Jamal Murray, what were you thinking?
After working out the kinks during opening week, some teams are starting to find their groove as the season progresses.
The second week of the NBA regular season has seen some spectacular performances from both individuals and teams, with some teams standing above the rest thus far.
While some teams have been on their game, others have been underperforming. Here is the list of the major talking points from the second week of regular season action.
1. Stephen Curry is back
After a disappointing early start to the season, Stephen Curry has put the Warriors on his back and been absolutely outstanding. Curry has had multiple games with 30-plus points this season, with the former MVP hitting his career high against the Blazers on Monday, scoring 62 points in a dominant display. Curry then led his team to a statement win over the Kings by nearly obtaining a 30-point triple double.
One thing is for certain, after a slow start Curry has flipped a switch and is determined to lead his team through adversity. He is averaging 32PPG, 5.3RPG and 6.4APG and is showing no signs of slowing down as the Golden State star looks to be an early MVP contender.
2. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are an underrated duo
One team that has barely been discussed this season is the Boston Celtics. The prestigious club currently holds a 5-3 record without their star point guard Kemba Walker. This has been mainly due to the underrated pairing of Tatum and Brown. Between the pair, they are averaging a combined 53.2PPG, 12.2RPG and 7.1APG in what has been a dominant display from the duo.
While Tatum has often been talked up by Celtics fans, Brown has often flown under the radar and is making a case for himself already as one of the most improved players thus far this season. Both men have been scoring flat out, as they have consistently hit 20-plus points a game and both have secured 40-point games already. If this duo keeps up this pace, then the sky is the limit for the Celtics, who are looking like an early favourite in the Eastern Conference.
3. Are the Suns for real?
A team that has looked good early on is the Phoenix Suns. After their stellar play in the bubble and the addition of Chris Paul to the team, many Phoenix fans had some expectations for the Suns to perform this season. However, they have certainly outperformed their expectations thus far.
The Suns are currently tied first in the Western Conference with a record of 5-2, and have looked spectacular in the majority of their outings. However the question is whether this team can keep up the pace. While the Suns have certainly looked good thus far, there is no telling whether they will keep up the level of play for the rest of the season.
If any player can lead this team to big things though, it is Chris Paul. The Suns are certainly a team to keep your eye on this season.
4. What’s happened to the Raptors?
While some teams have met expectations others have tumbled out of the gates. This is certainly the case for the Toronto Raptors, who have struggled early. They are currently sitting with a 1-5 record, which is the second worst record in the league. What’s worse is that their only win came when star Pascal Siakam sat out. While the team has faced a few contending teams, the Raptors have struggled to gain any form of momentum.
Siakam has struggled this season, as have the rest of the team, who are trying to find themselves after losing some of their depth in the free agency. The team has struggled to fill the void left by big men Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka as Aussie Aron Baynes has not been consistent early on. The Raptors will need to find their footing fast, otherwise they are in for a long season.
All Star guard Kyle Lowry has expressed concern over the Raptors slow start. The star said the Raptors have no swagger and stated that there is “nothing to us”, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Whatever issues the Raptors are experiencing, it is certain the team needs to deal with them fast, otherwise they are in for a long season.
5. The process is seemingly paying off in Philly
On a positive note, the 76ers are flourishing under new head coach Doc Rivers, as the process is finally reaping benefits in Philly. The 76ers sit with the best record in the league, winning six out of their seven games thus far. The Sixers have improved their spacing, adding shooters such as Danny Green and Seth Curry, easing some pressure off stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Simmons noted that the shooting is a key contributor, along with their play-making and buying into the team culture, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Justin Grasso.
“It’s also everybody buying into this system. You know, when you have everybody holding each other accountable defensively first, then offensively is tough. You want to come out here and do well for your teammates every possession,” Simmons stated.
“We’re trying to build the right culture around here. That’s being competitive, moving the ball, and playing as a team.”
The culture shift and leadership role taken on by Simmons and Embiid seems to be working this season, as the Sixers look to be miles ahead of where they were last season.
With the Eastern Conference wide open this season, the Sixers are currently standing above the rest and looking are putting all their energy into creating a winning culture, which has been the driving force for their early success.