After one week of NBA action, fans have already been treated to so many great moments. Kemba has already had a record-breaking start to the season. Actual punches were thrown in the Lakers-Rockets game. Nikola Jokic had possibly the best game from a big man in NBA history. Caris Levert looks like a most improved player candidate. After watching NBA week 1, I’m even more excited for the rest of the season.
Kemba’s Record-Breaking Start
To start the season, Kemba Walker has created the new NBA record for threes made in the first 3 games of the season. After knocking down 7 against the Heat, he has made 19 threes in just three games. Kemba has quietly become one of the most underrated 3-point shooters in the league as he shot 40% in 2016-17 and 38% last season. In those respective seasons, he made 240 and 231 threes. This season he is on pace to make 520 threes, while this is extremely unrealistic it shows just how well Kemba has shot so far.
Not only has Kemba been making threes but he has also been an all-around scoring machine, leading the Hornets to a 2-1 record. In their only loss of the season against the Bucks he had 41 points on 52% shooting. He nearly carried the Hornets to that win before losing by just one point. The next game against the Magic the Hornets cruised to a 32-point victory behind Kemba’s 26 points on 50% shooting. Last night, he managed to squeeze out a win against the Heat 113-112 with a 39-point performance. Overall, he is averaging a league-leading 35.3 points per game. The roster around him may be awful, but Kemba is doing everything he can to lead this teams to its first playoff appearance in years.
Definitely one of the best fights in recent NBA history, actual punches were thrown (and landed) between Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo. After Brandon Ingram shoved James Harden and got into a ref’s face, things started to get chippy. Stephenson pulled Ingram away from the mob of players, but then Rondo and Paul got into it. Reports have come out claiming Rondo spit on Paul’s face, but after rewatching the film it appears Melo inadvertently spit on Paul. Once Rondo and Paul threw punches Ingram rushed back in and landed another hit. While this was entertaining to watch it will hurt both teams. There is no doubt Paul, Rondo, and Ingram will be suspended, likely for multiple games. All of these players are starters and both teams are struggling to find their identity early in the season.
Caris LeVert for Most Improved Player?
Even though I chose his teammate, D’Angelo Russell, to win Most Improved Player in my preseason award predictions, Caris Levert is making his case for the award. Through his first three games, LeVert has scored 27, 28, and 19 points including a game-winner against the Knicks. While it’s only the first week, three big-time scoring performances is a great sign for this season. LeVert has always been a pretty good player but never made a huge impact on the team. His first two seasons have been respectable, but nothing spectacular. Averaging just 8.2 PPG in his rookie season and 12.1 PPG last season, this may finally be LeVert’s breakout year.
It now appears he has a larger role on the team, as seen by his increase in minutes (26.3 to 31.3) and has an improved skill set. This season, LeVert has increased his shooting percentage from 0-10 feet from the basket from 60% to 75%. Additionally, he has bumped up his free throw attempts from just 2.3 to 7 a game. His ability to either finish or get fouled every time he goes to the basket suggests that his scoring will be much improved this season. The newfound confidence and strength attacking the basket should lead to an amazing season for LeVert and possibly the MIP player award at the end of the season.
Jokic’s Perfect Triple-Double
Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets may have recorded the best big man triple-double in NBA history. He recorded 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists on 11-11 FGA including 3-3 3PA. Not to mention his additional 4 steals and 0 turnovers. Jokic feasted in the post and made the Suns pay for leaving him open from behind the arc. His well-known passing ability was also on full display as he made beautiful passes to wide-open teammates. The Sun’s center, Deandre Ayton, did his best defensively, but there was nothing he could do to stop the Joker. In just his 4th season in the NBA, Jokic made the perfect play every time for the entire game giving his opponent absolutely no chance to compete. For many players, this is a once in a lifetime performance, but it’s just the beginning for Jokic.