Lakers performing like a play-in team, Sekou Doumbouya, a look back at the Hawks 2021 playoff run, and more.
1. The Lakers added a bunch of one dimensional players
I’ll be honest. I kind of overreacted to the absurd number of combined All Star appearances on this current Lakers roster going into the season. I thought it would translate into being a playoff team, but so far that’s clearly not the case. The Lakers are 17-19 at the moment and look more like a play-in team than a playoff one. Even when Anthony Davis was in the lineup before recently injuring his left knee, LA looked awful on defense. New additions like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Malik Monk bring a lot of offense with minimal defense, DeAndre Jordan & Dwight Howard aren’t the same rim protectors anymore, and Kent Bazemore & Wayne Ellington are nonexistent most of the time when they play. Austin Reaves & Avery Bradley have been the only new Lakers making a difference on both ends, so hopefully LA can get a much needed spark from Kendrick Nunn & Trevor Ariza when they’re back to 100%.
2. It’s hard to understand why the Pistons gave up on Sekou Doumbouya when you look at their current roster
Yes, GM Troy Weaver came to the Pistons in 2020 and didn’t draft Sekou Doumbouya (#15 pick in 2019), but it’s still difficult to understand how he didn’t see Sekou’s potential. Doumbouya is a 6’9”, 230 pound forward with a 6’11” wingspan who was drafted at just 18-years-old. He showed off impressive flashes in short minutes through his first two seasons, but unfortunately got traded to the Nets where he was waived and then waived again with the Lakers shortly after. In a season where he had a great chance to show what type of talent he really is due to rotation players like Jerami Grant & Kelly Olynyk getting injured and the team having an awful record, Sekou is instead out of the NBA at just 21-years-old.
3. It might be time for the Suns to start Cam Johnson over Jae Crowder
2019 Phoenix Suns lottery pick Cam Johnson is currently shooting the ball 42.8% from deep early on this season. Ever since the playoffs last season, veteran Jae Crowder has secured a spot in Phoenix’s starting lineup next to Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. There’s no doubt his basketball IQ and defense make a big impact, but Crowder has only shot the ball 40.4% from the field during his two years in Phoenix. Cam brings more size at 6’8” than Jae at 6’6” and clearly has the better jumper. A move to the bench shouldn’t mess up Crowder’s play due to his professionalism and past experiences coming off the bench. Keep an eye out to see if Monty Williams eventually makes that decision.
4. Hawks need to bring in defensive minded guys around Trae Young for the future, players aren’t consistent enough on offense to keep up poor defense
The Atlanta Hawks’ poor play in the 2021-22 regular season certainly makes you wonder just how in the world did this team make the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, but it might be a little simpler than you think. Besides Trae Young’s offensive explosion throughout the run (28.8 PPG & 9.5 APG), Atlanta was also getting productive offense from just about everyone in their lineup. During the first two rounds of the playoffs, center Clint Capela shot 60.9% from the field while power forward John Collins shot 54.3%, and guards Kevin Huerter & Lou Williams shot over 40.0% from three while veteran forward Danilo Gallinari shot 39.0%. Bogdan Bogdanovic was the only rotation player who didn’t shoot it well (39.3% FG), but he still made an impact by averaging 13.8 PPG. However, Atlanta’s next series was going to be based more on defense than offense, as Giannis & Trae Young both went down and the Bucks clearly showed they had more players that take pride on both ends.
5. Charlotte’s offense could make them a scary play-in/playoff team if they keep games close until the 4th quarter
If I had to pick a team from the East right now that could make a run like the Atlanta Hawks did last season, I would pick the Charlotte Hornets based on their electric offense. Yes, Charlotte is giving up the most PPG in the NBA at an atrocious 116.1 per game and clearly need to improve on defense, but their offense is even more talented than Atlanta’s and they made it all the way to the East Finals. LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, and Kelly Oubre are scoring the ball at a very high clip (all averaging over 16.0 PPG) while PJ Washington, Jalen McDaniels, Cody Martin, and James Bouknight have shot over 40.0% from deep this season. Not to mention, veterans like Mason Plumlee and Ish Smith (both dishing out over 2.5 APG) have been super efficient as well.