The NBA season is taking shape, with some teams off to hot begins and other individuals dealing with injury troubles.
Here are 5 items to watch more than the weekend.
Are Giannis and Luka coming for the crown?
For the final two seasons, Nikola Jokic has been the undisputed king of the NBA standard season. He’s won every single of the final two NBA MVPs and has led the fantasy hoops landscape in each points and category leagues. Last season, he averaged a whopping 61.four fantasy points per game (FP/G), a lot more than 5 FP/G clear of second spot Giannis Antetokounmpo.
But, via the very first week of this season, there seem to be two main challenges for the throne. Giannis exploded for 43 points, 14 rebounds and five assists on Wednesday against the Nets and was top the NBA with 67. FP/G, just ahead of Luka Doncic second in second at 64.7 FP/G getting into Thursday. But, Luka upped the ante by dropping a 41-point, 14-help, 11-rebound triple-double on Thursday evening that ought to vault him into the pole position. Both Giannis and Luka are a complete ten FP/G ahead of Jokic ideal now.
This weekend, Giannis leads his undefeated Bucks into a Friday-Saturday back-to-back against the Knicks and the Hawks, who by the way are a combined six-two, and are enabling their opponents to score 113.five and 111. PPG…a combo that suggests Giannis ought to have the likelihood to place some points on the board in offense-heavy matchups. Luka gets a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back against the Thunder and Paolo Banchero’s Magic.
Will the major of this rookie class ever score in single digits?
Speaking of Banchero, the quantity 1 general choose in this year’s NBA Draft, has any person else noticed that this rookie class has come in wrecking shop? Banchero appears to hit a milestone every single time he plays, beginning his profession with 5 straight games of 20 or a lot more points to evoke the names of every single elite rookie in NBA history. Just now, I retweeted a note that Banchero is the very first player to total 120+ points, 35+ rebounds and 15+assists in their very first 5 NBA games considering that Dominique Wilkins in 1982-83. Oh, and the final Magic game I watched, Banchero spent important periods playing complete-on point guard, bringing it up and setting the offense with a unit that did not consist of any other non-swingman guards. So, there is that.
But, this is not just the Banchero show. Number 3 choose Jabari Smith Jr. is averaging 14.two PPG, 7.four RPG, two.six 3PG and 1.four BPG therefore far. Number 4 choose Keegan Murray scored 20-plus points in every single game he played through the Las Vegas Summer League, and has begun his NBA profession averaging 17.7 PPG, five.three RPG and three.three 3PG via 3 games. Number 5 choose Jaden Ivey is at 16. PPG, five.five APG, four.five RPG, 1.five SPG and 1.five 3PG via 4, though quantity six choose Bennedict Mathurin is at 20.eight PPG, five. RPG, two.four APG and two.four 3PG via 5.
None of the major-six picks in the rookie class have scored in single-digits in any game therefore far. Will they hold wielding the collective flame thrower this weekend? Banchero’s Magic face the Hornets on Friday and are in Dallas on Sunday. Smith’s Rockets go into Portland on Friday and Phoenix on Sunday. Murray’s Kings played the Grizzlies hard on Thursday, and only have 1 weekend game against the Heat on Saturday. Ivey faces two elite backcourts this weekend, very first against Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and the Hawks on Friday, then against Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Warriors on Sunday. And Mathurin’s Pacers are in the Nation’s Capital to face the Wizards on Friday, then in Brooklyn to see the Nets on Saturday. I have my popcorn prepared, and will be watching as a great deal of every single game as I possibly can. This rookie class is enjoyable!
And, the subsequent rookie up could possibly just be Shaedon Sharpe. Sharpe, the seventh general choose in the 2022 NBA Draft, was regarded by some to be the most talented player in the class. But, he had the least encounter, getting reclassified his graduating class so that he could be eligible for the 2022 Draft without having getting played a year in college or non-NBA pro. Sharpe got injured just minutes into his very first game in the Las Vegas Summer League, and therefore entered this standard season just about absolutely raw. He scored 12 points in 16 minutes in his very first game, but went scoreless in his second. From there, even though, he constructed back up from points in 12 minutes, to four points in 16, to 11 minutes in 16, to lastly 15 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes in his final outing. In that outing, Trail Blazers superstar Damain Lillard strained his calf and is anticipated to miss the subsequent week or two.
The Trail Blazers are, shockingly, atop the Western Conference ideal now with a four-1 record. In Lillard’s absence, Anfernee Simons will move into the lead guard and major slot that Lillard ordinarily occupies. But, who replaces Simons in the off-guard slot? Some think it could possibly be Sharpe. Whether he begins or not, it would look he ought to get extended minutes through this subsequent stretch. What will he do with these minutes, with this chance? We’ll start out to uncover out on Friday, when the Trail Blazers play at residence against one more particularly youthful group, the Houston Rockets.
Will either Los Angeles Team ever win once again, Part 1?
The Lakers and Clippers, involving them, function six former All NBA players. And, involving them, they’ve lost seven straight games. The Lakers have however to win a game at all, and the public outcry to their state of affairs can be heard from sea to shining sea. What’s the likelihood that either LA group gets in the win column this weekend?
Coming into the season, we all knew the Lakers did not have adequate lengthy-distance shooting. But, great grief…the carnage of rim harm when they shoot threes has reached historic, epic proportions. And it did not all of a sudden get much better when Russell Westbrook (hamstring) sat out a game the Lakers nevertheless shot eight-for-30 from downtown (26.7%) against the Nuggets on Wednesday even without having the man that has develop into the poster kid for their woes in the lineup.
This weekend, the Lakers play in Minnesota on Friday just before acquiring a rematch with the Nuggets on Sunday. Will Westbrook play? If so, can he strengthen on his averages of ten.three PPG and four.three APG that would every single represent way profession lows? More importantly to the Lakers’ (and fantasy basketball managers’) fortunes, will Anthony Davis (back) be in a position to play? And if so, will he be in a position to play like himself? Davis was in the midst of an outstanding start out to the season just before the dramatic fall that hurt his back against the Clippers, and watching him attempt to play at half-speed via the injury has been painful to watch.
Will either Los Angeles Team ever win once again, Part two?
The Clippers’ 3-game losing streak can be loosely tied to their group wellness, with Paul George missing 1 of the games and Kawhi Leonard missing two…and nevertheless on his minutes restriction in the 1 game he did play. Leonard’s status is the most regarding, as he returns from missing final season with a torn ACL. He’s played in only two of the very first 5 games, and only 21 minutes in every single of these games. He began experiencing stiffness in his surgically repaired knee soon after these two games, has sat out the final two and is up in the air as to no matter if he’ll be in a position to return on Sunday.
George sat out Tuesday’s game with an illness, and even even though he played on Thursday he wasn’t himself, managing only ten points on four-of-12 shooting from the field in an eight-point loss to the Thunder. It is anticipated that he will appear a lot more like the PG13 we’ve come to know and adore on Sunday, against the Pelicans.
Bonus: Zion Watch in the Big Easy
The Pelicans have been without having Zion Williamson (hip), Brandon Ingram (concussion) and Herbert Jones (knee) on Wednesday evening. Ingram is anticipated to miss the weekend games, but each Zion and Jones are listed as questionable for Friday evening. The Pelicans have two significant games this weekend, on Friday in Phoenix and against the Clippers on Sunday. All eyes will be watching to see if Zion, in specific, can return and probably place up larger numbers than usual with Ingram sidelined.