Buy or Sell: First 10 Days of the NBA Season

Today marks the tenth day of the 2018-19 season and we're off to a heck of a start.


This year, we've already seen a brawl in the Rockets-Lakers game (#SpitGate), Steph Curry and Blake Griffin both go for 50 points, Jimmy Butler get MVP chants, Trae Young taunt Wesley Matthews and the Andre Drummond-Joel Embiid beef went from the court to Twitter.


But we're just getting started.


Lost in these storylines are some impressive starts from players and teams and some that have raised some eyebrows.


So, based on these first 10 days we're going to buy or sell one of the early season successes or struggles from each NBA team.


1. Atlanta Hawks - Trae Young will lead the team in scoring


Through four games, Trae Young is second on the Hawks in scoring at 21.5 points per game. Taurean Prince leads Atlanta at 21.8 points per game, but has scored just one more point than Young on the season. After a rough debut against New York (5-14, 14 points) Young has rebounded with scoring performances of 20, 35 and 17.


Buy: Young is clearly the most dynamic offensive player on Atlanta. While he will have games where he is inefficient, the fact that he is shooting over 38% from three on nearly eight attempts a game is promising. Expect the Hawks to lean on their first round rookie to carry the offense as the season progresses.


2. Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum will lead the team in scoring


This situation is much different than the one that Young (above) is in. Tatum currently leads the Celtics, averaging 17.5 points per game, but four other Celtics (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris and Al Horford) are also averaging double figures. Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier aren't even averaging double figures right now, and those two played huge roles for Boston in the playoffs last season.


Sell: Tatum is an extreme talent and may emerge as the Celtics all around best player (he currently leads in offensive and defensive win shares) but he won't lead Boston in scoring. There are too many mouths to feed, and while Tatum is second on the team in field goals attempted per game (15), Kyrie Irving has been wildly inefficient to start the season and takes nearly three more shots (17.8) a game than Tatum. Irving is going to shoot better than 18.2 percent from three and 39.1 percent from the field. So while Tatum may be the 1B to Kyrie's 1B in this offense, it's still Uncle Drew's team.


3. Brooklyn Nets - Jared Dudley starts 41 games


Throughout the first four games of the season, the Nets have trotted out Jared Dudley as their starting power forward in each game, playing him 27.5 minutes a game. Dudley has been far from good, averaging just 5.8 points to go with 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists.


Sell, sell, sell: If Jared Dudley starts 41 (half) of the Nets games, they should fire Kenny Atkinson. The Nets, who are still rebuilding, would be better off playing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kenneth Faried or Ed Davis over Dudley. At this point in his career, Dudley is solely a veteran presence and Davis (6.8 points, 8.0 rebounds), Faried or Hollis-Jefferson are all superior talents. The Nets most likely won't be a playoff team, so getting younger players significant playing time should be the priority not wasting minutes on Dudley.


4. Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker averages 30 points per game


Walker has averaged 31 points per game for the Hornets through their first five games, and had 41 in their season opener.


Sell: I'm going to sell Walker averaging 30+ but he could come close. The Hornets roster is littered with young players and the overpaid Nicolas Batum, but Walker's career high scoring the ball is just over 23 a game. Will he have to carry the Hornets if they want to make the playoffs? Yes. But, I don't think Walker will continue to produce at this level for an entire year.


5. Chicago Bulls - Zach LaVine will be an All-Star


Through the first for games, LaVine is averaging 32.3 points per game and became the first Bull since Michael Jordan to score 30+ in the first four games of a season.


Buy: LaVine is the best player on a bad team, who's second best player, Lauri Markkanen is injured. So for the Bulls to even be competitive, LaVine is going to have to continue to put up 19+ shots a game, meaning the scoring will be there to warrant All-Star consideration in the short-on-talent Eastern Conference.


6. Cleveland Cavaliers - The Cavs will make the playoffs


The Cleveland Cavaliers started this season 0-4, and outside of Jordan Clarkson (16.8 points per game) they have struggled to score efficiently.


Sell: Kevin Love is averaging 19.0 points per game, but on 32 percent shooting from the field, and Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman are going to have growing pains as youngsters in the league. The Cavs are going to be a lottery team, and may have to sell at the deadline, because without LeBron James, the weaknesses of this team on both sides of the floor are being exposed.


7. Dallas Mavericks - Luka Doncic wins Rookie of the Year


Luka Doncic this season (4 games): 19.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.8 apg


Buy: Rookie of the Year is going to come down to the two players traded for each other on draft night and DeAndre Ayton. Trae Young, Ayton and Luka Doncic have been everything their respective teams expected this year. I'm going to buy Doncic for Rookie of the Year because he has more help than Young, but less than Ayton, which should give him the ideal amount of usage as he navigates his first season.


