NBA Takeaways of the Week: Feb. 1-7

Kevin Reyes
NBA Analyst

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. 

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With another week of NBA action in the books, let’s talk about some of the things that happened during the past week. Once a week, I’ll be releasing an article on some takeaways I had from the previous week of NBA basketball. Today, I bring you my NBA Takeaways of the Week, from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7.

Lonzo Ball is still really good

With the New Orleans Pelicans struggling to start their season, getting off to a 5-10 start capped off with a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, everyone on the team not named Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram was getting criticized for the team’s slow start. Ball was the guy most criticized, averaging 12/4/5 on 39/29/58 shooting in his first 12 games of the season. But since that point, Lonzo (and the team) has stepped up: Ball is averaging 16/5/4 on 47/49/75 shooting in his last seven games, with the Pelicans winning five of those seven games.

With trade rumors spreading like wildfire, and his impending restricted free agency this summer, Lonzo’s NBA future is very uncertain at the moment. Can he be the focal point of a playoff team’s offense? Can he consistently thrive as a third or fourth option on a playoff team? Is he the starting point guard of a championship team? I think he can be one of the best four or five players on a playoff team, but his role moving forward entirely depends on what he may be asking for in free agency. But, for the time being, his play is proving he can be serviceable, and that he will be an interesting target near the Trade Deadline.

The rebuild that can end up being the best in history

I hate tanking. I hate it when teams purposely sabotage their roster to lose games and have the best possible draft pick, especially when a team does it for multiple seasons. On the flip side, I absolutely love it when a rebuilding team still fields a competitive roster. It’s a team that is in a rebuild, and will still end up with one of the worst records in the league, but it establishes a better culture. The Brooklyn Nets did that and were awarded with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signing with them over the New York Knicks. The Los Angeles Clippers did that and were awarded with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George wanting to team up there. Right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping to be the next team to do that.

Albeit, the Thunder don’t have the market that those previous two teams have, but they are in a situation where they control their own destiny. Instead of relying on sales pitches in free agency, the Thunder have young promising talent and a plethora of future first round picks. Players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Hamidou Diallo, Théo Maledon and Isaiah Roby will be centerpieces for the foreseeable future and their 19 first round picks through 2027 also help. Whatever they decide to do with those assets is a great question for another time. For now, they are 10-12 in the first year of their rebuild, and the future couldn’t be brighter in OKC.

What are health and safety protocols?

The way the NBA has handled players suffering from the worst possible designation on the injury report this season (“Health and Safety Protocols”) has been questionable, to say the least. More than half of teams having to miss a week of play at a time and not quarantining enough players in some instances, are some of the notable problems the season has had. But things went to a whole other level on Friday, with the mismanagement that happened with Kevin Durant’s game status for the game between his Nets and the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center.

In layman’s terms: the NBA, in the span of an hour, determined that Durant couldn’t play due to “Health and Safety Protocols”, to then say he could play, to then (after 19 minutes of him on the court) determine that he couldn’t play.

The situation could’ve been handled one thousand times better, which perfectly encapsulates how this whole season has been. The NBA isn’t in the best place right now, especially considering that stars like De’Aaron Fox, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and even Kawhi Leonard have criticized the league’s decision to have an All-Star Game on March 7. Speaking of…

Having an All-Star Game this season is dumb

Multiple factors help me reach this conclusion. Obviously, the main reason against is that we are still in a pandemic, and who knows how the vaccine rollout will be like at that point. Beyond that, though, having the event doesn’t make sense beyond the NBA trying to make up for the money they’ve lost. Yes, the money is the only reason they’re making this game actually happen (for now, hopefully), but the negatives far outweigh the positive.

What’s the NBA going to do with all the postponements they made in the first half of the season? Everyone has to play the equal amount of games (ideally). Are All-Stars going to have the least amount of rest? And may the powers that be forbid that there’s any COVID-related situation in the event. I would keep rambling on and on about how idiotic this idea is, but I already have done so on the “Derl and Kev NBA Show”, so you can check that out if it interests you (and follow us as well, it’s free).

*rant is from 46:20 to 48:32*

What stood out to you in this past week of the NBA season? Tweet at me and let me know!