Five Most Surprising and Disappointing Players from The NBA’s first Two Weeks

A week into 2021 the real world looks like it is going to be exactly like 2020, which is to say very very shitty, but thankfully the NBA is not the real world. The first two weeks of the 2020-21 NBA season are going exactly how people thought it would go. The Knicks are 5-3 lead by perennial MVP candidate Julius Randle, while the Raptors might actually be the worst team in the league. In the West the Suns are atop the early standings, and if the season ended today the Mavericks and Nuggets would miss the playoffs altogether. See, exactly like we all thought it would go down. In this topsy-turvey season there have been plenty of fun surprises, and sad disappointments across the league. Today we’re going to run through the top five most surprising players during the start of the season, and then we’ll lament the top five most disappointing players to begin 2021. So sit back, get excited, and most importantly remain indoors.


1.) Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Who had Julius Randle breaking out as a legitimate MVP candidate for the Knicks after the first eight games of the season? Be honest absolutely nobody saw this coming from the eighth year point forward. Randle looks like baby LeBron out there running the offense in the Garden. Randle is averaging 23.1 ppg, 12 rpg, and 7.4 apg in 38.6 minutes per game, all career highs, and has led the Knicks to a 5-3 record early on. New coach and NBA fashion icon Tom Thibodeau’s constant yelling from the sideline must be working for the first time since he coached the Bulls to 62 wins in 2011 (we don’t speak of his time in Minnesota). Julius Randle has always been a solid player with the post-Kobe Lakers and pre-Zion Pelicans, but after seven seasons in the NBA most people assumed we had seen everything the Kentucky product had to offer. In his eighth season Randle has, out of nowhere, become a point-forward under Thibodeau’s yelling. His 7.4 assists per game is more than twice his career average of 2.9. If he keeps it up Randle will be a frontrunner for most improved player in 2021. It is the Knicks so Spike Lee, if you’re reading, just brace yourself for the eventual collapse, we all know it’s coming.

2.) Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

The leader of the SexLand backcourt sparked the Cavaliers to a 3-0 start this season and has looked like a bonafide all-star in his third season, and carried what many people thought might be the worst team in the league to a 5-4 record. The third-year guard is averaging a very efficient 25.1 on 53.1 percent from the field and 51.6 percent from three. After major struggles last year, the SexLand backcourt made up of Sexton and second-year point guard Darius Garland is thriving this season as Garland is also one of the most surprising players to start the year. The one missing piece for the Cavs is Kevin Love, not because he’s still an all-star, but because he completes Cleveland’s full sex lineup.

3.) Christian Wood, Houston Rockets

Speaking of sex lineup, Christian Wood might single-handedly keep James Harden in Houston if he continues to play the way he has to start the season. After a breakout season in 2020 in Detroit, Houston acquired Wood in a sign and trade with the Pistons and Wood signed a three-year $41 million contract. Wood has risen to the task of getting Harden to at least have to think about staying in Houston, becoming a potential all-star this season with 23.6 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Rockets have been a little slow out of the gate this season and are just 2-4, but Wood is exciting Rockets fans for another potential deep playoff run if they can keep Harden and Wood together all season. Even if Harden leaves Houston, Wood looks like he can be a franchise building block going forward and should keep the Rockets interesting with whoever they get back in a Harden trade. A list of players I would like to see traded for James Harden for the sake of a smooth transition are: either of LaMelo or Lonzo Ball, Devontae Cacok, Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Nassir Little, or Shake Milton. Those are my terms.

4.) Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons

Essentially Wood’s replacement in the Motor City, Jerami Grant has been the lone bright spot in a sea of troubles for the Detroit Pistons this season. The Pistons are probably the worst team in the league, but Grant is having a breakout season. The leading scorer for the Pistons is averaging 24 points and six rebounds in Detroit’s 1-7 start. He’s going to have to do even more since rookie Killian Hayes has been sidelined indefinitely with a hip injury. Grant looks great, but it is fair to say that he wouldn’t look as attractive if he was on any other team, a classic conundrum that I know all about cheering for guys like Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Karl-Anthony Towns on a Timberwolves all these years.

