The NBA is now three games into the season for most teams, and while there is still the overwhelming majority of the season in the future, there are definite tell-tale signs of troubles yet to come.
Obviously, if the team’s limited amount of games were both or all against elite NBA teams like Cleveland or Golden State can’t be judged too harshly, but there are definitely some teams who should start looking in the mirror with a critical eye.
Record: 1-2 (win vs. Philadelphia, losses vs. Cleveland, Milwaukee)
Boston has played three tough games for different reasons, but the concern is from both the record and the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward. Even Jaylen Brown’s excellent start (17.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) to the season hasn’t been enough to lift the C’s over a Bucks team they should be able to beat.
Even without Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are still expected to be a top team in the East, and a 1-2 start is not ideal. The Celtics still have two healthy all-stars in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. That’s more than most teams can say.
New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 1-2 (win vs. Los Angeles Lakers, losses vs. Golden State, Memphis)
New Orleans went all in on DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis last season. The Golden State loss is understandable, but losing to a Grizzlies team that lost Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and others from last and previous seasons? Unacceptable.
There is no reason that to win against the Lakers, it takes 8/9 shooting from E’Twaun Moore, and a 34-22 initial first quarter lead. The Lakers are not even in the same stage of the rebuilding cycle as the win-now Pelicans.
In their losses, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins averaged a combined 65.5 points, 29.5 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game. The fact that that resulted in no wins is shocking, and an indicator of a deprived surrounding talent base.
Golden State Warriors
Record: 1-2 (win vs. New Orleans, losses vs. Memphis, Houston)
Golden State should be at the pinnacle of their NBA dominance. There is no longer an adjustment period for Kevin Durant joining the Warriors. In fact, there was barely an adjustment period for Nick Young. Young came into the opener against Houston and had 23 points on 8/9 shooting and 6/7 from three.
Still, Golden State, the most talented team in the NBA has now gone 0-2, including a loss to the Rockets in which future hall of famer Chris Paul had just 4 points. The Warriors under-performance has already caused stars Steph Curry and Durant to leave a game early, which leads one to wonder whether ensuing mental and emotional troubles will plague this team.
Record: 0-3 (losses vs. Portland, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers)
Phoenix, even though they are still rebuilding should be most concerned. Earl Watson, the Suns’ head coach is now fired after three games, and the team has shown no ability to play any kind of defense. They have lost each game by an average of 30.7 points per game, including the league’s largest margin of defeat in NBA history for a season opener with Phoenix’ 124-76 loss to Portland.
This team was supposed to take a step forward defensively with Josh Jackson added to the roster and their veterans reactivated from last season, but that has not been the case. Phoenix has no direction right now, as even its franchise players and blocks have not played defense. Portland and both Los Angeles teams are not exceptionally good teams. Above average would be a compliment to any of them.