NBA Opening Night Reactions and Overreactions

What should we take away from last night's games? What should we leave there?

NBA Opening Night is a lot like a typical first date.

More than likely you're going into it with mixed expectations, thinking this is going to be either a complete disaster or a complete success. Then comes the date -- the games -- at which time you learn certain things about one another. You start to pick up on each other's tendencies, interests and opinions over a nice meal, and it's at that time that you start to look beyond the dinner.

You, in essence, begin your evaluation of both the person and the date. You may be thinking he or she's nice, funny or cute. On the other hand, maybe your date is not so nice, maybe they are too serious. This is the time you might be having some overreactions.

After skimming through Twitter for a couple hours last night I noticed that this is the same time people (fans, particularly) tend to overreact the most -- during the games. 

Some people were talking about how bad Derrick Rose was while others were saying Tristan Thompson wasn't worth the money the Cavs paid him (which might be true). I even saw some tweeters suggesting that Kendrick Perkins is the GOAT.

Come on, guys...

Now that the dust has settled and the date's over, we can sit back and take everything in a little better. This is when our evaluations are more true to what we really think rather than what we just saw before us. We see things we didn't see before, or we see them for what we should've seen them for the first time.

Most of all, we can decide for ourselves what we were simply reacting to and what we were overreacting to. Now's that time.

Rather than using our eyes, values and interests, however, we will be using numbers and a little bit of logic to help us sift through our emotional first impressions and come to decide what we simply reacted to and what we totally overreacted to.

Pistons defeat Hawks

Reaction:  Andre Drummond is an elite NBA center. 

Last night, Drummond showed us how he can flat out dominate a game. He posted 18 points, 19 rebounds and 2 blocks against Al Horford and the Hawks. He even showed some improvement at the free throw line, hitting 6 of 10 attempts from the charity stripe. 

Drummond's biggest influence was on the boards though as he tallied 8 offensive rebounds with an Offensive Rebound Percentage of 18.5%. He finished the game with one more offensive rebound than the entire Hawks team as the Pistons were otherwise outplayed by the Hawks in all other categories. We project Drummond to finish second among all NBA centers in total rebounds while averaging 13.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game.

Overreaction:  The Hawks won't be very good this year. 

Sure, DeMarre Carroll's in Toronto now and the combination Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha doesn't really make up for that big of a hole, but Atlanta still played really well last night. They shot over 45% from the field with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 50% while tallying 9 steals on the defensive end of the floor. 

Like we already knew, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver can't contain their opposing offensive counterparts. On the offensive end, Korver and Teague were both just off. We can expect a lot more points from the new-look Hawks going forward, especially if Dennis Schroder replicates his efficient 20 points in 25 minutes.

Bulls defeat Cavaliers

Reaction: The Cavaliers should have won this game. 

I know, I know -- "But they didn't." Yes, the Bulls rightfully deserved to win because they, in fact, did. On the other hand, maybe LeBron and the Cavs also deserved to win. They totaled 26 assists on 38 field goals and turned the ball over a mere 10 times. The Bulls weren't as efficient passing with 13 assists, on their 37 field goals, and 13 turnovers. 

What it boiled down to was shooting. The Bulls shot better from the field and from deep and dominated the Cavaliers at the free throw line, going 16 of 23 from the line (the Cavs were 10 of 17). So don't be afraid of losing your championship predictions just yet.

Overreaction:  Pau Gasol will be a good defender/rim protector this year.

Last night against the Cavs, Gasol blocked 6 shots -- 13.8% of the Cavs' two-point attempts. This was an absolute anomaly. Gasol, at the age of 35, will not turn into the shot blocker Taj Gibson is from the bench. In his previous 15 years in the league Gasol has not once averaged more than 2.1 blocks per game or a Block Percentage of more than 4.5%. The last time he reached those numbers was nearly 10 years ago, in his Memphis days. 

Outside of his 6 swats, Gasol posted the best Defensive Rating (90) of the entire starting unit. Don't expect that to happen very often either. Gasol has a career Defensive Rating of 104 points allowed per 100 possessions and has never once dropped below 101. Gasol is an offensive asset, and we shouldn't view him as anything but that moving forward.

Warriors defeat Pelicans

Reaction:  Stephen Curry is the reigning MVP and he just might win another one.

Chef Curry sure did cook up a nice appetizer for us last night, doing so to the tune of 40 points (24 coming in the first) on nearly 54% from the field, 5 of 12 from three and a perfect 7 of 7 from the free throw stripe. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds in an all-around masterful performance. His 63.5% Effective Field Goal Percentage was ridiculous for someone who used a third of his team's plays while he was on the floor. 

Our in-house metric, nERD (which measures a player's total contribution over the course of a season, based on efficiency), gave Curry a score of 68.4. To put that better into perspective, his teammate Andrew Bogut posted a 29.0, the next highest nERD of the night. We don't expect Steph to slow down either as we project him to score just short of 23.7 points per night on 46.6% from the floor, 44% from three and 91.4% from the line.

Overreaction:  Anthony Davis isn't going to have the year we thought. 

Coming into this year, Anthony Davis was the consensus favorite to win the NBA MVP. He's an uber-talented young player with his breakout season already under his belt and his sights set on improving his game via the three ball. Why wouldn't people like him to have the best season of anyone in the league? Well, Davis didn't do too hot last night against the reigning champion Warriors. 

He earned an Offensive Rating of a mere 66 with 18 points on a poor 4 of 20 from the floor (0 for 2 from three). He also turned the ball over five times and had just six rebounds on the night. He has the lowest nERD (-56.9) of any NBA player who played on opening night, but he played without two of his team's best players against the best team in the league. That's why, according to our numbers, Davis will get over this and tear up the league with 25.1 points (on over 51% shooting) and 10.8 rebounds per game.