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The NBA Is Back: First Weeks

Samuel Griffin and Bojan Zeric, Reporters

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Welcome to a series that myself and Bojan Zeric will be writing following the events of this new NBA season.
Four months, four days, twenty-three hours and thirty minutes after the game 5 of the NBA Finals that gave the title to Durant, Curry and the rest of the Golden State Warriors on June 12th, a new season officially began on October 17th, and there have already been many new interesting developments.

Kyrie Against his Past
One of the most discussed NBA-related stories during the summer was certainly the trade request from Kyrie Irving, one of the most talented young point guards in the league and the man who made the three-point shot that brought the title to Cleveland two years ago. The man who helped the king end the drought. The first game of the season immediately put Kyrie and his new team, the Boston Celtics, against the point guard’s former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was truly Kyrie against his past – Kyrie against his former leader and teacher LeBron James. The Cavs deservedly came out with a win by 3 points, but Irving, with a double-double of 22 points and 10 assists, to which he added 4 rebounds and 3 steals, showed us that the Celtics might have found a great leader for the future.

Injuries
Unfortunately, the first week of NBA has been full of serious career-changing injuries, starting with the horrible images of Gordon Hayward’s foot, only five minutes into his first game for the Celtics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deS9cusPN4Q do not watch if you are particularly sensitive). After him, Jeremy Lin, Milos Teodosic, Dennis Schroeder, all out either for the season or for three to four months, and a number of minor injuries such as Myles Turner and Hassan Whiteside who had to sit out a couple of games. Whether this is a consequence of poor conditioning or simply bad luck we do not know; we can only hope that the number of injuries will go down by as much as possible in the future.

Miserably Historical
Nobody expected the Phoenix Suns to be a candidate for a playoff spot, but a beginning like this was hardly expectable, also considering they have players like Devin Booker, who has the current highest career high in the NBA of 70 points, and Eric Bledsoe, not Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry, but still a talented and experienced point guard. However, the results are miserably historical; no team ever had such a bad start. After a 48-point loss to the Blazers on the opening night, they lost to the Clippers by 42 points and then to the Lakers. On Monday, the coach was fired, and Bledsoe said he does not want to stay any longer in Phoenix. The situation will hardly get any better, also considering they have not yet played any of the top teams.

Antetu… Antetoku… Antetokoum… Giannis
You can’t spell or pronounce his last name but Giannis is proving that this is his year, persistently showing the world why he should be considered one of the best players in the league. The beginning of his season is something that was never seen before. 37 and 13 rebounds to beat the Celtics; 34, 8, 8 against the Cavs and, two nights ago, a career-high of 44 points, to which he added 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, including a clutch steal and dunk to take the lead at the very end, and a block to win it. What he is doing, however, goes beyond stats; it is his leading attitude and his mental strength that makes him simply unfair to play against because there is no way to limit him but to hope he will miss. Three games are not nearly enough for a verdict, but the MVP is more than possible.

Rookies
It is always interesting to assist to the first meeting between the NBA and the new-comers from the draft and find out who is actually ready to make a difference and who needs more time. This year, in particular, the rookie class looks particularly strong, especially Ben Simmons, who had a year to observe while he was injured and now looks as if he has been playing in Philadelphia for years; Jason Taytum, who was the first Boston rookie to finish his first game with a double-double since Larry Bird; Lonzo Ball, who after a disastrous first game almost had a triple-double, with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists; and Kyle Kuzma, who always brings points off the bench. We will take more time before judging Markelle Fultz, who is playing with a slight injury so is not at his best.

Photos via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

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The NBA Is Back: First Weeks