It’s been 23 days since the first regular season game was played for the 2022-23 NBA season. Last week, I wrote about Kyrie and the Brooklyn Nets, and the likely possibility it was for them to hire Celtics head coach Ime Udoka. This week, interim coach Jacque Vaughn was officially named the head coach through the 2023-24 season. For myself, and most NBA fans and analysts, this came as a surprise, since everyone thought the Udoka hire was all but a done deal. The biggest speculation as to why they decided to hire Vaughn instead was because of the drama Udoka would have brought to an already controversial team.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the best and brightest young teams in the NBA. They are currently 2nd in the Eastern conference while having a great young core of players that include Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and newly acquired Donovan Mitchell. Their hot start can be attributed to the play of Mitchell, who has been on an MVP level early on, and their defense, where they rank third in the NBA in defensive rating. They are also one of the best 3-point shooting teams, as they rank second in 3-point percentage. Good shooting and solid defense is a recipe for success, no matter what level of basketball you play at. My biggest fear was their backcourt defense with two small guards in Garland and Mitchell, but their rim protectors have made up for it so far.
The Cavaliers weren’t the only team that benefited from the Mitchell trade this summer. The Utah Jazz have also turned many heads this season. During the offseason, they traded away Mitchell and Rudy Gobert as an effort to rebuild. However, through their first 13 games, they have been the farthest thing away from rebuilding. The Jazz are currently first in the Western conference with a league-best 10 wins, mainly led by Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen has been the biggest surprise on the most surprising team, showing the star potential many fans thought he flashed during his first two years with the Chicago Bulls. While they have been turning heads, I do question whether or not a good season is beneficial for their future. If they stay on track winning games, it may give them a playoff spot with no real identity or superstar power. All things considered, there is a very high chance that a playoff run might put them into no-man’s land, where they aren’t good enough to be a title contender, but they aren’t bad enough to find themselves in the lottery. Their progression is something I will be following during the year, especially since my Lakers are 2-9.
“Hit The Post” covers the latest topics in professional sports, with a focus on professional basketball. Each week, Arkese Claiborne covers the latest news and topics from both on and off the court.