The first week of the season is over. So it’s high time for a few overreactions! A look at the Warriors, the Brooklyn Nets problem, OKC’s historic potential, and two young point guards on their way to becoming All-Star.
The warriors are a contender
How would the Warriors get out of the offseason? That was one of the most exciting questions before the start – and after four wins from the first four games there is more than just clarity. It’s the best start since 2015, when the Dubs won an incredible 24 games in a row.
We lean so far out of the window and rule this out for the current version of the Warriors, but after the difficult start against the two LA teams, an absolute dream start is possible thanks to a little luck on the schedule. After the away win in OKC, there are now eight home games in a row.
Regardless of the schedule, the style of the Warriors is reminiscent of the old days. By adding intelligent players like Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala or Otto Porter Jr., the game is smoother again. One no longer depends as much on Stephen Curry’s IV as in previous years.
Sure, the chef is still the fixed point, but in two of the four games Curry scored less than 40 percent from the field and yet the Dubs took the victory home with them. Golden State even wins the curry-less minutes for the moment, in the previous year the Californians regularly drank off (net rating: -8.6 loud Cleaning the Glass).
“You keep moving the ball, there are a lot of split screens, back cuts – that’s hard to defend,” said Kings coach Luke Walton, who was assistant coach for the Warriors on that 24-0 start, analyzing the bankruptcy of his Teams against Goldens State. “They play in a style that makes them special.”
And, like at weddings, this style is based on team play with a pinch of superstar power from Curry. Golden State now has the player material again, in the thin years players like Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson or even Gary Payton II could get used to the complex Warriors system under coach Steve Kerr.
While Kerr struggled to find eight NBA rotation players in the previous two years, the coach is now spoiled for choice. With rookie Jonathan Kuminga and Klay Thompson, two players are still missing who could help the team. Golden State is to be expected, especially if Curry can maintain his high level from last year over 82 games.
The Nets problem is called James Harden
Last year, the Brooklyn Nets offense was historically good, but so far there is still a lot of sand in the machine. An offensive rating of 106.8 – that’s just about mediocre. Kevin Durant may play like an MVP candidate, but there is still a lot going on around him.
The experiment with Blake Griffin and Nicolas Claxton in the front court was quickly buried, against Washington suddenly Bruce Brown was back in the starting five after the shooting star of the previous year was completely ignored in the meantime. The squad has six potential centers, but there are still gaps in the smaller positions.
And here we are with the Kyrie Irving personality. His absence actually tears a hole, also because James Harden has not yet reached the season at all. The former MVP only puts on 17 points and 8 assists on average, this is underlined by throwing rates of 36 percent from the field and 32 percent from a distance.
Before the season, Harden always emphasized that the first ring should definitely work this year, but the 32-year-old does not seem really well trained. Another issue is the ongoing feud with the refs. Over his career, the Guard took almost nine free throws on average, in the first four games there were just three.
One reason is the rule change, thanks to which shooters are not rewarded for unnaturally seeking contact with the opponent. Harden used to be a master of fouling, now the referees watch his movements with eagle eyes. His head coach Steve Nash is of the opinion that they want to make an example of Harden.
However, all of this distracts from something completely different. Harden only takes 3.5 attempts in the immediate vicinity of the basket, last year there were almost two more. In addition, Harden, once blessed with elitist degrees, only hits 50 percent of those degrees. The sample size remains small, but it may be the first sign that the intense lifestyle and the many minutes are taking their toll.