The NBA season is just about 10 games old, so Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller checked in on the state of the league, some trends that may or may not be sustainable, and early trade rumors.
FLANNERY: I don’t know who decided this, but there is some kind of conventional wisdom out there that we can start to make real judgments about the NBA after 10 games. I’m looking at the standings on a Monday morning and we’re basically right there.
We are already starting to see some Joey Votto Authentic Womens Jersey trends emerge. The Hawks and Hornets are better than we thought in the East. The Celtics and Pistons might be a little bit worse. The West is the West. It’s eerie how it’s lining up almost exactly as we saw it this summer. (The Lakers being decent being the big exception.)
I still think we’re headed toward Cavs-Warriors III and I don’t feel like wasting too much time dissecting their early seasons again, so what stands out to you so far?
ZILLER: A few teams have surprised in ways good and bad — the Lakers are No. 1 with a bullet — but I am struck by how otherwise normal the standings look. I didn’t expect the Thunder to be that high or the Celtics to be that low. I wasn’t convinced the Mavericks would fall off the map (and I think they’ll be back in the thick of it before long). But overall, minus the Lakers, I could absolutely see the final standings looking something like this in April. It feels like it’s been a weird season, but maybe that’s more at the individual level.
Speaking of which, DeMar DeRozan is having the most inexplicable start to a season for a player I have ever seen. He’s shooting better than 50 percent on 24 attempts per game, plus drawing fouls at a LeBronian rate. He was really good last season, and averaged a career-high 23.5 points per game. He’s at 34 a night this year, and he’s hit the 30-point mark in eight of nine games. It’s not believable.
But as he inches closer to December, it needs to be reckoned with. This isn’t a hot Johnny Bench Authentic Womens Jersey week. This isn’t just a hot month. It’s one of the hottest months anyone has had in years. This is Curryesque, but without the threes, which somehow makes it more impressive.
FLANNERY: Right, we all expected chalk and chalk we pretty much have at this point. Plus, there’s a lot of chalk. The middle of the pack is vast.
DeRozan is one of my favorite players because he’s A) a really nice guy and B) he makes everyone so damn mad with his style of play. It’s like they take it personally when he pulls up from mid-range. How dare he!
So, this becomes a question of sustainability. He can’t keep this up because no one can keep it up, but at what point does this go from hot streak to sustained reality: 15 games, 20, the All-Star break?
ZILLER: There are different factors at play in his epic start, and I think they’ll prove to be varying levels of sustainable. Shooting 70 percent on mid-range jumpers is not sustainable — but maybe 50 percent on the quality of shots he’s getting will work out. His foul drawing seems sustainable, and given the interesting rotation Dwane Casey has going (Bebe! Pascal!), he should be able to keep taking 20 shots a night if we wants to do so. You know Kyle Lowry is rooting him on.
The thing that gets me about DeRozan is that he’s just amped up everything that made him good. Now it’s making him great. He’s got some Dwyane Wade in there, and that’s super exciting.
Any other players you’re trying to assess in terms of sustainability?
FLANNERY: DeMar is the most obvious outlier here. He’s such an outlier he makes everyone else look fairly normal. You can rationalize James Harden averaging 30 and 13 and I’d say that’s even money to continue, or even Harrison Barnes averaging over 22 a game because, why not? Somebody’s got to score. I’d guess that Andrew Wiggins won’t continue to lead the league in three-point shooting, or that Lou Williams won’t put up a 25.4 PER for the rest of the season. But we know all that.