8. Denver Nuggets - Nuggets finish top four in the West


The Denver Nuggets are one of two undefeated teams remaining in the Western Conference, sitting at 4-0 with wins over the Clippers, Suns, Kings and Warriors.


Buy: It may be way to early, but I think Denver has an inside shot at finishing top four in the West. Last season, it was the Utah Jazz in the four spot, and even with LeBron James now in Los Angeles, I think Denver could win the Pacific Northwest and steal a top four spot from the expected powers in the West. The Nuggets are deep, have the star power of Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and rising star guard Jamal Murray and could turn some heads this season.


9. Detroit Pistons - Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin will make the All-Star Team


Blake Griffin has already scored 50 points in a 133-132 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, and Andre Drummond is averaging 16 points per game to go with 16.3 rebounds on the young season.


Buy: While the Pistons team may not have much success unless they get quality play from guards like Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Ish Smith, both Drummond and Griffin will put up numbers that should have them as All-Star selections. Drummond made the team last year and Griffin looks much more comfortable this year with Dwane Casey than he did in 25 games under Stan Van Gundy. The Pistons front court may be the best in the Eastern Conference.


10. Golden State Warriors - Steph Curry will win MVP


Steph Curry's unbelievable start to the season continued agains the Wizards on Wednesday when he scored 51 points on 11-16 shooting from 3-point range in just three quarters. Five games in, Curry is averaging 34.6 points per game, 6.8 assists per game and 4.8 rebounds.


Buy, buy, buy: Curry is the perennial leader in win shares, partly because he plays for the NBA's best team, but also because he is the most valuable player on that team. Curry's box-plus minus is at an insane 12.9 through five games and he already has 1.2 win shares. He's shooting over 50 percent from the field and three, and while those numbers will certainly see regression, Curry's finishing around the rim looks much improved this year. Curry is fully healthy, and if he stays that way this season, he should be in consideration for his third league MVP.


11. Houston Rockets - Carmelo Anthony will finish third on the team in scoring


Carmelo Anthony has averaged just 11.8 points per game through the team's first four contests, but was 9-17 for 22 points in Houston 100-89 loss to Utah on Wednesday.


Sell: Look, I love Melo probably more than most people, but he's declining at an insanely sharp rate. After struggling in Oklahoma City last season, Anthony needed a new start, but hasn't done much with it, as evidenced by his scoring average even with Chris Paul suspended. If Chris Paul and James Harden are healthy, they'll lead the team in scoring. As for that third spot, it's going to be between Melo and Eric Gordon, and I'm not really sure that the 34-year-old forward is going to be consistent enough for the team to rely on him as the third option.


12. Indiana Pacers - Six Pacers will average double digit points per game


The Indiana Pacers sit at 3-2 in their first five games and they've had balanced attack behind All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. Myles Turner, Tyreke Evans, Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic are all averaging 10+ points per game.


Buy: The Pacers are one of the deeper teams in basketball. Their current list of double-digit scorers does not include Corey Joseph (9.0 ppg) or Doug McDermott (9.6 ppg). Oladipo doesn't dominate the ball as much as many stars, taking 17.8 shots per game, but the key for Indiana is spreading the ball. Five players take between eight and 11 shots per game, leaving plenty of opportunities for multiple players to be involved. If Joseph continues to push starter Darren Collison for minutes, Indiana could be looking at seven players hovering above 10 points a game. Either way, Nate McMillan's bunch has a solid group of role players who all are involved fairly equally on offense.


13. Los Angeles Clippers - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will start 30+ games


Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley are currently the starting backcourt for the 2-2 Clippers, but the two have combined for just 10.1 points and 7.1 assists per game.


Buy: Obviously, the Clippers have Lou Williams off the bench to provide guard scoring, but they didn't draft SGA in the first round for him to sit on the bench all year. The Kentucky product is playing more minutes per game than Beverley, averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 assists per game and is no slouch on the defensive end either (2.3 defensive plus minus). Beverley and Bradley are two defensive stars, but for the Clippers to win games, they are going to need to get offensive production from their starting guards. They'd be better off pairing Williams with the defensive minded Beverley while letting SGA run the point to jumpstart this re-tooling stage.


14. Los Angeles Lakers - Josh Hart will average 15 points per game

Josh Hart averages through first four games: 16.5 points per game, 55 percent from the field, 52 percent from 3-point range


Sell: I'm going to sell this, but I think if Josh Hart did average 15 points per game, it would certainly be a great sign for the Lakers. While Hart is playing over 30 minutes a game, his usage rate of 18.3 percent is likely to go down once Brandon Ingram comes back from suspension. In addition, Hart has lost out on three of four starts to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Unless Luke Walton sees that Hart's value will come in the starting lineup, it's hard to see the second-year Villanova product continuing to put up numbers at this pace with the expected regression of his shooting percentages. Still, if he does, the Lakers will be sitting pretty.


