It has only been a week into this season of the National Basketball Association and already, there are a few major story lines that are quite shocking.
Firstly and amazingly, the Houston Rockets have been atop discussion around the league. Two weeks ago, the Rockets were the team that drafted three questionable rookies, overpaid for Center Ömer Aşik, who came over from the Chicago Bulls this summer, and dragged Jeremy Lin from the spotlights of New York. It has only been three games into the season, but Aşik is averaging 14.3 rebounds per contest and Lin is averaging a quiet 15 points per game but dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds. More importantly, James Harden lit up the Pistons on opening night for 35 points, and exploded for 45 points two nights later in the Rockets’ second straight win against the Hawks. Then, was “held” to 24 points in Houston’s first loss of the season against the Blazers (Go ’Zers). After the news broke that Oklahoma City had dealt Harden to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and picks, I was convinced that OKC had gotten the better end of the deal. A veteran and proven scorer in Martin and a rookie with great potential in Lamb, seemed to be a pretty sweet deal that the Thunder received in return for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. But if you were to tell me that Harden would be leading the league with 35.3 points per game as well as six boards and assists, I, one: would not have believed you, and two: would have said the Rockets got the better end of that deal. Pretty incredible considering it has only been a week of adjusting to his new teammates, coaches, and the new system and city, all on top of him leaving the Thunder, who lost in the Finals last year to the Heat.
Speaking of the Heat, Ray Allen seems to have fit right in with the defending champs, as he hit a game-winning three in a nail-biter against the Nuggets. Ray-Ray is averaging 16 points per game and has helped the Heat to two key victories against two good teams to open the season. One of the wins was against the Celtics on opening night, in which Ray tried to show some love to his former teammate, Kevin Garnett, who ignored Allen and denied him a high five at the start of the game. Dude holds a pretty serious grudge. I understand you’re pissed that your buddy left you for the champs, but have the common courtesy to say hello.
How ’bout them Lakers? For having a couple All-Stars taking their talents to L.A, you’d think the Lake Show would be able to win more than not three, not two, not one, but zero of their first three games. Steve Nash is injured yes, but your starting lineup still consists of Pau Gasol, former all-star and current ‘best post moves in the league’ type forward, Dwight Howard, the three time Defensive Player of the Year and ‘super happy to leave Orlando for a good team’, and not to mention Kobe Bean Bryant, who needs no introduction. Come on Lakers, it’s pathetic, frankly. Fans in L.A are panicking and while unnecessary, it led to another gem of a quote from Kobe, who told fans to “Shut up” in an interview following the 0-3 start. Obviously, there is going to be an adjustment period, and some players are going to need to get their egos in check. Even still, 0-3 is pretty unacceptable. Luckily, there are 79 more games before the playoffs, so chill LA fans, chill.
I have been saying this for a little while now, but I want to get it written down on paper. Point guard Damian Lillard, out of Weber State, will win the Rookie of the Year award. Sorry Unibrow, but he’s already making the Portland fans forget about the injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden that plagued the Blazers for so many seasons. So far, Lillard has averaged 21 points and nine assists for the Blazers who are 2-1 and finally have a complementary player to take some of the scoring load from LaMarcus Aldridge.
Finally I would like to make a shout-out to my Chicago Bulls who are 3-1 without Derrick Rose this season. Tom Thibodeau for Coach of the Year? Might be a little pre-mature, but he has his Bulls looking good. Also, shout out to the Spurs (3-0) and primarily Tony Parker for being so badass and knocking down a game winning three against the Thunder, who knocked his Spurs out of the playoffs last year in the Western Conference finals.