Seven days is a long time in the NBA and the 2023-24 season already looks a lot different for the Grizzlies and Clippers after Week 2.
Grizzlies: Where Has The Grit & Grind Gone?
It would always be a relatively slow start for the Memphis Grizzlies this season.
Ja Morant’s off-court issues put them on the back foot. Steven Adams being ruled out for the year compounded things even further. Still, to be 0-6 heading into what is now a crucial game against the Portland Trail Blazers as $1.67 and -2.5 favourites is beyond what anybody would have considered the worst-case scenario.
It’s Memphis’ worst start to an NBA season in six seasons. One, even with the Morant problem, filled with so much hope is already slipping away and we’re not even into Christmas yet.
Each loss has carried its own concerns, but to give up 79 points to the Utah Jazz in the first half is a worry. Where has the grit and grind gone from the Grizzlies?
They allowed an NBA record 89 three-point shots through the first five games. Is the defensive scheme not up to scratch or are the players not executing it at an acceptable intensity? The “no Morant” excuse doesn’t wash when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. He didn’t have such a significant impact on their 2nd-ranked defence from last season to now be 19th after six games.
The Grizzlies played 13 games last season without Morant, Adams and Clarke
Their offensive rating in those games was 116.2
Their OffRtg through 6 games this szn is 102.9 (30th in NBA)
The Grizzlies have become the worst in the league at the one thing Jenkins openly stated was…
— Steven Adams Stats (@funakistats) November 4, 2023
As a result of the opening two weeks, the Grizzlies are now $1.48 to miss the playoffs. They started the NBA season at $2.60 to win their division and an appealing $26 for the championship. They’ve since drifted to $6 to finish on top of the Southwest and are a non-factor in the championship discussion right now at $36.
The Grizzlies started last season relatively slow and most anticipated the same to start this one. However, they’re digging themselves a deep hole at the moment. Morant will instantly improve them on his return, but he can only do so much. If they can inch closer to .500 before his suspension ends, they might just be a chance of featuring in the playoffs. From there, anything can happen.
Harden To Make His Debut
James Harden got his way, again…
Forcing himself out of Philadelphia, the Greatest Quitter of All Time is preparing to make his LA Clippers debut at Maddison Square Garden.
New Clippers star James Harden will debut on Monday vs. the Knicks at Madison Square Garden – and the team is expected to start Russell Westbrook, Harden, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Ivica Zubac moving forward, sources tell me and @LawMurrayTheNU.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 5, 2023
Any team with Harden, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and even Russell Westbrook to some extent, is stacked with potential. There is a world where it all comes together and these four gel in a way that dominates on both sides fo the ball. Westbrook, for all his faults, sets the intensity. Harden is one of the best scorers in the game when firing. Meanwhile, George and Leonard remain as dominant two-way players.
“There is only one ball” is often mentioned when players like this get together. More often than not, they figure out a way to share it around. It might take a few weeks, but they inevitably find a balance. Although, that hasn’t always been the case with Harden and, more particularly, with Westbrook involved.
The potential for success is only rivaled by the potential for chaos. The NBA is already one of the most drama-filled reality TV shows on the air right now. This gathering has all-time potential. Early market movement leans to success. With a win total set at 45.5 to start the season, the Clippers are now $1.68 to finish with Over 47.5 wins.
It feels wrong that the Boston Celtics have barely rated a mention here through two weeks. However, they’re not doing anything particularly surprising.
It’s not a shock that they are 5-0 ahead of their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves as $1.57 and -3.5 favourites.
It’s not a shock to see them playing with an NBA-best +18.1 net rating.
It’s not a shock to see Jayson Tatum at 4th in the NBA in scoring averaging 30.2 points per game and becoming the youngest Celtics player in history to score 10,000 points.
The Celtics are where they’re meant to be on the first line of betting to win the championship at $4.50.
Another Wemby Update
He’s not going to be able to do it every night. Nobody would expect him to given his age and lack of experience. But Victor Wembanyama is going to play enough of these games to justify the hype.
Rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama's 38 points in road win at Phoenix are tied for 3rd-most by a rookie in Spurs NBA history. Only David Robinson had more. @ESPNStatsInfo
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) November 3, 2023
Ten of his 38 points came in the last five minutes of the San Antonio Spurs’ 132-121 over the Phoenix Suns. The #1 pick in the NBA draft and most hyped prospect since LeBron James put on a show alongside Kevin Durant to have ten rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal with his 38 points.
We flirted with the idea that somebody else might be able to push him for Rookie of the Year honours, but with Wembanyama into $1.28 already, it looks as though only a long-term injury will stop him now.
A LeBron’s Lakers Update, Too
The Los Angeles Lakers are 3-3 to start the season but it isn’t panic stations.
Darvin Ham is still figuring things out and there are enough positives to be confident in overcoming the negatives sooner rather than later. However, the reliance on LeBron James at 39 years old is a worry.
He played 35 minutes in their loss to the Orlando Magic. That is too many minutes for a start. Of most concern: The Lakers were +12 in the minutes LeBron played but outscored by 31 points in the 13 minutes he didn’t play.
31 points in 13 LeBron-less minutes?!
Austin Reaves, Anthony Davis and company need to do a lot better. The Lakers, overall, need to win games early so their aging superstar can rest late.
Ham seems willing to change things up to find answers. Where other coaches might be stubborn in their ways, Ham has already made changes. If they make the right ones, their $17 to win the championship looks mighty fine right now.
TOP 6 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
|TEAM||CURRENT PRICE||LAST WEEK’S PRICE|
|Los Angeles Clippers||$9||–|
|Golden State Warriors||$15||$15|