*deep inhale through the nose* Ahhhh, do you smell it? Ohhhh yeah, that’s the smell of a fresh NBA season. Drama is in the air (points towards Minnesota), there’s old faces in new places (go Lakers), and everyone’s ready to put forth their best effort to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the year (give it to the Warriors already).
All 30 teams in the Association have now played their first games, and to commence the season here on Ball and Chain I’ll be highlighting the most interesting stat from each of the team’s first games.
I really only care about one thing from this team, and that is Trae Young. He led the team in minutes for the first game, which should be the theme throughout the season. It’ll be interesting to see what that does for his development. Hopefully things will go better for him throughout the season, as he went 5-for-14 from the field (1-for-5 from three).
Couldn’t decide between these two stats on which was more impressive. Jayson Tatum was the obvious star of the game, he had 23 points in only 29 minutes. Terry Rozier had a +22 Plus/Minus though, far ahead the best on the team, with Jaylen Brown in second with a +11. Rozier was 5/10 from the field with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
5-for-27 from the three point line. Ladies and gentleman – that’s bad.
Don’t need to overthink this one. Kemba Walker 41 points on 29 (!!!) shots. He actually shot better from three (54%) than from two (50%). He did however miss a layup that would have won the game in a crazy comeback that Kemba led for the Hornets. They probably won’t win many games this year, so that one has to sting especially against such a good opponent in the Bucks.
Justin Holiday did NOT have a good game in Thursday night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. He shot 4-for-12 from the field including 2-for-9 from three and had a Plus/Minus of -29 (!!!). Far ahead the worst on the team, with the second worst being -18 (tie between Wendell Carter Jr. and Cameron Payne).
I want to be negative about Kevin Love’s 5-for-18 performance, but we will go to the new Cavs poster child, Cedi Osman! Isn’t he so cute! 17 points on 5-10 shooting against a Toronto Raptors team full of good wing defenders including that one guy, Kawhi Leonard.
The Mavs might have had the worst defensive performance of any of the first few games. They allowed the Phoenix Suns to shoot 54.3% from the field including 19-for-34 from three point land (an extremely wild 55.9%).
Absolutely no context behind this stat, I just thought it was improbable. Paul Millsap had a team lead +20 Plus/Minus. He had 16 rebounds (3 offensive) and got to the line plenty of times, making 9 of 12. His field goals? Only 1-for-7 from the field to end up with 11 points.
People forget that Blake Griffin is still good. 26 pts/8 rebs/6 asts. Pistons will need that production to get into the playoffs.
Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant put up a big fat 0 in regards to 3PM, going 0-5 from distance. Don’t expect that to happen again (of course they still won).
Carmelo Anthony! A -20 Plus/Minus, 3/10 from the field including 1/5 from three! #StayME7O
Insanely balanced attack from the Indiana Pacers in their first game. Victor Oladipo wasn’t even the leading scorer in the 111-83 win over the Grizzlies. This was achieved from seven of the nine main rotational players scoring in double digits.
Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverly hadn’t played in a game since November 20th due to injury. His first game back…did not go well. 0-for-8 from the field (5 missed threes) a -9 Plus/Minus, and 5 fouls. Take THAT Lonzo Ball!
Los Angeles Lakers
Much was made about the new roster’s seemingly lacking three point shooting. Boy, did that problem rear its ugly head on Thursday night. The team overall shot 7-for-30 but even that was inflated by Josh Hart who went 3-for-5. That means the rest of the team shot 4-for-25, including Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and LeBron James who combined went 1-for-15. They are going to do a lot of their work on fast breaks and in the paint, but 23.3% from three will not cut it no matter what.
The worst team offensive performance of the opening games. 83 points. 25-for-84 from the field overall. Yuck.
The Heat will need Goran Dragic to perform at an All-Star level again, and he came through in Game 1 of 82 on Wednesday. 26 points on 9/14 shooting with 4 assists and the leader in Plus/Minus with +20.
Wednesday on the road against the Charlotte Hornets, the Bucks won while taking 34 three pointers during the game. Much has been made about new head coach Mike Budenholzer behind hired. It was predicted that the team would use spacing more than in the past, and that was seen in the first game. With the 34 attempts, that was far more than their season average last year of 24.7, which was 25th in the league last year. An average of 34 throughout this season would have put them at 3rd in the league last year.
In what was one of the most ill-timed bad games of all-time, Karl Anthony-Towns laid an absolute egg on Wednesday. He only played 22 minutes due to foul trouble (eventually fouled out) and only took six total shots to end up with a whopping 8 points. Jimmy Butler is DISPLEASED.
New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis’ frontcourt brethren, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle, shot a combined 8-for-12 from three point land. Mirotic not too surprising, but Randle’s 2-for-4 was definitely surprising. The former Los Angeles Laker only shot a total of 45 threes during last season (only making 22% of them). It’s dumb to calculate “on pace” stuff after one game, but Randle is currently on pace for 328 attempted threes for the season.
New York Knicks
Knicks beat the Hawks! Playoffs here they come! The Knicks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr. with his 31 points. The stat I have to point out though is the Knicks’ HUGE second quarter. They scored 49 points, which was a franchise record.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George took a lot of long jump shots against the Golden State Warriors. He put up 23 field goals total, with 12 of them being three pointers. He only made 4 of those attempted threes.
In what I’d say is a bit of an upset, the Magic beat the Heat 104-101 on Wednesday. Six of the nine players on the court for the Magic scored in double figures, with newly extended Aaron Gordon leading the way with 26 points on 9/18 shooting (4/5 from three) and 16 rebounds.
Markelle Fultz had a Plus/Minus of -16 in only 24 minutes of play. Losing by 18 to the Boston Celtics, every player was in the negative but Fultz was the worst with the second worst being -11 (tie between T.J. McConnell and Robert Covington).
WET LIKE I’M BOOK! Devin Booker filled up the stat sheet yet again against the Mavs, including a run in the fourth where he scored 19 of his 35 points in the final 6:44 of the game.
Portland Trail Blazers
October 18th, 2018 will go down as the day that I found out Nik Stauskus’s nickname is Sauce Castillo (funny story also behind that if you don’t know). It’ll also go down as the day he crashed the LeBron James-Lakers party. 24 pts, 5-for-8 from three, 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. Too much sauce, I guess.
The easy pick for worst team in the Western Conference this year, the Kings gave the Utah Jazz a bit of a scare Wednesday night, only losing 123-117. Willie Cauley-Stein led the squad with a line of 23 pts/7 rebs/4 asts/2 blocks/1 steal/+17.
San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Alridge (21), DeMar DeRozan (28), and Rudy Gay (18) combined for 67 points against the Timberwolves on Wednesday. That’ll have to be the norm for nearly every game if they want to make it to the playoffs.
Somewhat of an afterthought given the Kawhi Leonard/DeMar DeRozan trade, Kyle Lowry showed why I think he’s a top 5 point guard in the league. 27 points on 10/12 shooting including 5/6 (!!!) from the three point line. He added in 8 assists compared to his 3 turnovers.
The team shot an efficient 13-for-27 from three, led by the Australian himself, Joe Ingles (4-for-6).
The Wizards barely lost their opener 113-112 to the Miami Heat off of an offensive rebound put back by Kelly Olynyk. That was the theme of the game for the Wizards, as they missed Dwight Howard and his rebounding. They were outrebounded 69 to 52 including 22 to 7 in regards to offensive rebounds.