By Ollie Nash and Liam Melrose
Brooklyn have been one of the talking points of the NBA this season. Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images
The NBA is just about a quarter of the way through the season so what better time to delve into All-NBA teams and award winners through this point of the year. It’s a tough gig, I have to say.
At the time of writing 36 players are averaging 20 points or more. Go back to the 2010-11 season and only 19 players did that. In 2010-11 the league leader in three-point attempts per game, Dorell Wright, put up 6.3 a game. That would rank him 41st in the current NBA. There are four players putting up double-digit threes per game and 24 players putting up at least seven.
In short, the league is booming offensively. There are so many guys playing at a high level, meaning there have been some tough calls made below.
LeBron has been his dominant best in season 2020-21. Photo: Mario Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
JOEL EMBIID - PHILADELPHIA 76ers
Literally splitting hairs at this point. Embiid, Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, I mean take your pick. I’ve gone with Embiid for his stats and impact; 32 minutes, 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks on 54/40/84 shooting splits. I’ve also taken him because the 76ers currently have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The new additions seem to be gelling well under new coach Doc Rivers and Ben Simmons and Embiid are back to their dynamic best together.
NIKOLA JOKIC - DENVER NUGGETS
He is as complete of a player as you could ask for right now. In my opinion a ‘Most Valuable Player’ needs to be someone who does more than just score, they need to be strong across the floor. If you look at Nikola Jokic he is doing just that. He is currently averaging 25.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and just under two steals per game. He has always been an all-round player who is multi-skilled, however he has taken his game to another level in the early part of this season.
Joel Embiid has helped the Sixers to the top record in the Eastern Conference. Photo: USATSI
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
ANTHONY DAVIS - LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Hasn’t been setting the world on fire on the offensive end compared to his lofty standards but has led the way defensively for the Lakers. They’re the number one defence at time of writing and Davis is a big reason for it. Called out his team for poor defence against San Antonio and they have answered, winning seven of their next eight games, allowing just 103 points and with an average winning margin of 14.4.
Ollie and Liam
Anthony Davis is leading the best defence in the league. Photo: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR:
JORDAN CLARKSON - UTAH JAZZ
Could start in this league without a doubt, however he provides a significant impact off the bench and plays the role perfectly. An offensive weapon that can step onto the floor and put up big numbers. I have loved Chris Boucher’s start to the season, however Clarkson takes home the bacon for now.
Ollie and Liam
Clarkson has re-paid Utah's faith in him with great play off the bench. Photo: Ashley Landis/Associated Press
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:
CHRISTIAN WOOD - HOUSTON ROCKETS
Has been one of the best storylines of the 2020-21 season, has re-paid Houston’s faith and made Detroit look incompetent. Putting up 23.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks with 54/36/67 shooting splits, while keeping the Rockets somewhat relevant in the Western Conference.
JERAMI GRANT - DETROIT PISTONS
If there have been any positives for the Pistons in the early part of this season it is Jerami Grant. With Detroit sitting at the bottom of the Eastern conference the rise of Grant has been a big positive. In the past he has played primarily at the power forward position. However, the shift to the small forward spot has worked wonders as he has gone on to average 23.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and just under three assists per game across the first 19 games this season. There’s still a long way to go but right now Jerami Grant sits at the top of my leaderboard in this seasons race for the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
Jerami Grant has proved the NBA world wrong with his great play for Detroit this season. Photo: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
TYRESE HALIBURTON - SACRAMENTO KINGS
Tough pick for this award, but I have Tyrese Haliburton edging out LaMelo Ball, just. Scoring is the same and while Ball is putting up more assists and rebounds (one and three respectively), Haliburton is shooting the ball at a great clip. 48/43/83 splits and one of the top fourth quarter scorers in the league. A great pick by the Kings way down at number 12.
LAMELO BALL - CHARLOTTE HORNETS
Much like Nikola Jokic, LaMelo Ball is filling out the stat sheet, and as a rookie that is only 19 years old he has been impressive. He seems right at home in this league and looks as though he has a long successful career ahead of him. Currently averaging 12.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game I expect throughout the season his numbers will likely simmer, with it all depending on court time. The only thing stopping him at the moment is the number of turnovers he is committing; however, I expect these numbers to drop as he begins to find his feet and feel more comfortable in the NBA. If he can limit his turnovers and keeps up this level of form I expect him to take home the chocolates.
Tyrese Haliburton has been a welcomed first-round pick for the Kings. Photo: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports
Cover Photo: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports