The NBA season kicked off with a huge doubleheader last night, with most of the attention going to the Bulls-Heat game. Last night was everyone's first look at the defending championship Heat since their win over the Spurs, which was good news for Chris Bosh. In last years NBA Finals, Bosh had a rough series and continuously looked overmatched. He made a few crucial plays in games 6 and 7, but left a lot of the country disappointed in his play. In last night's trouncing of the Bulls, Bosh had a Chris Bosh kind of game, with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He helped control the paint against the Bulls bigs, and played an efficient game on offense. Those numbers are right around what I expect Bosh to average on the season.
While last night was the start to the NBA season, 24 teams begin their season tonight. Derrick Favors tips off with the Jazz tonight after signing a huge contract in the offseason. The Jazz are most likely a bottom tier NBA team, but I believe Favors will be the best NBA player from Georgia Tech by the end of the season. He's been buried on the Utah depth chart the last couple of years, but he finally has a chance to shine in a starting role.
Jarrett Jack is also experiencing a big change this season, playing behind Kyrie Irving on a surprisingly athletic Cavaliers roster. If Kyrie can stay healthy, there is a good chance Jack will be playing in the playoffs again this year. If Irving experiences more health problems, however, Jack will step into a starting role and run the team. Similar to Favors, I'm expecting a big year from Jack because he managed to put himself in a great situation.
The one Georgia Tech pro I truly feel bad for is Thaddeus Young. He has consistently played great basketball for the 76ers, but is going to be a part of a terrible team this year. It looks like Nerlens Noel will be out for the year, and Michael Carter-Williams has some major flaws in his game. It's going to be a long season for Young, but he has quite a few options next offseason in free agency. Iman Shumpert is another player that I think will have a weaker year than last year. The Knicks are now going to face actual threats in the East this year, and there's a good chance they're going to struggle because of it. If Shumpert can improve his offensive game, then the Knicks will be successful, but I certainly have my doubts given his inconsistencies in the past.
Moving on to the NFL, this week was more of the same, with a lot of guys doing their jobs, but failing to make the game changing plays they're used to. Michael Johnson struggled yet again, failing to get to the QB against the Jets, which is surprising given how badly the Bengals defense whooped the New York offense. For the Jets, Stephen Hill had another uneventful game, but the QB situation in New York was a major contributor to that. Dawan Landry recorded two pass deflections against the Bengals, but that doesn't mean much considering the Bengals scored 49 points.
Phillip Wheeler and Morgan Burnett both played solid football over the weekend, each recording 8 tackles. The Dolphins came up short against the Patriots, but the Packers were able to beat the lowly Vikings. Tashard Choice had a strong game in limited action against the Saints, rushing for 35 yards on 7 carries. Those numbers are slightly skewed due to a 20 yard run, but he still helped the Bills in the absence of CJ Spiller.
The Broncos went into the 4th quarter down 21-14 against the Redskins on Sunday, but stormed back to score 31 unanswered points. Demaryius Thomas had the game clinching 35 yard TD catch, which capped off a solid day for him. He finished with 7 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, and was the most targeted receiver on the team. Thomas continues to roll through every team he faces, and he is now approaching 700 receiving yards at the halfway point of the season.
Demaryius had a pretty good game, but Calvin Johnson had, what many believe, was the greatest game ever played by a wide receiver. On 16 targets, Megatron caught 14 balls for 329 yards and a touchdown. Johnson caught nearly everything thrown in his direction, and made plays against a talented Cowboys secondary. The most impressive part of Calvin's performance was the respect he showed for the game. After each remarkable catch, he got up and ran back to the huddle, ignoring all of the celebration and trash talk that is unfortunately a part of the NFL game today. Even more amazingly, after the Lions' win, Jerry Jones made the statement that Deion Sanders could have shut down Megatron. Now I'm not an "expert" analyst by any means(nor are most of the people who call themselves such), but a 6' 1", 200 pound CB would not be able to contain a 6' 5', 235 pound athletic freak like Calvin Johnson. Deion wouldn't be able to press Calvin at the line, and his speed would be negated by Calvin's speed and catch radius. It has to be a great feeling for Calvin, knowing such a respected figure in football needed to make a comment like that. Calvin Johnson is already working himself into the greatest of all time debate, and should he continue to play at this level for the next 8-10 years (that'll be very tough to do), there won't be much of a debate left.
What are your expectations for the upcoming NBA season? How do you feel about Calvin Johnson's long term success and chances of becoming the greatest ever?