The first quarter is over, as 18 games of the 72 game NBA season are officially in the books for most teams and others are approaching the mark. There have been a lot of changes along with ups and downs in the standings. The 76ers are leading the East, for now, while the Lakers still look like the same dominant team that cruised their way into the playoffs last year and came out of the bubble victorious. Here are some NBA notes:
The Nuggets Are Back
Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr and the rest of the Nuggets team are showing that they are a serious threat to any contender in the NBA. Murray raised the bar with his layup package adding 360 layups, acrobatic layups, and a couple more layups that many are still wondering how he was able to pull off. Jokic showed he can contribute when it seemed like he had nothing in the tank. Otto Porter Jr and Bol Bol are showing that a promising future is coming for the Nuggets. This confirms the belief about how the Nuggets did so well in the draft, aside from the whole Donovan Mitchell miss!
Five games into the 2021 season and the Nuggets were 1-4 and the flashes of promise and hype were all gone. Some believed it was just a fluke or simply a bubble success story. After a slow start the Nuggets find themselves with a 10-7 record currently holding the 4th spot in the West. The Nuggets have not had it easy balancing their current stars with making sure that their young players are developing.
The Nuggets are doing great at mastering the balance of games, players timing and the latest NBA season format. They have seven players with double digits scoring averages led by Jokic at 25.4 points per game. The Nuggets will go to Murray, Porter Jr and Will Barton when they need a bucket and they have delivered. Porter Jr could be the key to the Nuggets long term success, as in seven games he is averaging 18.4 points taking over the minutes left by Jeremi Grant.
Mitchell & The Jazz Criticism
Shaquille O’Neal’s awkward interview with Mitchell may have been the best thing that could have happened to the Jazz. Regardless of whether Shaq was right or wrong, his comments resulted in lighting a fire under the Jazz and the whole state of Utah. Mitchell and the Jazz have had the best response to the criticism so far as the Jazz continue their winning streak. In some cases, criticism can also be seen as a sign that people are taking notice of the things that you’re doing. Shaq’s criticism may have a “reverse psychology” effect to everybody who had already written off Mitchell and the Jazz.
Latest Rookie Report!
James Wiseman, Warriors – 11.9 points per game in 17 games. Has scored in double digits four games straight. While possibly being moved to the bench for what Kerr called a move to improve defense, it could also improve the Warriors’ bench.
Cole Anthony, Magic – One day after hitting the game winner, he saw a game winner by Malcom Brogdon. Anthony has been put in the starting line-up for the Magic and is averaging 11 points shooting 33.9% from the three-point line. He is showing that he is capable of handling the starting position and also is able to deliver when the pressure is on.
Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves – Edwards started the season almost at running speed scoring in double digits in his first five games but has cooled down since. For Edwards, his situation with the wolves could be a lot more complicated than what meets the eye. For the Timberwolves, the team may have too many guards, their best players in Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell can’t seem to stay healthy, and Ricky Rubio is just not enough to bring the veteran (and overall) leadership this young team needs to succeed. Edwards is still making the best of it and leads all rookies in scoring averaging 12.3 points per game.
LaMelo Ball, Hornets – Ball may be the player that everybody is watching on the Hornets but still has not started his first game in the NBA. Not to agree with Lavar Ball, but the question of why he is not starting is looming around the NBA. Maybe, the Hornets know that Ball is the future and would rather save him for future years with a better roster instead of burning him out right away. On the plus side every little thing that LaMelo does seem so great that people overlook the little turnover problem that he has.
Watch out for
Immanuel Quickley; Obi Toppin, Knicks – The Knicks are currently on a 3-game losing streak, as everything seems to be back too normal and the overall hype is over. But the future is bright as Quickley and Toppin seemed to be making steady progress for the Knicks.
Feature Image: Mark J. Terrill/ Associated Press
Image: Mark J. Terrill/ Associated Press
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