Every NBA team has played about 10 games in the 2023-24 season. The season is still very young, but here are some of my takes after watching the first portion of games:
Daryl Morey wins yet again
General managers don't typically crowd headlines and news stories about any professional sport, especially basketball. However, this does not apply to Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Daryl Morey.
Morey was back in the headlines following comments made by James Harden on a press tour in China. Morey and Harden have been connected since their days in Houston, and Morey has been Harden’s biggest supporter since first acquiring him in Houston.
The last time Morey dealt with an unhappy superstar, he got James Harden from Brooklyn in exchange for the disgruntled Ben Simmons. While Harden wasn’t the final piece to completing the process in Philly, it was still a lopsided trade in favor of the 76ers.
This time, Harden played the role of the unhappy superstar on the 76ers, and Morey pulled the trigger again, trading him to the Los Angeles Clippers for Nic Batum, Robert Covington and draft capital. The Clippers have yet to win a game since adding Harden to the team, while the 76ers are currently 8-1 at the top of the Eastern Conference, and Tyrese Maxey has grown into a superstar in his fourth year. Things are looking up for the 76ers more than ever before, partly due to Morey.
Tyrese Haliburton is the best guard in the East
The path of Tyrese Haliburton has been far from conventional. Haliburton was drafted with the 12th pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings, a team notorious for missing on draft picks. This time, however, it looked like Sacramento got it right as Haliburton was flourishing as a young guard next to De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento.
Things took a massive and unexpected turn when the Kings traded Haliburton and Buddy Hield to the Indiana Pacers for a package centered around all-star big man Domantas Sabonis. Haliburton said he wanted to “build a legacy in Sacramento” before he was traded to Indiana in a piece for The Players Tribune. The trade allowed Haliburton to be on his own team and develop further as a player.
He has done that and more in his fifth season in the League. He is currently averaging more than 23 points and 12 assists per game, both being career highs. The Pacers are sitting at 6-4 after 10 games, good for third in the East. Haliburton has completely shown that he is the No. 1 option on a playoff team. In my opinion, he is the best guard the Eastern Conference has to offer.
The Timberwolves have arrived
Minnesota has long been a basketball purgatory, devoid of any playoff success and known for being a team where its star players often leave and go on to have massive success elsewhere. See Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love winning championships on other teams and the infamous tirade of Jimmy Butler that got him out of the Twin Cities on bad terms. Butler is now the number one option on a team that just made the NBA Finals. Thankfully for Timberwolves fans, there has been a basketball reset in Minnesota, thanks partly to fourth-year phenom Anthony Edwards.
The first pick in the 2020 draft out of Georgia is as scorching-hot of a star that Minnesota has seen since a young Garnett, a former MVP.
Minnesota’s front office realized this and moved to contend in the 2022 offseason, acquiring a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. The move was seen as an overpay at the time and could still be seen that way today, but much like the Sun blinds people with its red-hot rays, Edwards has blinded critics of the trade with his red-hot play, leading Minnesota to a 7-2 record so far this season. Timberwolves fans finally have a team that could legitimately make noise in the playoffs with the way they are currently playing and have a young star to rally around for the first time since Garnett.
The Grizzlies' season is as good as over
The previous two years have seen a basketball revolution in Memphis. A nucleus of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane looked like one of the league’s brightest young cores. They had the play to back it up, making the playoffs three straight years. The revolution came to a screeching halt last season after the first-round exit to the seven-seed Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Even more concerning was the behavior of the Grizzlies’ franchise player, Ja Morant.
Morant was involved in many incidents, including pointing guns at the Pacers’ team bus, and flashing a gun on Instagram Live. Following the Instagram live, the NBA suspended Ja Morant for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season. The Grizzlies made trades to combat this loss, such as trading for former DPOY Marcus Smart and signing an old but still productive Derrick Rose. The outlook was still to contend for a championship at the start of the year, but that goal has deteriorated significantly. Memphis didn’t win a game until its seventh of the year and are now 2-8 through 10 games and sitting at dead last in the Western Conference standings. Memphis still has 15 games until Morant returns, and with the way the season has gone so far, that return won’t matter much to their playoff chances.
Charlie Fadel is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Charlie know by emailing or tweeting him at @CharlieFadel or firstname.lastname@example.org.