NBA Action Returns


Erik Drost

Erik Drost | Wikimedia Commons

Tarique Stevens

After an unpredictable offseason, NBA basketball returns with teams hungrier than ever. Two weeks of basketball action have passed, and it has been quite the start.

Talented teams like the Brooklyn Nets are 2-6, while younger squads like the Portland Trail Blazers are starting off hot at 5-1. Though early in the season, it seems parity will make it very interesting.

In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle with one win and five losses. LeBron James continues to dominate even at the age of 37, averaging 25.8 points per game and 8.8 assists.

This Herculean effort is not enough to keep the team afloat, as they rank almost last in their conference. Most have been quick to criticize Russell Westbrook or Anthony Davis for the team’s struggles, but the problem lies deeper than just these two players.

After the Lakers’ 2020 championship win in the “bubble,” significant trades and free agency losses hurt the team’s depth. Losing players like Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma forced the Lakers to find new depth while deciding who will lead their franchise due to an aging James.

Even with the Lakers’ struggles this season, basketball in the West is still alive in two teams: the Blazers and the Utah Jazz. Almost no one predicted them to come out swinging like they have.

Both teams suffered huge losses in the offseason, especially the Jazz with star guard Donovan Mitchell’s departure to Cleveland. Despite these losses, both teams have exceeded expectations, ranking second and third in their conference, respectively.

It is safe to say “Dame-Time” has returned and is bigger and better than ever. Just two weeks in, Damian Lillard is averaging 31 points on 49% shooting and 39% from deep. Not only is he scoring the ball, but he has been efficient as well.

Some fans are already murmuring about him being a possible MVP candidate. While it is a bit early to be saying this, it could be a real possibility if Lilliard continues to play at this level.

The Jazz so far have proven that their success has never just been centered on one player’s talent. They are an excellent example of team basketball. Even with the loss of Mitchell, everyone on the team knows their roles and has stepped up to fill the void. Although the fast-paced, highflying Mitchell is no longer there, the Jazz’s brand of basketball is still as exciting to watch. Young players like Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson are forging their own path, making this team one to keep your eye on.

In the East Conference, things are a little different. The Milwaukee Bucks have been dominating to almost no one’s surprise, having a perfect record so far. The Boston Celtics are also performing well, with star player Jason Tatum leading the way despite the loss of coach Ime Udoka. The most noticeable change of all is the Cleveland Cavaliers taking the next step forward.

Given the addition of Mitchell, this young and exciting team has been off to the races. While this should not be a surprise to most, it is still fun to watch as Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Mitchell do their thing.

These teams’ exceptional starts have been overshadowed by the disappointing performances of other teams such as the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. In these first two weeks, both teams have struggled, with Joel Embiid having a hard time finding his rhythm and getting into gear and the underwhelming performances of Ben Simmons for the Nets.

These struggles are so bad that the Nets have decided to part ways with their head coach Steve Nash. It’s safe to say if these two teams don’t figure things out quickly, it won’t matter if they have all the talent in the world.