The NBA season is now officially underway and the action has been fast and furious. Now a week in, and just a few days away from the in-season tournament, we’ve seen enough of each team to make a bit of an assumption of their expectations. Ok, you got me, let’s not take these too seriously. But through the first few games I’ve made a first week overreaction for every team. There’s a lot of basketball left to play, but teams and fans should certainly take note of some things that they can fix quickly.
Atlanta Hawks first week overreaction: Trae Young looks shaky
Trae Young has accomplished a lot in five years. He’s a two-time all-star, made an all-NBA team, and even led Atlanta to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021. He’s, without question, the franchise player for the Hawks. But has he already hit his peak? So far through three games, he’s shooting an abysmal 13 for 49 from the field (26.5%) and 6 for 22 from three (27.3%).
Now, this is the first full season under head coach Quin Snyder’s system, and they also traded John Collins this offseason to make room for rising young talent like De’Andre Hunter and Jalen Johnson. Young has had slumps before, so he’s sure to pick it up later in the season.
Panic Level: Atlanta business owners when they heard Keith Lee was in town
Boston Celtics first week overreaction: The bench needs help and fast
Boston is undefeated through the first week of the season. Jayson Tatum is still a superstar. Kristaps Porzingis looks like he’s set for a resurgence to his all-star form. But one number sticks out for Boston through their first few games. Bench points. The Celtics have scored 227 points so far this season, they have 20 bench points.
Now sure they have one of the most well-rounded starting lineups in the NBA, but they can’t afford to play their superstar 40 minutes per game to have a chance to win games. It’s working for now, but the Celtics should probably add a bench scorer or two moving forward.
Panic Level: Medium, but still the city’s best team
Brooklyn Nets first week overreaction: They need a true first scoring option
The Nets are winless through their first two games, and seem to be the unluckiest to start the season as well. A red-hot Cam Thomas was cooled off by some questionable rotation changes in their loss to Cleveland. And against Dallas, they fell victim to a Luka magic circus shot that capped off a 49-point night.
Thomas looks like he’s set to star in a bigger role offensively, but Mikal Bridges’ early struggles give cause for concern. The East got better all-around and the Nets are going to need to rely on a go-to guy if they want to make a playoff push.
Panic Level: Low, as long as Cam Thomas plays
Charlotte Hornets first week overreaction: No Miles, no problem
The Hornets had a very exhausting offseason. Dealing with the sale of the team, to the Miles Bridges case getting new information, to Kai Jones having his social media episode. But they’ve looked pretty much unaffected by the outside noise.
A fully healthy LaMelo Ball might not be shooting well, but as a playmaker he’s making everyone play better. PJ Washington has taken a massive leap, putting up 19.0 points per game through their first two games. Not to mention that Brandon Miller seems to be transitioning seamlessly to the NBA.
Panic Level: Nonexistent
Chicago Bulls first week overreaction: This core is coming to an end
The Bulls entered this season with a lot of uncertainty. They extended the contract of 33-year-old Nikola Vucevic through 2026. DeMar DeRozan just turned 34 himself. The contention window felt firmly closed after missing the playoffs last year, and they decided to run it back.
The results so far? A blowout loss at home to Oklahoma City, which led to a players-only meeting. A wasted 51-point performance from Zach LaVine in a loss to Detroit. And a coach who seems to have lost the locker room. Woof.
Panic Level: Seeing red
Cleveland Cavaliers first week overreaction: Injury bugs and back-to-backs
Donovan Mitchell. Jarrett Allen. Darius Garland. All three have already missed games due to nagging injuries. They’ve already played 3 games, all within a 4 day span, with another back-to-back coming up this week.
1-2 isn’t an ideal start but if this injury bug can stop biting them, they’ll be back on track towards being atop the Eastern conference.
Panic Level: Hating the schedule makers
Dallas Mavericks first week overreaction: Luka Doncic for MVP
The Dallas Mavericks are undefeated. Luka Doncic is averaging 41.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. It’s pretty simple. If this Mavs team is a powerhouse in the West and Luka continues his magic, he will certainly add Most Valuable Player to his already impressive trophy case.
Hype Level: MAXIMUM
Denver Nuggets first week overreaction: Back-to-Back Champions
The Nuggets look just as dangerous right now as they did in June. Nikola Jokic took home player of the week honors averaging 26.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists. And Jamal Murray is still red-hot shooting the ball, posting splits of 54.5% from the field and 53.3% from three.
The Nuggets are undisputedly the team to beat this season.
Hype Level: A Mile High
Detroit Pistons first week overreaction: Jalen Duren all-star season loading
Jalen Duren is younger than five of the top ten picks from the 2023 NBA Draft. Through three games, he has scored 54 points, grabbed 46 rebounds, blocked eight shots and has made 24 of his 30 field goal attempts. Not to mention, aiding the Pistons to a 2-1 record along the way.
Cade Cunningham has emerged as a star, Ausar Thompson looks to be elite defensively, but Duren is truly anchoring this team down low. And the 19-year-old could be set for an all-star debut if he keeps it up.
