BOO! In Honor Of Halloween, Here Are Some Of The Most Terrifying Aspects Of The NBA Season So Far
Happy Halloween everybody!
While your focus on a day like today might be on your IG Feed/TikTok for obvious reasons, because I'm old and washed up I decided to take this blog in a different direction. I certainly enjoy this time of year for the same reasons many of you might, but you have to remember I have a deranged brain. It always comes back to basketball one way or another.
So to honor a great day like today, I thought it made sense to run through some things that have been absolutely terrifying to kick off the NBA season. Essentially, things on the court that give a this type of reaction
There's a chance some of the things we're going to talk about last much longer than just through Halloween, but there's no doubt that some of them are downright terrifying. Let us begin.
I'm just going to say it. There is not a more terrifying player in the NBA at this moment than Giannis. I don't know if it's MVP voter fatigue or what, but I feel like we aren't making a big enough deal about what the fuck Giannis is doing right now.
I'll have you know, that so far this season Giannis currently has career highs in
- FG% (60.4%)
- 3P% (35.3)
- FTA (12.4)
- REB (14.0)
- PTS (34.4)
while also being barely behind his career high in AST (5.8 vs 5.9). To put it simply, he's been devastating
When you think of players that strike fear in their opponents, I'm not sure how Giannis doesn't top the list. Especially this version which so far is the best Giannis we've ever seen. Think about that for a second. Think of what he's already accomplished and we could be getting an even BETTER Giannis this year. If that's not terrifying, what is?
Donovan Mitchell as a Cav
Quick, name the best P&R ball handler in the league right now. Maybe you go with Ja Morant or Trae Young. Maybe Dame.
The answer though is Donovan Mitchell. Everything he's done since joining the Cavs has been terrifying, but especially what he's doing out of P&R when it comes to getting downhill and finishing. He's been unstoppable no matter what the defense tries
Just watch these and tell me this isn't a terrifying player
When it comes to the P&R, things are rather ridiculous with Mitchell. Right now we're seeing Mitchell put up about 14 points a game via the P&R, averaging 1.06 points per possession and shooting 49% from he floor. That's good for the 82nd percentile in the NBA. Given how explosive he is off the dribble, the second you allow him to get downhill coming off that screen, it's over for you. If you play drop, he can either use this athleticism to dunk all over you or if he chooses he can just take the easy pull up. If you switch, good luck with your big staying with one of the best shot creators in basketball.
The biggest difference between this version of Mitchell and the UTA version starts with his improved effort defensively. The Cavs have that elite combination of good rim protection and solid wing defenders. We're not seeing the same defensive holes from Mitchell that we did while he was on the Jazz, and offensively this is probably the best he's ever looked. To be doing this all without Darius Garland, you can see why the Cavs were pretty hyped up after making that trade.
As I blogged last night after Luka dropped a cool 30 points in a single half
his usage is getting pretty insane. At 40.9%, it's the 2nd highest usage rate in NBA history. This is terrifying for two reasons as far as I'm concerned.
First, nobody is really showing they have the ability to stop Luka. He's now up to 36.7 points a game on 50% shooting while doing shit not seen since Jordan
so in terms of terrifying basketball forces, I'd say Luka qualifies. The fact that he's been this dominant while shooting like shit from three (22%) is pretty scary. What do thinks look like once he snaps out of that slump if this is what he's already doing??? That's scary as shit.
Secondly though, there is concern with a usage this high. I'm sure Mavs fans on some level are worried about burnout or what things might look like in the Spring if Luka has to carry the load like this offensively. For now, it's fine considering we're only in late October/early November. I'm just not sure you want that type of usage 3-4 months from now.
Jayson Tatum's efficiency
Finally, Jayson Tatum is starting the season by kicking all sorts of ass. Usually we don't see this version of Tatum until around December/January, so it's great to see he's been locked in since Day 1. The biggest difference in his season?
Tatum has learned how to putt
The most efficient volume scorer in the NBA? Jayson Tatum? Yeah, that's pretty terrifying. Considering we're used to a bunch of 4-19 type performances this time of year from Tatum, the fact that it's been the exact opposite has been a welcomed surprised, but is also pretty scary for opposing defenses. It's one thing to drop 30. It's another thing to drop an efficient 30 which is exactly what Tatum is currently doing.
Through his first 6 games we're seeing Tatum put up 30.8/7.3/3.5 on 55/40% splits with 3.3 3PM a night. He's essentially off to a career year and the fact that he's efficient while doing it is what makes him so terrifying for opposing defenses. How do you guard him if he's figured out how to be efficient? You can't, incase you were wondering.
Good bad teams
If you're a fan of a team that maybe isn't off to the best start this season, I have some bad news for you. It doesn't look like there are going to be as many easy wins as we thought this season. We all figured with Wembanyama on the horizon that teams would partake in historic tanking. Maybe that still happens, but so far? It's been the exact opposite
These tanking teams are not only actually trying, but they're winning. The Jazz have already taken down DEN/MIN/MEM. The Spurs have handled MIN (2x)/PHI/CHI. The Thunder beat LAC (2x)/DAL. Shit, even the Pistons beat the defending champs last night.
The point is, for the time being it certainly looks like none of these teams are going to be easy pushover wins. So if you're a team that has gotten off to a poor start, you can't exactly look for these teams on your schedule and think it'll be an automatic win. Considering the majority of these teams are in the West, that's a little scary for teams like GS/LAC/LAL who are all already under .500.
While it's true that the Warriors really don't have to care about the season until the Spring, it should be noted that their dropoff defensively is pretty scary. They lost Gary Payton II and some other role players who were able to hold their own and have gone with their youth movement and things are not exactly as flawless on that end.
The Warriors are giving up 122.0 point a night which is dead last in the West and would be dead last in the entire NBA if not for the Nets (122.2). Remember, this was the 3rd best defense in basketball last season and was a huge reason why they won the title. You can understand maybe giving up 134 to PHX or 128 to DEN, but the issue is the 120 to the Hornets and 128 to the Pistons. Even in their wins, they've given up 110, 125 and 109 points. This is a team who we regularly saw hold teams to under 100, and so far this year they haven't been close.
At the same time they won the title so I could understand not really being concerned as a Warriors fan. But to start the year that defensive regression is a little scary.
It's been a long time since Kawhi had his ACL procedure. The team has been overly cautious in his return which you would expect, but on some level wouldn't you be scared as a Clippers fan that he's still not back to playing a normal amount? Or said another way, are you at all scared that this version of how we see the Clippers use Kawhi is his new normal?
He's played in just 2 of the Clippers first 6 games, and when he did see the floor he's played only 21 minutes a night. He's off to his worst start shooting the ball at 44/16% and given how important he and George are to this team's success, that's an issue.
Part of you want to be rational and understand that his comeback might take some time, but on the other hand you would think with all this time off that Kawhi would look like….Kawhi. On some level you're probably a little nervous as a Clippers fan because not only are you sitting at 2-4, but your main building block still isn't even playing.
I'm sure there's more, but you get the idea. There's been a ton of truly terrifying aspects to this new NBA season that don't seem to be changing anytime soon, so I'll now pass it to you. What would you go with? It could be anything. How a team is playing, how certain guys look, a team's record, whatever.