Week 2 is when the cogs start turning. Some teams start moving from gear 1 to gear 2, whereas others are just getting their engines started, and then there’s the Knicks, who seem to defy their own bylaws by not being an abject embarrassment. Here’s some of the other storylines from Week-2 of the 2020-21 NBA season.
Steph Curry Read the Tweets
What do NBA fans get when they doubt the greatest shooter of all time, speak about how this season might taint his legacy, and then compare him to his little brother…. They get what they deserve. But we got so much more than that. The Jordan memes were in full flow as Steph Curry dropped a career high 62 in the Dubs 137-122 win over the Blazers.
The step-backs, the double crossovers, the airplane celebration. Steph unloaded his entire arsenal and shut down the doubters, and then he backed it up by dropping 30 in three quarters against the Kings the very next day. It’s no surprise the Warriors uptick in form coincides with the return of Draymond Green who is possibly the greatest energy guy of the last 20 years. Draymond is also the only Warrior who can think on the same wavelength as Steph, and is really what connects Steph to his new teammates and makes the Warriors work.
His energy on defence is very contagious, and if that doesn’t make a guy fall in line, Green’s always happy to give him a big earful about it. The Warriors are starting to look more like the team from 2014 and less like the one from 2020.
ROCKETS HIT THE WALL – IN A GOOD WAY
After a tumultuous and controversy ridden start to the season, seeing John Wall back playing the game he loves after 736 days on the sidelines served as a beacon of hope for Stephen Silas and the Rockets faithful. Wall finished with 22 points, nine assists, and six rebounds on 8-20 shooting, 2-8 from 3, and five turnovers, an impressive debut given the journey back to health and to the court.
This was also the first time (apart from those high school gym scrimmages) that we saw James Harden and John Wall in action together. Silas’s system doesn’t live and die with James Harden like D’Antoni’s did, with ball handling duties being spread out amongst the likes of Wall, House, Tucker and of course Harden. The result of this being that, now Harden can attack from different spots on the floor and still be an ever-present scoring threat.
His load is spread throughout the game so when it’s time to get going in the fourth quarter, Harden isn’t completely gassed. He scored or assisted on every Houston point in the final four minutes, with his usage skyrocketing during that frame, and maybe that’s what the Rockets want after seeing him run out of steam late during crunch playoff games.
The Bubble Suns are here to stay
The Suns were the darlings of the first part of the Disney bubble because they didn’t lose any games. A perfecto 8-0 was captivating, but not enough to make the playoffs, where the Suns haven’t been since 2010.
The Suns picked up right where they left off and have been phenomenal in their start to the season. Devin Booker has been good, but he hasn’t had to be a great yet. Chris Paul hasn’t made shots at the rate you’d expect, but he’s artfully controlling these games. Deandre Ayton has also shown signs of life, embracing his role as the defensive Anchor of the team and showing progress offensively running the Pick-and-role with Paul. These are all extremely encouraging signs for the Suns, and they looked poised early in the season to give the Lakers competition for the West’s #1 Seed.
Winless Wizards Winning Games
The Wizards started the season as the top pick for League pass team of the season, a title given to the team who are not good, not bad and just entertaining. But an 0-5 start didn’t make for pleasant viewing for Wizards fans or the neutral audience. If the Wizards had failed to beat a Karl-Anthony Towns-less Minnesota team, we may have seen the seat get real hot for Scott Brooks. Bradley Beal looks extremely frustrated out there early on with this string of losses. But they got the win against Minnesota, and they did it without Russell Westbrook playing. Turned around and beat the Nets thanks to clutch play from Beal and a couple of misses on great looks by Durant and Irving.
A player who has gone under-the radar this season is Thomas Bryant. Bryant has been freakishly efficient this year, and is the Wizards’ second-best scorer through seven games. This year, he’s 32-for-36 (3 of the misses came against the Nets) in the restricted area, nearing 90 percent and making him the most efficient down-low player. The numbers might not seem sustainable but his play as someone who can sweep up Westbrooks bricks at the Rim and as a reliable pick-and-role guy with Beal makes him an early front-runner for The Most Improved Player this season.
The long and short of it is, The Wizards can’t defend (so far), and Westbrook has a tendency to ‘Westbrook’ hard, but that’s what makes this island of misfits called the Washington Wizards entertaining.