This NBA season seems like it will be one for the books. The hype surrounding the season is off the charts, and I haven’t been this excited for the NBA in as long as I can remember. There are so many crazy storylines that we usually don’t see in the NBA, such as superstars being traded, a rookie class full of promising players, and last but not least, free agents joining successful teams (which, contrary to the others is pretty ordinary at this point). I’m sure you will see a lot of headlines regarding the first couple of nights in the NBA, but I’m here to share my perspective on some of the hype. I’m here to give you my take on the first couple of nights of NBA action.
The doubters of “The Process” have been proven wrong
Although it’s only one game, the Sixers looked way better than I thought they would. Going into DC, and having to play against a very competitive Wizards team who brought back their core isn’t an easy task. Especially for a team finally starting to build their identity as a team who can win, rather than tank. But they definitely held their own, and their future was shining bright. I’ve gone from one of the biggest Ben Simmons doubters to one of the biggest Ben Simmons fans in the past couple of weeks. With Embiid healthy (knock on wood) and Fultz gaining confidence by the day, I think this team has the capability to do things Philly fans have been dreaming about since the departure of AI.
Phil Jackson decided to screw the Knicks over, one last time
As a Knicks fan, it’s extremely hard to rout for Dennis Smith Jr., and it’s nothing against him. On draft night, Phil Jackson made the pick that we all knew he would but hoped he wouldn’t make, he selected French point guard Frank Ntilikina with eighth pick in the draft, and left college superstar DSJ on the board. Smith has played against NBA level talent since middle school, Ntilikina has only played in France. Smith had a great freshman year in the star studded ACC, Ntilikina has never played against high level D1 players. Smith dominated summer league, Ntilikina was out with an injury. Smith had 16 points and 10 assists in his debut, while Ntilikina barely played meaningful minutes. You get the point, I really wanted Dennis Smith Jr. Watching the Knicks last night was frustrating, superstar Porzingis looks better than ever but he needs help, and we can only wonder what a Porzingis and Dennis Smith pick and roll would look like.
Lonzo Ball will need to be very mentally tough
Out of all the controversial opening night matchups, I think Lonzo Ball got the worst draw. He had to go up against “Mr. 94 feet” Patrick Beverly, who is still in the league because of his tenacious defensive play. When Beverly sent out a tweet about a month ago questioning something Lavar said about Lonzo’s skills, I knew Lonzo was in for a night. It only took the rest of the world about five minutes to realize that as they watched Beverly shove Lonzo to the ground as soon as he crossed half court. Every night won’t be as rough as Beverly, but wether he likes it or not, Lavar put a target on his back. I’ve been on the Ball hype train since his days at Chino Hills, and I don’t plan on abandoning ship after one game, but my big takeaway from the Laker game last night, is that Lonzo will need to be very mentally tough to succeed. When I first met Lonzo he was a high school senior, there was no Big Baller Brand, no ESPN interviews lined up for Lavar, no reality TV show, but it didn’t matter. Lonzo acted the same way he did that day in March of 2016 as he does now. He is a humble superstar that really doesn’t care about what anyone says to him. And believe it or not, Lavar didn’t change for fame, he just developed a platform from his sons success. During the Powerade jam fest, it was Lavar who was dancing with all the players while Lonzo was hanging out on the side, staying low key. Lonzo is used to people hating on his dad, he is used to people hating on his family, he is used to people hating on him. Everyone knows Lonzo’s skills are there, but can he handle the criticism on a daily basis? Can he stay level headed when vets are trash talking him every night? And I’m here to tell you he can, Lonzo is built for this, and he will be a big time Laker for the long haul.
We need to give Kyrie time
We all know Kyrie is one of the best pure scorers in the league, which is why we need to give him time. He spent his entire career in Cleveland, he knew the system, he knew his teammates, and he knew his role. With Kyrie going to Boston, not only does he become “the guy” he also becomes the leader, something he hasn’t been since high school. Kyrie is running the show now, and that show just lost one of their stars in Gordon Hayward, and he isn’t all that replaceable. We as fans need to cut Irving some slack, he is trying to figure out how to score in this system, how to facilitate in this system, and how to lead. He is in a brand new situation and being the delusional fans we are, we expect immediate results. The first year of the Heat big 3 they started out 8-8, but we want to jump on Kyrie for not dropping 30 points right away.
Opening night letdowns won’t last
I can’t even converse with the people that say that the Warriors loss means they aren’t as good as they were last year. It took a mediocre shooting night and foul trouble from the Warriors and unreal bench production from the Rockets just to squeak out a one point win. This goes without saying but please don’t fool yourselves, this year’s Warriors team is one of the greatest of all time.
All the off-season movement is what will make this season special, and opening night was just a small sample size of the year we are about to witness.