5.) Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

It’s not surprising whatsoever that Jaylen Brown is playing well to start the season. Everyone knows he was playing at an all-star level last year, but he’s arguably been the best all-around players in the NBA this season. Brown is averaging 26.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 41.2 from three for the 6-3 Celtics. Brown looks like he’s finally taken the leap and should contend for at least second team All-NBA. Jayson Tatum is still their superstar, but Brown might be a much better sidekick than any of us thought he would be.


1.) Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

At this time last year Siakam was playing his best basketball of his career, with a hot start in 2019-2020 propelling him to a third team All-NBA nod. Since play resumed inside the NBA Bubble in July, Siakam simply hasn’t been the same player. Last year he averaged 22.9 points per game and 7.3 rebounds, but dropped to 16.9 and 5.3 in the regular season bubble, and 17 and 7.5 in the playoffs. Siakam’s slow start to the season is one of the many reasons why the Raptors are 1-6 in the first two weeks, the second worst record in the league. The 26-year-old from Cameroon won Most Improved Player in 2019, was a candidate again last year, and was on the verge of becoming a superstar, but has completely regressed to start the season.

2.) Kelly Oubre, Golden State Warriors

Jesus Christ Kelly Oubre has been just about the worst player in the league to start the season. When Klay Thompson went down with an Achillies injury this offseason, the Warriors traded for Oubre hoping he could bolster the team’s wing depth and provide a spark in Thompson’s absence alongside fellow high flyer Andrew Wiggins. If Steph Curry and Thompson were the Splash Brothers during their dynasty run, Wiggins and especially Oubre have been the trash brothers in the Bay Area. In the first three games this season Oubre shot 7-40 from the field and 0-17 from three. Nobody in the history of the sport has had such a lopsided correlation between how many absolutely insane highlights he’s produced so far this season, while being the worst player in the league through two weeks.

3.) Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

Butler’s struggles this season are probably mostly due to exhaustion rather than actual regression. Butler’s Heat had less than two months in between losing the NBA Finals to the Lakers, and opening the 2020-21 season against the Magic. Butler played his ass off in the finals, averaging 43 minutes and trying to single-handedly lead the Heat to a championship. Now Butler and the Heat are struggling in 2021. Miami is just 3-4 and Butler averaging just 13.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game on 40.7 percent shooting. He is seemingly managing his load as he’s missed two games already and is just getting 27.6 minutes per game. Butler is one of the best players in the league, but it’s possibly his heavy minutes under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and that other place ( remember what we don’t talk about here) is finally catching up with the 31-year-old.

4.) Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons

Blake Griffin’s quick decline this year is really more sad than it is disappointing. After playing just 18 games last season because of a knee injury. This year Griffin has been sapped of his most important traits in his athleticism and has turned into a spot up shooter. Griffin is attempting 7.8 threes per game, the most in his career. Griffin, who turns 32 in March is currently on the worst team in the league and will be name people bring up at the trade deadline. The one time human highlight reel has seemingly left his best basketball in the past, so lets not remember this Blake Griffin, lets remember the guy who jumped over a Kia and dated Kendall Jenner, that’s the Blake Griffin I’ll always remember.

5.) D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have a knack for being really, soul crushingly, terrible in every way imaginable. Whether it be defense, coaching, shooting, or just plain old basketball, the Wolves have not been good in almost two decades and have had a revolving door of B-list stars coming through the Target Center doors since our one true savior Kevin Garnett left in 2007. Enter D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick behind Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015, who was traded to Minnesota last February for D-list star Andrew Wiggins and Minnesota’s top three protected first round pick in 2021. Wolves fans imagined Russell perfecting the pick-and-roll with his good pal Towns, giving this era of wolves fans their version of KG and Stephon Marbury, and the Wolves would finally be cool, and more importantly they’d be good for the first time in a generation. Alas for they are the Timberwolves bad things have to happen, it’s the law. Towns injured his wrist in game two, and Russell has fucking sucked ever since. Minnesota has completely cratered without Towns and are in the midst of a horrifying six game losing streak that will seemingly go on forever. While Russell’s stats aren’t far off of where they’ve been the last few years, he’s shown he’s incapable of really impacting winning in any significant way during the skid. Russell was brought in to be the second star in Minnesota, played like a fourth role player, and the Wolves are going to tank and still lose their 2021 draft pick because we live in a random and chaotic universe.