15. Memphis Grizzlies - Jaren Jackson will make an All-Rookie Team


Jaren Jackson averages through 4 games: 14.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 bpg


Buy: Jaren Jackson has been a pleasant surprise after being taken fourth overall by the Grizzlies in the 2018 draft. The Michigan State product has already started two games, and is shooting 45.7 percent from the field. Jackson has also taken three 3-pointers a game, showcasing that he is looking to become more of a stretch four. A supreme athlete who already has an inside track at 25+ minutes per game for an average team, Jackson will find himself at least a 2nd Team All-Rookie selection come June.


16. Miami Heat - Josh Richardson will lead the team in scoring


Josh Richardson is averaging 19.3 points per game through Miami's first four games, including shooting just under 40 percent from 3-point range. The fourth-year player is looking to take over a lead ball-handling role for the Heat this season.


Buy: I love Josh Richardson's game. A plus athlete who can really shoot it from distance (37.8% last season), Richardson seems to have passed Goran Tragic as the primary offensive player for Miami. Richardson has seen improvements in his scoring, rebounding and assist per game averages each season since he entered the league, and this year will be no different. While Dwayne Wade is on his way out, Miami fans have a new shooting guard to look forward to in Richardson for years to come.


17. Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo will win MVP


Giannis Antetokounmpo stats this season: 28.5 ppg, 16.5 rpg, 6.8 apg


Sell: Giannis is unreal. He's right up there with Kawhi Leonard for the title of best player in the Eastern Conference. But he's not going to win MVP. If Steph Curry doesn't win it, LeBron James, Leonard, Kevin Durant and possibly James Harden will all have better cases when it's all said and done, mainly because of how competitive the Western Conference is. Toronto has looked like the best team in the East, and while the Bucks are currently 4-0, Khris Middleton has been huge, averaging 24.5 points per game to start the season. Giannis is going to put up numbers, but Milwaukee will be behind Boston, Toronto and most likely Philly and Indiana in the East, which will weaken the Greek Freak's MVP case.


18. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jimmy Butler will finish the year in Minnesota


Jimmy Butler has already called out management, the front office, the coaching staff and his teammates on his quest to be traded from the Timberwolves this season. It hasn't worked. Yet. Butler has had a solid start to the year averaging 24.8 points per game, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 steals which leads the NBA.


Sell: If Jimmy Butler finishes the year in Minnesota, it means the Wolves are title contenders. That is not going to happen. Butler is far and away Minnesota's most valuable player on both ends of the floor, but they can't afford to lose him for nothing in free agency. With ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi reporting that the Rockets offered four first round picks in exchange for Butler, it's only a matter of time before Jimmy Buckets will be on a new team.


19. New Orleans Pelicans - Pelicans improve on last season's record


The New Orleans Pelicans have started 3-0 this season, despite losing Demarcus Cousins in free agency. NOLA won 48 games last season, but added Julius Randle and Alfred Payton to replace Cousins and Rajon Rondo.


Sell: While New Orleans a lot of last year without Cousins, I don't think this team is deep enough to repeat last season's success. Mirotic is currently averaging 28 points per game, but will be around 15-18 come season end. I think New Orleans will be a playoff team, but they won't win more than 48 games in the regular season.


20. New York Knicks - The Knicks will have an All-Star


Without Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) the Knicks have started 1-4, losing three close games to Brooklyn, Boston and Milwaukee before getting blown out by Miami on Thursday. But, this season has had some surprises from Alonzo Trier to Tim Hardaway Jr.


Buy: Someone has to score for the Knicks. So far, it's been Tim Hardaway Jr. (24.4 points per game) and Ends Kanter (16.8 points per game, 10.8 rebounds). Kanter has been solid and should push numbers around 18 and 11 all season, while Hardaway looks to have taken the next step in his development as a scorer. Either way, one of these two will find their way onto the All-Star team without Porzingis around to carry the load.


21. Oklahoma City Thunder - The Thunder will make the playoffs


Oklahoma City lost it's fourth straight to open the year to the Celtics on Thursday and while Russell Westbrook has only played two of those games, there is genuine reason to be concerned about this team's struggles in an improved Western Conference.


Buy: OKC will be a playoff team, but maybe not where everyone expected them at the beginning of the year. The Thunder lack outside shooting, and have struggled defensively (they allowed over 130 points to the Kings). A trade for a 3-and-D wing like a Courtney Lee could help this, as well as the return of guard Andre Roberson in a few months. But for now OKC looks more like a 7 or 8 seed than top three in the West.


