10 NBA players off to a hot start

The NFL is the biggest and most-watched professional sports organization in North America each October and November. Nothing the NBA does will ever alter that reality. With that said, basketball diehards could legitimately claim the Association has been responsible for the better and more entertaining storylines between the two leagues since the start of the 2019-20 campaign. 

Stephen Curry is out indefinitely after suffering a broken hand in late October, and the Golden State Warriors plummeted to the basement of the Western Conference standings. LeBron James once again looks like the best overall player on the planet. The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t a complete disaster as of mid-November. Seemingly everybody has a take on load management and what it means for the NBA now and in the future. 

Association experts, observers and fans promised the most open and competitive season of the decade, and the league didn’t disappoint as Halloween decorations made way for Christmas lights and holiday music. Granted, not every player off to a hot start this fall will be in meaningful basketball games come April. Some even may be moved before the trade deadline. But at least a few are early contenders for honors such as Most Improved Player and Most Valuable Player, and a certain 24-year-old may finally be in the infancy of a long-awaited breakout year. 

Who is off to a hot start so far this season?

Trae Young 

Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young tallying five steals during a Nov. 8 loss to the Sacramento Kings was an aberration. To put it nicely, the 21-year-old remains a liability on defense and often appears disinterested with that aspect of playing. Young also made history, per Hawks PR, by becoming the first player to ever notch at least 38 points, nine assists and seven boards across his team’s opening two regular-season contests. He drained 14-of-28 three-point attempts in four October games, and he’s shooting over 46 percent from the field. With John Collins suspended for 25 games, Young is tasked with carrying Atlanta’s offensive burden more than at any previous point of his 90-game career.

Kyrie Irving 

Nobody who has followed Kyrie Irving’s career was shocked by the report from ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that claimed Irving lapsed “into a funk” and was responsible for an episode that left “everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it” during the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason trip to China. Irving likely will always be enigmatic off the court to those outside of his inner circle, but even his detractors located in Boston and Cleveland can’t ignore his scoring over the season’s first 10 games. Irving posted 29.7 PPG, roughly seven points better than his career average, over his first stretch of contests in Brooklyn colors. As Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News wrote, Irving set a franchise record by accumulating 222 points through Brooklyn’s first seven games. The one-time champion who grew up in New Jersey says he’s happy living and playing in the Big Apple. Time will tell. 

Gordon Hayward

Basketball, like life, is often unfair. For the first time since Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome and horrific leg injury minutes into the 2017-18 season debut, the 29-year-old showed glimpses he had located his previous All-Star form. Hayward averaged 18.9 PPG and career-bests in REB (7.1) and field-goal percentage (55.5) over eight appearances. On Nov. 5, Hayward torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for 39 points while going 17-of-20 from the field. He was back. Then he suffered a broken hand on Nov. 9. That latest setback will sideline him for at least six weeks, according to Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press. 

Tristan Thompson 

Tristan Thompson and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get the memo the team is tanking. Thompson finished Cleveland’s 10th game of the season third on the team in scoring, and he averaged career highs in PPG (16.5), REB (11.4) and BLK (1.4) over those outings. He’s even making threes for the first time in his pro career!
The 28-year-old is out of contract following the campaign, and the rebuilding Cavs have little reason to consider paying him beyond that deal. Thus, Thompson is auditioning for would-be contenders between now and Dec. 15 when offseason signees become trade-available.  
New Cleveland head coach John Beilein deserves praise for guiding a lackluster roster to a 4-6 start. The franchise nevertheless cannot exist in a state of denial. Thompson is currently worth more on the market than in the Cavs lineup. 

Thomas Bryant 

The Washington Wizards lost six of their first eight games en route to what is practically guaranteed to be a woeful season but center Thomas Bryant was one bright spot. The former Los Angeles Lakers castoff hit the 20-point mark in three of those eight outings, and he converted at least 60 percent of his attempts in three straight games from Nov. 4 through Nov. 8. Bryant began Nov. 13 averaging 2.3 BLK, 11.3 defensive rebounds and 14.8 total rebounds per 100 team possessions. If he can get back to his 33.3 percent three-point shooting from a season ago (he was at 26.1 percent after eight games), he can evolve into more than just a stat compiler for an awful team. 

