Starting this week, I’m going to be writing a weekly NBA update describing the top stories from the past week, Let’s get right into it.
Eric Bledsoe Traded to the Bucks
On Tuesday, November 7, the Suns traded point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Bucks in exchange for center Greg Monroe, a heavily protected first round draft pick, and a second round draft pick. The first round pick will most likely be made in the 2019 draft. Prior to the trade, Bledsoe had expressed discontent with the Suns organization. Last season, despite playing some of the best basketball of his career, Bledsoe was benched for the final part of the season so that the Suns could try to lose more games in order to get a better draft pick. He supposedly requested a trade during the offseason, and when he wasn’t moved, he tweeted “I don’t wanna be here” on October 22, apparently in response to his status, although he did claim that it stemmed from being dragged to the hair salon. He met with the general manager and other team officials the following day, where he was sent home because of his tweet despite still being under contract with the team. After sitting out for almost three weeks, he was finally traded to the Bucks.
With the acquisition of Bledsoe, the Bucks figure to be one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference. Playing Bledsoe and reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon at the same time would allow them to play very small lineups with several elite ball handlers, putting them on par with several of the teams that they are competing against, like Boston, Cleveland, and Washington. Moreover, adding Bledsoe is likely to improve a defense that ranks 24th in efficiency according to Teamrankings, a website that compiles statistics for sports teams. The Bucks followed a loss to the Cavs without Bledsoe on the day of the trade with a pair of wins over the Spurs and the Lakers, bringing their record to 6-6.
Phoenix receives Greg Monroe, a solid, though unspectacular, center, whose contract expires after this season, giving them room to sign free agents this summer. The draft picks will help them continue to stockpile young talent, and seem to be good value for Bledsoe considering how much the situation had deteriorated. Phoenix went 1-3 this week, falling to 5-9 on the season, and Monroe has not yet played a game for them.
The Celtics Add to Their Win Streak
Following the gruesome injury of Gordon Hayward that will probably cost him his season, the Celtics seemed to be out of contention for this year. However, after taking two losses in the first two nights of the season immediately after the injury, the Celtics have bounced back, winning 12 in a row to claim the best record in the NBA. Kyrie Irving, following a trade to the Celtics that many saw as bad both for Irving and Boston, has emerged as a superstar, and is averaging 20 points and 5 assists along with elite defense. Jaylen Brown has made a huge leap from last season, averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds along with often guarding the best player on the opposing team. Third overall pick Jayson Tatum has impressed in his first set of games, averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds.
More impressively, though, is the contributions that Boston has received from its bench. On Wednesday against the Lakers, the Celtics hung on for a victory despite missing Al Horford due to a concussion, and Tatum due to ankle soreness. On Friday, Irving was injured two minutes into the game, while Horford remained on the bench, but led by Shane Larkin and Terry Rozier, the Celtics came back to beat the Hornets at home. On Sunday, Horford returned, but the Celtics beat the Raptors still without Irving. With those wins, along with one over the Hawks on Monday, the Celtics went 4-0 for the week, and control the best record in the game for the time being. This success, especially because it comes from a young and inexperienced bench, has made coach Brad Stevens an early favorite for coach of the year.
As the NBA season advances, there look to be many storylines, including rookie standouts, surprise teams, breakout seasons for players, and, of course, the realization that Golden State will win the championship anyway.
By Will Henson, Staff Writer