3 Early Takeaways Just One Week into NBA Season By Ryan Kelsey
The 2020 -2021 NBA season tipped-off on December 22nd when the Brooklyn Nets took on the Golden State Warriors, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. The first of the two games was the first time that fans got the chance to see what a Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant led team would perform like and needless to say, it could not have gone better for Brooklyn. With that being said my first take just one week into the NBA season is…
When the Nets played the Warriors many fans and sports analysts were wondering what kind of performance Irving and Durant would put up during their first game together. Some, including myself, had a level of doubt that KD would be as dominant as he was earlier in his career after sustaining a ruptured right achilles tendon during the 2019 NBA Finals when he was a member of the Warriors. However, despite not playing a single game last season, Kevin Durant looked just as dominant as ever in his first game back since the injury as he had 22 points, and five rebounds in just 25 minutes of action. On the other hand, Kyrie added 26 points of his own, and ultimately helped lead the Nets to win their season opener by 26 points. Not to mention, besides just the dynamic duo of Kyrie and KD, the Nets have a deep roster in large part because of shooting guard, Caris LeVert, and power forward Jeff Green. It may be way too early to tell, but IF the Nets can stay healthy they have a legitimate chance of making the NBA Finals for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
After an offseason of rumors and speculations of where James Harden will play this season after requesting to be traded, nobody has any real idea of where he will end up, but we do know that he wants it to be anywhere but Houston. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Harden was hoping to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets so that Harden could team up with Irving, and Durant and form the next great “Big 3.” Harden and Durant were teammates when they both were on the Oklahoma City Thunder nearly a decade ago, so reuniting the two seemed like a good match, but after seeing how well the Nets have played as a whole in such a short period, there is no reason to trade away any pieces of the Nets roster to add Harden. As the saying goes, “Don’t fix what’s not broken” and what the Nets have right now is far from broken.
Without Brooklyn in the mix of teams wanting to trade for the 2017 MVP, Harden has made it no secret that he still wants to get out of Houston. The list of teams that Harden has added to his preferred destination seems to be getting longer and longer as the days go on as he has added the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat, and the Milwaukee Bucks, to his wish list of teams to play for, and now more recently has added the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers. Although Harden still has two years remaining on his contract, the Houston Rockets better trade Harden soon if they want to get anything valuable in return and with Harden dropping 44 points and dishing out 17 assists against Portland in the teams season opener, the ceiling on Harden is at its highest.
After the COVID-19 Pandemic shook up our world including the sports industry, things have not been the same. Granted that after a long break, sports finally have returned but not in the way that fans have been accustomed to in the past. Yes, the season is back and sports fans can lounge from their house and watch their teams play, but without actual fans in attendance of NBA arenas, there is something undeniably missing: the intensity and passion that fans bring to gameday.
Some teams across the league like the Atlanta Hawks have said that family and friends of the organization are the only ones allowed at State Farm Arena, and that just 10% of the arena's capacity will be allowed to be filled starting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On the other hand, teams like the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors have yet to announce their plans for fan attendance for the 2020 - 2021 season, while teams like the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and Los Angeles Lakers will not have any fans in attendance for the foreseeable future and will remain following state guidelines.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding if fans will be allowed back in arenas this season or not, one thing is certain: the NBA needs fans just as much as fans need the NBA. Watching games at home is nice and it is great to see progress being made, but the tempo and home court advantage is not what it used to be even just one-year ago. Arenas are quite, and it is hard to watch games when the players are not as pumped and hyped up after nailing a game winning shot like Jayson Tatum did for the Celtics on opening night, or not hearing a stadium chanting “Air ball” after arguably one of the greatest basketball players of all time, LeBron James, air-balled a free-throw. Outside of hoping that the pandemic comes to an end sooner rather than later, one can hang onto hope of being allowed back to basketball arenas as well.