Overreactions are a part of sports. They always have been, they always will be. For writers such as myself, I love them. The speculative questions I can ask after a small sample size of game action get my brain flowing. The NBA season is a long one and after a few weeks there are some trends that have stood out to me that made me wonder, is this legit or not? I decided to examine some of the five biggest legit or not topics and answered the question, legit or not?
Anthony Davis is going to win the MVP
The Brow finally got what he wanted. One of the biggest storylines of last season was the Anthony Davis trade request. It fell through during the season, dragged the Lakers young players through the mud and opened Davis up to newfound criticism. None of that matters now. The Lakers have AD and the Pelicans have their core of the future.
The start for Davis has been everything Lakers fans could have hoped for. After a tough opening night loss to the little brother Clippers, the Lakers have won three straight games, and AD has been a beast.
The six-time all-star is posting some silly numbers–he’s averaging 26.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and three blocks with 13.5 free-throw attempts per game. That last number is something to keep an eye on. His attempts from the line have been inflated by his 27 free-throws against the Grizzlies, but double-digit free throw attempts are sustainable for him. His performance was legendary; he scored 40 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in just 31 minutes, the first time a player has posted a 40-20 game in 31 minutes or less since the 1954-55 season.
“This solidifies why we went out and got him. He was big-time for us,” said Lebron James.
James has made a concerted effort to get Davis involved and it has shown. Through the first four games, Davis is posting a career-high in usage rate at 34.6 percent. If the Lakers finish in the top three and Davis continues his onslaught, he’s my pick to take the MVP.
Legit or Not? LEGIT
The Harden/Westbrook combo is going to work
Houston Rockets fans found themselves in quite a strange place over the summer. For about three years now there has been a not-so-friendly debate going between Rockets and Thunder fans about which player, Harden or Westbrook, was better. The fact both players were legitimate MVP contenders just made the matter more contentious. Despite the fanbases being at odds, the two players remained friends. Both guys became close during their time together in Oklahoma City, where they formed a young big 3 with Kevin Durant.
The two dynastic guards have experienced what it’s like to lead a team on their own and now we get to see them in the same NBA uniform again.
A lot was made over whether or not Russ could fit into the Rockets system–you know the system that takes the fewest midrange jumpers in the league, and values efficiency over all else. Well, the early returns have been promising. Last season the Rockets took .025 percent of their field goals from the midrange, good for last in the league. This season the number is at .027 percent, also last in the league. Russ is buying in.
The Rockets have won two straight. They are first in points per game, first in three-point attempts–although they are only shooting 32 percent on those attempts, and first in free-throw attempts (33.8).
Russ has not slowed the offense down, in fact, he’s sped things up with his ferocious downhill drives and bullet-like passes in transition or the halfcourt. Westbrook is averaging 20.7 points per game, 9.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists on career-high shooting numbers: 46 percent from the field, 52 percent effective field goal and 57 percent true shooting.
Harden has struggled with his shot, but his style of play has not changed, he’s getting his numbers and the Rockets are winning.
Legit or Not? LEGIT
The Warriors are going to be bad all season
The early returns couldn’t be any worse. Early in the season, the Warriors have some bad losses: a 19-point loss to the Clippers, a 28-point loss to the Thunder and an 11-point loss to the Suns–a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate. Not to mention Steph Curry broke his hand in that Suns game. He’ll be out at least a couple of months and that just takes things from bad to disastrous.
The Dubs are 28th in opponent points per game and dead-last in defensive efficiency. Their defensive issues are going to remain because they are relying on either really young guys or guys who are flat out bad defensively.
Legit or Not? LEGIT
Karl-Anthony Towns is the 7-foot Steph Curry
It’s taken a while, and I’m so thankful that the moment is finally here. Karl-Anthony Towns finally has a coach who has implemented a system that is predicated on maximizing their best players’ skills.
KAT has made the most of his newfound freedom. The two-time all-star is killing it so far. He’s averaging 26.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.8 blocks and two steals per game. I mean, wow. Not to mention his shooting numbers, 46.7 percent on 3s.
The unleashing of KAT comes in more ways than just looking at raw stats. Half of his field-goal attempts are coming from the 3-point line and he’s shooting 62 percent on his pull-up 3s. Just as impressive has been the fact that 40 percent of his field goals are unassisted. Towns has been the hub for this 3-1 Timberwolves team, and he’s being empowered like never before. His level of efficiency will taper off and because he’s a big man it’ll never look as fluid as Curry, but this is still the season of KAT.
Legit or Not? KIND OF LEGIT/KIND OF NOT
The Raptors have a good enough team to make it out of the East
Let me start by congratulating the Toronto Raptors fans. I personally feel they have the right to celebrate that title for another five years. With that being said, I’m going to say some not so nice things about my expectations for their season.
The Raptors are off to a great start, they are 5-2 and are currently fifth in the East. Pascal Siakam has played like a man amongst boys; he’s averaging a staggering 28 points per game on 51 percent shooting from the field at the time of this writing. Kyle Lowry looks superb, but this Raptors team doesn’t have the same ceiling it had a year ago, and through their first seven games, five victories came against teams expected to finish towards the bottom of the playoff picture or out of it entirely. The only teams they have lost to, the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, are projected to finish at the top of the conference. I’m not buying Raptors stock this season. Sorry.
LEGIT or NOT? NOT LEGIT