at 29.7 points per game 14.7 rebounds and 3.7 steals while shooting 50% from the floor and 38% from three.
Analyst have said all along that if this team could stay healthy that they would be dangerous. That prophecy seems to be true. There is no reason why Minnesota can’t stay competitive all year looking for a playoff spot as long as Love is healthy alongside Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin.
Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls not as sharp out the gate as expected
After a stellar preseason the Bulls have stumbled out of the game at 1-2. It took a miracle floater from Derrick Rose against the Knicks to prevent Chicago from being 0-3 but lets not get picky. Rose has been aggressive but his shot isn’t falling with regularity at just 29% so far this season. The Bulls have also had to deal with Joakim Noah struggling to get back into playing shape after missing most of the preseason with a groin injury.
Like the New York teams, Chicago will get in gear and teams would be wise to get their licks in early before they hit full stride.
This first week of NBA action has been great and is living up to its potential. More surprises are likely on the way and that’s what makes the league great.