June 21, 2024

The Association Examination: Week One

Assistant sports editor Jordan Dajani breaks down the opening week of the NBA season with the debut of his column, “The Association Examination.”

Assistant sports editor Jordan Dajani poses in front of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's campus on a dark and cloudy day. Photo by the Tennessee Journalist.

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Ah, the first week of basketball season, when most people get all excited for the start of the NBA and then usually don’t check back ’till Christmas. But if you still want to appear like you know what you’re talking about when talking NBA with your friends but don’t feel like watching the ten games a night, stick with me. I’ll be doing the dirty work and will update you every week on teams that are surprising me, players that are struggling and which coaches need to get the hell out of town. Ready for round one?

Players that impressed me

Mo Williams- Williams is back home in Cleveland and really looked comfortable in his first game Tuesday. He was the leading scorer on the Cavs with 19 points and also had seven assists and four rebounds. The Cavs still lost to Chicago 97-95.

Steph Curry- Curry looks like he could win the MVP again this year. He came out on fire, scoring 24 points in just the first quarter in Golden State’s first game of the season. He finished with 40 points and also dished out seven assists. He was the lead scorer again on Friday, dropping 25 points on James Harden and the Rockets and scored a quiet 53 points on the Pelicans Saturday night.

Ricky Rubio- Last season, Rubio was on pace to be the worst shooter, percentage-wise, in the history of the NBA. Somehow, he was able to score 28 points on 10-17 shooting while leading the Timberwolves on a fourth quarter comeback against the Lakers Wednesday night. He also had 14 assists. While Rubio’s performance was very impressive, I’d be more impressed if he can keep it up and stay healthy, which he can never do.

Kawhi Leonard- Leonard has looked incredible so far this season. He had 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting in his first game Wednesday and then scored 16 points on Friday. The offense will continue to run through him as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili continue their search for retirement homes.

Anthony Davis- Davis really struggled in the Pelican’s season opener against Golden State. He scored 18 points but shot 4-for-20 from the floor. He rebounded on Wednesday and Friday with two double-doubles. He’s my pick to win the MVP this year.

Rookies’ first taste

With the NBA season getting underway, let’s take a look at how some of the association’s new faces did this week.

Karl Anthony-Towns- First overall pick Towns started off his NBA career with two double-doubles in a row, making him the youngest player in the NBA to record double-doubles in his first two games. He had 14 points and 12 rebounds against the Lakers on Wednesday night and on Friday, Towns went off again and scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, joining Lebron James as the second teen ever in NBA history to have at least 28 points and 14 rebounds in a game. I was definitely impressed with what I saw from him this week. The skill he displayed that really convinced me that he is the real deal is his ability to create his own shot outside of the paint. He also has a great mentor in Kevin Garnett, so he will become a big part of this Minnesota team very quickly.

Jahlil Okafor- Okafor looked great in his first game as a pro. He led the 76ers in scoring with 26 points and shot 10-for-16 from the field. I think he will improve Philadelphia pretty dramatically.

Kristaps Porzingis– Porzingis was one of, if not the most unpopular pick in this year’s draft. He had a few good plays in his first game against the Bucks, but his stat line didn’t look too great. He scored 16 points on 3-of-11 shooting. I think that Knicks fans just need to chill out and let this kid develop. He has a great shot and enough skill to be a good NBA player.

D’Angelo Russell- Russell, in my opinion, was one of the most overrated players in the draft. Picking him second overall was absurd to me. He didn’t do anything in his first NBA game even though he got the nod to start. He scored only four points and barely got the ball because he has to play on the same team as Kobe Bryant. He did better on Friday night, scoring 13 points and shot 50 percent from the field.

What didn’t make sense

Here are some takeaways from the first week of the season.

The Charlotte Hornets- Being from North Carolina, I’ve followed the Hornets/Bobcats franchise since the Adam Morrison and Sean May days. As you can imagine, it’s been a hard, sad journey. They had a lot of problems last year, but shook up their roster for this season so I was expecting a little improvement. Forty percent of the Hornets’ roster played their first game as a Charlotte Hornet on Wednesday, but the team still looked like they were suffering from the same issues that ailed them last season. The offense was inconsistent, help defense was almost non-existent and they shot terribly from beyond the arc.

Frank Kaminsky- Along with the Hornets disappointing start, I’m confused by the way they are handling Kaminsky. Their top draft pick played just six minutes in his first regular season game. This kid was the college basketball player of the year last season yet only got to play 360 seconds in his first game. I apologize, I was under the impression that teams drafted players to improve their squads, not to have them hand out water to the starters who, by the way, aren’t even good.

The Memphis Grizzlies- Most people seemed ready to jump on the Grizzlies bandwagon this season, but they looked absolutely terrible in their first game against Cleveland Wednesday night. The Cavs were on the back end of a back-to-back after losing to Chicago the night before and really didn’t look that good. I really thought Memphis would come out and beat Cleveland, but they limped out of the gates, shooting 35 percent from the field and lost by 30 points. They were able to rebound after the embarrassing loss though, and got their first win of the season against the Pacers on Thursday night.

The Lakers/Kobe Bryant- I was surprised by Kobe Bryant for a couple of reasons in his season debut on Wednesday night. First off, I was impressed by him because he was the leading scorer with 24 points. He made a lot of tough shots and we got to see some vintage Kobe plays. He proved that he’s not dead yet. Secondly, I was confused because the Lakers let him shoot an absurd amount of shots. It took Kobe 24 shots to score 24 points. This cannot happen again. It just blows my mind that he was allowed to shoot this much and I think it actually cost the Lakers the game. Kobe is going to have to realize that he’s not the man anymore and just needs to take the chances that are presented to him, not force everything like he is accustomed to.

“The Association Examination” is a weekly sports column written by Tennessee Journalist assistant sports editor Jordan Dajani. The Tennessee Journalist does not necessarily agree with the viewpoints of this column.

Featured image by Thomas Delgado

Edited by Cody McClure