We only have a week of NBA games to react to, but it's never too early for takes. And the 2020-21 season has already given us a handful of early disappointments.
The obvious disclaimer here is that the following teams and players only have two or three contests under their belts. In some cases, one huge game could shift the narrative. And if an off stretch this short occurred in the middle of the season, we probably wouldn't think much of it.
Still, there are reasons for varying levels of concern. And we have to acknowledge the disappointments at some point. Might as well be now.
This may be nitpicky. Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming off back-to-back seasons with unprecedented production. And for just about anyone else in league history, his marks of 25.7 points, 13.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game would be reason for praise.
But the Milwaukee Bucks are 1-2, and Giannis' biggest (and perhaps only real) weakness has been on vivid display. He's 4-of-16 on threes and 8-of-30 on all shots from beyond five feet.
What may be most concerning is his 58.3 free-throw percentage. If that mark holds, this would be the fourth straight season in which Antetokounmpo's percentage from the line dropped.
And it's not just that he's missing the freebies. As pointed out by ESPN Stats & Info, those misses often come at the worst times:
"On Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the game-tying free throw with 0.4 seconds left in a 122-121 loss against the Celtics.
"Giannis has now missed 25 free throws in clutch time since the start of the 2018-19 season, the most in the NBA over that span."
No one should expect Antetokounmpo to become Duncan Robinson. And even if he finds average efficiency as a jump shooter, opponents will always worry more about his drives and defend him accordingly. A hint of evolution would help the Bucks, though. And some consistency from the line might make defenders think twice instead of defaulting to fouls.
There probably weren't many out there locking the Chicago Bulls into the playoffs before this season started, but they have an intriguing mix of talent, youth and experience.
Zach LaVine is a bona fide No. 1 scorer. Lauri Markkanen fits the mold of a modern big who relies more on skill than athleticism. Wendell Carter Jr. has Swiss army knife potential. Coby White can get hot as a jump shooter. Otto Porter Jr. is a solid glue guy. To spare you a recitation of the entire roster, we'll just sum it up and say they should at least be competitive.
So far, they haven't been. And their chances of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight, have dropped from 10 percent before the season to 3 percent.
There are a handful of encouraging offensive signs from individual players (even though the team is near the bottom of the league in points per 100 possessions). On defense, they just can't stop anyone.
On Sunday, they gave up 129 points to the Golden State Warriors, who have the worst offense in the NBA. No one looks like a great candidate to anchor a decent defense. And rookie Patrick Williams may already be their most impactful player on that end.
In terms of talent, Porter, Carter and Williams should be able to positively affect outcomes on that end, but there's no cohesion yet.