This week, Willy Goldstein discusses the ups and downs happening in basketball.
Los Angeles Lakers: The upstart Lakers have been a pleasant surprise to start their first season in the post-Kobe Bryant era. Rookie coach Luke Walton has the team playing well together, led by second year players D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. They have started 6-4 after not getting their sixth win until the 29th game of the season last year. They are still a growing team, but it is an encouraging sign to see them playing mature basketball with such a young core.
Devin Booker: The 20-year-old was expected to be an important piece of the Phoenix Sun’s future, but not so soon. After finishing off the 2015-16 campaign with strong play Booker has shown maturity beyond his years to start this season. He is carrying the Suns offensively and has already posted 38 and 39-point games. This kid is going to be a star and has proven he has the skills to step up sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Clippers: They own a league best 9-1 record and have been handily defeating opponents. They already have wins against the Spurs, Thunder and twice against the rival Trailblazers. Their only loss was a last- second defeat in their first matchup with the Thunder. They were expected to compete for the third seed but look like they could play their way into the one or two spot. The big question for them as always is whether they can bring it come playoff time.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans are off to an awful start, posting a 1-9 record that stands as the worst in the league. After sneaking into the playoffs as the eighth seed two years ago hopes were high last year but the Pelicans struggled with injuries and missed the postseason. They have one of the best players in the league in Anthony Davis, but his great play hasn’t been able to carry an otherwise mediocre roster. They are already in panic mode as a lottery finish to the season isn’t exactly what the front office has in mind.
New York Knicks: After splurging in free agency this past offseason, the Knicks have little to show for it to start the season. They sport a 3-6 record through the first nine games in which they have failed to keep opposing teams under 100 points. Their offense looks good as expected but their defense is not there. They are late on pick and rolls and no one can stay in front of their man. On top of that new acquisitions Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose have struggled to get going offensively. New coach Jeff Hornacaek is working hard to fix these mistakes, but he can only do so much with the roster he has inherited.
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