Aron Baynes

During the 2019 FIFA World Cup , Boston Celtics salary cap casualty and Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes shot 52.4 percent (11-21) from beyond the arc while averaging 11.4 PPG and 5.5 REB. The 32-year-old carried that form over to the start of the NBA season. In 10 games, nine starts, Baynes averaged career-highs in PPG (16.2), REB (5.8), AST (3.1), BLK (0.9), three-point percentage (50.0), field goal percentage (59.0) and MIN (24.3). Guard Devin Booker is making those around him better en route to taking a necessary career leap, but Baynes is playing well enough to potentially keep Deandre Ayton a spectator once the 21-year-old serves his 25-game ban. 

Andre Drummond 

Can the Detroit Pistons win with Andre Drummond? The same question many within the basketball community asked on Oct. 1 hovers over the club in the middle of November. The 26-year-old center is good for 20 points and 20 rebounds whenever the mood strikes him. As of Nov. 13, nobody had scored more two-point field goals (reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had played in two fewer games heading into that evening), and Drummond led the Association in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total boards, and total rebound percentage.  As Michael Pina of SB Nation explained, however, Drummond’s inconsistent efforts and obvious offensive limitations coupled with the fact the Pistons don’t have enough horses to make anything resembling a deep postseason run raise concerns about Drummond’s future. He can either test free agency next summer or exercise a player option worth over $28.7 million for 2020-21. As cruel as it is to suggest, the Pistons may require a top-tier team to lose a starter at Drummond’s position to move the big man before the trade deadline. Both player and club could benefit from such a transaction. 

Andrew Wiggins

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins was a punchline for much of his side’s season opener vs. the Brooklyn Nets, even though he made a couple of clutch shots during the overtime period. Few are laughing at the 24-year-old after 10 games. Wiggins is averaging career marks in PPG (25.5), AST (3.3), BLK (1.1) and field goal percentage (47.3), and as Danny Cunningham of SKOR North wrote, he also has drastically improved his shot selection, and the six-year pro is attacking the rim unlike at previous times during his underwhelming “empty points” periods.  Can this version of Wiggins last through the harsh winter months? Will he put forth more than half-efforts on defense minus the occasional solid outing? If “yes” is the answer to both questions, Wiggins will contend for Most Improved Player honors. 

James Harden

Houston Rockets guard James Harden heard your offseason jokes about his inability and unwillingness to share the ball with Russell Westbrook. Per Justin Kubatko of Statmuse and Basketball-Reference, the one-time regular-season MVP is only the third player in league history to average at least 37 PPG through the opening 10 games of a campaign. (Harden was at 37.3 at the start of Nov. 13.) The 30-year-old also scored the most points across 10 contests (373) than any player since Rick Barry tallied 381 points in the fall of 1966. Most frightening for opposing defenses is that several signs point to Harden heating up rather than peaking ahead of Thanksgiving. He shot under 13 percent from three-point land in three of his first five games before returning to form from long distance over the subsequent four outings. From Nov. 4 through Nov. 11, Harden averaged 40.25 PPG in four games. 

LeBron James 

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James turns 35 years old in December, but one wouldn’t know that by watching him this fall. USA Today, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, Nemanja Vukasinovic of Fadeaway World and Forbes’ Tommy Beer all mentioned James as an MVP candidate in early November, and the King averaged 24.0 PPG, 11.0 AST, 8.2 REB and 1.1 STL in his first 10 games. He shot 47.1 percent from the field over that period.  James isn’t a fan of load management. “If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” he told ESPN earlier this month. Lakers coach Frank Vogel should approach the situation differently. Los Angeles is built to win a title next spring. Limiting James’ involvement in relatively meaningless games this winter is vital to achieving that goal. 

Last season, the Toronto Raptors featured Kawhi Leonard in 60 regular-season contests. Leonard entered the playoffs fresh, and he was the Association’s top two-way player throughout the postseason. The Lakers require James’ best beginning next April, not in January. 

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/10_nba_players_off_to_a_hot_start/s1_13132_30528971

By: Zac Wassink

Andrew Wiggins Signs Monster Extension

Official Release From NBA.com

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed forward Andrew Wiggins to a multi-year contract extension. Per team policy, terms of the contract agreement were not released.

