#1 Ben Simmons (76ers). Injured. Foot Surgery. Hasn’t played. Won’t be back until January. As for the 76ers, they are in their familiar bottom place to no one’s surprise. The 76ers have talent in Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. But it’s Philly so it is always something. Their backcourt is pathetic. 31.0 points. Only Sacramento’s guard tandem is worse.
#2 Brandon Ingram (Lakers). 6.9 points. 3.0 rebounds. 1.4 assists. 40.9% field goals. 23.8% on threes. His shooting has taken a bit of a NBA vacation but Luke Walton is playing Ingram as a point forward and Ingram has displayed talent in seeing the floor, delivering crisp cross court passes and not beating himself up if he shoots an air ball. Within 10 feet of the rim, he is shooting 57.1%. He shoots very well when he’s guarded close, 46.7%. His length is already paying dividends. The Lakers are 5th in 3-point defense because of Ingram trolling the perimeter and making players adjust shots. Because the Lakers are in rebuilding mode with other young players, Ingram has the ability to play with no pressure on him.
Best Game: Pelicans, on the road. 10 points. 57.1% shooting. 4 assists. 1 steal, 0 turnovers. 27 point win.
Next Game: 10 points. 60% shooting. 50% from three. 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover. 26 point loss in Minnesota.
#3 Jaylen Brown (Celtics). 6.8 points. 2.6 rebounds. 0.9 assists. 46% field goals. 31.3 % from three. Brown doesn’t play as many minutes as Brandon Ingram. His skill is around the rim. He’s not much of a shooter, as everyone predicted, outside of five feet. He is a 20% midrange shooter, hasn’t made a long two and isn’t a good long ball scorer. Not yet. He makes 66% of his shots when he is being guarded close and 60% when the defender backs up a bit, 2-4 feet. He has plenty of depth on the Celtics so he isn’t under any pressure to produce big.
Best Game: Cleveland, on the road. 19 points on 16 shots. 35 minutes. 50% shooting. 50% on threes. 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 1 turnovers. 6 point loss.
Next Game: 4 points. 14.3% shooting. 3 rebounds. 4 assists. 1 block. 1 turnover. 16 point home loss to Denver.
#4 Dragan Bender (Suns). 3.3 points. 1.0 rebounds. 0.4 assists. 42.9% field goals. 40.0% from three. Bender gets little playing time, only 10 minutes a game. He has shown, in a limited sample, he can be a quality three point shooter and midrange shot maker. He’s a good catch and shoot scorer. 46% of those shots go in and he’s solid within 10 feet of the rim, 57% efficiency. He makes shots when he is tightly defended and when he’s wide open. He just needs more playing time. He needs to get stronger and more confidence will come. Give the Suns another month of failure and he’ll get that chance. The front office sees him as power forward or center.
Best Game: Portland on the road. 23 minutes. 10 points. 44.4% shot making. 50% from three. 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 blocks, 2 turnovers. +19 for the game. Suns lose by 3.
Next Game: Second night of a back-to-back. 0 points. 0 rebounds. 0 assists. 0 steals. 0 blocks. 1 turnover. 8 minutes played. 7 point Suns win over Detroit.
#5 Kris Dunn (Wolves). 4.6 points. 3.1 rebounds. 3.7 assists. 35.7% field goals. 37.5% from three. Kris Dunn has been a little disappointing, albeit his proficiency as a rebounder will always get him court time. The consensus favorite to win Rookie of the Year is going backwards as far as minutes. His last two games, the Lakers and Charlotte, he played 13 minutes. Dunn was luckier than every other lottery pick, coming to a team with back-to-back Rookies of the Year. But he isn’t ready to start as point guard. Sorry Wolves fans, Ricky Rubio is staying. Dunn’s defense is as advertised. He is posting a 106 defensive rating. It is his offense that needs a lot of work. 16% on catch and shoot jumpers. 26% on pull-ups. The closer he is to the basket, the better. He is shooting 50% within 10 feet.
Best Game: Memphis. 10 points. 42.9% shooting. 66.7% from three. 4 rebounds, 5 assist, 5 steals, 3 turnovers. 29 minutes in Ricky Rubio’s absence. 36 points Wolves win.
Next Game: Denver. 3 points. 16.7% shooting. 5 rebounds. 9 assists. 3 steals. 4 turnovers. 3 point loss at home.
#6 Buddy Hield (Pelicans). 9.6 points. 3.1 rebounds. 1.4 assist. 37.4% field goals. 24.2% on threes. Buddy Hield is showing to be true the opinion of scouts who thought Hield was a player who got rich off a good NCAA tournament performance but had deficiencies. He’s not athletic or explosive. He is shooting 18% from 3-10 feet. His defense has been rookie like, meaning, plumb awful. The question was could he get his shot off. He is near the top of the lottery class in points scored but it will probably not end up that way in April. His minutes may decrease with Jrue Holiday returning and Tyreke Evans not far behind. He’s making 28% of his catch and shoot j’s and 30% of pull-ups. Like most in his lottery class, shots 10 feet in are easier, 50%.
Best Game: Lakers, a 27 point home loss. 26 minutes, 18 points on 61.5% shooting. He only drained one three but grabbed three rebounds and only turned the ball over once.
The Next Game: Celtics. 5 points on 28.6% shooting. 25% from three. 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers. Pelicans win by 1 at home.
#7 Jamal Murray (Nuggets). 7.2 points. 2.0 rebounds. 1.8 assists. 34.6% field goals. 39.0% from three. A shooting guard that can’t shoot? He started the season 0-16. Since then he has been feast or famine. Good at the rim and long distance. Pitiful everywhere else which only means the Kentucky product entered the draft without a proficient scoring skill even though he is being paid to make shots. But he’s only 19. The best thing about his game so far are his catch and shoot jumpers. He is making them at a 48% clip. He struggles when defenders are in his jersey.
Best Game: Portland on the road. A 7 point loss but Murray played 27 minutes, had 19 points on 50% shooting and 55% from three. He added five rebounds but did have 6 turnovers. He had a +17 for the game.
Next Game: 9 points, 37.5% field goals but 75% from three. 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal in a 16 point home win against Phoenix.
#8 Marquese Chriss (Suns). 5.5 points. 3.4 rebounds. 0.6 assists. 44.3% field goals. 25.0 % from three. Traded from Sacramento to Phoenix on draft night, Chriss is on a very young Phoenix Suns team and minutes are an issue given his ability to make an impact. He is a young player who needs to develop and for that to happen he needs playing time. He’s played in every game but is only getting 14 minutes for a team that has a lot of weaknesses, mostly on the defensive end. Chriss is good around the basket (68%) but has no touch if he steps out a few feet. He is 19 years old without much scoring or defensive skill. Sorry, athleticism isn’t a talent.
Best Game: Brooklyn, an 18 point home loss. 16 points on 46% shooting. He played 18 minutes and took 15 shots. The most shots he had attempted before then was 7. He drained two threes, grabbed 5 rebounds but didn’t have an assist.
The Next Game: 4 points, 4 shots, 50% shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers. Warriors win by 13 in Oakland.
photo via llananba