We're officially one month into the 2019-20 NBA season, and things are starting to heat up. Both conferences look a lot more balanced and competitive than we expected, a legend has returned to the game, and the league's best have returned at an even higher level. Plus, off the court, there's been a number of interesting storylines, including some potential big changes to the schedule.
Here's a look at some of the most interesting narratives from the first month of the season, and whether or not they're worth buying or selling.
Buy or Sell: Doncic is the leading MVP candidate
Sell. After his stellar Rookie of the Year campaign last season, Luka Doncic made it clear he was going to be a star in this league. But even his most ardent supporters couldn't have expected him to be this good, this soon. Just 16 games into his second season, Doncic has established himself as one of the best players in the league. After in the Mavericks' victory over the Rockets on Sunday -- their fifth straight -- Doncic is nearly averaging a triple-double at 30.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game. He's second in scoring and assists, 13th in rebounds and has already put together a number of historic performances. More than that, he has the Mavericks in fourth place in the West at 11-5, and in position to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
With how well he's been playing, there's no question Doncic is a certified MVP candidate. But is he the leader? No. That would be Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning MVP is putting up 30 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists with over a steal and a block per game as well, and has the Bucks out to a 13-3 start, which is good for the second-best record in the league.
Buy or Sell: The NBA's schedule changes are a smart idea
Sell. Early on Saturday morning, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe dropped a fascinating report aboutin the near future. Among the changes being considered for implementation -- which could begin in the 2021-22 season if ratified -- are re-seeding teams in the conference finals, shortening the season to 78 games, starting an in-season tournament and a postseason play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots. There's no doubt that these are all interesting ideas, but whether or not they're smart is another question.
If there are any big problems plaguing the NBA right now, they revolve around the season being too long, which makes many fans feel like regular-season games are meaningless and leads to too many injuries. None of these ideas solve those issues, and, if anything, just make them worse. Shortening the season to 78 games is offset by the addition of tournament games, while opening up potential playoff spots to teams who finish 10th in their conference only makes regular-season games less meaningful.
Buy or Sell: The Grizzlies are right to refuse Iguodala's buyout
Buy. Andre Iguodala is technically a member of the Memphis Grizzlies right now, but it would be more accurate to say he's stuck in limbo. It's no secret that Iguodala wants to play for a contender instead of the rebuilding Grizz; he's been clear about that ever since he was traded to Memphis from the Golden State Warriors in the offseason. He never reported to the team, and has spent the start of the season doing his own thing as he awaits a resolution.
His camp would prefer a buyout so that he could join the team of his choosing, but the Grizzlies don't appear to be interested. Earlier this week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Memphisthat any team that wants Iguodala needs to trade for him. That stance has elicited plenty of reactions, but the truth is that the Grizzlies are doing the right thing for their organization. They know there's a big demand for Iguodala around the league, and eventually a team will be willing to give up some sort of assets to get him. Is it a bit of a bummer for Iguodala? Sure, but he's getting paid to rest, play golf and work out on his own time, so it could be worse.
Buy or Sell: Melo's time with the Trail Blazers is going to end well
Sell. Carmelo Anthony getting back in the league is a great story, and it's completely understandable why everyone was so happy for him. But the move working out on the court is a different thing all together. At this point, it's still too early to draw any concrete conclusions considering he's only played three games, and two of them were without Damian Lillard. Still, it's hard to imagine that he's going to do much to solve the problems this team is facing. He's well past his prime, and as his stints in Oklahoma City and Houston showed us, his offense is no longer good enough to make up for his deficiencies on the defensive end. Already, we're seeing signs of that, as he's shooting 34.1 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from 3, and the Blazers have been much better with him off the court. Anthony's pedigree and his relationship with Lillard and CJ McCollum will buy him some time, but if he keeps struggling on the floor, and the team does as well, it's going to get quite interesting leading up to his contract guarantee date in early January.
Buy or Sell: Harden's offensive style is good for the game
Sell. After putting up a career-high 36.1 points per game last season, James Harden is somehow scoring even more this time around. In the Rockets' first 17 games, Harden is averaging a whopping 37.9 points, which not only has him at the forefront of the MVP conversation once again, but has continued the discussion of whether his offensive style is good for the game. No one has taken the trend toward 3-pointers, layups and free throws further than Harden. Among the 234 shots he's taken this season, just five have been two-pointers that weren't in the paint; he averages over a dozen 3s and free throws per game, and has become a master of bending the rules to his will.
Is it entertaining at times? Absolutely. When Harden is cooking, no one else in the league can match him, and it really doesn't matter that everyone in the building, even the defenders, know exactly what he wants to do. But it can be quite frustrating as well. His iso-heavy style, which often relies on tricking referees into foul calls, has somewhat bastardized the game, removing many of the aspects that make it so beautiful to watch. ESPN's Bomani Jones once characterized it as "insurance fraud," and that still remains the best description. Does it get results? Yes. Is it good for everyone not involved? No.