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.
Heading into games on December 5, here’s how all NBA rookies have fared in TPA throughout the 2017-18 season: pic.twitter.com/alH2r7f4yv
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) December 5, 2017
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.
i’m telling you guys, Pop has purposefully kept kawhi out to allow LaMarcus Aldridge to regain confidence in his game
— LOUIE. (@louie_is_bored) November 30, 2017
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.
Luke Kennard, your thoughts on Andre Drummond? pic.twitter.com/ohNHgrC4On
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) November 28, 2017
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.
Ain’t heard nobody in the media or social media mention Lebron or the Cavs now that they on a 12 game win streak the season was over for them boys like 2 weeks ago according to y’all pic.twitter.com/wMN8axYiJ6
— Shawn Brown (@ShawnBrown_RCE) December 5, 2017
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.
Devin Booker just dropped 46 on Philly. Add that to the rest of his highest point totals this season: 38, 36, 35, 34, 34, 33, 33, 32, 30.
— Paolo Uggetti (@PaoloUggetti) December 5, 2017
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.
There have been 17 ejections in the NBA this year. The Warriors have 6 of them and 2 more were in games against the Warriors. (Beal + Boogie)
— John Zachary (@JohnZachary1) December 5, 2017
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.
Curry leaves the game 🙁 pic.twitter.com/jBvMfxxtMq
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 5, 2017
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.
Interesting 5 games coming for Nets: Thunder, Heat, Wizards, Knicks (all at home) Raptors. Let’s see how they make out.
— Reed Wallach (@ReedWallach) December 5, 2017
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.
MRI results negative on New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis’ injured groin, and timetable on his return will be day-to-day for near future, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 4, 2017
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.
It took Donovan Mitchell 23 games to top Gordon Hayward’s career-high in points.
— Drew Ivory (@DrewIve) December 2, 2017
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.
James Gets Ejected
LeBron James gets his first career ejection after 1082 games.
— ALL GRIND SPORTS (@allgrindsports) November 29, 2017
— All Sport News (@All_SportNews) December 1, 2017
DWIGHT. HOWARD. CROSSOVER… 2017 IS BANANAS pic.twitter.com/ByOcTUcgwX
— Andrew Claudio (@Claudio_GSN) November 8, 2017
Lance Stephenson, woah! pic.twitter.com/hb43fYEPwF
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) December 5, 2017
Durant v. Cousins
Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected after this heated confrontation. pic.twitter.com/ySzAAQKf8F
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 5, 2017