With one month (October 17 – November 17) of the NBA season in the books let’s take a look back over some of the teams, games and performances that have stood out so far
As expected the Golden State Warriors were, until recently, sitting atop the Western Conference. But things are getting difficult, having had arguments between stars Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, in addition to losing Stephen Curry to injury, the Warriors sit at 12 – 6. The Eastern Conference is currently ruled by the Toronto Raptors at 13 – 4 thanks in most part to the addition of Kawhi Leonard. However the recent addition of Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers may soon see the race atop the East heat up as they currently sit in the fourth seed with a 12 – 7 record.
Charlotte’s Kemba Walker is currently the leagues leading scorer, followed closely by Stephen Curry as the pair are putting up 29.6 and 29.5 points per game respectively. Detroit’s Andre Drummond is dominating on the boards to the tune of 16.2 per game, while Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is dishing out 10.4 assists, good for number 1 in the league.
This months hero team is the Memphis Grizzlies, a surprise to see currently joint first in the Western Conference (yes I realise its only November), with wins over the Milwaukee Bucks, the aforementioned 76ers, Nuggets and Jazz, all of whom were predicted to be better than Memphis coming into the season. They are led by a one of the best defenses in the league so far, mostly thanks to the resurgent combo of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, while rookie Jaren Jackson Jr has been impressive, contributing 12.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 1.7 blocks.
This one was surprisingly tough, thanks to the atrocious start to the season from both the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Double Clutch squad had the Wizards as a near 50% team in the pre-season predictions, they currently sit at 5 – 11 with losses against the likes of the Kings, Grizzlies, Mavericks and Nets, including dropping 5 straight. With the likes of John Wall & Bradley Beal on the roster, the Wiz need to bounce back in a big way in month two.
Most Valuable Player
This months DC MVP is Joel Embiid, in 18 games this season Philli’s big man has posted 16 double-doubles to the tune of 27.7 points (4th) and 12.9 rebounds (5th) to go along with 3.8 assists and 2.2 blocks (5th). On a more advanced statistical side, he sits number two in the league in win-shares (an estimation of the number of wins contributed by a player) behind Kevin Durant. Whilst the 76ers record should arguably be better, you cant blame the man who leads the league in minutes and puts it all on the line for the win. The addition of Butler could have big consequences for Embiids MVP potential.
Most Improved Player
The most improved player may surprise you this month, this award usually goes to a player who doubles their scoring output or bumps their numbers across the board, but this month, the award goes to DeAndre Jordan, a career 45% free-throw shooter who is currently lighting it up from the charity stripe at a whopping 81.5%. Serious props to Jordan, lets see if he can continue anywhere near that number for the duration of the season!
Rookie of the Month
A stacked draft this season could give us a couple of different option for ROY by the end of the April, but right now its Luka Doncic who stands out at the top in my opinion. The Mavs, who currently sit at 7 – 9 (including a win over the Warriors), have mostly been led by Doncic who is averaging 19.5 points (1st among rookies), 6.6 rebounds (3rd) and 4.2 assists (2nd), while shooting 47% FG, 38% 3pt and 77% FT.
Whilst a number of huge performances have happened across the league, I had to take one opportunity to write about the Sacramento Kings. My second choice for hero team, the Kings current squad has reminded us that Sacramento basketball may one day return to relevance. A fun team to watch, De’Aaron Fox has been the leader so far and his individual performance as just the second player in NBA history to record a thirty point triple-double before the age of 21, shows that he is one to watch. That game, Fox finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists as he led the Kings to a dominant win over highly touted draft pick Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.
*records accurate as of 20 November 2018
Featured photo – via Perform Group / Double Clutch illustration