Are the Celtics bad? Will the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook experiment work? Asking the NBA’s Biggest Unanswered Questions


We are already in the month of November.

Yes, time flies in 2021.

While the end of the calendar year is fast approaching, we are only in the early stages of the NBA season. Starting next week, most teams will have played at least 10 games, and while that’s not enough to make big statements about a team’s fortunes, it’s enough time to see some trends.

We asked our TSN staff to give us the questions they most look forward to receiving in the month of November.

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(NBA Getty Images)

Will Russell Westbrook’s experiment work for the Lakers?

Less than 10 games is not enough time to make a definitive statement about how the Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers have gone so far.

But man, it hasn’t started well.

Westbrook is averaging 19.4 points, 8.5 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game this season. We knew his averages would sink playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so there are no problems there. But the advancement numbers, which frankly are never very kind to Westbrook, have been wildly bad for the first few weeks.

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Westbrook currently has a PER of 15.6 at the time of this writing, which if held up would be the worst mark as it was a 15.2 in his rookie season. His effective field goal percentage of 46.9 percent is once again well below the league average of 51.5. His free throw rate is down to 21.2 percent, again, if he holds up, it would be the lowest mark of his career (which could have something to do with the new rules) and when he gets there, he’ll be shooting a terrible 58.1 per. cent from the foul line.

The Lakers have also performed better when Westbrook is not on the court. With Westbrook on the court, the Lakers are getting exceeded by 3.5 points per 100 possessions. When it sits down, LA is outperforming the teams by 8.0 points per 100.

The good news is that it is early. And Westbrook and the Lakers have a whole season to figure this out.

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The month of November is not full of difficult games either. Outside of games, against the Bucks, Heat, Bulls and Knicks, the Lakers have it pretty easy. There’s a five-game road trip in the middle of the month, but they should come out relatively unscathed, especially if Boston continues to play as poorly as it is now. (More on that in a moment)

In late November, with the easy slate in front of them, the Lakers may have a chance to settle this Westbrook issue.

The NBA world will be watching closely.

Carlan Gay (@CarlanGay)

Are the Celtics really that bad?

It looked like the Boston Celtics were going to turn the tide of their difficult start to the season when they built a 19-point lead at home against the first-place Chicago Bulls. All of that quickly fell apart after the Bulls outscored the Celtics 39-11 in the fourth quarter, completing a comeback that set off a panic alarm in Boston.

Marcus Smart, the longest-serving Celtic in charge, took to the media to discuss your shift’s offensive style and my team shift, saying, “Every team knows we’re trying to go to Jayson ( Tatum) and Jaylen (Brown). Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everyone’s scouting report is to get those guys to pass the buck. They don’t want to pass the buck. “

To provide full context, he went on to say, “They are still learning. We are proud of the progress they are making, but they will have to take another step and find ways to not only create for themselves, but create for others on this team to open the field. for them later in the game. “

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Tatum and Brown continue to add big numbers, averaging 24.3 and 26.9 points, respectively. But the tandem has done it mainly in isolation, and Tatum, in particular, has struggled to efficiently score in the clutch, shooting 28.0 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from 3.

Beyond the slight confusion with the star duo, new head coach Ime Udoka has remained in the same rotation since opening night despite the team’s slow start and the Celtics defense has failed to stop anyone. allowing the second-most points per game in the league at 114.6.

Even with all these problems, they have lost two games of double overtime along with the lost advantage against the Bulls. That’s a small margin between being an ugly 3-5 or a manageable 5-3. So that begs the question: what is the true identity of this team?

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

(NBA Getty Images)

Is the Bulls defense real?

Many expected the Bulls to be one of the best offensive teams this season. Whether or not they could hang defensively was the biggest concern. So it’s encouraging to see them rank 6th in defensive efficiency heading into his meeting with the 76ers on Wednesday, holding opponents at 101.1 points per 100 possessions in seven games. Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have been at the forefront of his defensive success thus far, but the Bulls have been quite impressive as a whole.

It’s unfortunate that the Bulls can be without Patrick Williams for the rest of the season because they are a little lighter defensively at the leading positions. Now a lot will be asked of Derrick Jones Jr.

Of course, it helps that the Bulls had a relatively easy schedule to start the season, but they are about to be put to the test. After a back-to-back with the 76ers, the Bulls face the Nets, Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Trail Blazers and Nuggets for the next two weeks.

If they can maintain a defensive top 10 rating during this next leg, we may have to rethink this team’s roof.

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

What happens when Pascal Siakam returns to the Raptors?

In theory, this It seems simple, but it is a question that can be answered in a number of ways.

The Raptors stumbled out to start the season but quickly settled things, in large part thanks to the play of OG Anunoby and rookie Scottie Barnes, who, as the team’s starting forwards, were the team’s top two scorers in October.

Siakam, who is expected to return in mid to late November, has a maximum contract, so he cannot be expected to leave the bank once he returns, so what does that mean for the initial unit?

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Anunoby, a 24-year-old on the sidelines of All-Star consideration, is absolute insurance to stay in the lineup, and while Barnes is only 20, it’s hard to justify coming off the bench while a legitimate rookie to the Candidate. of year.

In the era of positionless basketball, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is faced with one of two options: go jumbo and move the 6-foot-7, 232-pound Anunoby to shooting guard or go small and start. the 6 foot run. 8, 230-pound Siakam in center position.

According to the basketball referenceSiakam played 18 percent of his minutes during the 2020-21 season as a center, showing that he is capable of it, but can he continue to play at a high level in that position?

There’s no question that Siakam will help this Raptors team by adding another dynamic to offense, but how difficult will it be for them to adjust after playing without him for a month? Siakam immediately becomes the boy again, or is it a title split in multiple ways between him, Anunoby, Barnes and Fred VanVleet.

Don’t get me wrong, these are good problems, but the Raptors will have to solve them to reach their limit.

Gilbert McGregor (@ GMcGregor21)


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