With the first quarter of the NBA season in the books, let's check in on The Good, The Fence, and The Yikes.
Chicago Bulls: Man, these guys are rolling and fun to watch! It seems like every night they have a cool highlight. I think a lot of people did not have high hopes for this team, but they've proven a lot of doubters wrong.
Lonzo re-did his mechanics and is hitting 3's at a decent clip. Caruso is a thief, leading the league in SPG. DeRozan buries daggers every night (especially in the 4th). LaVine is just a stud. And you can't forget big guy Vucevic who has been playing well. Rookie Ayo Dosunmu has been a big and pleasant surprise for the team - we will likely see a bump in his minutes. The alarming hole in this team is poor frontcourt defense which needs to be addressed. A little added depth and even a consistent 3-baller will elevate this team even more.
Charlotte Hornets: Another team that is a lot of fun to watch - maybe it's a Ball thing? BBB making the game more exciting? Anyways, this team is confusing - they can lose five in a row against bad teams and then turn around and win five in a row against sturdier comp. That's just what happens when you have an elite offense and a piss poor defense.
They play quick, they score, and when PJ Washington is on the court they are damn good. The reason they're on the fence is because of their swinging door defense. Anyone walks through. This defense is towards the bottom of the league and it needs to step up if they want to make the playoffs and potentially make a run in the playoffs.
Obviously, we're not picking the worst team in the Conference - that's easy...I was so, so close to plugging the Celtics into this spot but I have to go with the Knicks, who have been painfully average. Last season, the Knicks looked like they were onto something and this season they would be even better. So far, that is not the case despite some solid off-season acquisitions in Kemba and Fournier. Julius Randle is still their best player but is not quite as efficient as he was last year. The defense has been pretty bad (the team is better with Kemba on the bench) and they do not guard the perimeter; opposing teams are hitting 3's at a frightening rate against them.
Fortunately, it is still early in the season. Due to the lineup shake-ups, we are seeing some guys getting more burn, like Obi Toppin...if other guys start playing better I think the Knicks can turn it around but at this point in the season, they've been bad!
Golden State Warriors: Damn! The last two seasons were pretty, pretty, prettayyy bad for GS. This season, so far, has been incredible. I'll say it, I thought they were going to be trash again, maybe grab a low playoff seed when Klay and Wiseman come back...but, I was flat out wrong.
Steph has been pouring it on, Draymond is playing well on both sides of the ball, and the mix of vets and talented young guys is gelling. Rebounding has always been an issue with the GSW but this year they're one of the best boarding teams in the league - they'll only get better when Wiseman and Klay return.
Dallas Mavericks: I thought this team was going to make an impact this season but they've really sputtered as of late. Can Carlisle come back? Kidd is not getting it done. Offense is in the middle and their offensive rating is down quite a bit from it's elite level last year. Defense was bad last year, and is bad this year...hovering around that bottom third again. Luka is a superstar and will get even better, but right from the start of the season he looked like an absolute unit - Dallas knows he isn't committed to conditioning and it shows when he clumps up and down the court. KP is putting up his normal numbers at a slightly more efficient rate, which is good. Tim Hardaway Jr is still serviceable and Jalen Brunson has once again been good off the bench.
So why are they struggling? Don't kill me but Luka (I love Luka, too) needs to be more of a team player and learn to trust his teammates - they're also NBA players....his style of play might translate to sick stats bruh, but not wins. Let's see if this changes.
The LA Lakers have been a disaster this season. Yeah, I have them as a "Yikes" through the first quarter of the season, but I don't think they will be this bad ~30 games from now. The red flag here is the defense. 1st last year and 19th this year - that's quite a precipitous drop. Granted, LeBron has battled some injuries and health protocols but they still should be better than this. Acquiring Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony were probably not the best moves (I think I may have shat on this in a previous write-up). Having ball dominant Russell Westbrook and ball dominant LBJ is not a good recipe for success. We will see if Vogel and crew make some adjustments and guys sacrifice some of those personal stats for dubbies.
The Lake Show has not been much of a show, but we cannot deny the greatness of (a healthy) LeBron and what he will do to make his team win. Anthony Davis is a hell of a player, but he needs to stay healthy - glass body. Basically they cut out the depth for the "stars" and it's not really functioning - maybe it would in 2k22. I expect to see a much better Lakers team in the near future, whether that is through trades or players stepping up.