Wiggins, 22, registered a career-high 23.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 37.2 minutes in 82 games last season, making a career-best 103 three-pointers on a career-high 35.6% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Wiggins averaged 26.0 points over the final 30 games in 2016-17, including 28.3 ppg in eight April starts. The 6-8 forward registered five 40+ point games a season ago, including a career-best 47-point performance on November 13 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I’m pleased that we’ve reached an agreement with Andrew on a contract extension,” said Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. “Andrew is one of the best young players in the NBA and he has the talent and work ethic to get even better and be a foundation for our franchise for many years.”

“I’m very excited to continue my career with the Timberwolves,” said Wiggins. “I love it here. The fans and organization have supported me from my first day here in Minnesota. I want to thank Glen Taylor, Tom Thibodeau, the entire coaching staff and my teammates for believing in me. We’ve had some good times over the last three seasons, but the best is yet to come. I look forward to doing right by them and bringing this team to the postseason.”

For his career, Wiggins has played in 245 of a possible 246 games, averaging 20.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 36.2 minutes per game. Only three players (LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony) scored more points before their 22nd birthday and Wiggins’ 4,995 career point total ranks sixth on the Wolves’ all-time scoring list. Wiggins won the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year following the 2014-15 season in which he averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists, becoming the first Wolves player to win Rookie of the Year honors.

“We’re very excited that Andrew has decided to commit his future to the Timberwolves,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. “We feel strongly that he is just scratching the surface of the player he will become. Andrew is among the elite young talents in our league and the sky is the limit for him. We look forward to watching his development in the coming years.”

Wiggins was selected first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded to the Wolves on Aug. 23, 2014.

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T-Wolves Working On Wiggins Deal Which Could Reach $147Mil

Written by ESPN News Staff at ESPN.com

The Minnesota Timberwolves are keen to lock up guard Andrew Wiggins to ensure he is a cornerstone for their future.

Wiggins and the Timberwolves are engaged in contract negotiations on a five-year extension that would be worth nearly $148 million, according to Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau.

“We’re working on it right now,” Thibodeau said Wednesday during a news conference to introduce Jamal Crawford.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, NBA teams can have two players on designated rookie-scale extensions. Such deals must be agreed to by one day before the start of the season.

The extension would take effect in 2018-19 with a starting salary of $25.5 million that season. The sides could agree to terms where, if Wiggins made an all-NBA team or was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2017-18, that figure would jump to $30.6 million.

Wiggins set career highs in points (23.6 PPG) and assists (2.3 APG) last season. The 22-year-old has started all but one game for Minnesota over the past three seasons.

Last week, Thibodeau told ESPN that Wiggins’ goal for the 2017-18 season should be to become a “complete player” and said trade pickup Jimmy Butler could help with that development.

Beyond Wiggins’ long-term deal, the Timberwolves also want to sign two wing players and a backup point guard during the offseason to fill out the roster.

“There are a number of guys we’re talking to, and they’re waiting,” Thibodeau said. “So you’re trying to weigh all that out. It’ll be interesting to see everything unfolds.”

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Jimmy Buckets is Now A T-Wolve

Written by Chris Barnewall at CBS Sports.com

The Timberwolves have acquired Jimmy Butler from the Bulls in a draft-night trade. Butler was the subject of trade rumors since the season ended and will be reunited with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. The Bulls received the rights to No. 7 pick, forward Lauri Markkanen, and along with guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. The Wolves received the rights to No. 16 pick, center Justin Patton, along with Butler.

Butler had said he didn’t want to be traded, but the Bulls have been wanting to move him for quite some time. Due to this trade, Butler will no longer qualify for the super max contract, but he does get to play on one of the brightest young teams in the NBA. He’ll immediately be the best player in Minnesota while having a chance to grow with their young core.

Going to Chicago will be rising shooting guard LaVine. LaVine was playing incredible basketball last season before going down with a knee injury. He’s a dead-eye 3-point shooter and can jump out of the gym. If he’s healthy, the Bulls have acquired one of the stronger guards in the NBA.

