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4 Things We Have Learned From The Opening Month Of The NBA Season

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We are one month into the 2021/22 NBA season, and while there is a long way to go before a champion gets crowned, there has been lots to learn from the opening 15 games. Contending teams such as the Bucks and Hawks have struggled, others such as the Wizards and Cavaliers have had surprisingly great starts, while everyone in the NBA whose surname isn’t Curry has struggled to hit a three-pointer.

Here is what we have learned from the opening month of the NBA season.

1. The Golden State Warriors are back


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The entire National Basketball Association has been put on red alert in the first 15 games of the new season because, after a two-year injury-induced exile, the real Golden State Warriors have finally returned to take the throne. Despite missing Klay Thompson and James Wiseman to start the season, the Warriors currently have the best record in the NBA at 13-2, along with the best defensive rating at 99.5.

Steph Curry and Draymond Green have already staked their claims as early contenders for MVP and DPOY, but the supporting cast has turned up in spades in what is quickly becoming one of the deepest teams in the league. Andrew Wiggins has shown flashes of stardom, Jordan Poole’s emergence has continued, while the off-season acquisitions Otto Porter Jr, Nemanja Bjieleca and Andre Iguodala have added much-needed shooting and veteran experience to the young squad.

2. Lebron and the Lakers are in trouble


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Lebron James has continued to defy public opinion and his doubters in his storied NBA career, but father time may have finally caught up with King James as the injuries have started to pile up for the 36-year-old. After missing large parts of last season with an ankle injury, Lebron has already missed two weeks of the new season due to an abdominal strain. 

The Lakers have struggled in his absence – losing five of their eight games – with the Russell Westbrook trade already looking like a regrettable move just one month into the season. The point guard was brought in to improve the Lakers’ non-Lebron line-ups, but the former MVP has been turning the ball over at a career-high rate while also shooting at just 29% from downtown and 42% from the field.

Despite having the 4th easiest schedule so far, the Lakers find themselves with an 8-8 record, and it seems like it’s going to take another superhuman effort from Lebron to give this team any shot at contending for the title.

3. The East has finally overtaken the West


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The Eastern Conference has long been considered inferior to the West in terms of the depth and number of elite teams, but following a combination of high-profile injuries and superstar trades, the East might have finally overtaken the West.

Out in the West – based on current evidence – only the Warriors, Jazz and Suns could be considered as title contenders, but there are still huge caveats attached to each of those teams. On the other hand, the competition couldn’t be more fierce in the East with no less than five teams in the conversation to play in the NBA finals. 

The Bucks are the reigning champions, the Brooklyn Nets have two MVP level talents in Harden and Durant, Philadelphia were the best regular-season team last year, while off-season moves from the Bulls and the Heat have elevated them towards the brink of contention. Add to that the Atlanta Hawks – who reached last season’s conference finals – and a burgeoning Washington Wizards led by Bradley Beal, and the Eastern Conference can finally claim to be superior in terms of quality and depth.

4. The 2021 Draft Class is special


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One of the major observations from the opening month of the new season is that the 2021 NBA Draft class is special. Most rookies that enter the NBA take time to acclimatize to the physicality and speed of the league compared to college hoops, but the 2021 class has produced some NBA-ready stars that are already having an impact. 

Scottie Barnes leads all rookies in scoring and rebounding and has already shown that he can defend at an elite level on the perimeter *and* in the paint as part of a frontcourt pairing with Pascal Siakam. The number three pick – Evan Mobley – has elevated Cleveland into a playoff-contending team, displaying a freakish combination of size, length and athleticism that could make him one of the best defensive big men in the league. 

Elsewhere in the league, Chris Duarte and Franz Wagner are averaging over 13 points a game, while Jonathan Kuminga has slowly shown that he can even be a role player on a contending team like Golden State.

Rookies aren’t meant to be this good, this quickly, but the 2021 Draft class might be one of the best we have seen in a long time.


[Featured Image Credit: Golden State Warriors]