Beware of early overreactions after the NBA’s opening week
Beware the overreaction.
It’s an easy trap to fall into at this time of year: Look at the early numbers in the NBA, extrapolate those over 82 games and envision the statistically improbable somehow becoming real.
Don’t do it.
Atlanta’s Trae Young is averaging 38.5 points per game right now which won’t hold up over an entire season. Same goes for Houston’s James Harden, who isn’t going to stay at his current shooting rate of 24% from the field and 12% from 3-point range. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t going to foul out of every game, either.
And Golden State isn’t going to go 0-82.
The Warriors may be the biggest disappointment of the first week of this NBA season, blown out by 19 at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and then by 28 — a game where the deficit was as much as 42 — on Sunday at Oklahoma City.
“We’re just not that good right now,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I don’t know a better way to frame that for you. I could try in Spanish, but I’m not really that good in Spanish.”
They haven’t just lost. They haven’t even led yet — not for a single second. They got down 14-0 in the opener to the Clippers, then 8-0 to the Thunder.
But to write off the Warriors — the five-time defending Western Conference champions — after two games would be beyond short-sighted.
“We’re trying to develop an identity as a team and it doesn’t happen overnight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when you play in the NBA every single night, you’re going against amazing basketball players.”
Golden State still has Green and Stephen Curry. The Warriors added D’Angelo Russell. They won’t have Klay Thompson until late this season, if at all in 2019-20. The NBA Finals MVPs from 2015, 2017 and 2018 — Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant — aren’t there anymore.
It’s not starting over. It’s definitely a restart, though. The Warriors’ halftime deficit of 33 points on Sunday was their largest since 1997.
“This is not where we finish,” said Omari Spellman, one of the Warriors’ new faces. “It’s Game 2. But there are only so many times we can keep saying that. … We’ve got to compete.”
The Warriors used 11 players on Sunday, and seven of them were playing elsewhere last season — whether in the NBA or still in college. That’s why Kerr says the Warriors “don’t have a sense of who we are as a team yet.”
“I realize I’m making plenty of excuses,” Kerr said. “But they’re real.”
Champions of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas don’t get rings. They get T-shirts.
Memphis won the title this past summer, and Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins — who decided to coach the team in Las Vegas as well — keeps his championship shirt in his wardrobe rotation as a reminder of what happened over those two weeks.
“I bust it out every now and then,” Jenkins said.
The next championship will be a little bit tougher.
Jenkins is one of two first-time NBA coaches this season, with Cleveland’s John Beilein being the other. Beilein is 66 and went to the Final Four twice with Michigan. Jenkins is 35 and his most notable experience as a head coach before now was in the G League.
No one asks Beilein if he’s ready for the NBA. Jenkins — who has studied under Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer — has heard that question a lot.
“I’ve been preparing,” Jenkins said.
He knows he still has a ton to learn, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel prepared for where he is.
WHAT TO WATCH
A game to watch each day this week:
— Monday, Oklahoma City at Houston: Russell Westbrook faces the Thunder for the first time.
— Tuesday, Atlanta at Miami: Jimmy Butler is expected to finally make his debut for the Heat.
— Wednesday, Indiana at Brooklyn: Malcolm Brogdon guarding Kyrie Irving will be must-watch TV. (Also, if the World Series goes seven games, Houston’s basketball team will be in Washington while Washington’s baseball team is in Houston.)
— Thursday, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers: The Clippers have won their last five Halloween games.
— Saturday, Toronto at Milwaukee: A rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals.
— Sunday, Sacramento at New York: Kings have missed 13 straight postseasons, Knicks six.