Throne Room

5 thoughts on Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1

5 thoughts on Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1
HBO

Since enough people asked for this, we will recap each episode of the final season of Game of Thrones. Starting next week, these will be posted shortly after the show. But since we just decided to do it today, this one is a little late.

Warning: Spoilers follow. If you have not watched it yet, proceed at your own risk.

As Dany would say, "shall we begin?"

1) An old school episode

Sunday's show was a contrast to Season 7, where everything moved way too fast. It was more of an old school Thrones episode, with a lot of character interaction. I honestly believe this is when Thrones is at its best. While primarily a setup for later episodes, it featured some strong interactions between Jon and Sansa, Jon and Arya, Sansa and Tyrion, Jon and Bran, and Sam and Dany, Euron and Cersei. It was emotional and well done.

2) Sansa might be the smartest of all

Arya even told Jon that. She is the only one not fooled by Cersei, and is even critical of Tyrion for believing his sister. She is emerging as a strong leader, and a practical one. If someone other than Cersei is to sit on the Iron Throne at the end, Sansa will be a big reason. She gets it and her character evolution is one of the most impressive on the show. She learned her lessons from Lord Baelish well.

3) And the not so good...

The flying dragon love scene was useless. It was an obvious attempt to pander to fans who have been wanting to see it. But it did not serve to move the story. We already know Jon is a Targaryen, a reveal that happened last season. He finds out himself later in the episode, when Sam tells him. This could complicate the Jon and Dany relationship. Sam is loyal to a fault to Jon, but the way she killed his father and brother clearly is going to be an issue going forward.

4) Cersei continues to outsmart everyone

She has always been one step ahead of everyone. Her calculating nature has time and time again beaten her enemies. She is single-minded, and is playing the game at the highest level. She even enlists Bron to kill Jamie and Tyrion if the white walkers fail to do it. (Hard to believe he would). She has played this perfectly; if the Night King's army weakens the Jon/Dany alliance, Cersei will be prepared. From a strategy perspective, she is always a step ahead...Unless the Night King outplays everyone by skipping Winterfell and going straight to King's Landing. But there seems to be no indication of that.

5) Bran awareness

Bran's character continues to be vague and unlikeable. But the last scene when he sees Jamie - who tossed Bran out of the tower and crippled him in season 1 - was powerful, even with no words spoken. The previews for episode 2 indicate Dany is not happy with Jamie killing her father, and I suspect Bran will say Jamie has a part to play. Bran would likely not be the three-eyed raven if he had not been tossed out of the tower, and it appears those two will wind up intertwined again. Still, Bran, along with Gendry and anyone named Greyjoy...just not all that interesting.

The wrap-up

I liked the episode. It sets things up nicely for the final five episodes. The five most interesting characters remain The Night King, Jon, Sansa, Tyrion and Arya. The Night King's message - an impaled child on a wall with a flesh version of the pattern we have seen before - was the only wow moment, but the interaction between characters throughout was classic Thrones.

Expect more action in episode 2.

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The NBA Draft takes place this Wednesday and Thursday. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

This year's NBA draft features potential starters and valuable role players more so than no-doubt future stars. That becomes evident when looking at the headlining prospects among big men.

French teenager Alexandre Sarr from France could go No. 1 overall with his length and defensive potential, key reasons why he has thrice topped the AP's NBA mock draft. Meanwhile, Donovan Clingan from two-time reigning national champion UConn also will likely be a high pick as a rim-protecting force.

It's just unclear how quickly any will be ready for a leading role in the league, particularly offensively.

Here's a look at some of the top players in the position:

Alexandre Sarr, France

STRENGTHS: The athleticism, mobility and length offer significant upside at both ends of the court for the 7-footer, whether as a rim protector and versatile defender or as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls for lobs on offense. Sarr, 19, spent two seasons with the Overtime Elite developmental program for top prospects in the United States, then last season with Perth in the Australian-based National Basketball League as part of its “Next Stars” program. He ranked tied for second there by averaging 1.5 blocks despite averaging just 17.3 minutes.