Hype Level: 19 years in the making
Golden State Warriors first week overreaction: Jonathan Kuminga is ready to start
The Warriors have already toyed around with a few different lineup combinations. Chris Paul looks like he’s officially ready to transition to a sixth man role. But one switch I think needs to be considered is giving the former seventh overall pick a chance to start.
Kuminga led the league in preseason scoring, but so far this year is putting up 11.0 points per game on 44.4% from the field. While Draymond Green adds defensive versatility, I think he’d be a better fit aiding that second unit.
Panic Level: TBD
Houston Rockets first week overreaction: Wasted money and wasted draft picks
The Rockets have had a top four draft pick for the last three years, drafting Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Amen Thompson. This summer, they spent a combined $208 million on Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks. And so far, the team is winless and looking pretty terrible in the process.
VanVleet is shooting 37%, his lowest since his rookie campaign. Jabari Smith isn’t doing much better. And Jalen Green is in year three and still looking shaky offensively and making rookie mistakes with his team-leading 3.3 turnovers per game. The Rockets are looking like a contender for one of the worst teams, in a relatively weak draft class. Not good.
Panic Level: Houston, we have a problem
Indiana Pacers first week overreaction: The most depth in the NBA
The Indiana Pacers have the complete opposite problem that the Boston Celtics have. They won their first two games in pretty impressive fashion, putting up 143 points against the Wizards and 125 points against Cleveland.
They have seven players averaging double digit points per game, and Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard are averaging a combined 19 assists per game. The playoff talks seem to be real with this unit.
Hype Level: Over (Indy) 500
Los Angeles Clippers first week overreaction: Bones Hyland for 6MOTY
The Clippers are good. That’s no surprise. Kawhi Leonard is fully healthy, Paul George is playing out of his mind on both sides of the ball. But somehow the most impressive part of it all has been Bones Hyland and his spark plug offense off the bench.
Through three games he’s averaging 15.7 points on 51.4% from the field. With his microwave offense, he seems like an early favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Hype Level: Bone-rattling
Los Angeles Lakers first week overreaction: Austin Reaves was a one-year wonder
Austin Reaves truly had a breakout season last year. He was a two-way stud who ascended in the playoffs, averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on a red-hot 44% from three during the Lakers’ Western Conference Finals run.
But this year he’s nowhere to be found. He’s only made nine of his 30 shot attempts and is averaging 9.7 points per game as a third option. Was last year just a Linsanity run?
Panic Level: LeBron is turning 39 in two months, get him some help
Memphis Grizzlies first week overreaction: Ja’s suspension will cause them to miss the playoffs
The Grizzlies were hit with some heavy losses before the season even began. Ja Morant is serving a 25-game suspension for flashing a gun on Instagram. Steven Adams is out for the season with a knee injury. Brandon Clarke is still out with an achilles injury. And the Grizzlies are winless through three games.
Sure one loss was to the defending champions, but one loss was also to the Washington Wizards. They’re going to have to try and right the ship until Morant comes back, or else they’ll already be kissing their postseason dreams goodbye.
Panic Level: Come back in 22 games
Miami Heat first week overreaction: Emo Jimmy isn’t very good at basketball
The Heat came into the season in a position that not many Finals runner-ups have been. They were major players in the Damian Lillard trade talks, but walked out with no major upgrades and Jimmy Butler cosplaying as Brendon Urie.
Butler already took a rest day three games into the season, but not before shooting nine for 29 to start the season. The Heat need to be buyers, but they also need Jimmy Butler to start treating the regular season like he treats the playoffs.
Panic! Level: High Hopes
Milwaukee Bucks first week overreaction: Giannis and Dame still need time
The Bucks looked very very good in their first game against the 76ers. Then they looked very very bad in their second game against the Hawks. Damian Lillard had a 39-point, 0-turnover performance and followed it up with a 6-point, 6-turnover performance.
But is it something to worry about? No, it’s just growing pains. Trust and believe the Bucks are still contenders.
Panic Level: As low as the temperature in Milwaukee
Minnesota Timberwolves first week overreaction: Anthony Edwards is not a Top 20 player
The Timberwolves split their first two games this season, and their supporting cast has been stellar so far. Naz Reid is second on the team in scoring putting up 17.5 points per game. But their franchise player Anthony Edwards has been a bit quiet.
His 27 shots to get 26 points against Toronto was part of the reason they lost their season opener. And given the expectations that Edwards had coming into the season, I don’t think he’s quite ready to fill those shoes just yet.
Panic Level: More worried about the Vikings (Heal up, Kirk Cousins)
New Orleans Pelicans first week overreaction: ZION WILLIAMSON IS HERE (No, actually this time)
Zion Williamson through his first four years was the ultimate what-if guy. The Pelicans have always been a threat when he’s healthy, but his health is his biggest weakness. But so far this season he’s reminding everyone why he was once the most highly touted prospect since LeBron James.
Zion and Brandon Ingram have scored 44% of the Pelicans points so far this season.
Hype Level: Future as bright as their neon jerseys
New York Knicks first week overreaction: Julius Randle has fallen off (again)
Julius Randle is one of the most interesting players in the NBA. He’s a two-time all-star, two-time All-NBA, and former Most Improved Player. But he’s had this recent trend where he’s only a high-level player every other year.
