All-Star Analysts

At the Buzzer: Opening week takeaways

Published October 27, 2021, 7:00 AMNorman Black, LA Tenorio, Jett Manuel

Our All-Star Analysts LA Tenorio, Jett Manuel, and Coach Norman Black wrap up the NBA's opening week, featuring Ja Morant's hot start, Russell Westbrook's and LaMelo Ball's fits, and Jalen Green's rookie debut.

Which player stood out the most to you?

LA: If there's a player of the week, that would be Steph Curry obviously because of his game against the Lakers (with the triple-double). Then he scored 45 points – 25 in the first quarter – in their next game. Playing back-to-back games with that kind of intensity and level, that’s hard. Plus in the third game, he scored 27 points so he’s really carrying his team. I’m sure there are a lot of players who stood out or who had outstanding performances this week, but Steph Curry was the highlight. 

Jett: Ja Morant. It’s like he took his game to another level this year. Last year, honestly, I was impressed by his highlight plays but his overall game was just meh. It was only highlight plays, crazy athletic, but I wouldn’t have thought of him as a top-tier player. But this year, this week, he took his game to another level. 

Norman: The guy I really liked was LaMelo Ball. I'm really impressed with his game. I think that he's going to be a superstar in the NBA, not to mention the fact that he's such an exciting player. Some of the passes that he makes are unbelievable. I think he's going to break out this year and do very well for the Charlotte Hornets.

The other guy I was really impressed with, which I shouldn't be because he's been doing it for years, was Steph Curry. The way he's come out shooting the basketball has been unbelievable. I know he's a veteran, but you still get amazed when you see a guy who's been around for such a long time and is still 100 percent on top of his game. Even when he's having an off night, it's still a good night for most people.

Should the Lakers and Nets be worried?

LA: Well I’m worried more about the Lakers after the confrontation between Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard. I think that the goal of the Nets and Lakers is to win as many games as possible and then in the playoffs, it’s going to be a different story. All of the players that they have are built for the playoffs with the experience and the talent they have. Worried about the Lakers and Nets? I’m not. They’re not gunning for number one (in the standings) for sure. They’re not gunning to be a top team in their Conference, but a good spot in the playoffs. I’m sure if I’m the other team, I will not prefer to play against them in the playoffs. 

Jett: No. It’s too early. They’re vets. They know what to do, they know how to win, especially the Lakers. Of course I’m going to say the Lakers. I’m not worried. It really takes time. For example, locally, in a team like Ginebra. You have Christian Standhardinger, you have Stanley Pringle. These are super-talented players playing with super-talented players. It took time for them to adjust. There are a lot of things that go on behind-the-scenes that fans don’t see in games but we players can understand. It really takes time to jell, to build chemistry, to know the timing, the small microseconds of playing with other great players. I’m not worried. It’s a long season.

Norman: I'd be very concerned for the Lakers. They were fortunate enough to win the third game, but I guess we just have to give them some time. They have a lot of new players on the team and it's going to take some time for them to jell together, particularly with Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is the type of guy that really needs the ball in his hands. His teams seem to run better when he does have the ball in his hand, but we know that's not going to happen with the Los Angeles Lakers because LeBron James is also the same type of player. I don't think they're going to have any problems working together. Eventually, they're going to smooth things out. They have too much talent not to win games. 

For the Nets, I'd be worried too. Kevin Durant is playing great basketball, but James Harden has not hit his stride yet. And I don't know if they have enough without Kyrie Irving. Kyrie's a very good player, a big part of that team. For them to be successful, he's going to have to play or they're going to have to trade him -- one or the other. You're going to have to get someone back for him so that person can be part of their team. I don't think they're strong enough without Kyrie to win a championship.

LaMelo Ball or Ja Morant: Who would you pick to start a team?

LA: I’ll take Ja Morant. He’s playing at a different level now. His shooting has improved. He’s very athletic and he could do a lot of things. LaMelo, yes he’s also a great player and a great point guard, but if I have a team, I think I will start Ja Morant as a guard. He’s a threat. He can create for his teammates also. 

Jett: I will have to go with LaMelo. His game is different. Ja is crazy good. But if I could pick a point guard out of both of them, I would pick LaMelo because he’s more of that playmaker and passer. He makes Miles Bridges look really good, right? If you take LaMelo out of that team I don’t think Miles Bridges will be Miles Bridges today. No disrespect but that’s just how good he is in making his teammates better. That’s why I chose him.

Norman: I would probably think that they're both exciting players. I think both can be franchise players. I think Ball is more exciting when it comes to his ball handling and his passing. Morant is much more of an athlete that can jump over and dunk on you. Right now because of his ability to make players around him better, I'd probably go with Ball. I just find him to be a guy that can put people in seats. At the same time, he can make his teammates better because of his vision and his passing.

Would you rock these pre-game fits?

LA: Me? I think…. No (laughs). Maybe I can try LaMelo, but Westbrook no. The outfit of Westbrook is built for him. The tight sando with that kind of body, it works well. But I think I can pull off a LaMelo if somebody will lend me a Lamborghini. 

Jett: Of course I would! If the question is “would I”, yes I would because that’s just me. I don’t care, I’d rock it. Westbrook is a little bit sus, but [expletive] I’d do it if I have his body (laughs).

Norman: I would definitely go with Ball. Not because of the outfit, but because of the car. Ang gandang kotse! I'm not sold on the drip, but I'm sold on the car.

How did Jalen Green do in his rookie debut?

LA: He did very well in his first few games as an NBA player. Honestly, I did not expect that he will do well right away, but he’s playing like a big boy already in the league. He’s in the right team for now. I’m excited and I look forward to seeing what more he can give in the league as a player and of course as a teammate also. He has to be a team player, but individually, his performance was outstanding. I’m sure that Houston didn’t expect that either. 

Jett: He exceeded my expectations. I expected him to get into the groove and be a pro in the NBA maybe in a few more weeks – four or five weeks. But after two games, exploding like he did and seeing how he played, he kinda looks so comfortable. That exceeded my expectations.

Norman: I don't think the Rockets have done well. I watched the game where he scored 30 points. He looks very athletic and he looks like he can make the outside shot. He's a young guy, so he's still learning on the job, but you can see that the talent and the explosiveness are there. He probably needs more experience to get to that point, but I think he's going to be a good player.


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