The 2014/15 NBA season is just over two weeks old, yet we have already seen some standout individual efforts. Here are some performances that have caught my eye so far.
It was only a matter of time before we saw a dominant performance by Blake Griffin. A bearded Blake dismantled the Lakers with a 39-point, seven-rebound effort. Griffin was hitting everything from rim-rocking dunks to 20-foot jumpers – he was a man on a mission. Personally, my favourite play came when the Lakers were in a huddle and didn’t see the Clippers had got the ball into Blake for an easy dunk (around 50 seconds into the video highlight attached).
The Kings have not had much to celebrate in the last…well… decade or so. This season, however, looks promising in its early stages and in part Rudy Gay has had a hand in the early turnaround. In the Kings’ first win of the season, Gay went off for 40 points against a formidable Portland Trail Blazers team. This win was the first of five straight for the Kings that also included a victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, and it was the first time they have amassed such a streak since the 2006/07 season. A fresh perspective from new ownership and a surprisingly cool, calm and collected DeMarcus Cousins have brought Kings fans hope they have not experienced since their duelling days against the Shaq (how ironic he owns a piece of the team he so affectionately used to call the ‘Sacramento Queens’) and Kobe Lakers.
Golden State management and Klay Thompson were stuck in negotiations for a contract extension until the 11th hour. The Warriors ended up submitting to Thompson’s request for a max extension that entailed around $70 million over four years. And do you know what Klay did the next day to celebrate? He had a mammoth game against the LA Lakers, scoring a career-high 41 points. Thompson put on an offensive master-class, destroying the Lakers both in the paint and beyond the three-point line.
NBA fans did not have to wait long to see whether or not Anthony Davis was ready to step forward into elite status. The first game of the regular season saw AD finish with 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks. Davis was all over the Orlando Magic on both ends of the floor, hitting the offensive glass and sending away anything the Magic dared to challenge him with. He played with the ferociousness that we all expected from him and at only 21 years old, he is my dark horse for the MVP (assuming the Pelicans can, you know, win some games).
Never have I seen the NBA change a player’s statistics after a game has been completed. With that being said, LeBron James was given a triple-double and then it was subsequently taken away after an NBA review. His effort against the Pelicans where he had 32 points, 11 rebounds (reduced from 12) and 9 assists (reduced from 10) was just another example of how dominant he can be. ‘King James’ was at his opponent-crushing best and willed the Cavs over the line. At both ends of the floor, there was no stopping the four-time MVP. His night included this laser pass to Kyrie Irving, showing signs that the chemistry of the newly-assembled team is on the rise.
Honourable Mention: DeMarcus Cousins
Ok, so I couldn’t leave this one out. ‘Boogie’ Cousins absolutely torched the Nuggets with 30 points and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes. The guy didn’t even play half the game and still put up those numbers. This tale, though, is one of what might have been. Cousins fouled out early in the fourth quarter of the blow-out win, so there’s no way of telling just how ridiculous his numbers would have been had he logged his regular quota of minutes. Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose sold me on ‘Boogie’ and it looks as though he has finally turned a corner and is maturing into a franchise player.