The NBA is simply the best professional sports league in the world, and unsurprisingly there’s quite a lot to cover. Although we’re insanely obsessed with the Detroit Pistons here at Detroit Bad Boys, it never hurts to take a closer look at the competition. Here are some notes from around the NBA.
Simple question: When you are not watching and enjoying your favorite NBA team, what specific players do you seek out or go out of your way to watch?
Let us know in the comments who you like watching hoop the most. Here are a few of mine:
NIKOLA JOKIC aka THE JOKER
It’s more than just Jokic’s brilliant passing that does it for me — he plays the game at his own pace and with such feel, patience, and clumsy charisma. He’s so much stronger than he looks with his relatively every-man type of body, sans his tremendous height. The 25-year-old is having a career season with most of his numbers way up across the board. He’s playing a career-high 35.7 minutes per game while shooting more than he ever has, yet his shooting percentages are climbing. Additionally, his points per game (26.1) and free throw attempts per game, along with his rebounding, assists and steals are all at career high levels. His four turnovers per game are a bit high for the point-center, but when you look past that, he is undoubtedly playing MVP caliber basketball for a top four or five team in the Western Conference.
The Joker put up 47 points (on just 26 shots!) the other day in a win against the Utah Jazz. In this sequence versus Rudy Gobert, Nikola’s quick feet and penchant for using body contact to his advantage are on full display. He really does always know exactly where he is on the court. It’s necessary because sometimes he doesn’t even jump over a penny.
If you like Jokic’s one-of-a-kind passing and a little Sammy Davis Jr., you’ll especially like this video:
Apologies in advance, but we will never stop retweeting this.pic.twitter.com/3SUXo7OUQ5— Dunk Comp (@dunk_comp) September 16, 2020
It’s so early, as Zion is just 20 years old and hasn’t even played 50 NBA games yet, but by golly if he’s not setting expectations a tiny bit high with his start.
Zion is averaging 23.7 points per game (good for number one on the Pelicans, just edging out the also young and talented Brandon Ingram) on 59-percent shooting, with 7.5 rebounds per game to boot.
All three of these upcoming plays from Zion are during the first quarter of a recent game. Zion is not only supremely powerful and agile, he has such a soft touch as well:
There’s many areas where Zion is still inconsistent, or not even very good. He has the ball handling talent and vision to be a better facilitator, but hasn’t found full trust or rhythm with his teammates. His jump shot still has a long way to go. And while his defense is a work in progress, it seems New Orleans Pelicans Head coach Stan Van Gundy is putting in overtime in the film room with the budding star to help its development. After the Pelicans recent clobbering of the Suns, Van Gundy said it was Zion’s best game on both ends of the floor. With Zion’s athleticism and instincts, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be among the league’s best defensive players every season.
Anyway, y’all are waiting for some monster slams from Zion:
ZION— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 4, 2021
And this dunk...
In the bubble last season — especially in the first round playoff series — Luka played like a top-five player in the league.
As a 21-year-old.
This season he’s putting up more gaudy numbers, however the Dallas Mavericks are struggling mightily with a 9-14 record and have lost seven of their last eight. They’re 14th in the West as of this writing.
Luka’s 29-percent from downtown (career-low) has got to improve, and it likely will with more reasoned shot selection. You can’t be a top guard or wing and shoot 29-percent from three. Just can’t.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Luka’s game is his elite ability to change speeds, manipulate defenses in tight spaces, and score from anywhere. He does it all like it’s a piece of cake. He’s still fine-tuning how he manages games (and his teammates) and how he can be a more disruptive defensive player, though he’ll get to ‘top-five player in the league’ status in a few years I believe. He has unlimited tools in his bag.
My honorable mentions go out to Boban Marjanovic and Steph Curry.