NBA Early Season Thoughts And Overreactions | Paolo Banchero Will Be The Best Magic Player Since Tracy McGrady And The Lakers Will Miss The Playoffs Again

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The 77th season of the NBA tipped off this week, and even though most of the 30 teams haven’t played two games yet, we are ready with some hot takes. Why? Because it’s Friday and we want you headed into the weekend feeling happy or sad depending on whom you root for. You’re welcome.


The Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero and the Detroit Pistons’ Jaden Ivey both looked good in their debuts. It’s only game one of 82, so we have a long way to go.

Banchero collected 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a loss to Ivey’s Pistons. Banchero is the first rookie with 25-5-5 in his first game since LeBron James in 2003. That’s pretty good company and a lofty standard to follow.

Ivey scored 19 points on 53 percent shooting in the win and looked very comfortable attacking the basket. His shot will come and go as he is not consistent yet. But all signs are pointing up.

Contenders with weird vibes

The Philadelphia 76ers are 0-2 to start the season and Joel Embiid is in some kind of funk. He’s averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds through the first two games but is shooting poorly (38 percent) and turning the ball over (10 turnovers in two games). The vibes just seem off early on. The good news is Harden is playing well. But a return to heliocentric Harden ball is not what the 76ers need if they are going to contend.

The Brooklyn Nets were blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans in their home opener on Wednesday. Kyrie Irving shot the ball very poorly (6-for-19) and the Nets were beaten in every hustle category. The Pelicans had a 61-39 edge in rebounding and a 36-4 edge in second-chance points. Looks like the same Nets from last season.

Los Angeles Lakers

0-2 to start the season with losses against the defending champion Golden State Warriors and their cross arena rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.

After the first game where the Lakers had a lot of good looks from three but went 10-40, LeBron James offered some thoughts.

“We’re getting great looks, but it could also be teams giving us great looks. To be completely honest, we’re not a team constructed of great shooting. … It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team.”

In the loss to the Clippers the Lakers shot 9 of 45 from three. Through two games the Lakers are 19-85 from three. That’s 22 percent. Not great.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has a more harsh critique.

Punch to the face is no problem

The defending champion Warriors beat down the Lakers as mentioned above. Head coach Steve Kerr played 11 rotation players in the season opener and the Warriors second unit looked better than the Lakers starters.

The cloud of the Draymond Green punch to the face of Jordan Poole still lingers. But pay attention to how the Warriors start the season. If they get out to a fast start, say, 15-5, and the young guys are looking good, a trade could be on the way.

Rookie head coach with just a few weeks to prepare

The Boston Celtics were two games away from winning the NBA championship last season. Optimism was high coming into this season. Then right before training camp head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the season for an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.

Enter Joe Mazzulla, an assistant coach who had no time to prepare for the head chair. In his first game he looked comfortable dialing up defensive sets to stifle the 76ers, and on offense it helps to have alpha wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He just let those guys cook.

Check back in at the end of November (about the quarter mark of the season) and let’s see where some of these teams and players are.