In his breakout 2021 season, he averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game shooting 45.6% from the field. In 2022, those numbers dropped to 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists on 41.1%. In 2023, they rose again to 25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists on 45.9%. So far through three games in 2024 he’s averaging 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists on 27.7%.
Sure, RJ Barrett has looked good, but the Knicks are sitting at 1-2 and they’ll need their all-star to return to form if they want to make another playoff run.
Panic Level: To normal fans, moderate. To Knicks fans like myself, MAYDAY!
Oklahoma City Thunder first week overreaction: Chet Holmgren for DPOY
One thing that last year’s Thunder team was missing was a premiere interior threat defensively. Insert last season’s number two overall pick, Chet Holmgren. Now sure, Victor Wembanyama has stolen the rookie spotlight, but Holmgren earned some eyes with his seven block performance against Cleveland.
OKC already has a superstar with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Now they have a franchise big that could already be the best rim protector in the league.
Hype Level: It feels like 2010 again
Orlando Magic first week overreaction: 2015 Hawks in a different font
The Orlando Magic felt like a team that was due to breakout. They absolutely hit on their latest draft picks in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, but the rest of the team is really impressive thus far. They’re undefeated, and everyone is getting their touches.
This team’s balance of youth and veterans, along with their depth, makes them look like they can be a dark horse in the Eastern conference.
Hype Level: Disney World
Philadelphia 76ers first week overreaction: Tyrese Maxey for MIP
The James Harden fiasco has been annoying for the entire summer. Everyone in Philadelphia is sick of Harden’s shenanigans at this point, except for Tyrese Maxey. Maxey also took home player of the week honors averaging 30.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists through the first three games.
He’s been unstoppable as the primary ball handler, and depending on how the Harden situation plays out, Maxey could be primed for an all-star appearance and is a favorite for the Most Improved Player.
Hype Level: Allen Iverson
Phoenix Suns first week overreaction: El Valle Emergency Room
Kevin Durant has played in all three games so far this season. Devin Booker has played in one. Bradley Beal has yet to make his Suns debut. This cannot continue if Phoenix wants home court advantage in the playoffs.
Yes, Eric Gordon has stepped up. Yes, Kevin Durant is still putting up nearly 28 points a night. But this team shouldn’t have to rely on the 35-year-old to carry them to wins.
Panic Level: Josh Okogie leads the team in win shares
Portland Trail Blazers first week overreaction: Where is Scoot Henderson?
With Damian Lillard being shipped out, the door was wide open for Scoot Henderson to step into as the new franchise point guard in Portland. When Anfernee Simons went down in the first game, Henderson was practically shoved through the door.
How has he responded? 22 points in three games. Nine assists and 13 turnovers. 8% from three. Not the start you want from your third overall pick.
Panic Level: Sp00ky
Sacramento Kings first week overreaction: Rename the Clutch Player of the Year trophy to the De’Aaron Fox trophy
Sacramento’s all-star point guard just doesn’t cease to amaze in the fourth quarter. In a slugfest against the Lakers, Fox put up 13 of the team’s 28 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
The Kings will be missing Fox for some time moving forward as he’s nursing an ankle injury, but they have a fighting chance in any game he suits up in.
Hype Level: Light the Beam
San Antonio Spurs first week overreaction: Victor Wembanyama isn’t a needle-mover (yet)
The most hyped draft prospect since LeBron James hit the scene with an exhilarating…15 points. Maybe our expectations were a bit too high for the Frenchman, but that by no means makes him a disappointment.
Every rookie earns their stake in the association, and Wembanyama should grow as the season progresses.
Panic Level: As long as Popovich is in charge, nonexistent.
Toronto Raptors first week overreaction: It’s Scottie’s team now
The Raptors don’t really have expectations coming into this season. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have seemingly lived in trade talks for the last two years. But one constant Toronto always said was that Scottie Barnes was untouchable. And now we see why.
Barnes has taken over as the number one guy in Toronto so far this season. He’s leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks and is second to only Dennis Schroder in assists. He could even be a dark horse all-star candidate if he keeps things up.
Hype Level: Jurassic
Utah Jazz first week overreaction: The most directionless team in the NBA
The Jazz are exactly what they were at the end of last season. Lauri Markkanen is a proven all-star. Walker Kessler is a defensive stud. John Collins is a serviceable tertiary scorer. But overall they haven’t really been too impressive.
They strike me as a team that will once again be deadline sellers, attempting to stack up draft capital to prepare for the future of the organization.
Panic Level: Trust in Danny Ainge
Washington Wizards first week overreaction: Jordan Poole is the most erratic first option in the NBA
Jordan Poole has scored 45 points in two games, with the team going 1-1 in those games. That’s pretty solid until you realize that he’s taken 41 shots. The Wizards entered this season clearly looking to reset in a post-Beal era, and giving the keys to Poole is a good place to start.
Poole will look phenomenal at several points during this season, but Wizards fans better be prepared to see several sub-40 shooting nights to get there.
Panic Level: Presidential
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