On the NBA: Violent Conclusions

The season has only just begun. We’ve been waiting for it so long, we’ve had our fingers quivering over the trigger for so many months which feel like decades now that we’re treating the inch it’s moved along like it’s a year. Like it’s worth all the symposiums we’re so eager to perform on who’s good, who’s bad, what the game has come to, how it will all end up.

Me, you, all of us: please, kindly, hold that phone. Most of the serious title contenders are flopping about, matriculating into their strongest sets while the stakes are low. Most of the best players are wise to take their injury seats in this stretch of relative trivium, too. The games count now, yes, but not as much as finding the right form will count come February, March, April.

That said? Let’s dive in and pound the gavel on what we’ve seen. It’s just more fun this way.

-Steph Curry’s ever-expanding shooting range is quite possibly the coolest thing in the NBA. Of the handful of deep shooters on the statistical level he’s been at since last season—in all of the league’s history there are less of them than I have fingers—none have been so capable of creating these shots all for themselves. Curry’s turning nearly all of the space beyond the arc into a warzone, into a land where he can mortar your team into doom at any moment, he only needs the inch he can fool you into giving him. He is, right now, making the three-pointer more fun to watch than any dunk.

-Tanking is fun! I feel a legitimate surrogate excitement for the teams clearly designed to lose this year. With each loss, with each rise in their offseason fortunes, there is a stronger bedrock of franchise pride. The Sixers have perhaps compiled and eaten the most amount of cake of all of these teams—their 3-0 start is surely a lot of fun, but is just as surely illusory. They have had their extended party (just one, which is more than Boston, Utah, Phoenix, or Orlando fans can hope for this season) and they will still lose at least sixty games and be in the running for one of the newest young stars of tomorrow. They will be losing soon enough, and losing is nearly the new winning, because in losing there’s more hope for anyone who’s not already king.

-This year’s Western Conference will set a record for points scored. Does someone keep statistics on that sort of thing? The frighteningly skilled Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, and Clippers are all satirically bad at defense, thus far; or is it that the competition is just that good? Either way, the ball’s going through the net at a tizzying rate, and my gambit is that 2013-14’s scoring will end up in HISTORY.

-The new class of killers is already upon us. Anthony Davis looks like he was never a rookie, Eric Bledsoe has shown his over-valuation to be under-valuation, and Paul George is one of the five best two-way players in the league. Who will have us chortling at ourselves this same way, a year from now; who is it that will make us feel silly for ever thinking of them with terms like “potential” and “project”?

-The throne is still Miami’s to lose, and Miami will not lose the throne, not this year. Does anyone really believe otherwise? Every narrative we throw up the rest of the way will be, at least tangentially, a kind of protest or reinforcement of this fact. The NBA’s pretty short on parity, and if we allow our devout fandom to hush up for a second, and if we take a real listen and look, we know this, and it bothers us. But what can be done about it?

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