So much of every offseason is about projecting and predicting where teams will end up in April and sometimes even in June.
What we often forget when we finally get to the regular season, though, is what the first few weeks are really about: Everyone finding where he fits in.
This motif of fit (and, in turn, impatience) was the talk across SB Nation this week.
The conversations started just a few days before the season. For example, in Dallas, affiliate Mavs Moneyball addressed the concern of whether new acquisitions Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis will be a good match on the court. Alan Smithee ends the article by claiming, "If Monta simply is who he is, and can't make the adjustments needed, then he won't give Dallas more with less, as we all hope. He'll just give them less of the same.
"And that would be a problem."
Mavs Moneyball, though, wasn't the only site to pose these questions of fit. After a trade brought Marcin Gortat to Washington, Wizards' affiliate Bullets Forever headlined with a similar question: How does Gortat fit in?
The piece was a long one, developing how the ‘Polish Hammer' could fill the defensive void left by Emeka Okafor, who was dealt in the trade to Phoenix. It also looks at how he can play in the pick-and-roll with budding star John Wall.
In the end, though, it was simply a question of whether a pre-regular season acquisition could fit with the pieces already in place.
These discussions are moving into the regular season as well. In Houston, one of the biggest questions this offseason was whether Dwight Howard and Omer Asik would match for a "Twin Towers" lineup. Affiliate The Dream Shake called that strategy a "mixed bag" in their opener, displaying how dominant the two are on the defensive end - but also how their general offensive ineptitude was magnified by having both on the floor.
The list of these topics goes on and on: How does Pau Gasol fit into the new-look Lakers? Why do the Grizzlies look "discombobulated"? How did the Bulls defense give up so many perimeter shots to Miami? Who should be the Rockets starting point guard?
So much of this offseason, just like every one, is looking at where a team will end up at the end of the season. Yes, wins and losses in Game 1 are just as valuable as wins and losses in Game 82. But as fans and analysts it's easy to get caught up in the over-analyzing of the beginning of the season.
As shown in the articles covered by SB Nation this week, there's obviously a sense of urgency: Why aren't these players playing well together? Wasn't this person going to step up? This team made a playoff run last year... what happened?
What they also demonstrate, though, is the proverbial ‘grace period' we all seem to forget about in the NBA, where teammates start to feel each other out. Even coaches, while given a chance in the preseason to sort out some of the kinks, are still looking for the best combinations of players, especially with closing units.
If you needed any other indication of this being true, Philadelphia leads the Eastern Conference to start the year, and they were front-runners in the ‘tank-o-palooza' sweepstakes to start the year.
The Portland Trail Blazers face comparable questions to the rest of the league: How does guard depth play into the team's success? How will the back-up bigs play into the equation? Will LaMarcus Aldridge put on another All Star caliber performance?
Now with a loss to lowly Phoenix and a dominating performance over a 2013 playoff team, the Portland Trail Blazers are a clear example of ‘feeling it out' to start 2013. Robin Lopez had two entirely different performances from game one to game two. Nicolas Batum couldn't buy a shot against Phoenix and couldn't miss against Denver. Heck, Joel Freeland looked like a different player from the first half last night to the second.
Consistency and fit will come with time. Having games to watch does allow us to start finally analyzing dribbles, shots and rebounds, but the ‘playoff team' conversation should be put on the back-burner for at least a few more games.
We may have seen the best of this team and the worst of them in three days. Somewhere between making Miles Plumlee look like an all star and shooting 64% from deep with only seven turnovers lies the full story of Portland's 2013-14 campaign.
Give them some time to write more than the first sentence.