The Los Angeles Lakers
This week, the Lakers have continued with their dominant ways. As of this writing, they are 17-3 with a few minor faults. They are showing that they can win in a fashion that doesn’t suit the modern NBA. This is the first team in the last half decade that isn’t build defense first with multiple big men that can control the paint and shooters that are also plus defenders. With Rondo on the bench and Kuzma, they have additional play makers that don’t just need Lebron to get them buckets. All the off season chatter saying the Lakers were this dysfunctional group that were going to waste Lebron’s last years has gone away. They have played like a well oiled machine getting great play out of Dwight Howard and even players like Quinn Cook have had an occasional good game. The Lakers look like they could end up being a championship team.
The Los Angeles Clippers
The media darling of the off season has done well trying to put the pieces together this season. For a team that has only come to full health in the last week, they are doing fairly well: currently third in the western conference. Kawhi and Paul haven’t fully gelled yet, but the Clippers have had really dominant games with each of them individually. Once the Clippers learn to play with both of them, they will be the biggest threat to the Lakers winning an NBA title. The Clippers are the only team that can rely on their bench to win games. The Clippers have multiple players that can drop twenty off the bench. No other team has this kind of fire power. When the Warriors won their first title, the bench was the key reason why they couldn’t be beat. The Clippers have the same kind of bench – maybe even better. The biggest threat to the Clippers are the Lakers and the Rockets. The Rockets offense at some points could just be too potent for the Clippers and I don’t know how Kawhi’s knees would hold up playing at that pace for a whole series.
The Rookie Report
So far, Ja Morant has been the star for the rookie class. He looks to have Derrick Rose-type athleticism with an advanced handle. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that he will one day be regarded as the best point guard in the NBA. Even with Ja Morant’s brilliance, he has not come close to what Zion Williamson showed in the preseason. If Zion comes back full strength and Ja Morant keeps missing games, it is very possible that Zion walks away with the rookie of the year trophy after missing 8 weeks. No other rookie is really in the running for the award at the moment. The New York Knicks have schemed R.J. Barret out of the rookie of the year race. If he was given the ball like he was at Duke he would be in the running for the award. Unfortunately, unless things change and the Knicks start trading veterans, the race is down to only Zion and R.J.
Carmelo Anthony Update
Carmelo Anthony has been putting in work for the Portland Trail Blazers. His last couple of stints presented a scheme risk that didn’t allow him to play to his full potential. Now in Portland, they allow him to play his game and he has exhibited a new humbleness that has him accepting the role of power forward, which better fits him in today’s NBA. What has been more impressive than his scoring has been his rebounding. In the last three wins, he has been rebounding at an exceptional rate and his play has been leading to wins and not just empty stats. Many thought this was going to be a farewell tour, but after the way he is playing this year, it is very likely that he will get at least a couple more years in the league. Carmelo deserves praise for his perseverance staying game ready while the NBA black balled him for the last couple of years. Could Carmelo’s comeback be foresight to what happens for Kaepernick? Only time will tell, but next time we shouldn’t be so quick to count people out.