Now that we’ve had the first night of NBA games, it’s time to overreact to this extremely small sample size! Breaking down Kyrie’s and Fultz’s disappointing start to the season and OKC’s shocking success without Westbrook and Roberson:
Kyrie is the 3rd best player on the Celtics
After his abysmal opening night where he finished with a stat line of 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists on just 2 of 14 shooting, including going 1 for 8 from three, the Kyrie Irving hate has reached its peak. On the other hand, Jayson Tatum dropped 23 points on 9 for 17 shooting and Al Horford had 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting with 5 blocks. This season, Tatum appears to be more suited as a number one scoring option and Horford offers more value than Kyrie because of his efficient post scoring and defensive abilities. The lack of Kyrie’s all-around game is a problem highlighted tonight, without his scoring he offers almost no value. Although his 7 assists were very respectable, he also had 3 turnovers and did not offer any value on defense. Opening night proved that Tatum is able to step up and become a star while Kyrie will continue to live in the shadow of others.
Markelle Fultz is a bust
Even though he had a disappointing rookie year due to his mystery injury people expected Fultz to come back strong. Last night, the hopes of him becoming a star quickly faded. His jump shot still looked unnatural and he did not attempt a single three. Being the #1 overall pick expectations were high, but Fultz has failed to reach them. He shot just 2 of 7 from the field and 1 of 2 from the free throw line. He has an elite physical profile, but it appears as if the skills that got him to the NBA completely disappeared. Although this is concerning, at the very least he still showed signs of defensive prowess and cutting ability. Fultz is only 20 and has time to completely rework his shot to become a serviceable NBA starter.
OKC is the Second Best in the West
The Warriors confirmed everybody’s fear last night that they are nearly unbeatable. But, OKC also showed an ability to hang with them despite missing their best player and best defender. Schroeder’s play was extremely promising as he scored 21 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 6 assists. If he is able to continue similar levels of production as a sixth man, the Thunder will be scary good.
Another positive for the Thunder was their defense. Even without Andre Roberson, they held the Warriors under 110 points. Only Steph Curry and Kevin Durant were able to go off on offense and when Roberson returns whoever he’s guarding would have a much harder time scoring. Last season they had the 5th best defense with Roberson and the 9th best defense by the end of the season. Not to mention they also had Carmelo Anthony who was a huge liability on defense. The removal of Anthony and addition of Roberson makes this team one of the best defensive teams on paper. If Roberson manages to stay healthy after he returns, this team will be a legitimate threat in the West.