1. The Process demands patience
Over the past week, Philadelphia secured an impressive win on the road in Detroit, suffered a tough home loss on an Eric Gordon buzzer-beater against Houston and then gritted out another hard-fought road win in Dallas. The week-to-week growth alone (they started the season 0-3) is enough encouragement for 76ers fans. But this is still a very young team.
Ben Simmons is having an outstanding start to his rookie campaign and is every bit as good as advertised. Joel Embiid is becoming a force on both the offensive and defensive ends and developing his inside-outside game nicely. Robert Covington and J. J. Redick are spacing the floor and shooting 49% and 40% from 3-point range, respectively. These are signs of promise for the future, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
Simmons' incredible start is only a start, he’s just six games into his career. Embiid is only shooting 25% from 3-point range and is still missing second nights of back-to-back sets. Jahlil Okafor has only seen the court once this season. Dario Saric is backing up a great rookie season with an awful start to his sophomore campaign, averaging 6.7 points, 4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Markelle Fultz struggled in his four games before being ruled out indefinitely to fix his shoulder.
Playoffs this season might be a stretch, but with enough patience it won’t be long before the ‘P' word in Philadelphia is playoffs, not process.
2. The struggle is real for the Cavs
Cleveland fans may not be worried about their current position after a 3-4 start, but it’s their efforts on the court that should cause concern. They’re riding a three-game losing streak to teams they should have dismantled easily in Brooklyn, New Orleans and New York. The remaining members of last season’s big three aren't the problem. LeBron James is still being LeBron James, averaging 27/7/8.8. Kevin Love is still being Kevin Love with 18.7 points and 11.2 rebounds an outing. The support cast are thereafter non-existent.
The Cavs have had no consistent play at the point guard position. Derrick Rose has missed four games with an ankle injury and one wonders with his injury history how many more times this season he’ll miss out. Isaiah Thomas is still not expected back until December, with LeBron having to start at point guard in the game against the Pelicans. Dwyane Wade struggled mightily in the starting line-up and was moved to run the second-unit offense, resulting in a marginal improvement in his form but no improvement in his team’s fortunes.
Jae Crowder and Tristan Thompson look like shells of their former selves. The good news is that we are still in October and Cleveland have a whole season to fix these issues. But in spite of Golden State's woes, several other key title contenders are looking ominous; the Cavs better steady the ship soon.