One reason of the slow start is that Lauri Markkanen was supposed to have a breakout year but instead the polar opposite has happened. His stats are significantly down averaging almost 19 points and nine rebounds last season to averaging 13.9 points and 6.7 rebounds currently and his field goal percentage has taken a nosedive. A disappointing start to say the least. His regression partly has to do with the chemistry of the team.
Watching a Bulls game, it is easy to spot the lack of chemistry between Zach LaVine and Markkanen. Both are primarily two-guards and do not work well together on the court. Something might be going on inside the locker room but whatever it is, it is radiating to the rest of the team. Every game the Bulls have played looks uninspired and has led to some embarrassing losses to the Knicks, Warriors, and Cavaliers. I hope that the Bulls association figures out what is wrong with the disarrayed team or else next season will be another painful season for a Bulls fan like me.
His mentality and competitiveness were fully shown against the Clippers last night. Giannis was out for revenge against Kawhi Leonard, who knocked out the Milauwkee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals when he was on the Toronto Raptors. Last night, the Bucks blew out the Clippers in a 119-91 win. In 26 minutes, Giannis scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while also shutting down Paul George defensively.
A big question has been arising around the league and that is who will make the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference? At the beginning of the season, I believed along with many others that the 76ers would dominate the Eastern Conference and make it to the Finals. But so far, Philadelphia is fifth in the conference and their biggest struggle has been consistency. The Sixers still have the highest potential as a team but this season, the best team in the conference is undoubtedly the Bucks with their chemistry and best rated offense in the league.
In conclusion, the Milwaukee Bucks are the most likely team right now to play in the NBA Finals. Teams like the Sixers, Celtics, and Heat will give the Bucks a fight for that coveted spot. Whether the Bucks make it or not will strongly depend on The Greek Freak’s performances in those intense games.
The offense of James Harden cannot be ignored after having one of his career best nights in the Rocket’s most previous game. He managed to drop 60 points in 31 minutes and less than three quarters. He is undoubtedly the best scorer the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan and is dominating this era with his offensive skills.
Leading the NBA by eight points in terms of points per game, Harden is averaging 38.9 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo is second in the league with an impressive 30.1 points per game. That is a massive margin. It is unlikely that he will be able to keep those incredible numbers throughout the full regular season but that average in 19 games is still a huge accomplishment. If Harden does manage to keep close to that, he will break Michael Jordan’s best single season point average in the 1987 season which was a whopping 37.1 points.
Harden’s point average is impressive but the way he gets most of his points is even more impressive. Harden thrives on iso one on one match-ups. With the NBA evolving more towards ball movement offense, Harden is one of the only players in the modern day league that consistently uses isolation. Around 50% of Harden’s points come from isolation. None of the other 25 PPG or above players even approach 30%. In his 60 point game, 31 of those came from iso play. James Harden is revolutionizing a style that was thought to be dead. Playing his own game has led him to become the best offensive power of the era.
Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been fighting or recovering from injuries this season but the Los Angeles Clippers are 3-0 when they are on the court together this week. When watching the Clippers, there is an obvious chemistry problem with the two superstars. This is because Paul George has not only just started playing games with Leonard, he has barely even practiced with him and the rest of the team. Even so, the presence of the duo has benefited the team.
Having two superstars actively playing on the court has helped the role players. The Clippers undoubtedly have one of the best, if not the best, bench and supporting cast in the NBA with names like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Patrick Beverley. If the opposing team focuses too much on George or Leonard, it leaves opportunities for the role players to step up and have great games. Lou and Harrell have both had explosive games in the past week. On Sunday, Harrell tied his career high of 34 points against the Pelicans in a 134-109 win. Lou Williams has been a consistent scorer for the team off the bench boasting multiple 20 point games to start the season.
Every game the superstar duo plays together, the stronger their chemistry will become. The better the chemistry, the more difficult it will be to defeat this talented team. With time, they will likely be the best or second best team in the league.
Luka Doncic has been making history with his statistical performances to start out the first 14 games of the 2019-2020 regular season. The offensive powerhouse put up 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists against the Spurs on Monday, becoming the second youngest player in history to record a 40 point triple double. The only younger player the King himself, LeBron James, who did it back in 2005 when he was 20 years old as well. Luka is nearly averaging a triple double with his 29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game. The NBA has not seen an offensive prodigy like Luka since LeBron. One weakness of Doncic’s game is his defense but his offense more than well makes up for it on his team. Another impressive stat is his PER (Player Efficiency Rating) which is the best in the league at 33.28 showing that he is doing an astronomical amount for the Dallas Mavericks.
One can fully realize the impact of Luka’s improved stats by looking at Dallas’s team stats last year; the 2018-2019 season for the Mavericks was appalling having the third worst record in the entire league of 24-58. One bright thing that came from that season was the arrival of Kristaps Porzingis from the big DeAndre Jordan trade in early 2019. Porzingis was injured that entire season but the start of this season has proved that it was a good move for the future of the team. Porzingis combined with the rise of Luka has led to a major improvement from last season. Their record so far this year is 10-5, a huge step-up. A bright future is ahead for the Mavericks with the duo of Doncic and Porzingod. A Championship sometime in the next 5 to 10 years seems like a strong possibility for the franchise.
I would choose five 5 point guards in the league over him right now: Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and James Harden. In the next year or so, if no serious injury occurs, he might make it into the list past all of those future Hall of Famers. Trae Young’s offensive power potential is through the roof with a shooting hand comparable to Stephen Curry in his early career. Young has better court vision than Curry being ranked third in assists per game. The way he’ll prove his eliteness this season will be to carry his team to the playoffs and perform well under pressure. He has never been in a playoff game so it would be great to see him in that kind of atmosphere.
In conclusion, Trae Young will last a long time in the league the way he is heading and I cannot wait to see him become a top elite point guard in the NBA.
Stephen Curry comes down with hand injury during Wednesday night against Phoenix Suns
As of November 6th, the Warriors are off to a disappointing 2-5 record, a far cry from a 21-0 start two seasons prior. Warriors fans thought the situation couldn’t be worse until Stephen Curry came down awkwardly on his left hand after a routine lay-up against the Phoenix Suns last Wednesday night. Now an intriguing question is arising for spectators across the league; will the Warriors even make the playoffs in the stacked Western Conference or will they decide to tank? It would be a miracle if Klay Thompson would be back after the All-Star Break in February and recent history has shown that it most likely will not happen. Zach Lavine and Danilo Gallanari missed about a full year with the same injury. Even if Thompson does indeed return, the chances of the Warriors making the playoffs (let alone having a good seed) are low. This is because of Curry’s injury. He is projected to be out for over three months. That digs a hole for the team that they can’t climb out of.
D Lo and Draymond Green have been on and off the court to start this season. One of them sitting out for a considerable amount of time would be the final nail in the coffin for hopes of a playoff run. With the Curry injury, the Warriors will probably tank this season and focus on their young talent to build an identity around the lackluster bench.