He finished strong by averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 assists in his last six games with Perth. He also ranked among the best at the combine with a wingspan of better than 7-4.

CONCERNS: He'll need time to add bulk to a lean 224-pound frame and handle the rigors of an NBA season. Developing more consistent 3-point range (he shot 29% in the NBL last season) will be key to fully realizing his defense-stretching potential.

Donovan Clingan, UConn

STRENGTHS: He is big, strong and surprisingly nimble for his imposing 7-2, 282-pound frame, which made him an interior shot-blocking force in the Huskies' run to college basketball's first repeat men's title in 17 years. He ranked eighth in Division I by averaging 2.5 blocks per game despite playing just 22.6 minutes, then had some massive games in the NCAA Tournament. That included eight blocks and 14 rebounds in the second-round win against Northwestern, followed by 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a regional final against Illinois (the Illini were 0 for 19 on Clingan-challenged shots ) and four more swats against Alabama in the Final Four.

The 20-year-old sophomore runs the floor well despite his bulk and is a strong finisher. He also was tied for first at the combine in standing reach (9-7) and was second in wingspan (nearly 7-7).

CONCERNS: It's unclear how well he might handle switches to defend outside the paint in space. While he shot nearly 64% to rank among the national leaders, he has rarely had to produce much outside of the paint. He also shot just 55.8% from the line in two seasons.

Kel'el Ware, Indiana

STRENGTHS: The 20-year-old sophomore has flashed intriguing two-way potential to make himself a first-round prospect, first in a season at Oregon and then last year at Indiana. He averaged 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season as a starter for the Hoosiers. He made 17 of 40 3-pointers (.425), indicating the potential for growth in terms of pulling defenders outside.

The 7-footer has a nearly 7-5 wingspan and tested well at the NBA combine by ranking second among bigs in the lane agility test (second at 10.97 seconds) and shuttle run (second, 2.91).

CONCERNS: He'll need to add strength to his 230-pound frame and improve at the line, where he shot just 63.4% last year.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

STRENGTHS: The 6-11, 230-pound sophomore could play either forward or center as a first-round prospect. He was a steady producer by averaging 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds with the Blue Devils. He also more than doubled his shot-blocking totals last year (54, up from 26 as a freshman) when having to work as Duke's interior anchor after Dereck Lively II's departure for the NBA. He has shown improved mobility and footwork after surgery on his hips before last season, and he has improved as an outside shooter (34.8% from 3 last year, up from 28.2% in 2022-23).

CONCERNS: Filipowski isn't an elite athlete, so he could be vulnerable defensively in space as well as struggle against physical play. He slipped at the foul line last year, shooting just 67.1% after checking in at 76.5% as a freshman.

Others of Note

—ZACH EDEY: The 7-4, 299-pound Purdue center is a two-time Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year who led the Boilermakers to last year’s NCAA title game as the national scoring leader (25.2) and Division I’s No. 2 rebounder (12.2). He closed his career with 37 points in the title-game loss to UConn. He has a ridiculous wingspan of nearly 7-11 to go with the ability to shoot over any defender. There is uncertainty whether the first-round prospect is athletic enough to handle defensive switches or guarding in space.

—DARON HOLMES II: The 6-9, 236-pound junior from Dayton spent the past two seasons putting up big numbers, averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 56.7%. He also hit 38.6% of his 3s last year and averaged 2.1 blocks for his college career. The Atlantic 10 co-player of the year and league defensive player of the year could go in the back half of the first round, though he is a bit undersized among bigs.

—YVES MISSI: The 6-11, 229-pound center from Baylor came on as the season went on as a one-and-done prospect with bouncy athleticism, helping him finish at the rim (61.4% shooting) and block shots (1.5). That could make him a pick-and-roll or lob threat in the pros, though the 20-year-old from Cameroon will have to expand his offense beyond those crowd-charging dunks and improve at the line (61.6%).

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