22. Orlando Magic - Mo Bamba averages at least 8.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg


The Magic's first round pick Mo Bamba has averaged just over 5 points, 5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in his first five games as a pro.


Buy: I think Bamba has a lot of potential and his minutes (currently 19.4 per game) will only grow from here. While Nikola Vucevic has been a beast down low in the early going, the Magic may trade the big man or look to get Bamba some increased minutes since they are in the midst of a rebuilding stage.


23. Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons will attempt a three pointer this season


Ben Simmons, the reigning ROY (Donovan Mitchell was robbed) has yet to attempt a 3-pointer that wasn't a half court heave in his career.


Sell: No chance. Simmons has talked a big game about how he improved his shot this offseason, but so far, no dice. Simmons would much rather post up smaller guards and get to the rim than even try his luck outside. I think he is just spiting all the haters at this point and purposely not attempting one from beyond the arc.


24. Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker averages 25+ points and 5+ assists per game


Devin Booker has never surpassed either of these totals in his career, but came awfully close last season (24.9 points, 4.7 assists).


Buy: The Suns do not have a true point guard this season, putting the ball in Devin Booker's hands even more than usual this season. Booker has responded by averaging 27.8 points per game and 6.8 assists per game through four games. Booker's usage rate is up from 31.7% to 34.4% this year and if it continues that way, he's going to easily break these averages.


25. Portland Trail Blazers - Nick Stauskas averages double figures scoring


Nik Stauskas had a monster season opener against Los Angeles Lakers, but has cooled off since, still averaging 11.8 points per game. A staple in the Blazers second unit, has Stauskas finally carved out a role for himself?


Sell: Nik Stauskas can shoot it, but he's vying for minutes with too many guys behind Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum. Seth Curry, Evan Turner, Wade Baldwin and eventually Afernee Simons will all be trying to play the few guard minutes that are left. Stauskas has already started to cool off and while he could be valuable off the bench I don't see him scoring 10+ in around 19 minutes a game.


26. Sacramento Kings - De'Aaron Fox wins most improved player


This may seem like a long shot because the Kings are so bad, but Fox has looked very good through their first five games averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds in over 32 minutes a game.


Buy: De'Aaron Fox is the best player on a very bad Kings team. After averaging 11.6, 4.4 and 2.8 as a rookie, Fox has seen his minutes, shots and usage increase after starting 60 games last year. He is going to be the catalyst for Sacramento and if he starts to find his outside shot, he could be a problem come the second half of the year.


27. San Antonio Spurs - Bryn Forbes averages 12+ points per game


With Dejounte Murray out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Spurs have turned to guard Bryn Forbes to run their offense, keeping Patty Mills in a 6th man role. Forbes has responded by averaging 14.8 points per game through the team's first four contests.


Buy: I'm going to buy this one because Forbes is the typical Spurs guy that you've never heard of, but makes a huge impact when called upon. Clearly Coach Popovich knows what strings to pull, and Forbes can flat out shoot it, (48% from three this year, 39% last year) making him a great complement to isolation players like DeMar Derozan and Lamarcus Aldridge. I'm all in on Forbes having a breakout year.


28. Toronto Raptors- Raptors finish first in the East


The Toronto Raptors have already knocked off Boston once this year and are 5-0.


Buy: Kawhi Leonard looks just as good if not better than he did before missing last season with an injury. Kyle Lowry leads the league in assists per game. The Raptors are extremely deep, and a better defensive team than Boston. Unless the young guys for the Celtics really take the next step (Tatum will) Toronto is still the best team in the East, during the regular season. Playoff time who knows, but Kawhi makes Toronto a whole different level of good.


29. Utah Jazz - Jae Crowder leads the team in Win Shares


Jae Crowder has looked fantastic for the Jazz to start this year, averaging 13.5 points per game to go with 6.5 rebounds in over 30 minutes a game. He also leads them with 0.6 win shares.


Sell: I think this title will go to Rudy Gobert come season's end because of his impact on both sides of the ball. While Crowder is also a great defender, the Utah center is the man to bet on for this title. Donovan Mitchell will be in the conversation as well, but the defensive impact of Crowder and Rudy will keep them at the top.


30. Washington Wizards - Dwight Howard plays 45 games


Howard has not played yet this season due to injury, and the Wizards have suffered going 1-3 through their first four games.


Sell: Dwight Howard's injuries always seem to linger and the fact that he hasn't played since training camp means its going to take some time for him to get into basketball shape. While Dwight could make an impact, specifically on the defensive end, I would not be surprised if between this injury and rest days he doesn't play much more than half the season, if that.



8 views

Call The Show!

Tel: 203-582-5555

Twitter: @BleachersRadio

  • Google+ Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

© 2023 by From The Bleachers . Proudly created with Wix.com