There we go, this NBA season boys have become men, men have become wolves, and there have been a lot of strange things happening in 2021. Here’s to more surprises and fewer disappointments as we get into the meat of 2021, but most importantly, remain indoors.

Five Biggest Overreactions from the NBA’s Opening Week

We’ve already been in the Upside Down for the better part of the last year, ever since Cats hit theaters (release the butthole cut you cowards) so why would we expect the first week of the 2020-21 NBA season to be any different. In a word, it’s been wonky. Here’s a short list of the craziest things that have happened this week: The Clippers were down by 50 at halftime, Collin Sexton, Andre Drummond, and Darius Garland are 1-3 in the MVP race, The Warriors are the new Knicks, and the most unbelievable of all is the Timberwolves can actually play defense. This is just a snippet of the insanity that has engulfed the start to the season after we already experience the weirdest offseason and the NBA bubble. With more questions than answers this year, there are a whole lot of overreactions to be had from a wild Christmas week. So here are the top five overreactions from the first seven days of the NBA season.

1.) Cleveland is actually really good

The 3-0 start for the Cavs is the most exciting thing to happen in Cleveland sports since the Browns beat the Jets on September 20th, 2018 for their first win in nearly two years. The upstart Cavaliers are undefeated to start the season behind surprisingly strong starts from Sexton, Drummond, and Garland. The Sexland backcourt has been fantastic so far after both young guards struggled last year. Lets bring Cleveland back down to Earth a little bit. First, their three wins were against the Hornets, Pistons, and 76ers who were on a back-to-back without Joel Embiid, not exactly a murderers row to begin the season. Shits about to get real for the Cavs in 2021 as they get another freebie against the Knicks, but then go on a six-game road trip against the Pacers on New Year’s Eve, the Hawks, the 3-0 Magic x2, Memphis, and then the Bucks. Cleveland could easily go from 3-0 to 4-6 in a matter of two weeks. There’s a chance this team is scrappy in the East and vies for a spot in the play-in tournament, but once they play real competition we’ll soon find out that Cleveland fans will have to rely on the Browns for their true playoff hopes, which is obviously sad.

2.) Signing Giannis to a supermax contract was a mistake

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best thing to happen to Greece since Brad Pitt single-handedly beat the shit out of Eric Bana and won the Trojan War. The Greek Freak is the reigning back-to-back MVP and arguably the best player in the NBA. He also shook the pillars of the league earlier this month when he signed a five-year $228 million contract extension to stay in Milwaukee. This was maybe the greatest thing to ever happen to the Bucks, and they won a championship. Since he signed the Bucks have had a rough start the the season. Jayson Tatum called game with a last second banked in three over Giannis to send last year’s number one seed home with a loss on opening night. Then they dismantled the new Knicks, beating the Warriors by 39 in game two. On Sunday they lost to the actual Knicks by 20 points, falling to 1-2 on the young season. That’s a rough start for the best regular season team in the NBA the last two seasons. During the slow start Giannis hasn’t quite been himself. He’s still been great averaging 25.7 points and 13 rebounds per game, but he’s not the world beating Greek God that he was in his MVP seasons. Some might point the finger at his contract, saying that by signing the mega-deal the Bucks mortgaged their future for one player, who based on his performance to begin the season maybe isn’t actually worth it. Don’t be fooled by a slow start, Giannis is worth as much money as anyone wants to pay him. He’s the Patrick Mahomes of the NBA, and especially in small-market Milwaukee. As a Timberwolves fan I know what it’s like to never keep your star players and have no chance at signing any big time free agents, and Minneapolis is way cooler than Milwaukee. The Bucks did the right thing by keeping one of the biggest stars in the league in one of the most boring NBA cities for the next five years. Giannis will eventually regain his MVP form, and even if he doesn’t, what else are you going to do Milwaukee?

