Thursday 22 February 2018 / 05:56 AM


The NBA season is in full swing, with over a month gone. The contenders are starting to separate and move toward the top, including some teams that we didn’t have figured out to begin the year and now know more about. But everyone in the league is still mathematically in this thing, and there’s still time for teams to fall and rise. So what moved everything up this week? Let’s take a look.

Ball Don’t Lie

Rookies Show Out

There’s some serious consideration to this being the best rookie class the NBA has seen in quite some time. They are incredible, aside from probably Lonzo Ball. Jayson Tatum has been outstanding for the Celtics, while Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., and Donovan Mitchell have been great. That’s even ignoring the promise from players like Malik Monk and Josh Jackson. Oh, and Ben Simmons counts as a rookie too. Yikes.

LaMarcus Carries Spurs

How about LaMarcus Aldridge, huh? The Spurs have been steady contending without Kawhi Leonard, and Tony Parker just came back. They have one of the best records in the West, and now with Kawhi slated to return, they look every bit as good as the top of the West. And Aldridge has gone back to his old self: he’s hitting near career-highs across the board.

Andre Drummond and the Pistons

Ever since Joel Embiid said Drummond couldn’t play defense, the Pistons are 12-5, and they currently have the East’s fourth-best record. They are crushing teams on defense, and dominating the boards. Drummond has elevated every part of his game and is making a solid case for being the best center in the East. He’s been great, and the team around him is awesome too. They are a real threat in the East.

Cavs Go Streaking

Don’t look now, but those Cavs that were left for dead just a few weeks ago are now winners of 12 straight games. They’ve been throttling teams, particularly on offense, with James and company working in a scoring offense that’s rivaling the Rockets in efficiency lately. They’ve gotten better with James full time running the point, and Kevin Love has been great too. This may be the embraced lineup going forward.

Booker Proves It

Hey, it’s me. Your resident president of the Devin Booker is Elite Fan Club. He’s been incredible this year, and has actually been trying on defense (!). This offensive game is among the best in the league, adding a 47-point game to his already glowing list of accomplishments. This guy is the real deal.

Ball Lies

Warriors’ Anger Problems

I really like the whole ‘we’re going to win the game and fight’ Warriors, but I wasn’t exactly expecting them to go full heel. The Warriors lead the league in techs on the young season, and have already seen ejections for Draymond Green, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston. That’s a healthy dose of players acting out, and they need to rein this thing in. Or don’t, because they’re killing teams regardless.

Curry Issues

But the one thing that may be a problem: Steph Curry and his ankle. The Warriors star injured it on Monday night, and that’s bad news for a Warriors team that is really heavy on his ball movement on offense. Klay Thompson has been assisted on EVERY three this year, and Curry accounts for 60% of that. They have good enough players to keep winning, but if this is a nagging injury, they are beatable.

Thunder Collapse

What a difference a week makes, huh? The Thunder this time last week were the talk of the NBA after smacking around the Warriors. Since though, Paul George has come back down to earth, and there’s serious meshing problems on this roster. Couple in the fact that all of Russ’ former teammates that were traded for these guys are showing out, and you start to wonder if the whole “Russ didn’t have help” argument wasn’t all it seemed to be. Narrow wins over the Timberwolves and Spurs have helped rectify things slightly, but they need another win today over the Jazz.

Pelicans Face the Music

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have been spectacular when they’ve been on the floor together this season. And the Pelicans were playing above .500 during that time. But with Davis now facing injuries again, the Pelicans have to rely on Cousins: a risky endeavor for a roster that’s already thin, and hovering a .500 this early in the season. One losing streak and things can go sideways in a hurry.

Ballers Of the Week

LeBron James should make this every single week. But this week in specific, he’s been terrific. James is doing everything for Cleveland, and the Cavs are rolling in this streak. James is the early MVP this year.

Speaking of awards, Donovan Mitchell needs some recognition. He scored 40 (!) points for the Jazz the other night, and currently is near the top for rookies in scoring. That means something, considering Mitchell isn’t playing a lot minutes. That’s quickly changing, though.

Jayson Tatum is the other rookie that should get some mention. The guy is shooting 53% from three, an unheard of amount for any player, much less a rookie. He’s become the go-to option aside from Horford and Kyrie on offense, and he looks ready to take on some meaningful minutes in playoff time.

Quick Hits

James Gets Ejected

James Block

Howard Saucing

Lance Dancing

Durant v. Cousins

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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