Latest posts by Chris Sheridan (see all)
- Sheridan: A look behind, a look ahead at NBA’s one-month mark - November 14, 2018
- Sheridan’s Picks: Winners, losers and who won’t last with current team - October 15, 2018
What will you remember most about Month One of the NBA season?
Rajon Rondo either spitting or not spitting at Chris Paul? Watching your Twitter for Jimmy Butler trade rumors? Lip-reading the post-overtime bench argument between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant? The latest Melodrama?
Chances are, all of the above make the list.
We are witnessing a scoring pace not seen since the early 1960s, which we all remember vividly, correct? (Joke)
All 30 NBA teams are averaging at least 100 points and allowing at least 100 points. The Toronto Raptors have the league’s best record, the Golden State Warriors are right behind them and the Milwaukee Bucks are third.
All in all, it has been an interesting month — but not one with a blow-your-doors-off storyline that everyone is talking about (aside from what was going on with Butler.)
The league most tweeted-about player (sorry, LeBron) will make his Philadelphia 76ers debut Wednesday in Orlando, which gives us a grand total of two reasons to watch a Magic game — the other being that “organize the sock drawer later” always finishes a close second when there is a Nikola Vucevic option on the TV.
The Leastern Conference turns out to be not so bad after all, with the Bucks and Raptors outperforming the heavily favored Boston Celtics, the Indiana Pacers remaining sneaky good, the Washington Wizards struggling to remain relevant in the “good teams” discussion.
The West is downright kooky, with the Sacramento Kings ahead of the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets as we head into Month 2.
What to look forward to between now and mid-December?
A few things:
THE POST-BUTLER FALLOUT: Let’s start in Minnesota, where Tom Thibodeau upset ownership by telling them all summer that the Butler situation was fixable when it clearly was not. The Timberwolves organization became the laughingstock of the NBA, and the bailout finally came when the Sixers decided their poor start was becoming their baseline, and something needed to be done. Will Thibodeau survive the month, much less the season? Will Butler poison the Sixers team plane with his proclivity for picking on younger teammates? And will Sixers GM Elton Brand end up regretting making this deal if Butler does not get the team to the NBA Finals but still expects a five-year max deal in July.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE DROUGHT: For all the high scoring team-wise, it is curious that there has not been a corresponding uptick in triple-doubles. Ben Simmons and Giannis Antetokounmpo have two apiece, Vucevic, Nikola Jokic, De’Aaron Fox, Elfrid Payton, Kevin Durant and James have one apiece .. and that’s it. Heck, there is not even a single player averaging 30 ppg, which the mathematical crowd and the quant crews can go ahead and figure out. Perhaps when Russell Westbrook returns, perhaps the triple-double thing will correct. He had 25 and 42 the past two seasons.
ARE THE RAPTORS FOR REAL? They beat the Boston Celtics on the second night of the season, and they will get a chance to measure themselves on the road against The Green this Friday night. They got smoked in Milwaukee on the night when the last two remaining unbeaten teams were playing each other, and their other defeat came earlier this week when E’Twaun Moore channeled something funky and gave the Pelicans a quality road win. Nick Nurse is certainly taking a different approach that Dwane Casey did, but the biggest difference-maker on this team (aside from MVP contender Kawhi Leonard) has been forward Pascal Siakam, who just earned Player of the Week honors. Real or not, the Raptors are still going to be held hostage by Leonard if he wants to play elsewhere next season. That could necessitate a trade deadline deal.
LeBRON IN LAKERLAND: Sure was nifty watching him hang from the rim the other night after the Lakers poleaxed the Hawks by a single point. We will have to endure a few more months of mood-meter ratings, and the better story is actually up the road in Oakland where Durant’s impending free agency is impacting the Warriors in the locker room and causing distractions in every city they play in. Hey, when DeMarcus Cousins is playing peacemaker, Must-See TV goes NoCal. As for LeBron, just remember one thing: What the Lakers look like today and what the Lakers look like on March 1 are two different things. The March 1 roster is the one that will be built to get through the playoffs. The November version is a temp.
THIS ‘N THAT: We shall see how long the Sacramento Kings remain one of the most compelling teams to watch. Marvin Bagley is in contention for Rookie of the Year, Willie Cauley-Stein looks like something out of a horror movie … and the Kings’ $12 million in cap space and $40 million in expiring contracts means they will be the NBA’s primary deal-brokers when February rolls around. … Malcolm Brogdon of the Bucks is 25-for-25 from the line, making him the only qualified player shooting 100 percent from the stripe. … Seth Curry (.500) is shooting better from 3-point range than Steph Curry (.492).