The NBA is only a few weeks into the 2014-15 schedule and it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on with the roundball. Here are five observations from this fan on the young season thus far:
1. DON’T CROWN THE CAVS JUST YET
To have LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving on the floor at the same time is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups along the way. LeBron speaks about “the process” and he’s right. Figuring out exactly how to share the ball for the greater good of the team AND keeping three alpha dogs happy with touches is a bit tricky. It seems Kyrie would rather pull the trigger than set the table right now and that’s part of the growing pains this team must deal with. Rookie head coach David Blatt has to decide if the team is better suited with LeBron distributing the ball as a sort of point forward, and he must also figure out just how long Shawn Marion rolls with the starters? Remember, James, Wade, and Bosh had similar struggles early on before clicking in Miami. It’s only a matter of time until Cleveland puts it together on the regular.
2. ANTHONY DAVIS IS A TOP 3 PLAYER
I knew he’d be good but I wasn’t prepared for exactly how good Davis would be so soon. Even casual fans would know his name if he played with Kobe or Chris Paul in Los Angeles or with Deron Williams in Brooklyn instead of in “The Big Easy” as a Pelican. The fact of the matter is after LBJ and Kevin Durant, one could make a very strong argument that “The Eyebrow” is the game’s best player. Rebounds, blocked shots and a feathery touch around the basket make Davis a superstar the league can bank on for years, barring injury. And the guy seems to really want to learn his craft and get better which can’t be good for the rest of the league’s big men. Davis may go down as one of the game’s greatest ever.
3. KOBE BRYANT IS NOT WASHED UP
Say what you will about Kobe Bryant but tales of his demise were greatly exaggerated. He may have run off Shaq and Dwight Howard with his unflinching bravado, but one thing is crystal clear: he still has some hoop left in him. The guy was able to hang 39 on the Phoenix Suns last week in a losing effort, mainly because he has limited talent around him. Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill, and Ed Davis are nice players but pale in comparison to the type of talent Kobe ran with when he was cementing his legacy with multiple Larry O’Brien trophies. Kobe’s still ballin’ at a high level but these will probably be the leanest years of his amazing, lengthy career.
4. THE SPURS ARE STILL THE SPURS
If anybody thought Gregg Popovich and the Spurs would pack it in after this latest championship run, they’d be mistaken. The core of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli are back with the versatile leader-in-waiting Kawhi Leonard to make yet another championship run. The parts are getting older, but the results are the same. And much like Bill Belichick does with the Patriots, Pop just plugs and plays guys in the winning system he’s perfected. They won’t sneak up on anybody, but they’ll be fresh when they do play; Pop already rested some of his starters in the fourth game this season!
5. OKC IS GOING TO BE OK
It may not look like it right now, but the Thunder are set to make some noise this season. Sure, things couldn’t have started worse for OKC with league MVP Kevin Durant getting surgery to repair a broken bone on the outside of his right foot before the season’s first tip. Then, Russell Westbrook goes under the knife to repair a broken bone in his right hand, the two biggest of many injuries to one of the Association’s best teams. But both hope to be back on the court and contributing this holiday season, and when you add them in with the likes of Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson, head coach Scott Brooks starts to have the team he envisioned entering the season. If they can tread water until they get their big guns back, OKC will be just fine.
Follow Kirk on twitter @KirkMcEwen