by: Oliver Layco
After a seemingly endless off-season, the National Basketball Association is back in full swing. Even though it’s only one week into the season, there have been some pleasant surprises along with the normal expectations. The biggest surprise would have to belong to the Philadelphia 76ers. As the youngest team in the league, many pitted them as the favorites to win the draft for next year. As of the publishing of this article, they are one of the last unbeaten teams in the league. They are being led by their rookie Michael Carter-Williams and they actually look exciting for the general lack of experience they have. Along with others most likely, I thought their opening win against the Heat was fluke and they were riding the energy from Iverson’s retirement; however, so far they’ve continued it three games in. I’m excited to see how long they can keep this up. Speaking of the champs, they looked complacent at times so far this season; again, it’s only 3 games so we can see if this will be a consistent issue. They’ve shown they can fight late in games so it’s only a matter of them playing the whole 48 minutes instead of spurts. As for the rest of the East, Indiana looks poised as ever to take back what was almost theirs. Paul George is set to become the superstar of this team. Then with the help of Roy Hibbert and the eventual return of Danny Granger, there’s only room for improvement for this team and that’s a scary concept. Other teams that looked surprising so far include Toronto and Atlanta. Both seem like they are playing with a better sense of urgency and not the lackadaisical play that has become the norm for them; at least, that’s how I saw it whenever I tuned into their games.
As for the Western Conference, it’s mostly how it should be. Personally, my biggest surprise came when the Lakers beat the Clippers on opening night. Overall, I really liked the energy and effort that the team was playing with; specifically, the bench was outplaying the Clippers starters. I was hoping they would have some sort of consistency during their next game, but they came up against an insanely good Warriors team. With the addition of Andre Iguodala, they became an even better team than last year. As of now, I really like the Warriors as my second team of choice. As for the other team I’ve always liked behind my Lakers are the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve been written off as old and too slow of a team to make any impact in the league, yet they’ve been the example of consistency for the past decade. So far, they look exactly like they have for what seems like forever. One surprising fact that was pointed out when the Lakers and Spurs played this last week was that it would be the first time since 1996 that Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan haven’t played in a game involving these teams. It makes me nostalgic to think that both of these Hall of Famers are winding down their legendary careers. I can only hope that the league will get players with this kind of work ethic and dedication again. As for the rest of the West, Houston has looked really impressive with their new Super Team getting off to a good start. Then the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to stay afloat while they work Westbrook back into the lineup after off season surgery. Even for a perennial lottery team like the Sacramento Kings it felt energetic for the first time in a long while for their home opener. While they don’t have a playoff team just yet, there’s certainly been improvement just in their overall attitude. Three games into the season is a small sample to determine which teams are ready and which ones are busts. However, if these first three games are an indication of anything, it looks like it’s going to be an exciting year.