The NBA is always full of surprises and story-lines. For starters, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors despite both teams reaching the NBA finals three years in a row aren’t in first place. The Knicks aren’t terrible and the process is working in Philadelphia.
The calendar hasn’t flipped to 2018 just yet, but there have already been plenty of exciting games, breakout players and intriguing story-lines. Let’s take a look at some of those early season story-lines that should continue in 2018.
1. Houston Is a Problem For The League
We all knew James Harden will have another MVP season. We just didn’t know how well the addition of Chris Paul would make the Rockets smarter but nobody knew they would mesh so quickly.
With Harden and Paul both capable of making and assisting on threes, the Rockets are tracking toward all-time records for threes made (15.9) and attempted (43.2) per game. With their ball movement and ability to create their own shots, the Rockets have establish themselves as the Warriors’ primary number 1 threat.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder Struggles
When OKC landed Carmelo Anthony and Paul George this summer, it was supposed to signal a run at Western Conference dominance, but instead, it has been difficult to work those two new stars (particularly Melo) into new roles alongside reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.
Whether or not the trio of stars figures out how best to play alongside each other will be the biggest storyline to watch as the calendar flips to 2018. We’re either heading for greatness or chaos in Oklahoma City, with very little chance of a middle ground.
3. The Rise Of Victor Oladipo
Who expected Oladipo to transform into a franchise centerpiece. No one did. Oladipo is averaging an insane 24.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 3.9 APG. He has transcended his game into an all-star level, exploding to the rim with reckless abandon and making 43% of his three point attempts. Oladipo is definitely starting something. He is giving the Indiana Pacers hope, while playing better and efficiently than Paul George ever did. He has definitely become one of the NBA’s top assassins, especially in crunch time.
4. LeBron James Is Still LeBron James
Despite Kyrie Irving‘s surprise departure, Isaiah Thomas‘ prolonged absence and a relatively new supporting cast, James is averaging 28.3 PPG, 8.7 APG, 8.3 RPG on 57.6 FG% and 41.7% from deep. Not bad for someone playing in their 15th straight season.
While young bucks like Giannis and Embiid are stealing the show on a nightly basis, Old Man LeBron continues to quietly and methodically destroy any opponent in his way. Maybe it’s no longer en vogue to be awed by what James can do on the court, but it shouldn’t go overlooked either. Jordan wasn’t this dominate 15 years into his NBA career.
5. Kyle Kuzma Is Upstaging Lonzo Ball
Kyle Kuzma is the Laker’s most exciting player, and he is even outplaying Lonzo Ball. Kuzma is the future of the Lakers, and if he keeps up the pace, he could turn into the star the Lakers have missed since Kobe Bryant retired.
Kuzma is averaging 17.4 PPG with 6.6 RPG. He is a quality option, no matter who he is against. In his game against the Houston Rockets, Kuzma exploded. He scored 38 points on 12-17 shooting, and the Rockets had no answer for him. Ball has been decent but Kuzma is just more consistent and a better scorer.