Minnesota made out great in this trade. To get Butler and still manage to stay in the draft via the No. 16 pick — which turned out to be Justin Patton — is incredible use of their assets. They had to let go of LaVine, but they’ve become a much better team by adding Butler. Minnesota is going to win more games next year and Butler will be why.

NBA Trade Rumors For 1/24

Written by Anthony DiMoro at Forbes.com

It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the end of January. In the NBA world, that means that we are getting that much closer to the heavily discussed NBA trade deadline, one of the most exciting times of the NBA regular season. Let’s catch you up on the latest social media chatter.

Chicago Bulls

One of the more talked about names circulation the NBA trade rumor mill has been disgruntled Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo who appears to have worn out his welcome in the Windy City. According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bulls are shopping Rondo along with Nikola Mirotic.

It’s been difficult to get a read on what the Chicago Bulls will be doing at the trade deadline; buying, selling, staying put? With rumors coming in almost daily about the availability of Rondo among other players such as Jimmy Butler, and talk about Chicago’s interest in Chris Bosh, it’s hard gauging what position the Bulls will be taking when the trade deadline rolls around.

Ricky Rubio

Okay, so that rumored deal between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Detroit Pistons that was supposed to land Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio in Detroit is all but a distant memory. But Rubio’s name continues to surface in trade rumors.

Sam Amico of Fox Sport and Amico Hoops sent out the following tweet:

Amico’s article states that the Chicago Bulls (who else?) and the New York Knicks both have strong interest in Rubio.

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Thibs Comes Back To Chicago, Wins Big.


Written by Steve Rosenbloom at Chicago Tribune.com

If you wondered just how mentally weak a supposedly veteran Bulls team could be, then that embarrassment Tuesday night against a team tied for the worst record in the league told you everything.

A blown 21-point lead at home.

Beaten on the boards.

Refusal to play hard for four quarters.

Less than a week after a quality win over the Spurs.

Yup, all the worst signs. Yup, worst loss of the season.

This effort, execution and result looked like that mess against the dogbreath Mavericks after beating the reigning world champion Cavaliers. To think, that was less than two weeks ago. That’s some learning curve for this bunch.

I realize this isn’t the playoffs, but geez, show some professionalism.

It would be easy to blame the Bulls coach for that pantsing. It would make for an easy narrative, what with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau making his return to the United Center against the franchise that fired him two seasons ago.

But if you believe the coach is responsible for getting players ready to play, then the Bulls’ 38-22 first-quarter assault indicates that Thibodeau failed and Fred Hoiberg succeeded.

It didn’t look like Thibodeau coached and coaxed his new, young, athletic team into outsmarting his old, deeply flawed, duct-taped team as much as his old, deeply flawed, duct-taped team got fat and lazy and took the easy way out.

No, this wasn’t Hoiberg. This was the players. This was Jimmy Butler. This wasDwyane Wade. This was a joke.

You don’t have to argue about whose team this is, guys. There’s enough stink to go around.

All-Star players shouldn’t look like saps at home. Fact is, they shouldn’t look like saps anywhere, but the Bulls’ go-to move of looking for the first exit apparently is portable

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Teams that Could Surprise the NBA


Written by James Herbert at CBSSports.com

Some thought the Portland Trail Blazers would be one of the very worst teams in the NBA last season. Few predicted they would win more than 40 games and make the playoffs. No one thought they would advance to the second round. For all the hand-wringing about the league being predictable, there’s a team or two like this every year. Here are seven to watch for next season:

Utah Jazz

Why they’ll be better: The Jazz should have been a playoff team last year, but injuries and poor point guard play kept them (barely) out. Now, not only are they likely to be healthier, they are more equipped to handle injuries if they do occur. CBS Sports’ NBA writers collectively ranked Utah’s starting lineup fifth in the league andranked its bench first.

This team should be a powerhouse. Most opponents will not have the big men to deal with a frontcourt duo like Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Most will not have two top-notch perimeter defenders to match up with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood, either. George Hill is the perfect low-maintenance, defense-first, floor-spacing point guard for this group, and Utah’s bench depth means that few teams will be as versatile on both ends. Imagine if Dante Exum has a breakout season.

After four years of missing the playoffs and drafting wisely, the front office decided that it is winning time. With Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw in the fold, inexperience will not be an excuse.

