The NBA is again, and it feels prefer it was by no means gone. The 2021-2022 season opened simply over a yr because the Los Angeles Lakers received the 2020 championship contained in the bubble, and solely three months after the Milwaukee Bucks received the 2021 title. Sure, the league had one other quick offseason to get again on its regular, pre-pandemic schedule, and it makes the return of video games really feel slightly overwhelming from the soar.
All however 4 groups have been in motion by means of the NBA’s first two days. The Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Warmth, Dallas Mavericks, and Atlanta Hawks received’t debut till Thursday. For everybody else, sizzling takes are all of the sudden truthful sport with one contest within the books.
Let’s wildly overreact to what we noticed from groups by means of one sport. Will probably be enjoyable to test again on these on the finish of the yr and see what opening night time taught us, and what it didn’t.
Giannis Antetokounmpo goes to win MVP
Final time we noticed Giannis, he was dropping 50 factors in Recreation 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch the Milwaukee Bucks’ first title since 1971. Milwaukee opened the season in opposition to the Brooklyn Nets — the group favored to win the championship this yr even with out Kyrie Irving — and, yeah, The Greek Freak is selecting up the place he left off.
Milwaukee rolled previous Brooklyn, and Giannis dropped a 32-14-7 line whereas trying dominant on each ends of the ground. He could be the perfect participant within the league, and we all know he has no downside going peddle to the steel within the common season. Antetokounmpo already has two MVPs, and he certain regarded like he’s able to profitable one other coming off his first championship.
Chris Duarte will make the All-Rookie First Group
Duarte was 24 years previous when the Indiana Pacers took him with the No. 13 total decide within the 2021 NBA Draft, making him the oldest first spherical decide within the class. The previous Oregon Duck discovered himself into the beginning lineup from sport one with T.J. Warren and Caris LeVert injured for Indiana, and he confirmed he might contribute straight away. Duarte completed with 27 factors on 6-of-9 capturing from three because the Pacers misplaced late to the Hornets.
Duarte was a talented shooter and disruptive perimeter defender throughout his time with Oregon, and the capturing instantly translated on opening night time. New Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle usually doesn’t belief rookie, however an older rook like Duarte would possibly buck that development. A spot on the All-Rookie group wouldn’t be too stunning.
LaMelo Ball goes to be an All-Star
Okay, this was one among my preseason predictions, too. I’m feeling fairly good about it after Ball began his second season by dropping 31 factors, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in a late second win over Indiana.
LaMelo went 7-of-9 from three on the night time. If he’s capturing anyplace near that, he’s going to be a sensation this season.
Zach LaVine goes to common 30 factors per sport
LaVine put up 27.5 factors per sport on wildly good 64 p.c true capturing final yr. This yr, he lastly has some good teammates and received’t be the only focus of opposing sport plans any extra. LaVine seems terrific in his season debut, placing up 34 factors on 11-of-17 capturing in a win over the Pistons.
Nikola Vucevic took a team-high 21 pictures and DeMar DeRozan tried 17 discipline targets, so it’s attainable LaVine simply received’t get sufficient pictures to considerably enhance his scoring common from final season. There’s little question he’s the perfect participant on the Bulls, although, and at 26 years previous he’s simply beginning to hit his prime. He’s an superior scorer who’s able to placing up 30 per sport.
The Knicks had been no fluke final yr
Knicks-Celtics was wild on Tuesday night time. The Celtics had a wild comeback within the fourth quarter to pressure time beyond regulation, however New York would finally win the sport in double-OT. Julius Randle was superior (35 factors, 9 assists, eight rebounds), and new addition Evan Fournier (32 factors) added some badly wanted offensive firepower. Obi Toppin regarded good off the bench, too.
It’s onerous to do not forget that the Knicks had been the No. 4 seed this yr. Las Vegas expects them to be a .500 group, however Tom Thibodeau’s ‘Each Recreation is Recreation 7’ mentality ought to assist them win a ton of normal season video games. Prediction: the Knicks will make the playoffs within the East with out having to undergo the play-in event.
Patty Mills will win Sixth Man of the 12 months
Patty Thrills went 7-for-7 from three in his debut for the Nets.
Somebody has to attain if Kyrie goes to be out. Mills is an ideal match enjoying off Kevin Durant and James Harden, and can in all probability be in for a giant yr.
Russell Westbrook goes to encourage the wildest takes all yr
Was Russ good in his Lakers debut? No he was not.
The reality is that Russ has began sluggish the previous couple of years. He’ll be higher by mid-season, depend on that. The issues about how he’ll match alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the playoffs are legit, although. We’ll spare you a Westbrook sizzling take after one sport and simply say he’ll be the most important lightning rod of the season.