An extraordinary moment in the playoffs!
As COVID continues to rock the sporting world, many NBA teams have been affected by the virus, with games being postponed.
The season also continues to showcase a variety of improvement, as well as teams who have dropped off from hot starts.
Let’s get right into the major points for this week.
1. LaMelo Ball is a future star
I know that is a huge call and one that will likely be divisive, however Charlotte won their last four games, with Ball having many near triple-doubles this season before netting his first against the Hawks.
This stat line helped Ball make history, as he became the youngest player ever to net a triple-double.
His game is exciting to watch, even though he is streaky. He has begun to step into his own after a mixed first week, as he looks to become a threat most nights.
If Ball can become more consistent, he will be a star as he makes himself and his teammates better.
The Hornets are winning games, and if they continue their good form, Ball is going to be looked highly upon when it comes to awarding this season’s Rookie of the Year.
2. How about them Knicks?
The Knicks have received a ton of scrutiny over the years. From poor drafting, terrible management and lack of noise made in the free agency, the Knicks have been a laughing stock for years.
This season, things are finally starting to look brighter.
Fans have been treated to some solid basketball thus far, as the Knicks currently sit with a 5-6 record, good for ninth in the Eastern Conference. While they likely will be missing from the playoffs once again, they are showing positive signs.
RJ Barrett looks like coming into his own, while Julius Randle should be in the early talks for the Most Improved Player award, having improved his averages from last season to 22.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and a staggering 6.9 assists per game – all of which are career highs.
If Randle keeps up this level and his team continue to develop as a unit, they could be one to keep an eye on in coming seasons.
The future is finally starting to look bright at Madison Square Garden.
3. Sixers find diamond in the rough
In their game against the Nuggets, the 76ers were only allowed to field eight players due to coronavirus, as Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Seth Curry did not play.
While the team lost, the Sixers discovered they had a diamond in the rough by the name of Tyrese Maxey, who was forced to step up in the starting line-up and did not disappoint.
Maxey ended up with 39 points, seven rebounds and six assists, resulting in him recording the most points scored by a rookie in their first NBA start since 1970.
However, while the stats were amazing, the game showcased Maxey’s hustle and energy.
Many teams would consider the affects of COVID forcing players to sit as a burden, however it may result in teams finding out their bench is deeper than they thought. The Sixers have discovered this with Maxey, who fans should be excited about seeing more of in the future.
4. Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving dilemma
The Nets are struggling, with star forward Kevin Durant having missed time due to contact with a positive case of COVID, while Spencer Dinwiddie had suffered a season-ending injury.
However, the biggest concern is Kyrie Irving.
Irving has missed four games straight, with his coaches and team in the dark about his whereabouts. Irving was first listed out “due to personal reasons”, however he has not returned.
For those who have been asking…
I’ve been told that Kyrie is “off the grid.”
Not much to report. https://t.co/0l9PbLotpr
— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) January 11, 2021
With Brooklyn suffering from a bad string of games, they will be hoping their star is able to return sooner rather than later.
5. Nikola Jokic should be leading the MVP race
Jokic is a one-of-a-kind talent – a brilliant big man who has the playmaking ability of a point guard, which may make him the greatest playmaking big of all-time.
Despite a mixed start to the season for Denver, Jokic has been exceptional, averaging a triple-double and sitting on outstanding numbers such as 24.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game – staggering for a big man and all career highs.
Jokic has proven himself to be a leader for the Nuggets through his dominance on offence, defence and playmaking.
The Nuggets have won four of their last five games and look to continue this hot streak behind the leadership of their superstar.
Jokic has stood out as the best player thus far this season, with his all-around dominance supporting his claim towards his first MVP award.