The NBA is simply the best professional sports league in the world (yes, I checked), and unsurprisingly there’s quite a lot to cover in the first three days of the 2018-19 season. Although we’re mostly obsessed with the Detroit Pistons here, it never hurts to take a closer look at the competition. Here are some notes from around the NBA.
Old friend Aron Baynes is still shooting threes and making them
Baynes was 2-4 from downtown on opening night versus the 76ers. If you remember during last season’s playoffs, Baynes started shooting threes for the first time in his career and finished up the postseason from three with an impressive 11-23 mark. And now the Baynes from deep show continues. The Celtics, with Al Horford and now Aron Baynes both as threats from deep, make it an overall tough matchup for Joel Embiid, no matter who’s out there, forcing him to step out (or not) and work in space more than he would like.
Kemba Walker is 28 years old and needs to be freed already
It’s been said and written ad nauseam, but what is the Charlotte Hornets franchise trying to do? Mediocre basketball doesn’t even begin to explain what’s been happening there for the last several, several years. What’s the plan? Is there one? Kemba had a stellar game on opening night with 40 points on 29 shots, but the Hornets fell to the Bucks. Kemba has very little help on a yearly basis, and while Malik Monk showed signs late last season (and in game one) and rookie Miles Bridges also looks to be somewhat enticing, it’s just likely too little, too late. FREE KEMBA.
Last night was Kemba Walker's 10th career 40-point game, matching Klay Thompson's career total and passing Reggie Miller's https://t.co/HWCXFdrYGM pic.twitter.com/Lor04VDVJe— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) October 18, 2018
Julius Randle is making roughly 8.6 millions dollars this season
What a bargain. Randle, with his developing outside game and expanding ball handling ability, seems to be just what the doctor ordered for a Pelicans team with an already excellent fitting frontcourt duo in Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis. You’re getting a bit of everything by adding in Randle. The Pelicans may have quite the top-heavy roster, but they’re certainly dangerous.
Big-time sequence from Julius Randle and a big-time debut in a Pelicans uniform: 23 points (8-for-13 FG, 2-for-3 from 3), 8 rebounds, 3 assists in just 22 minutes (still 3:41 remaining) pic.twitter.com/XPkOax8pdD— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) October 18, 2018
Nik Stauskas — competent NBA player?
Thursday night in Portland saw LeBron James and the Lakers as visitors — and that was a big deal. Yet in the first half Nik Stauskas (Go Blue!), was Mr. Confident, darting around the court hitting threes left and right (4-6 from downtown) en route to 16 first half points for the Trail Blazers.
Nik Stauskas stealing LeBron's shine in his first game as a Laker just like everyone expected pic.twitter.com/j24D7x3PTX— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 19, 2018
Stauskas finished with 24 points on 11 shots in the Portland victory. It’s Nik’s fifth year in the league, so perhaps he has legitimately turned the corner in terms of dealing with confidence issues that have, in part, stifled his career to date. It’s just game one of 82. We’ll see. And make no mistake, Nik showed off his dribble drive game, too — it wasn’t just all long tequila bombs.
JaVale McGee will be a huge key for Lakers success
McGee, a Flint, Michigan native, resurrected his career with the Golden State Warriors the last two seasons and now he’s with the Lakers as their starting center. His length and athleticism can be insane and when he’s giving full effort there are not a ton of players who can affect a game like he can at both ends. If the Lakers are to make the playoffs in the deep Western Conference, they’ll need every bit of McGee’s shot blocking and overall energy they can get.
Javale McGee blocks Damian Lillard, then hustles for fast break dunk pic.twitter.com/TBoNx4O5B6— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 19, 2018
Sometimes, though, you just have to take your medicine.
Al-Farouq Aminu on JaVale’s head pic.twitter.com/7vtCOSpvGZ— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 19, 2018
Let us know what you noticed during the first few days of the season.