We are almost a week into the NBA season, and I couldn't be more excited for the rest of the year. Here are just a few of my observations from the first few games that I've seen so far.
Orlando Magic -Boston Celtics
Out of the teams that everyone is picking to really challenge for the title, the Magic and Celtics have looked the best early on in the yar. Orlando seems to not have any chemistry problems, despite losing an important cog in Hedo Turkoglu.
Vince Carter has stepped right in and Orlando has not lost a step. Jason Williams is looking like a shrewd offseason pickup and Marcin Gortat may be the best backup center in the league. While their biggest test came on Sunday against the Raptors, they have a soft schedule up until Nov. 11 when they host the Cavs.
Boston looks like its in midseason form right now. Defensively they are really getting after teams. While everyone knows what the big three does for the team, the key to this season may be the Celtics deep bench. Marquis Daniels, Eddie House, and Rasheed Wallace will be used to spell the big three and keep them fresh late in the season/ All three have looked stellar so far. If Boston hopes to get back to the playoffs healthy this season, they may need to give up on the 72-game pipe dream and play KG 30-35 minutes a game.
Two wins against the Bobcats and Timberwolves not withstanding, the Cavs don't look very good right now. After blowing a second half lead at home against Boston and then laying an egg up in Toronto, the Cavs have much to answer for. Unlike the Magic, the Cavs seem to have some chemistry problems, especially in the front court. Coach Mike Brown hasnt seemed to figure out how and when to use center Zydrunas Ilgauskas off the bench. Neither of his seven-foot centers defends the pick and roll particularly well.
Good news in the return of Delonte West will maybe spark this team to right the ship sooner rather than later, but as of right now, the Shaquile O'Neal experiment has not worked.
Los Angeles Lakers
This is another team that has underperformed thus far this season. The blowout home loss to Dallas on national TV was embarrassing enough, but the Lakers also almost lost opening night at home to the Clippers. While they get Pau Gasol back this week and Andrew Bynum is putting up some numbers (can he stay healthy and how far will those numbers dip once Gasol gets back), Ron Artest is looking kind of lost on the court and Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic seem to be continuing their regression.
Shannon Brown seems to be a stud in the making coming off the bench and Lamar Odom's imminent return to the bench should help them out. However outside of those two, the Lakers bench isn't particularly deep. That may be cause for concern going forward.
During the Wednesday night game against the Utah Jazz, ESPN featured an interview with Nuggets head coach George Karl. The question that was posed basically asked how could the Nuggets expect to take the next step towards a championship without making any moves in the offseason. Karl's reply was that Carmelo Anthony playing at an MVP candidate level and NeNe playing at an all-star level would get them over the hump. I then proceeded to watch Deron Williams get into the paint for layups on two consecutive plays. SMH.
The Wizards have been snakebitten for the last couple of seasons, but this year they seem more prepared than ever to deal with the inevitable. Washington has one of the deepest teams in the league this year. The additions of wing players Randy Foye and Mike Miller and the emergence of Andray Blatche this season give the Wizards some wiggle room with their brittle big three (Caron Butler and Jamison have already suffered injuries).
The only problem I've seen so far with this team is the coaches unwillingness to play youngsters Nick Young and Javale McGee. Young especially deserves a shot. Especially since Deshawn Stevenson is playing ahead of him. That aint right.