Guys, football season is almost over which means all of my sports consumption will focus on the NBA and the standard MMA cards in a few weeks. College Football season is over and the NFL season has just two rounds of the playoffs and the Super Bowl remaining. Soon I will be able to write with real insights and reflect on NBA games that I actually watched instead of regurgitating facts and events that showed up in my social media feeds. Until then, let’s look back on the big stories of week 11 in the NBA.
The dude is still doing it. His season averages are below and he had his 17th triple double of the season this week.
MVP vs. MVP
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are having legendary seasons so far and they faced off in a fun match up on January 5th. Houston won by two points, but both stars on each team put on a show. Westbrook scored 49 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists while Harden had 26 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists. The Rockets sit atop the western conference with Golden State and San Antonio while OKC is more middle of the pack. Both teams will make the playoffs and if the stars align to where they face off in the first or second round of the playoffs, everyone would be hyped to watch.
While Westbrook is on his own level, Harden has had 8 triple doubles so far this season helping the rockets win 8 straight and have a 19-2 record since December 1st. He has had 17 straight double doubles and is playing so well I am feeling the unstoppable urge to go buy Adidas shoes.
For a second there I thought the Bulls were going to be decent this year. Just for a second. Now Rondo is doing Rondo things and Wade is playing like a mid-thirties super star with bad knees, but Jimmy Butler is still frequently playing great. In a 118 – 111 win over the Hornets, Butler scored a career high 52 points. I often forget how crazy it is when someone scores 50 points in a game as 8 players have already accomplished that feat this season. He also had 12 rebounds and 6 assist while shooting 21-22 from the free throw line.
Here is a stat that will singe your eyebrows regarding Michael Jordan and his run with the Bulls; Jimmy Butler now has two 50 point games as a bull, Michael Jordan had 30. Motherfucking thirty 50 point games.
Joel Embiid and the 76ers faced off against Karl Anthony-Towns and the Timberwolves on Tuesday, January 3rd. Both of these teams aren’t that good but they have two of the best young talents in the league. Embiid had 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks while Towns had 23 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. These two guys are athletic freaks, Embiid being 7 feet tall weighing 250 pounds and Towns 7 feet tall, 244 pounds and has the handle of a point guard.
Giannis Antetokounmpo hit his first buzzer beat to beat the Knicks (without Porzingis) on January 4th putting up a stat line of 27 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. The two teams faced off again the very next night where Porzingis played for the Knicks. The Knicks won this game with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks from Porzingis compared to Giannis who had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 5 blocks.
All four of these players are the future of the NBA. Seven foot tall dudes with point guard like handle and three point shooting ability. We are approaching the maximum genetic potential of humans in regards to playing basketball.
Paul is a great traditional point guard who is already in his 12th season, his 6th with the Clippers . He is still playing at a high level and his career stats are accumulating into numbers that match other all-time great players. He passed Rod Strickland this week for 10th all-time in career assist at 7,988. In the same week, Paul passed Isiah Thomas for 15th all-time in career steals with 1,862. Everyone agrees that Paul is a great player, but he is still hampered by the public perception as a career loser for never advancing deep into the playoffs and winning a championship.
The Cavaliers had a big gap in their line up with the J.R. Smith injury so GM LeBron traded for Kyle Korver from Atlanta. The Cavs traded Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, and a future protected first round pick for the veteran shooter. Dunleavy doesn’t want to play in Atlanta and is lobbying for a contract buyout from the Hawks hoping to sign with another contender. The Cavs are going to have a lot of shooting in the playoffs with Smith and Korver.
Matt Bonner Retirement
Matt Bonner (or as no one called him the red mamba) retired this week. He announced his retirement via a goofy video that wasn’t as funny as social media made it out to be. Bonner played with the Spurs for the past 8 years and didn’t receive a lot of playing time last year. I honestly forgot about his existence until this video but I remember him making some critical three pointers the Spurs playoff runs a few years ago. He now a member of the Spurs broadcast team.
Isaiah Thomas is still doing a great Isiah Thomas impersonation, Justice Winslow is out for the year for the Heat with a shoulder injury, Jae Crowder got upset with Boston fans cheering on a white guy, and Marco Belinelli almost converted on one of the coolest buzzer beaters of all time.