3.) The Nuggets will miss the playoffs

Before the season started I picked the Nuggets to finish third in the West, and had Jokic and Murray on the All-NBA Second and Third teams respectively. Jokic looks amazing so far and is averaging what would go down as the greatest triple double in league history with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and a mind fucking 14 assists. Murray on the other hand is capital S struggling. He’s shooting 39.5 percent and has just six assists in three games. The West is still the dominant conference and with a 1-2 start, maybe the Nuggets aren’t all they were cracked up to be. Luckily for Denver all is not lost just yet. One of their losses was to the Clippers, who even though they got killed by the Mavs are still one of the best teams in the league, so that loss is acceptable. The other is to the Kings on a crazy Buddy Hield overtime buzzer beating tip-in. They also beat James Soften and the actually pretty decent Houston Rockets. The D-Nugs are currently behind the Wolves, Spurs, Thunder, and Kings in the standings, which I’m very confident in saying will not be the case come the end of the season. Murray will get his head on straight and Denver will still be a problem in the West. Maybe not the third seed, but there’s no way this team misses the playoffs barring injury.

4.) LaMelo Ball is already a bust

The third Ball bro has been bruuuuuuuuuuuuuutal during his first three NBA games. LiAngelo’s less handsome brother threw up a goose egg in his first outing and is averaging just 6.3 points on 33.3 percent shooting. That’s very Malik Monk of you LaMelo, and it looks worse if you see what the two guys drafted ahead of him are doing at the start of the season. First overall pick Anthony Edwards, who also looked brutal in the preseason, has been arguably the best player for the Wolves this season and sparked them to a somewhat surprising 2-1 record. James Wiseman has been the lone bright spot for the new Knicks of Golden State. He’s shown a decent stroke, and is bullying people inside already and averaging 14.7 points per game and will get every opportunity to grow as it looks like their season is already over. There are a whole lot of scouts and other guys who claim to know what good basketball is who thought LaMelo would be way better than those two and be a star in Charlotte. Pretty much the exact opposite is happening in the first week so is LaMelo already a bust? No of course not, plenty of stars have had a rough go of it at the beginning of their careers. James Soften himself only scored 4.3 points per game over his first three NBA contests and shot just 29 percent. It will take time for a 19-year-old who last played a year ago in Australia to find his niche in this league, but don’t let a bad start fool you into thinking he’s a bust already.

5.) Houston should not trade James Harden

Speaking of the NBA party boy James Soften (Née Harden) he’s looked like the John Daly of the NBA, going straight from the strip club to the court and playing his round little ass off. His first two games have been exactly what you’ve come to expect out of the NBA’s four-time reigning scoring champ averaging 39 points per game so far. The beard is obviously still the best scorer in the game, and at 31 is still a top ten player in the league. Even with his tumultuous offseason in which he demanded a trade, didn’t show up for training camp, and single-handedly put every stripper in a three-state radius through college. So why would Houston even consider trading him when they can still ride him to pole position in the Southwest Division and compete in the Western Conference playoffs? Wouldn’t trading a huge superstar on a competitive team make absolutely no sense?

The Rockets absolutely should still trade him at their earliest convenience. Even with his outstanding performance over the first week, the Rockets are still 0-2 with huge concerns throughout the roster. Yes Christian Wood looks like he can be the second option on a playoff team, but we have no clue what this team really is. Thanks to COVID-19 and guys wanting a fresh cut on opening day, we haven’t even seen John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins on the court yet as they had to sit out due to contact tracing. They could be trash and this team headed for the gutter faster than Harden heading for a Vegas buffet. Harden will also leave in two years and, while you have time to figure it out, his value will only diminish the closer he gets to free agency. Harden is still one of the best players of this generation, but if you’re Houston, you really don’t want to see the rest of his career play out in one of your top notch gentlemen’s establishments.

This week in basketball has provided plenty of hot takes and spicy conversation around the league, but at the end of the day no NBA championship was won in the first three games of a season, plenty have been lost, but lets not overreact too much to what we’ve seen so far.