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NBA First Reactions

Looking over the first few days of the fresh NBA season
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The long wait is over. Shoes are officially laced up, NBA twitter fingers are ravenously typing, and we’re full steam ahead into the 2019 NBA season. It’s never smart to draw too much from the first games, but refraining would be no fun and the NBA is better when we’re having fun. So here’s a bunch of reactions—some obvious, some ridiculous—to what we’ve seen so far.

Simple Observations: The “You saw it, I saw it, so let’s acknowledge it” tier

Kawhi Leonard is still very good at basketball

The Clippers have played two basketball games so far. Kawhi was there for both but the game he was playing was many levels more advanced than basketball. His ability to get to his spot and drain shots regardless of the defense is astounding (but also not when you consider he’s just a robot programmed to get buckets). He’s the best player on probably the best team in the NBA. His MVP odds are a tasty +950 here on Oddschecker. Hard to pass on that after what he’s shown us this week.

Referees are calling more technical fouls

The players’ open disrespect of officials has been a growing problem, and it seems the NBA is finally taking action. And unless you enjoy watching Kyle Lowry barrel recklessly into defenders and berate the official after not getting the call, this is a good thing. The combination of slow-motion replay and NBA twitter has made it seem like refs are missing a lot of calls—except they’re not. In fact, they’ve never ever been more accurate than they are right now. According to NBA data, they get about 95% of their calls correct. And since the players feel entitled to disparage refs for missing 5% of their calls, I think the refs should get 5% of a player’s salary if they ever shoot below 95% from the field. Fair’s fair.

Lukewarm Takes: The “I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m right” tier

This is the most talented rookie class since 2003

There was a lot of talk about the 2019 class being too top heavy; these young guys are having none of that. The freshman class have looked very impressive so far and the best one isn’t even going to play for another 2 months (lose some weight already Zion). There were three rookies who put up over 20, including a 27-point explosion from PJ Washington. Hachimura notched a double-double. Tyler Herro made a guy fall. These guys look zero-percent afraid of the moment and ready to make some noise right away.

These coach’s challenges are a bad idea

You’d think the NBA would have learned from the NFL’s wildly unsuccessful debut of challenging penalties but it’s clear they haven’t. The coaches’ allotted challenges are meant to mitigate the once-in-a-while blatant missed call; instead they’re killing game flow, proving referees correct, and highlighting the ever-blurring line between a charge and a block. Let’s bury this one wherever the universe buried Markelle Fultz’s jumpshot.

Reckless Overreactions: The “I will not be held responsible for anything you read past this point” tier

The Celtics were holding Kyrie Irving back

Kyrie Irving came a couple bounces away from putting up one of the greatest new-team debuts in history. Despite that gut-wrenching miss, his 50-burger sent a shockwave beyond his adoring Brooklyn fans and through the NBA universe. How did Kemba do back in Boston? 12 points on 4-18 shooting (whoops). Kyrie is going to thrive in a p&r offense with athletic bigs at his disposal, and every big game will push back against the narrative that he was the problem in his time in Boston. NBA fans have a very short memory, and it seems we’re only a couple months from everyone needling the Celtics for blowing it with Kyrie.

It’s time to give up on Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball

Can they be serviceable NBA players? Yes, absolutely. Will they be stars? No, and it’s time to stop making excuses for them. Lonzo Ball is an injury-prone player with a dreadful shooting motion and Brandon Ingram is graduating with honors from the Andrew Wiggins’ “School of Scoring 20 Points Without Affecting the Game.” Let’s just do it—let’s move on. I promise it’s going to feel so good.


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