The 2022-23 NBA season is underway, and I’m super excited! It felt like such a long summer without organized basketball to watch, and getting to see 30 NBA teams back with each team having at least one exciting thing to watch is a great feeling. However, if there’s one thing I’ve realized while talking to other fans and scrolling through NBA Twitter, people are overreacting big time to certain players and teams. Let’s take a look at a few instances of where I feel like screaming, “It’s only been four games!”
The Utah Jazz are, surprisingly, 4-1 right now. Led by Lauri Markannen, Jordan Clarkson, and Jarred Vanderbilt, the Jazz have a surprisingly decent roster after trading away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Collin Sexton is coming off the bench, and so is Malik Beasley. Kelly Olynyk has proven to be an important member of this team, especially after his game winning shot against New Orleans. Walker Kessler looks like he has some potential, as another impactful seven foot shot-blocker.
However, I must ask NBA fans and Utah Jazz fans everywhere: please stop overrating this team!
While the team clearly has some good players, this isn’t a roster the Jazz assembled to win games; Danny Ainge is trying to tank for Victor Wembanyama, and that’s no secret. While defeating Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in their first game was impressive, the teams they’ve faced since are the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, and Houston Rockets. These are not the giants of the Western Conference, and they’ve had a pretty easy schedule so far. The winning won’t continue once they face some tougher teams.
Plus, even if by some miracle the Jazz started winning too much, Ainge would trade their decent players for more draft picks. The Jazz’s 2023 first-round pick is one of, if not the most valuable in the league this year. Ainge isn’t going to let it become a mediocre pick by winning a few too many games.
As of the writing of this, the 76ers are 1-4. So what? Unlike the Jazz, the 76ers have had a tough start to the season; they played the reigning Eastern Conference champions on opening night, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks two days later, followed by… a loss to the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors. Ok, maybe those last two shouldn’t have happened. But still, I’m not too worried about the 76ers. Philadelphia is still piecing itself together, with new acquisitions like De’Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker. James Harden is back to his old ways, dribbling a ton and scoring in isolation, which was really the only thing I worried about. Joel Embiid isn’t fully himself right now, but not fully himself means 27 and 11 on slightly less efficiency, so I’m not panicking.
While I have my doubts about Doc Rivers coaching this team, I don’t want to base those doubts off of a handful of games. If the 76ers lose in the playoffs, then we’ll be having a different discussion. But for now, settle down; Philadelphia will soon find its way back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Simmons has played in three games for the Brooklyn Nets, and already people are criticizing him. First of all, chill out! We knew Big Ben wasn’t going to start shooting from three, so let’s please not act like him staying away from shooting is some huge red flag. Second, Simmons’ stats to start the season aren’t great, I’ll admit that. He’s averaging 5.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game. Plus, advanced stats show that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant play better without Simmons on the floor. With Simmons on the floor, the Nets are outscored by 23.1 points per 100 possessions, a considerable amount. However, with Simmons on the bench, the Nets outscore teams by 10.4 points per 100 possessions.
While advanced stats don’t lie, they can also be deceiving. Again, the season just started! Let’s wait 15-20 games before we can really start analyzing how Simmons fits with the Nets and if something needs to change.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are also 3-2, with a fun roster consisting of young talent like Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Jakob Poeltl, and Tre Jones. However, just like with the Utah Jazz, this team isn’t going anywhere but the bottom. Coach Greg Poppovich even said as much, telling fans on media day they shouldn’t place any bets on the Spurs to win the NBA Finals. Wembanyama on the Spurs would be great, especially since they have a history/tradition of legendary Europeans and big men playing for them (David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker).
Aside from these teams, however, one team which I feel like people have been reacting justifiably to is the Los Angeles Lakers. Their chemistry is terrible, their roster can’t shoot, and Russell Westbrook is making historic errors in game. His presence is dragging the team down, and the rest of the roster isn’t good enough to compensate. The Lakers have to make a difficult choice; try to win now or know this season will go down in flames and preserve their future.
Oh wait, they can’t make that decision, because the Pelicans own the Lakers’ 2023 first-round pick! They can’t tank, their only option is to try to win games with the powerless roster that they have!
Like Sports Illustrated proclaimed when Dwight Howard joined Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in Los Angeles,
“Now this is going to be fun!
Credit for pictures in order:
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports