RAHEEL RAMZANALI

The NBA is back, and all is right in Raheel's world

Will Carmelo Anthony have a positive impact on the Rockets? Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Today is the holiest of holy days for me, Raheel Ramzanali. The start of the NBA season. If I had it my way, the season would have started even earlier - like on June 9, the day after the NBA finals. We can give the two teams in the NBA finals a week off, but for the rest of the guys, let’s get right back at it so Raheel can watch hoops all summer long. I digress. With the start of the season here, I wanted to layout some storylines that I’m excited for in the 2019 season:

  • Will Carmelo Anthony have a positive impact on the Rockets after the All-Star game? I think Carmelo is going to look pretty good to start the season, but father time is undefeated when it comes to everybody but LeBron James. How is Melo going to look shooting with tired legs? If he can overcome his spotty defense with some good shooting nights late in the season and the playoffs, it will be worth it for the Rockets.

  • Will Russell Westbrook get to the second round? It’s only been two years since Durant left, but those two years have been brutal in terms of team success for the Thunder. Last year’s disappointing loss to the Jazz in the first round was the cherry on top, but will it get better now that Paul George is all in with the Thunder? I love watching Russ play, but it’s time to add some team awards to his mantle in addition to the triple doubles.

  • Can the Raptors make the East fun again? LeBron has finally left the East and now all signs point to a new dynasty rising in the Celtics, but can Kawhi Leonard make this a bit more fun and entertaining? This Raptors team was the No. 1 seed last year and only got better with the addition of Kawhi and Danny Green. I think they win the East. I know I’m crazy.

  • Will anybody ever get any sleep now with the Lakers being a must-watch team every single night? We only have a few more years of prime LeBron to watch and I really don’t want to miss any of the action. In addition to that, we still have those Golden State Warriors fellas to scout if you’re a Houston fan.

  • All signs point to Giannis winning the MVP this year, BUT BUT BUT...indulge me for a second because I think Victor Oladipo has a shot to win it out of nowhere. Oladipo has been progressing every single year and I think has a legit shot to crack 29 ppg this year. While the league scoring leader isn’t guaranteed to win the MVP, it does put him in the conversation and if his team is top 2 in the East, why not?

  • Where will Kemba Walker end the season? I’m thinking San Antonio. I don’t know how, but for some reason I have a feeling something like this will happen.

  • My league pass team for this season: Donovan Mitchell. I can’t say the Jazz.

  • Two storylines for the New York City readers: the Nets will make the playoffs AND Kevin Knox will be a monster for the Knicks.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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