What could go wrong: Honestly? Nothing, really, outside of the normal concerns about health. My biggest qualm with the Jazz under Quin Snyder is that they have a tendency to over-pass, and that’s not a big deal.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Why they’ll be better: Their most important players are 21 years old and younger. Even if the Timberwolves made no changes to the coaching staff or roster this summer, you could expect Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine to develop. All three of them were much better at the end of last season than they were at the beginning. Outside of the cast of Stranger Things, you’d be hard-pressed to find an equally impressive collection of young talent.

As well as the individual players’ improvement, the Wolves collectively showed signs of figuring stuff out late in the year. That’s when they started shooting 3-pointers more regularly and upsetting teams like the Warriors and Thunder. Now, if they could just play a little bit of defense, they might be able to compete with upper-echelon teams all the time.

And that’s where Tom Thibodeau comes in. Minnesota now has the most respected defensive mind in all of basketball running the show. This seems perfect.

What could go wrong: Unlike the Jazz, the Wolves do not have great depth or experience. It’s not clear whether or not Kevin Garnett will be back, and he was important as a leader and a teacher. They could struggle with spacing, especially if they don’t get more out of Nemanja Bjelica. It could take Towns a couple more years to become a true defensive anchor, and the team as a whole could take a while to adjust to Thibodeau.

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NBA Predictions for 2016-2017


Written by Tim Bontemps at Washington Post.com

There’s nothing more fun than making predictions.

Well, that’s not quite true. What’s more fun than making predictions? Going out on a limb and making bold predictions.

Sure, there’s a chance they might not work out — that’s why they are bold. But if they do? Well, there’s a whole summer ahead to brag about them before the next season comes, and another round of bold predictions is required.

Here are 10 such prognostications about a combination of players and teams from around the NBA, and how much success — or lack thereof — they will experience this upcoming NBA season.

1. The Timberwolves win 50 games

Anyone who has watched or followed this space all summer knows how much I believe in the Timberwolves. Minnesota already had the best group of young talent in the league, led by future megastar center Karl-Anthony Towns, and now pair it with one of the best coaches in the NBA in Tom Thibodeau. Behind Thibodeau and that young core, which also includes Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio, the prediction here is the Timberwolves can jump from 29 wins to 50 — much like the Oklahoma City Thunder did in 2010, when they went from 23 to 50.

2. The Warriors will have three players finish with over 200 three-pointers

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been rewriting the record books over the past few seasons, finishing 1-2 in three-point shooting in the NBA each of the past three seasons, and finishing first and third the season before that. Kevin Durant has never hit 200 three-pointers in a season before, but this team is going to play fast and have a ton of open looks, so the prediction here is all three stars will set an NBA record by having three teammates make that many in a single season.

3. Toronto, not Cleveland, will have the best record in the East

Cleveland is the best team in the East, and LeBron James remains the heavy favorite to make it back to the NBA Finals for a seventh straight season. But the Cavaliers have no reason to push themselves during the regular season; they believe, and rightly so, they can win anywhere and against anyone in the East. Toronto, however, will come into this season motivated to get home court in the East after losing to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals last season, and that motivation — combined with Cleveland’s lack of it — will allow the Raptors to leapfrog them in the standings.

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Kevin Garnett Might Be Close To Retirement


Written by Jim Souhan at StarTribune.com

It was such a nice story, evoking nostalgia and promise in the same swoop of the pen.

Flip Saunders employed all of his charm to woo Kevin Garnett back to Minnesota, offering trunks of money, a voice at practice, a place in the starting lineup and a future in franchise decision-making.

When the Minnesota Timberwolves were desperate for validation and credibility, Flip’s seduction of the greatest player in franchise history made sense. Then everything changed.

Flip passed away, leaving Garnett without his greatest champion and intermediary in the organization.

Garnett played a career-low 15 minutes a game in a career-low 38 games, undermining his ability to lead by example on the court.

In the old Wolves world order, every former employee of any pedigree had a virtual lifetime contract, renewable whenever convenient for the employee.

Flip’s passing and the arrival of the best cache of young talent in Wolves history, and perhaps the most authoritative coach in franchise history, converted the Wolves from the best version of their old self under Flip to the New Wolves Order.

