The ‘Swing’ has finally returned. Putting the ‘NBA West Coast Swing’ behind us, this version will stretch from the Right Coast to the Left Coast. Or, East Coast to West Coast if we’re being technical. Now that the Superteam era has officially arrived in today’s Orange Roundball League, what can we truly expect in the 2017-18 NBA season?
I believe that there’s more parody in the league than many realize. Let’s face the facts that there are more than two great teams that make up the current NBA landscape. I love Michael “His Airness” Jordan, but he obviously disagrees after echoing these sentiments regarding Superteams in a recent Cigar Aficionado cover story by saying, “I think it’s going to hurt the overall aspect of the league from a competitive standpoint.” MJ also mentioned that “you’re going to have one or two teams that are going to be great, and another 28 teams that are going to be garbage. Or they’re going to have a tough time surviving in the business environment.”
Not exactly what we’ve seen thus far with most NBA teams having played just a handful of games. Before Friday night’s slate, the Orlando Magic (3-1) and Chris Paul-less Los Angeles Clippers (4-0) sit atop the Eastern and Western Conference standings. This may not continue to pan out, but both the mighty defending champion Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are 3-2 heading into Friday evening. Hey Michael. . . What about your Charlotte Hornets? The last I checked MJ, your squad is 2-2 with two emphatic wins at home. It’s still extremely early, but I rest my case for the moment.
Key injuries have dampened the spirits of Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets’ fans alike. Just a few minutes into his Celtic debut, Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome injury against the Cavs that had fans and players covering their eyes in complete shock. Hayward joined forces with Celtic point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Al Horford in the offseason with plans of creating something special in Boston. Kyrie and Gordon became very close in the leadup to the league’s regular-season start. Hayward was also reuniting with his old college coach, Brad Stevens. Coach Stevens and Mr. Hayward had an amazing run at Butler together. This was supposed to be their professional homecoming, but an awkward slip on the court led to Gordon both dislocating his left ankle and fracturing his left tibia. Ouch, babe! The sight had “Uncle Drew” Irving burying his head into the chests of teammates Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart. Here’s to a complete recovery and fresh start in 2018, Mr. Hayward.
Yes, it’s a disturbing sight. The bottom portion of a human beings left leg shouldn’t look like that.
Paul’s injury is not nearly as devastating to the Rockets as Hayward’s. CP3 decided to team-up with James “The Bearded Wonder” Harden in the offseason leaving his playoff misery with the Clippers in the rearview mirror. His injury was initiated in a preseason game when Paul and Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers slammed knees. Diagnosed as a bruised left knee, Houston will err on the side of caution with CP3’s regular-season return. It’s safe to say that Paul will miss about one month or longer with the hampering knee bruise. The Rockets (4-1) spoiled Golden State’s return home 122-121 on Opening and Championship Ring Night in Oakland. Houston hasn’t lost a step with Chris on the bench; however, his return will be vital to their hopes of a deep playoff run in the Summer of 2018. Harden is happy to handle the orange for Paul in the open floor for now.
What about the Oklahoma City Thunder and their trio of superstars — Russell “The Roadrunner” Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony? They’ve looked fantastic at times during the start of the 2017-18 campaign, but find themselves sitting at just 2-2 in the West. Meanwhile, the up and coming Minnesota Timberwolves (2-3) are struggling as well with their new trio of stars — Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler. But that didn’t stop them from silencing a hyped OKC crowd on Sunday. After Westbrook dished a dime to Anthony for the go-ahead triple from the land of plenty with 4.7-seconds remaining in regulation, the Wolves found themselves down 113-112 with no timeouts left. But an inbounds pass, an illegal screen from Towns that wasn’t called and a few dribbles from Wiggins to the other side of the OKC logo later, and Minnesota escaped with a crazy 115-113 victory. Mr. Wiggins launched the dagger from that very spot on the floor with a hard smooch from the land of plenty as the horn sounded. You see, the bank was open 24/7 like 7-Eleven for the young pup. Fingertips, glass, bottom!
The only winless team in the Association right now? Care to guess? Yup, it’s the New York Knicks (0-3). This shouldn’t surprise anyone. They look like the epitome of futility in the NBA. Let’s hope that when you read this article, the Knicks will have collected a win against their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden.
It’s too early to break out my NBA power rankings. In about 4-6 weeks when we have a clearer picture, they’ll be a weekly staple as we swing through the 2017-18 Orange Roundball season. See Y’all next week.