Since the 2022–23 NBA regular season has been underway for over a complete two weeks, there has already been enough basketball played to highlight the worst early-season slipups.
Every inclusion originates from feelings of failure. If you’re surprised by how terribly things are going for the Brooklyn Nets or the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m actually more worried about you than either of them.
We can’t really argue too much about a side that is just above .500 and has a top-five offense that was predicted to decline. However, Dallas’ defense has significantly deteriorated, and head coach Jason Kidd is either trying to torture Mavs supporters or is actively experimenting with the rotation.
This team is all kinds of strange and scary, from too much JaVale McGee to Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway Jr. shooting a greater percentage on threes than twos to Luka Doncic’s outside clip sinking after the first quarter.
Jamal Murray is working to reshape his form after missing last year with an ACL injury. But, just like in the preseason, the defense is having trouble. Despite just playing one top-10 offensive, Denver ranks 26th in terms of points allowed per possession. While it’s possible that opponents are hitting their long shots on purpose (39.8% on above-the-break threes), the lack of resistance at the rim is worrying. Only four teams allow more wide-open threes than the Nuggets, who rank 27th in opponent field-goal percentage at the basket and have had trouble controlling the ball.
Chris Paul is downing 22.2% of his zero-dribble triples and 28.6% of his wide-open threes to go along with a 38% clip from mid-range.
Golden State Warriors
As expected, the Golden State Warriors aren’t enjoying a decent start with Leeway must be given to GSW.
Defeats to the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets are not considerable. It’s more concerning that the Charlotte Hornets lost in overtime. One night later losing to the Detroit Pistons falls somewhere in the middle; it was the second night of a back-to-back on the road, but it was also the Pistons, who are entertaining and intriguing but not yet terrific.
Currently, Golden State’s offensive and defensive efficiency are both outside the top 15 in the league. After making a shot, the Warriors rank 27th in terms of points allowed per possession. Golden State hasn’t precisely been all-in on squad development; Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody haven’t seen much action, but the overall result of their efforts feels a little disturbing.
Los Angeles Clippers
A few of the L.A. Clippers’ early-season struggles must end. Kawhi Leonard’s health cannot deteriorate further. Reggie Jackson probably won’t continue to refine the bottom of his rim finishing for a very long time. He will likely drill more than 22% of his long twos as well.
Despite not yet being a floor-spacer, John Wall is converting nearly 58 percent of his twos. Despite dealing with numerous absences and possessing the space and resources to force more turnovers, the Clippers rank sixth in points allowed per possession. They may be a giant when they are asleep.
The Clippers’ style of play is still too inconsistent. They don’t produce much volume at the rim or from deep, and relying solely on mid-range shots will only get you so far if you aren’t strong at another level.
The Philadelphia 76ers have accomplished a lot by getting back to.500. They had many second-guessing their title predictions when they opened the season 1-4. It’s encouraging to have three victories in a row over the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards. especially considering that Joel Embiid missed two of those three victories.
At the same time as he is playing excessively and still receiving criminally little use, Tyrese Maxey appears to be an All-Star. De’Anthony Melton, P.J. Tucker, and Tobias Harris all shoot about 1 trillion percent from three.
James Harden is a different player now; less than 33 percent of his triples are being made, and his percentage of looks at the rim has dropped to an all-time low. He’s still extremely excellent, too. Even at substantially lower octane speed, defenses still get worked up when he rushes, and he’s downing 37.5% of his step-back-threes.
The Heat have a weak defense and offense, and sit comfortably below.500. This goes beyond P.J. Tucker fleeing to Philadelphia and Victor Oladipo sitting out the first few games of the season.
Evenings, when Kyle Lowry performs best, are becoming rarer. Will he make 3-of-8 from three or 1-of-4? We lack certainty. In comparison to the previous season, Bam Adebayo is taking fewer shots and attempting fewer free throws per 36 minutes, and he has more turnovers (25) than assists (19). Outside of the starting lineup, Caleb Martin-at-the-4 configurations have generally not been successful.
Duncan Robinson lost steam after a promising beginning. Although Omer Yurtseven’s ankle sprain feels serious and is quite concerning, at least we have a glimpse of Nikola Jovic. Miami must trade its way into a new rotation.