Flip built relationships and sometimes avoided conflict. For him, Garnett could be the ideal partner — a superstar who was also taskmaster and intimidator.

Thibodeau likely wants his voice to be the loudest in every practice and huddle. He is the alpha male in the organization, and by nature of his personality needs little help yelling out defensive instructions or wielding power.

If Garnett is not going to become a part-owner or assistant general manager or loud voice at the end of the bench, he has no role in the New Wolves Order. He’s no longer even needed to sell tickets or lead marketing campaigns. That falls to Karl-Anthony Towns, a fast-rising star who is also as likeable and marketable as was the young Garnett, before he grew quills.
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NBA Teams Who Won’t Live Up To Hype


Written by Matt Moore at CBSSports.com

Hype is dangerous. Do you realize that we don’t actually judge any team, in any sport, based on performance? We don’t say “you won more games than you lost, therefore this season was a success,” or “you lost 2/3 of your games, therefore you failed.” It’s all relative to expectation.

In the NBA, the offseason is a time for endless optimism. It doesn’t hold the chance of “anything could happen” like the NFL does, but at least there’s a good chance for 25 out of 30 teams that they could not completely stink. But then, every year, a huge number of teams disappoint. The offseason is a time for hope, optimism, the chance of your favorite team having a great year.

Let’s shoot all that down. Here are five teams that could wind up being wildly disappointed with their season, despite being teams with which there is much excitement. Activate hype extinguisher!

1. Utah Jazz

The Jazz are an “it” team beyond most this year. They are full of in-the-prime quality players who can score and defend. Utah has a respected coach in Quin Snyder, a defensive game-changer in Rudy Gobert and also added veterans Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw in the offseason. It’s easy to see why the Jazz are expected to jump from ninth to as high as fourth in some projections headed into next season.

They have no injury concerns. They can shoot, defend, run, hit tough shots, play with discipline or in chaos. How could this possibly go wrong?

First, when Gobert went down last season, the Jazz defense didn’t stumble. It collapsed down the stairs like a pratfall. Gobert has to hit an exceptionally high bar for defensive performance night in and night out. The rest of the Jazz defenders are good, but the whole team balance tilts if Gobert isn’t playing at top level.

This is also the first time this core is playing with pressure, and that’s a tough spot for what is still a very young team. It comes at a time when Utah is starting to face serious dilemmas about its future cap sheets with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood due for new big deals in the coming years.

2. New York Knicks

OK, this one’s fairly obvious and a lot of people are expecting them to fail. For starters, the Knicks haven’t enjoyed much success in a while, and that’s putting it lightly. Second, they’re loaded with injury-riddled players who seem past their primes (Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carmelo Anthony). But Derrick Rose did refer to this squad as a “super-team” (spoiler: they are not), and because it’s New York, the hype around a team with three current/former All-Stars is enough to make a lot of people think they could be a force in the East. I’ve been supportive of the Knicks’ moves, from trading for Rose to giving Noah $72 million at this point in his career to their small free agency moves. But now it’s time to throw some water on the parade.

The Knicks’ biggest issue is, of course, health concerns, but what we’re really talking about is wear and tear. Rose’s knee injuries have robbed him of his explosiveness, and he’s been unable to adjust his game by becoming more of a shooter. With Noah, the concern is so many miles on his treads after Tom Thibodeau’s scorched earth approach to player minute management. His drop-off was so evident, reaching through the television screen to slap you in the face with his inability to finish layups or get down the floor without wincing that it left a mark, hence the youngsters calling him “washed.” With Anthony, efficiency has never been his forte, and age only takes more of that.

But the bigger concerns are about how much this feels like like a rushed tour of a super-group. Are they running the triangle? Well, yes, but not exclusively. Is Jeff Hornacek the one designing the offense? Well, yes, but not exclusively. Is this Melo’s team? Definitely. It’s just also Kristaps Porzingis’ team. And Rose’s team. And Noah’s a forceful entity. There’s a spiritual and identity confusion with the Knicks that is at once fascinating and absolutely terrifying if you’re a fan.

This team could be anything, which with the Knicks, usually means it’ll be something bad.

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