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Around the NBA in five minutes or less

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There’s only one team better than Detroit in the East. Seriously.

NBA: Preseason-Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is simply the best professional sports league in the world (yes, I checked), and unsurprisingly there’s quite a lot to cover lately. Although we’re mostly obsessed with the Detroit Pistons here, it never hurts to take a closer look at the competition. Here are some notes from around the NBA.

Eastern Conference

BOSTON CELTICS

The last time the Celtics lost a regular season game, the President was George W. Bush. Okay, not really. But if it wasn’t for the Celtics winning 12 straight after starting the season 0-2, the media might be spending a bit more time talking up the Detroit Pistons, winners of five straight and tied for third-best record in the entire league.

The Celtics play some fine defense, that much is certainly true. And their head coach Brad Stevens is no slouch. The below tweet was sent out prior to the Celtics (without Kyrie Irving because of Aron Baynes’ errant elbow the game prior) defeating the Toronto Raptors Sunday.

By the way, if you are looking for a non-Pistons game to watch this week, catch Kyrie (in a mask), Baynes, Marcus Morris and company play against the Golden State Warriors this Thursday night on TNT.

Lastly, here’s impressive rookie Jayson Tatum going to work against the Raptors. The 76ers probably wish they would have taken Tatum at number one overall, no? Well, who knows. Bet it’s likely crossed their minds, though.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

Since welcoming Eric Bledsoe to their lineup, the Milwaukee Bucks have won two in a row (at Spurs, home to Lakers). They’ll host the Memphis Grizzlies Monday before hosting our Pistons on Wednesday. Now, let’s see if Giannis can teach you a little something - it might really come in handy next time you’re trying to pick up babes in a Wisconsin sports bar:

FRANK NTILIKINA

You might have caught the LeBron James comments on Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. the other night after the Cavaliers beat Smith Jr.’s Mavericks. LeBron said the New York Knicks “passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough”, regarding the Knicks decision to draft Frank Ntilikina instead of Smith Jr. with the No. 8 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.

While LeBron might not have meant the comment as a slight against Ntilikina, it surely came across that way to some. As they should, Knicks players have come to Ntilikina’s defense. Most importantly, the 19-year-old Ntilikina is showing he’s far from a scrub. He’s playing a lot of minutes at backup point guard for the surging 7-5 Knicks. Although he might not be scoring as many points, or be quite as flashy as Smith Jr. is for the 2-12 Mavs, Frankie Smokes is demonstrating his all-around skill set. I’m really rooting for Ntilikina to be a big time player one day, however, it will take some time.

I ran into a tweet that, after a quick check, is factual and makes a strong point (numbers as of Nov. 12):

The Cavaliers play in New York Monday night. Forget about the NFL crap and catch watch this game. Although the Knicks aren’t great or anything, they are clearly having some success with a seemingly bare roster outside of a couple guys. A lot of their success is directly because of Kristaps Porzingis, obviously. Their success might not last through the long season, but it’d great to see them beat the Cavs for already the second time this season, and for Frank Ntilikina to give LeBron and the league something to think about.

Western Conference

TYREKE EVANS

Tyreke is healthy and playing good basketball again, pulling more than his fair share in helping the 7-5 Grizzlies stay somewhat relevant in the cutthroat West. In just over 27 minutes per game, Tyreke is shooting 42.6 percent from downtown (30 percent career average) and over 50 percent overall. Even to the most casual of fans, he has emerged as a serious Sixth Man of the Year candidate, with a 17.8 points per game average thus far. Considering Tyreke signed a one-year deal in the summer for $3.3 million, I think Memphis is feeling more than satisfied right now. Don’t forget how promising Tyreke was back in his rookie season:

Evans once joined Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Oscar Robertson in the exclusive class of rookies who averaged at least 20 points, five assists, and five rebounds.

That was eight seasons ago.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Remember back long ago when Detroit gave the Clippers their first loss of the season? Since that time, the Clippers have fallen flat on their face, having won only one game. They currently sit at 5-7, losers of five straight. But let’s get in a holiday mood and lend a hand to try and give them some good vibes by hoping they beat the 76ers Monday night. Because remember what I said last time about the 76ers?

DONOVAN MITCHELL

Sorry if you were expecting a full-fledged Donovan Mitchell update, as I purposely left it out this go-around. While Donovan has been doing some nice things out there in Utah, Detroit has a its own rookie earning time and finally turning heads.

May the Kool-Aid never run out:

Joking aside, it’s quite simple really: If Stan Van Gundy lets Luke Kennard do his thing, then sooner, rather than later, Donovan Mitchell will just become a distant memory in the minds of Pistons fans.

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Enjoy the week, all!