The NBA season is here in full swing.
This year is highlighted already by a fight, trade rumors, and scoring at a historic rate. Stephen Curry is doing normal Steph things. Lebron James, like always, started off slow with his new team. This rookie class looks REALLY GOOD. The New York Knicks still stink, albeit without Kristaps Porzingis.
All that being said, that is not what this is about. These are three of the biggest overreactions from the young season.
The Denver Nuggets are a Legit Contender
The Nuggets are on a roll, and for a good reason. Their defense is ranked in the TOP FIVE so far through the first few games. The Nuggets have Paul Millsap back and healthy, which sure helps. They are also getting good defensive contributions from Torrey Craig. If you are scratching your head right now and wondering who Torrey Craig is, thats OK. He is averaging almost a block and a steal per game and playing the Andre Roberson-type role, averaging 24 minutes per game. He is playing great defense for a team that really needs it.
The Nuggets offense needs no explanation. Nikola Jokic is playing at an MVP-caliber level, just like he finished last season. Plus, with help from Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, this team is great on offense. The bench is suffering from a few injuries to Isaiah Thomas and Will Barton, and the possibility of Michael Porter Jr not playing the entire season. If they can get back even one of those three guys, they will have a great scorer off the bench to boost the second unit.
If everything can continue to click for this team—beat teams under .500 and continue to play great defense—who says no to the Denver Nuggets being a contender in the loaded Western Conference?
Kawhi Leonard is Staying, No Doubt
The Toronto Raptors look good. Really good. They are second in the Eastern Conference behind only the undefeated Milwaukee Bucks.
The Raptors, of course, are lead by Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi is looking like an MVP candidate again, just like he was in the 2016 season. He is currently averaging 26.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.6 steals, 0.6 blocks. He is doing all of that while shooting 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range.
The reason I say, with confidence, that he is staying is that he is playing at high level where he is the best player surrounded by a great defensive team. The Raptors have been playing at a high level due to their star player and the players around him playing defense. Kawhi’s laugh might not have been telling that he is happy in Toronto, or that he is staying, but maybe, just maybe, he likes the cold after all?
The Houston Rockets Miss the Playoffs?
You read that right.
Yes, I know that the Houston Rockets have Chris Paul and James Harden. Is that enough to make the playoffs? Absolutely! However, here is why they could slip out of the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.
THEY CANNOT PLAY DEFENSE. Through the first few games it is very obvious that losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute hurt their defense tremendously. They are a bottom five defensive team. In addition to them not playing defense very well, they have to play the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trailblazers. These teams currently all have a Top 15 defensive rating and are all fighting for the playoffs. The Rockets, as well, are dead last in rebounding. The biggest reason for this is the number of small ball lineups they run. Clint Capela is the only major rebounder they have at the center position.
All of this being said, the combination of a lack of rebounding and defense and a potential Harden or Paul injury of significant time could derail this team from making the playoffs.