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Early Season Takeaways From The Young NBA Season

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry & His Golden State Warriors Are Ready To Repeat

All of the offseason talk around the Warriors wasn't about how good they are, or how good they are going to be this season, but how lucky they were last season. NBA fans were torn on whether the Warriors were deserved winners of the title last season (I never doubted the Dubs' greatness by the way) and were interested to see if Curry and Golden State are the real deal, or last season was just a fluke. So what's the answer to that question?

Here's a hint: They are the only undefeated team left in the league.

Yes, the Dubs are 7-0 and don't look like slowing down. Steph Curry is putting up video game numbers: 33.8 point per contest, 55% from the field. 47.5% from deep and hitting six triples a game. He's on pace for 492 threes this season, over 200 more than he sunk last season! How about this stat:

Curry's three-pointers this season: 38

Minnesota Timberwolves' three-pointers this season: 21

That's right, Curry has almost double the amount of threes made this season than the entire Timberwolves team combined. 

To be honest their is no point talking about any other members of the Warriors, because the entire offense is going through Curry. All I have to say is, the ball movement is still there, the unique offensive sets are still there, the pace is still there and their tenacity on the defensive end remains, as shown by them having the second best defensive efficiency in the league, only behind the 

This Warriors team is loving life at the top and Curry's side ain't going anywhere soon. 

Anthony Davis Cannot Do Everything

Possibly the biggest surprise this season has been the struggles of the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans were virtually a lock to make the playoffs prior to the start of the season, but a lackluster defense and injuries have given them a 0-6 record. They are now just one of three teams that have not won a game, joined by only the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers, that isn't great company. 

Their defense has been the worst in the league. They have allowed more than 114 points per game, a statistic worse than that of the Los Angeles Lakers, who have possibly the worst defensive team the league has ever seen. New coach Alvin Gentry has seen his team not contesting shots, allowing far too much penetration and just being plain lazy.

Anthony Davis, despite starting the season with a pitiful, 4 of 20 shooting performance against the Golden State Warriors, has recovered with some impressive games, including a 43 point, 10 rebound demolition of the Atlanta Hawks' frontcourt. Davis has been largely back to himself, averaging 25.2 points. 9.3 rebounds and a tad under 3 blocks. He has only shot 46%, but is going at 60% in his last pair of contests. 

Davis has been unable to prevent the fall of the Pelicans though, largely due to the injuries of key players. Jrue Holiday has been unable to play back-to-backs, Tyreke Evans has got a couple more weeks to go and Omer Asik is close to a return. Asik's return will be especially important to help them get their defense back to a respectable level. 

The morale of this story is that Anthony Davis can't win games by himself (yet) and he clearly still needs help and health around him to be successful.

Maybe We Underestimated The Portland Trail Blazers

Going from one team that is under-achieving to one team that is arguably over-achieving. 

The Portland Trail Blazers entered this season with one headline, which was clearly that Damian Lillard was left all by himself. The absence of four of their starters from the 2014-15 campaign clearly left some gaping holes in their team. 

But Neil Olshey was clearly unwilling to throw this season down the drain and stockpiled some good, young talent, to make them competitive now as well as building for the future. Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Mason Plumlee and Noah Vonleh were among their offseason acquisitions. All of them have helped to build an above average defense and their backcourt of Lillard and McCollum have been tearing defenses to shreds.

McCollum has been averaging 23.2 points per game on 47% shooting and 46% from behind the long line. He, along with Andre Drummond, have to be the leading contenders for the MIP. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard is putting his stamp on the MVP race that is being led by Curry. Lillard is the new leader of this team and has been rallying the troops, getting them to play with heart and passion on a nightly basis. He has been the catalyst of the league's sixth best offense, with his 27 points and 6.5 assists.

Portland sit second in the West, with a record of 4-2. While this is unlikely to last, due to the sheer depth and talent of the conference, coach Terry Stotts and Damian Lillard are leading this team into a new era.

This Year's Rookie Class Is Awesome

The 2014 draft class was probably the most hyped draft class ever and to be perfectly honest, it disappointed. Injuries and general poor play caused last year's rookies to be underwhelming in their opening season. 

In contrast, the 2015 draft class wasn't talked about nearly as much, but has been on fire to begin the season.

You can read the rest of my opinions on my weekly rookie ladder, where I rank the top 10 rookies each Tuesday. You can check out the analysis of week one, by clicking here

Despite Durant, Oklahoma City Aren't Title Contenders Yet

Oklahoma City started the season out strong. A strong come from behind showing against the Spurs, a double-overtime thriller versus the Orlando Magic and the dismantling of the Denver Nuggets had them at 3-0. But their last three matchups haven't been favorable. Houston, Toronto and Chicago all provided tough opposition that all beat them in close encounters. 

Their offense has been on fire, shown by them having the second highest offensive efficiency in the league. But their defense, expected to be stronger by benching Enes Kanter, has been 22nd in terms of defensive efficiency, a far cry from their time under Scott Brooks. 

Billy Donovan hasn't gotten the best out of Serge Ibaka, their primary shot blocker and rim protector. Ibaka hasn't been contesting shots as he usually has and their rotations could be swifter. 

Even though I said that their offense has been on fire,  Durant and Westbrook have been insane and are pretty much the cause of their success on that side. The only thing is, they are constantly turning over the ball, leading the league in turnovers per game, with 18.3, a hideous number. Billy Donovan needs to get his side to buy into his new offensive attack and just be more precise as a whole. 

If the first six games are any indication of how their season is going so far, Oklahoma City certainly aren't title contenders. OKC have to be better on both sides of the basketball, otherwise this roster won't be around by the time May and June come around. 

What are your thoughts on the new NBA season?

Make sure to comment on this post with your opinions and tweet me - @BradWinter12


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