Takeaway #1: The Utah Jazz still have an elite defense
Prior to the season, the Utah Jazz’s greatest strength involved their defense. To open the 2019 season, they showcased their elite defense by only allowing 90.3 points per game; the least in the NBA. Although they’re forcing the eighth-least amount of turnovers per game, the Jazz have built themselves as a defensive force in wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns.
Takeaway #2: The West goes through Los Angeles
Free agency caused a firestorm in the media, as most claimed either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers would represent the West in the NBA Finals. Through the premiere of the NBA season, those arguments were reinforced. Kawhi Leonard the Clippers defeated LeBron James and the Lakers on Opening Night, but the two sides meet again on Christmas Day. With the Clippers missing Paul George and the Lakers missing Kyle Kuzma, it’s crazy to think neither side is at full strength yet.
Takeaway #3: The New Orleans Pelicans are hurting without Zion Williamson
There was a lot of hype surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans to start the 2019 season. However, without Zion Williamson, this is a roster without it’s premier star. Oddly enough, the Pelicans have the most three-pointers made per game, but have started the campaign with an underwhelming 0-4 record. With Williamson out for the foreseeable future, a leader will need to emerge before the Western Conference competition begins to separate from the pack.
Takeaway #4: Houston will be a roller coaster to watch
The addition of Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets had us debating whether himself and James Harden would be a lethal combination. To start the season, no one is quite sure how this will play out. The two were caught in a heated exchange in an outing against the Milwaukee Bucks, but have still started the year 2-1. This is a roster with playoff potential, but there is little time to waste when it comes to getting on the same page.
Takeaway #5: Golden State aren’t the favorites anymore
The Golden State Warriors picked up their first win of the season on Monday, but they beat a winless New Orleans Pelicans to get it. The first two games looked inconsistent at best, as the Warriors had a point differential of -23.5. A roster with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and others with championship experience is enough to be a threat in the West, but others have looked far more impressive to date.
Takeaway #6: Minnesota came out of nowhere
After finishing last season 36-46, the Minnesota Timberwolves started this season 3-0 with consecutive wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, and Miami Heat. At the center of it all, Karl-Anthony Towns has averaged 32 points and 13.3 rebounds per game with double-doubles in each outing. The Timberwolves weren’t a team that was considered to be a threat in the West, but this is a takeaway to keep an eye on.
Takeaway #7: Brooklyn showed that scoring doesn’t correlate to winning
Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets offense has been hot to start this season, scoring 124 points per game; the second-most in the NBA. However, scoring doesn’t always result in wins, as the Nets have allowed 123.3 points per game; the third-most in the league. Without Kevin Durant on the court, the Nets will need to adjust their focus on defense in order to prevent them from being forced to scoring 120+ on a nightly basis.
Photo Credit: Clips Nation