Two years and six months ago, Collin Sexton came into the league as a point guard with handles, speed, and hops. He had crazy hair and his rookie year shot 40% from three. Though he could score, (16.7 points per game), he wasn’t much of a distributor and his defense was particularly anemic. He played 82 games. He had a 15-game stretch towards the end of his rookie year that explained everything. In those 15-games he averaged 23.8 points and 2.9 assists. But his plus/minus was -6.1. The Cavs won 3 of those games. Despite Sexton’s ability to score, he wasn’t making anyone else better.
In his third year, Sexton is exactly who he was supposed to be as a lottery pick. He’s 9th in the NBA in scoring and is drilling 55% of his threes. He’s still not a playmaker and perhaps he won’t ever be but his 26 ppg is lifting the Cavs from their misery. The Cavs are 4-2. It’s hard to tell if they are a lower seed playoff team in the East or not. Kevin Love is injured. Acquiring Andre Drummond last season has paid dividends, particularly since Drummond will be a free agent during the summer of 2021 and is playing like it. Drummond centers the middle (18 and 15) while Sexton shoots from just about anywhere. He is making 52% of his jump shots and with less than 3 minutes left in the quarter, Sexton is shooting 57% from three.
The Cavs are ranked 3rd in Defensive Rating and on Saturday night held Trae Young to 16 points. The Cavs are first in steals.
Christian Wood is in his 5th NBA season. The UNLV prospect wasn’t drafted. He played 17 games with Philly in 2015-16. Then Charlotte for 13 games the next season. 21 games with Milwaukee and New Orleans until he got to Detroit in 2019-20. He played 62 games as a Piston and at the age of 24 developed a stretch game, making 38% of his threes. Off the bench last season, Wood averaged 6 rebounds. Traded to Houston, Wood is exactly what James Harden needs to change his mind. (He probably won’t). Woods is averaging 23.8 ppg and 10.8 rebounds. He’s shooting 35% from three playing 36.5 minutes. On the downside, he is fouling more than he ever has. Staying on the court and being smart about aggressiveness or passivity is still his learning curve. Although the Rockets are rocky with a lot of James Harden drama, Wood has settled himself in. With or without Harden, Wood is changing the Rockets on the court culture. In the D’Antoni years, there was no place for a big. Now, can Christian Wood guard Anthony Davis?
Phoenix Suns. The addition of Chris Paul has elevated Phoenix to the top of the West. It has nothing to do with Devin Booker trying for 50 but the Suns playing a mature game. Defense. They are stingy. They don’t allow 100 points per game and making threes is a challenge against their perimeter defense. Plus, they have 6 players in double figures (Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson).
Lakers 3-Game. Last season, the Lakers were 10th in scoring. Currently, they are ranked 3rd. Last season, the Lakers were 21st in 3-point percentage. This season, they are 2nd. Denis Schröder has made a huge difference in the Lakers offense. He’s shooting 43.5% from three. Kyle Kuzma is shooting 41% from three. Anthony Davis is shooting 46% from three. Kentavious Caldwell Pope is shooting 52% from three. Not surprisingly, their offensive rating is 3rd, a huge leap from last season’s offensive rating of 11th.
Marvin Bagley’s father. We’ve haven’t had a parent-doing-too-much sighting since James Harden’s mama pleaded for understanding on her son’s behalf. Enter Marvin Bagley III father. Bagley III is doing his time in Sac town. Daddy isn’t happy with the Kings. As are many a parent of Kings players, it’s a viral disgust. As for Mr. Bagley, he wants his son traded. His gripe doesn’t even matter. A daddy acting like his son is still an adolescent under his roof and he can control what happens to him- a millionaire- is LMFAO. C’mon. How’s the kid going to grow up if you don’t let him. If he wants to be traded, let him say so. And how about this. The Kings are playing pretty well. They are 3-3. But let’s dive into Bagley III and his mediocrity. He is nearly 7 feet tall and shooting 37.5%. Very Kwame Brown-ish of him. That isn’t Luke Walton’s fault. Someone needs a self-awareness seminar.
Julius Randle. The 26-year-old has started off his 7th season with a bang. He is shooting 52% from three for the Knicks. Last year, his shooting was unwatchable, 27% from three, 46% overall. He’s the Knicks leading scorer at 23 points a game and a career-high 10.4 rebounds. For the first time in his career, Randle has a 20.3 PER, an offensive rating of 114, and a defensive rating of 106. The Knicks offense is mostly unwatchable but Randle is a bright spot. Now, if he and RJ Barrett can both excel at the same time, the Knicks may surpass last year’s win total of 21.
Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball. The number 1,2, and 3 picks of the 2020 draft are 1,2,3 in rookie scoring. 15.4 ppg for Edwards, 11.6 ppg for Wiseman, 11.5 ppg for Ball. Ball is the most likely to challenge Edwards for ROY. He is shooting 42.3% from three, has a PER of 17.4, and is only playing 22 minutes. Five more minutes and his numbers will exponentially improve, as will the Hornets wins. As for wins. Edwards team is 2-3, Wiseman’s team is 2-3, and Ball’s team is 2-4.
Ugh, Part 1. Kelly Oubre’s offensive game. 27% shooting. .040% from three, 61 Offensive Rating. (Last year, Oubre’s Offensive Rating was a career-high 109). Oubre has taken 25 three-pointers and made one. Last year, he took 307 three-pointers and made 108, 35%. Oubre’s 8.2 ppg is miserable and he hasn’t been so offensively irrelevant since his second year in the league with the Wizards. (6.3 ppg). It’s not that Oubre doesn’t matter. He does. His inability to do anything on offense- never thought I’d say Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a way better player- hurts what Steph Curry can do because Oubre is playing 27 minutes. You don’t have to guard him. Double up on Steph. His early troubles have ruined any hope the Dub faithful had of making the playoffs. Oubre and Wiggins had to give the Dubs at the very least 35 ppg. 25 ppg collectively is not getting it done. A long season in the Bay.
Ugh, Part 2. Pascal Siakam. We saw Siakam turn into a stranger during the bubble and that Siakam is back. He looks confused. The Raptors have one win on the season and you can blame Siakam for not playing at the level he convinced us was his norm. He is shooting 39%, a career-low. 28% from three, a career-low. 16.5 ppg, not bad except we have seen him so much better, like 22.9 ppg. Siakam’s offensive rating is 88. His PER is 9.0. Fred Van Vleet is doing his part, but Van Vleet should not be the Raptors leading scorer. It should be Siakam who has the mismatches, who is athletic and explosive and skilled. Or, was.
Domantis Sabonis. If there was an All-Star game this year, the Pacers forward would have a strong case, if such a thing exists after six games. Sabonis is the Pacers best player. 20.8 ppg. 11.3 rebounds. This season he has added the three-ball and is making 57% of his attempts while playing 37 minutes. His offensive rating is 121. His defensive rating is 106. He has a PER of 22.2 but a usage rate of only 22.6%. The Pacers are at the top of the East and should stay that way as long as Sabonis is able to continue his offensive and defensive mastery.