My initial prediction for this team was 42-40. The loss of Dante Exum hurts. Nothing I saw in that Detroit game dissuades me from rethinking my initial prediction. The Utah Jazz are usually going to beat the bad teams and lose to the good teams, and it looks like this is the year that Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons are going to make the jump, a season sooner than I thought they would.
First, the positives. Rudy Gobert held his own against Andre Drummond. Drummond was projected by #NBARank to be the 30th best player this year, higher than Hayward or anyone else on the Jazz. We saw him destroy the Hawks, and he did well against the Jazz, but for his 18 points 10 rebounds 2 blocks, Rudy got 6 points 12 rebounds 3 blocks.
Raul Neto’s a decent defender. He was a +12 against Reggie Jackson’s -5. Neto’s 8 points and 3 assists don’t seem like much, but he looked like he belonged on an NBA floor. I also liked watching Alec Burks in attack mode in the fourth quarter.
But let’s talk about Derrick Favors. 26 points 6 rebounds 1 assist 1 steal 1 block. He had his way out there.
The concerns? Gordon Hayward didn’t fully, mentally check into this game. He was only 3-6 from the free-throw line and he had a hard time adjusting the way the refs were calling the game. (It felt like the Pistons set an NBA record in taking charges. Did they hire Manu Ginobili as a consultant in the off-season?)
Trey Burke couldn’t do much in his 15 minutes (where he was -15). There’s a real question still out there: can Trey Burke and Alec Burks co-exist? I’m inclined to think Burke-Hood and Neto-Burks are the better combos, and I’m looking forward to more games to test this theory. But Burke and Burks are both players that do better with the ball in their hands. Also, Rodney Hood was 0-7 from 3. The only 3-pointers made by a Jazzman were the two from Raul Neto.
Trey Lyles didn’t look ready, going -15 in only 8 minutes. This was a game where I believe the Jazz could’ve won if they’d had Trevor Booker out there for those minutes instead.
I expect the Jazz to go to Philly, win by 20, and all will be right with the world.
Around the NBA:
#WASatORL – Wizards win 88-87
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 46 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 steals. The Magic’s starting lineup still looks bad, but Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja provided great sparks off the bench.
#PHIatBOS – Celtics win 112-95
Jahlil Okafor had 26 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 8 turnovers. I expect him to get great stats all year, and I expect the Sixers to finish with the worst record in the NBA. Isaiah Thomas had 27 points for the Celts. Rookie Terry Rozier came on for garbage time. He’s going to get hsi share of DNP’s.
#CHIatBRK – Bulls win 115-100
The Bulls deeeee-stroyed the Nets through three quarters, then played even with them. The one bright spot with the Nets was rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had their +/- high at +16.
#CHAatMIA – Heat win 104-94
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh played like their All-Star selves, and Gerald Green was big for them off the bench. Justise Winslow had a highlight-worthy dunk for his first NBA points. The Hornets can at least point to the progress of Cody Zeller, who had 7 points and 12 rebounds.
#INDatTOR – Raptors win 106-99
The Pacers’ starting lineup is George Hill, Monta Ellis, CJ Miles, Paul George, and Ian Mahinmi. They might weigh less than any other starting lineup in the NBA. PG13 looks fully healthy, getting 18 points 12 rebounds 8 assists 3 steals. It wasn’t enough against Toronto’s new Big Four. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas all scored over 20 points, and DeMarre Carroll had 14 points 8 rebounds, 4 assists and pesky perimeter defense. Delon Wright was a DNP.
#DENatHOU – Nuggets win 105-85
The Rockets didn’t have Dwight Howard, but is that any excuse to lose on your home floor opening night against a lottery team like the Nuggets? The Nuggets that gave you Ty Lawson for peanuts? The Nuggets that were also missing Jusuf Nurkic? Emmanuel Mudiay showed that Denver made the right decision, dropping 17 and 9 in a well-balanced Nugget attack. Gallo had 23, Faried had 18.
#CLEatMEM – Cavaliers win 106-76
You don’t want to play LeBron after he loses. The Cavs had their way with the Grizzlies since the tip-off. The Grizzlies have no outside shooters and a thin bench. Love and Mozgov outplayed Randolph and Gasol with ease.
#NYKatMIL – Knicks win 122-97
Is this about the Knicks being better than expected, or the Bucks being worse? Bucks were without Jabari Parker and the Greek Freak. MCW and Greg Monroe combined for 42 points 19 rebounds 8 assists, but Kristaps Porzingis was great, and the Knicks’ bench, led by Derrick Williams, Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas (you read that right!) put the game away. Kyle O’Quinn had 7 offensive rebounds.
#SASatOKC – Thunder win 112-106
Both teams are deep, but the Thunder have too much firepower. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 55 points, and Enes Kanter had 15 points 16 rebounds off the bench. I’ll say this for Kanter. I’m happy for him. It doesn’t look like his lack of defense is going to matter much with what OKC’s trying to do. His low-post scoring and offensive rebounding just means the Thunder will be one of the best offensive teams in the league. Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka can clean up all that defensive stuff. As for the Spurs, well, Kawhi Leonard and laMarcus ALdridge played great, and Duncan and Parker had “we’re getting older” stat-lines.
#DALatPHX – Mavericks win 111-95
I said that if healthy, Dallas has a great starting five but a thin bench. Well, the Mavs bench chipped in 51 points, and the Suns couldn’t hit a shot. In fact, rookie Devin Booker was the 13th Sun off the bench and his 6-7 shooting helped the Suns get up to 39.1%. Do they try to trade Markieff Morris now?
#NOPatPOR – Blazers win 112-94
The Pelicans still aren’t healthy, and it looks like it’s going to be rough for them until they are. Their bright spot is Ish SMith, whom they signed just a few days ago. For the Blazers, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 58 points 12 assists 11 rebounds 3 steals. Ed Davis looks like a good pick-up for them, chipping in 12 points 11 boards.
#LACatSAC – Clippers win 111-104
CP3, Blake and DJ look like the most fearsome Big 3 of all the Big 3’s in the NBA. Boogie Cousins wants a rematch.
#MINatLAL – T-Wolves win 112-111
They won one for the Flip. Ricky Rubio was a beast with 28 points and 14 assists. Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 & 12 in his NBA debut. On the Lakers’ side, Kobe Bryant shot 8-24, Randle and Hibbert had double-doubles, D’Angelo Russell had a rough go (did I mention Rubio’s line?), and the game really came down to a missed layup by Lou Williams (gotta use the glass!)