We’ve already been in the Upside Down for the better part of the last year, ever since Cats hit theaters (release the butthole cut you cowards) so why would we expect the first week of the 2020-21 NBA season to be any different. In a word, it’s been wonky. Here’s a short list of the craziest things that have happened this week: The Clippers were down by 50 at halftime, Collin Sexton, Andre Drummond, and Darius Garland are 1-3 in the MVP race, The Warriors are the new Knicks, and the most unbelievable of all is the Timberwolves can actually play defense. This is just a snippet of the insanity that has engulfed the start to the season after we already experience the weirdest offseason and the NBA bubble. With more questions than answers this year, there are a whole lot of overreactions to be had from a wild Christmas week. So here are the top five overreactions from the first seven days of the NBA season.
1.) Cleveland is actually really good
The 3-0 start for the Cavs is the most exciting thing to happen in Cleveland sports since the Browns beat the Jets on September 20th, 2018 for their first win in nearly two years. The upstart Cavaliers are undefeated to start the season behind surprisingly strong starts from Sexton, Drummond, and Garland. The Sexland backcourt has been fantastic so far after both young guards struggled last year. Lets bring Cleveland back down to Earth a little bit. First, their three wins were against the Hornets, Pistons, and 76ers who were on a back-to-back without Joel Embiid, not exactly a murderers row to begin the season. Shits about to get real for the Cavs in 2021 as they get another freebie against the Knicks, but then go on a six-game road trip against the Pacers on New Year’s Eve, the Hawks, the 3-0 Magic x2, Memphis, and then the Bucks. Cleveland could easily go from 3-0 to 4-6 in a matter of two weeks. There’s a chance this team is scrappy in the East and vies for a spot in the play-in tournament, but once they play real competition we’ll soon find out that Cleveland fans will have to rely on the Browns for their true playoff hopes, which is obviously sad.
2.) Signing Giannis to a supermax contract was a mistake
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best thing to happen to Greece since Brad Pitt single-handedly beat the shit out of Eric Bana and won the Trojan War. The Greek Freak is the reigning back-to-back MVP and arguably the best player in the NBA. He also shook the pillars of the league earlier this month when he signed a five-year $228 million contract extension to stay in Milwaukee. This was maybe the greatest thing to ever happen to the Bucks, and they won a championship. Since he signed the Bucks have had a rough start the the season. Jayson Tatum called game with a last second banked in three over Giannis to send last year’s number one seed home with a loss on opening night. Then they dismantled the new Knicks, beating the Warriors by 39 in game two. On Sunday they lost to the actual Knicks by 20 points, falling to 1-2 on the young season. That’s a rough start for the best regular season team in the NBA the last two seasons. During the slow start Giannis hasn’t quite been himself. He’s still been great averaging 25.7 points and 13 rebounds per game, but he’s not the world beating Greek God that he was in his MVP seasons. Some might point the finger at his contract, saying that by signing the mega-deal the Bucks mortgaged their future for one player, who based on his performance to begin the season maybe isn’t actually worth it. Don’t be fooled by a slow start, Giannis is worth as much money as anyone wants to pay him. He’s the Patrick Mahomes of the NBA, and especially in small-market Milwaukee. As a Timberwolves fan I know what it’s like to never keep your star players and have no chance at signing any big time free agents, and Minneapolis is way cooler than Milwaukee. The Bucks did the right thing by keeping one of the biggest stars in the league in one of the most boring NBA cities for the next five years. Giannis will eventually regain his MVP form, and even if he doesn’t, what else are you going to do Milwaukee?
3.) The Nuggets will miss the playoffs
Before the season started I picked the Nuggets to finish third in the West, and had Jokic and Murray on the All-NBA Second and Third teams respectively. Jokic looks amazing so far and is averaging what would go down as the greatest triple double in league history with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and a mind fucking 14 assists. Murray on the other hand is capital S struggling. He’s shooting 39.5 percent and has just six assists in three games. The West is still the dominant conference and with a 1-2 start, maybe the Nuggets aren’t all they were cracked up to be. Luckily for Denver all is not lost just yet. One of their losses was to the Clippers, who even though they got killed by the Mavs are still one of the best teams in the league, so that loss is acceptable. The other is to the Kings on a crazy Buddy Hield overtime buzzer beating tip-in. They also beat James Soften and the actually pretty decent Houston Rockets. The D-Nugs are currently behind the Wolves, Spurs, Thunder, and Kings in the standings, which I’m very confident in saying will not be the case come the end of the season. Murray will get his head on straight and Denver will still be a problem in the West. Maybe not the third seed, but there’s no way this team misses the playoffs barring injury.
4.) LaMelo Ball is already a bust
The third Ball bro has been bruuuuuuuuuuuuuutal during his first three NBA games. LiAngelo’s less handsome brother threw up a goose egg in his first outing and is averaging just 6.3 points on 33.3 percent shooting. That’s very Malik Monk of you LaMelo, and it looks worse if you see what the two guys drafted ahead of him are doing at the start of the season. First overall pick Anthony Edwards, who also looked brutal in the preseason, has been arguably the best player for the Wolves this season and sparked them to a somewhat surprising 2-1 record. James Wiseman has been the lone bright spot for the new Knicks of Golden State. He’s shown a decent stroke, and is bullying people inside already and averaging 14.7 points per game and will get every opportunity to grow as it looks like their season is already over. There are a whole lot of scouts and other guys who claim to know what good basketball is who thought LaMelo would be way better than those two and be a star in Charlotte. Pretty much the exact opposite is happening in the first week so is LaMelo already a bust? No of course not, plenty of stars have had a rough go of it at the beginning of their careers. James Soften himself only scored 4.3 points per game over his first three NBA contests and shot just 29 percent. It will take time for a 19-year-old who last played a year ago in Australia to find his niche in this league, but don’t let a bad start fool you into thinking he’s a bust already.
5.) Houston should not trade James Harden
Speaking of the NBA party boy James Soften (Née Harden) he’s looked like the John Daly of the NBA, going straight from the strip club to the court and playing his round little ass off. His first two games have been exactly what you’ve come to expect out of the NBA’s four-time reigning scoring champ averaging 39 points per game so far. The beard is obviously still the best scorer in the game, and at 31 is still a top ten player in the league. Even with his tumultuous offseason in which he demanded a trade, didn’t show up for training camp, and single-handedly put every stripper in a three-state radius through college. So why would Houston even consider trading him when they can still ride him to pole position in the Southwest Division and compete in the Western Conference playoffs? Wouldn’t trading a huge superstar on a competitive team make absolutely no sense?
The Rockets absolutely should still trade him at their earliest convenience. Even with his outstanding performance over the first week, the Rockets are still 0-2 with huge concerns throughout the roster. Yes Christian Wood looks like he can be the second option on a playoff team, but we have no clue what this team really is. Thanks to COVID-19 and guys wanting a fresh cut on opening day, we haven’t even seen John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins on the court yet as they had to sit out due to contact tracing. They could be trash and this team headed for the gutter faster than Harden heading for a Vegas buffet. Harden will also leave in two years and, while you have time to figure it out, his value will only diminish the closer he gets to free agency. Harden is still one of the best players of this generation, but if you’re Houston, you really don’t want to see the rest of his career play out in one of your top notch gentlemen’s establishments.
This week in basketball has provided plenty of hot takes and spicy conversation around the league, but at the end of the day no NBA championship was won in the first three games of a season, plenty have been lost, but lets not overreact too much to what we’ve seen so far.