We’re officially one week into he 2014-15 season, and while we haven’t seen any game-winning buzzer beaters or the high-flying Kyrie-LeBron alley-oops I’m sure we’ve all been expecting, it’s been a fun week to kick things off. Let’s take a look at the top stories from this past week.
The Cavs have some things to work out
It seems that in recent years, society has given up on all the 70-win season talk we used to see so often heading into the season (especially after the debacle that was the 2012-13 Lakers), and that is probably a positive thing for Cleveland to avoid so that it can just focus on improving as much as it can before playoff time. With a tough schedule getting them off to a 1-2 start to the year, it doesn’t look like the Cavs are going to be challenging any records this year.
LeBron James may have made his grand return to the first NBA franchise he ever ruled over, but his play has been anything but grand thus far. LeBron looked like “The King” against the Chicago Bulls in what everyone was calling this year’s first preview of the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring 36 points in the overtime win, but overall, he and the rest of his team have looked a little rusty to say the least.
Losses to the Knicks and the Blazers had LeBron and company looking pretty ineffective on the offensive end, as James went 9-27 from the field with 11 turnovers in those two games. Kyrie Irving meanwhile has not capitalized on garnering less attention from defenses, shooting under 35% from the field and just 21.4% from downtown. The final piece of the puzzle in Kevin Love is knocking down the three ball effectively at a 45.1% clip, but he too is struggling to score at an efficient rate, shooting 40% overall.
This type of start looks eerily similar to the 2010-11 Miami Heat’s season, James’ first playing in South Beach, where the eventual eastern conference champs started the season out with just a 9-8 record before they really hit stride. It’ll take some time, but these Cavs have too much talent to not be one of the last teams standing in May or June. It won’t be long before they’re reeling off long win-streaks one after the other.
The Lakers are really bad, but the Kobe show goes on
Well Laker fans, say hello to the next few years of your life. Ever since the infamous David Stern-Chris Paul veto, pretty much nothing has gone right for the Lakers. Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher get traded, Steve Nash falls apart like a game of Jenga, Mike D’antoni gets hired, Dwight Howard gives everyone a headache, Kobe ruptures his achilles only to come back and break a bone in his knee, Pau leaves for greener pastures, Julius Randle breaks his tibia – the list goes on.
Nobody in Lakerland is used to this kind of ridiculously harsh rebalancing of basketball karma, but this is the reality. Why then should you continue to watch the Lakers this season? It’s obvious, of course: The Mamba is back.
Sure, he may not jump as high anymore or make as many fourth quarter “Kobe faces” as he once did, but the old man isn’t going to be around much longer and he is STILL killing it. This isn’t quite the kind of nostalgic sending off of an all-time great that we’ve seen in the past; this is a fresh, 19-year old vet doing what he’s done for as long as many of us have been able to say “basketball.”
Circus shots, acrobatic reverse layups, deep threes, even reverse dunks; Kobe doesn’t seem to have slowed down as much as anyone who ranked him the 40th best player in the league thought he would. Through 5 games, he’s currently sitting in second in the NBA in scoring at 27.6 points a game, and most recently put up 39 in a loss to the Suns last night. Sure, a 0-5 record isn’t something he’s “festively jovial” about, but I’m sure as hell festively jovial to be watching him work his magic once again.
They call it the “Wild West” for a reason
The Rockets, Grizzlies and Warriors are the only undefeated teams left, but this early in the season it doesn’t matter too much. The western conference is as good and stacked as ever, with seven teams starting at 3-1 or better and none of those teams being San Antonio, Oklahoma City or Portland.
From what I’ve seen early on, there is a surplus of excellent guard play in the conference that is making a lot of teams look very good.
Klay Thompson is leading the league in scoring at 29.3 PPG coming off his max contract deal signing, and put up a career high 41 points against the Lakers on Saturday. His “Splash Brother” Stephen Curry is putting up a fifth-best 25.3 PPG and seven assists a game and is surely on his way to another All-Star selection.
The Suns’ backcourt trio of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas is quite possibly the most stacked in the league, as they have their team off to a solid 3-1 start.
Even the Kings, with new starting point guard Darren Collison running the show, have gotten off to that same 3-1 mark. Then, of course, there are the James Hardens and Chris Pauls to round out the West’s brilliant backcourts and top records.
The star point guard from OKC finally had his chance to run the show with Kevin Durant out for a month, but a broken hand will have Westbrook out for about the same amount of time as his lanky teammate.
Here’s hoping for another fun and hopefully healthy week of basketball. Thank goodness the NBA is back.