It has been almost a month since the NBA restarted and we’ve witnessed our fair share of exciting basketball action along with the several stories that are unfolding.
Slowly but surely, the wins and losses will pile up and that will eventually separate the contenders, pretenders, and the ones who will drop as lottery teams.
Today, allow SBOTOP to highlight these narratives that we have seen so far.
The Nets are showing glimpses of scary potential
Although their current record doesn’t indicate it, the Brooklyn Nets are a force to be reckoned with according to the eye test.
From the time that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving shared the court for the first time earlier in the preseason, add that along with their crop of young stars, pundits are expecting the Nets to contend in the Eastern Conference playoffs this term.
The Steve Nash-mentored squad is currently fourth in offence and eighth in defence, so kudos to the new coach for doing such a great job despite having no prior coaching experience.
They welcomed the 2020/21 season with comprehensive wins over the Warriors and the Celtics, but they stumbled down the stretch against the Hornets and the Grizzlies, while they split their last two games against the Hawks.
Granted, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were rested in some of those games. But when they’re on the court together at full strength, they have proven to be a handful to deal with.
However, in order to cement themselves into elite status, the Nets shouldn’t rely on their superstars alone.
Their role players in Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, DeAndre Jordan would have to play big as well, especially now with sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie out with a torn ACL.
The Wizards are still searching for their identity
It is safe to say that the Russell Westbrook experiment in Washington has yet to work so far.
They have only won one of their last six games – including a five-game skid to start their 2020/21 campaign.
While Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook continue to put up video game numbers and NBA 2021 highlights, they haven’t been getting ample support from their other teammates.
At the same time, their defence and late-game execution has been poor, so that has to change dramatically.
Since their last game in the preseason, Washington have yet to hold an opponent below 100 points, with three of them going over 120.
But despite their early shortcomings, the Wizards remain steadfast in their attempt to make it back into the NBA postseason.
“Having a little adversity early on, that’s okay. Stick to your principles, stick to what you know. Continue to lead and stay positive. It’s a long season and we’re going to figure it out,” said Russell Westbrook during a recent interview.
The good news is that sophomore forward Rui Hachimura has been cleared to play after suffering an eye injury early on.
He may not be a star that the Wizards need, but his improving play on both ends of the floor should help the team immensely.
James Harden should give this new-look Rockets a chance
The Rockets were in the spotlight for much of the preseason because of James Harden’s apparent dissatisfaction over its new look, but perhaps he should give it a try to see how far they can go.
Although Houston are 1-2 in their first few games, there is a sense of optimism among fans given how their new players have fared recently.
Offseason signing Christian Wood has been putting up career numbers, and then new point guard John Wall played superb in his debut yesterday.
James Harden, on the other hand, is still balling out with averages of 37 points and 11 assists per game.
The biggest thing for the Rockets will be their health, particularly to their new acquisitions in John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
Should the former Kentucky teammates remain healthy all season, the Rockets will emerge as a dark horse contender in the Western Conference.
The contenders are going to be alright
Similar to last season, the Lakers, Bucks, and Clippers are still the title favourites according to the NBA 2021 odds.
And so far, they have proven the odds correct given their decent records in their first six matches of the season.
The Lakers and the Clippers are both 4-2, while the Bucks are steady at 3-3.
Their cores remain intact with their superstars leading the way. But what’s impressive about their teams is the fact that their newer players have meshed in well in such a short time.
Jrue Holiday is definitely an upgrade for the Bucks at the guard spot, while Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol, and Dennis Schroder are seamless fits for the Lakers.
Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard, and Nicolas Batum make the Clippers a deeper squad, which gives them a golden opportunity to atone their disappointing campaign last term.
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