As it usually happens, some of the NBA early season surprises have led to multiple overreactions, both good and bad.
NBA early season surprises
That’s why today, we’re going to try and put those opinions into context, letting you know some of our hot takes from the start of the season.
Timberwolves aren’t that good
Considering what the Minnesota Timberwolves gave for Rudy Gobert, they’d expect him to be one of the best centers in the NBA in 2022-23. That hasn’t been the case, as his scoring and blocks per game average have both taken a dip, as expected by sharing the floor with Karl-Anthony Towns.
Anthony Edwards should be better after a slow start to the season, but D’Angelo Russell simply doesn’t look like a good fit. Also, KAT isn’t much of a leader and has failed to make an impact beyond calling his teammates out in press conferences. They have potential but are just not a good fit together.
Don’t panic, Jazz fans
Most projected NBA win totals had the Utah Jazz sitting near the bottom of the standings. Jazz fans were rooting for multiple losses and a shot to land Victor Wembanyama with the first-overall pick in the upcoming draft, so they may not be satisfied with their team winning.
But there’s no need to panic. The losses will come in bunches. Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk won’t be able to sustain this level of production, and it’s just a matter of time before they ship away Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, and who knows who else.
Paolo Banchero is a star already
I will be honest and say that I thought Paolo Banchero would have a slower start to the season. Yes, he was the most NBA-ready prospect in his class, but he’s handling himself like a veteran already and looks like a grown man among children.
Banchero is a scoring machine, and his playmaking skills are just remarkable. He has scored 20+ and filled up the stat sheet in every single game, and he’s not even taking that many three-pointers yet. Don’t look now, but he might mess around and earn an All-Star spot.
Yes, Lakers are this bad
No, this isn’t one of the NBA early season surprises, but it needed to be said nonetheless. No, this isn’t a fluke, nor is it a product of bad luck or ice-cold shooting. The 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers are this bad. If anything, they can only get worse unless they do a couple of trades.
Darvin Ham has turned the team into a defensive-minded squad, and that’s fine. But they can’t shoot a penny into the ocean, regardless of how wide-open they are. And that’s simply not going to change, as they don’t have shooters on that squad.
Are we sleeping on Portland?
The Portland Trail Blazers were the last undefeated team, dropping a home game to a Miami Heat team desperate for a win. Also, Damian Lillard missed the end of the game with an injury, so that also took a toll on the lopsided final score.
So, are we sleeping on Chauncey Billups‘ team? Were they that good before this loss? They’re sure playing the best defense they’ve played in years, and that Lillard connection with Anfernee Simons seems right. We still can’t make up our mind with this team.
Sixers will get there
The Philadelphia 76ers had arguably the best offseason in the league. But the early NBA results so far have been less than encouraging. Joel Embiid looks out of shape and he may need a couple of weeks of conditioning before going back to his old dominant self.
But there’s no need to panic here if you’re a Sixers fan. They have one of the deepest rosters in the league, and it’ll take a while before all the new pieces start to fit. There will be some ugly and head-scratching losses with Doc Rivers as a coach, but they should be much better than this.
Klay Thompson is no longer Klay Thompson
Father Time spares no victims, and maybe it’s time we start thinking of Klay Thompson as a bit of a has-been. He’s lost his quick first step and some of that lateral quickness that made him so deadly as a backcourt defender, and his shot just isn’t falling anymore.
Thompson is one of the greatest shooters to ever lace them up, and he should get the benefit of the doubt. But at this point in his career and after overcoming two major injuries in three years, he may be better off taking a step back for the Dubs.
Cavs are for real
The Cleveland Cavaliers roster was already solid last season, so adding Donovan Mitchell only made them much scarier. They’re 3-1 to start the season and could be undefeated if Darius Garland hadn’t missed most of the time with an injured eye.
The Cavs don’t need to push up the pace to be a deadly squad. They’re efficient from all three ranges, and their versatile, physical defense makes them a team to look out for in the Eastern Conference. Their schedule has been sot, but their game has been legit.
Ben Simmons is done
Well, I guess Ben Simmons is what it is and that’s all he’ll ever be. He looks scared to shoot and hesitant to reach when playing defense, and it didn’t take two weeks before Kyrie Irving called him out both in public and right in the middle of a game.
Simmons has the potential to be one of the best playmakers and defenders on Earth. But he’s just not mentally strong to embrace that. The Brooklyn Nets sure don’t need a guy that’ll shy away when the game is on the line, especially if he’ll foul out that often.
I’m telling you this, and you can quote me on that at the end of the season: The 2022-23 Los Angeles Clippers are going nowhere, and they have themselves to blame for that. How so? Well, Kawhi Leonard‘s load management will come back to bite them in the playoffs.
There’s just no way a team can develop chemistry with its best player sitting out every time he feels a little sore. Leonard’s load management doesn’t work, as he’s missed more than half of his games with injury anyway. Expect another second-round exit for Ty Lue’s team.