Well, we’ve almost made it through the first entire week of hoops, and the only significant loss since the season started has been a broken foot that will sideline the Pistons’ Jodie Meeks for 3-4 months.
Oh, and Grantland.
ESPN’s decision to pull the plug on the offshoot site founded by the groundbreaking Bill Simmons is the latest ill-advised move by the powers that be in Bristol, Conn., site of the fortress-like complex that continues to lower the bar for what constitutes good journalism. It has been more than 10 years and nine lives (for Stephen A. Smith) since the network started shouting at its viewers, and the exodus of talent shows no sign of abating. The decision to kill Grantland was met with sadness and outrage on social media, and for good reason.
The WWL is shedding additional personnel as we speak in order to help pay for the increased rights fees to broadcast NBA games, and the quality of ESPN’s digital arm will continue to suffer. Such a shame. It was a better place when I worked there, but I chose to rock the boat against the company’s wishes in order to defend my integrity, and those who rock the boat at ESPN get tipped over. And we all move on, for better or worse.
Which brings us back to the start of the 2015-16 NBA season, where a lot of good is happening — and a lot of bad is riding alongside.
It is going to be hard for anyone to match the performance put on Saturday night by Stephen Curry, whose 53-point performance included a 28-point third quarter that practically redefined what a good and a bad 3-point attempt looks like. With Curry (he has 17 3s through 3 games) there is no such thing as a back 3-point attempt, even if it is contested.
That, however, is not the case with Kobe Bryant.
The Mamba is not exactly making a hero’s return for the Lakers, who are off to an 0-3 start that has some questioning whether Byron Scott should tighten the reins on Bryant and assert some measure of authority. Bryant has never met a shot he didn’t think he could make, but that used to happen when the guy was a year-to-year precious commodity. Now, however, it is 2015. Kobe is now in his 20th season, and he seems determined to show that he hasn’t lost anything despite missing practically the entire last two NBA seasons (along with the 2013 playoffs) due to injuries.
Bryant was 3-for-15 Sunday in a 10-point loss to the Mavs, following up an 5-for-12 showing in an 18-point loss to the Kings and an 8-for-24 outing in the opener against Minnesota. Perhaps the most telling stat for Bryant is his grand total of 5 assists, for an average of 1.7. That is nearly a third of his career average of 4.8.
But Bryant has not been the runaway LVP.
That distinction belongs to James Harden, who has attempted 32 shots from 3-point range and has made 3. That’s 9 percent, folks. Only Rand Paul and Jeb Bush have worse numbers, and neither of them is going to be with us through mid-April. Of all the teams off to winless starts, none is more shocking that Houston’s, as all three losses have been by 20 points or more.
Only an idiot would count out Harden and/or Bryant for the season, and that is not what we are doing here. But at this point, neither would make the Top 100 in an MVP rankings column (I will have my first one after 10 or so games are in the books). If this was to be an MVP rankings column, it would begin with Curry and go on to include Russell Westbrook (shooting a high volume, but shooting 50 percent) and Blake Griffin as 1-2-3.
More on that, and more on what is mentioned above, in this video with CineSport’s Noah Coslov:
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.