The NBA continues to fight it’s way through depleted teams but superstars of the league are doing everything they can to keep the highlights ticking over.
DeMar Delivers Again, And Again
DeMar DeRozan: The first player in NBA history to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in back-to-back days per @bball_ref.
— Jason (@SportsJO13) January 2, 2022
Bulls trail 105-106 as the clock ticks towards 00:00. DeMar DeRozan dribbles behind the screen before jumping off one foot from beyond the arc. Bang.
Bulls trail 117-119 with 3.3 left on the clock. DeMar DeRozan takes possession of the in-bounds pass, gets one defender off his feet with a pump fake and shoots over the top of another. Bang.
The Chicago Bulls have been a regular feature here throughout the last 11 weeks. Most assumed their hot start to the NBA season would cool off by Christmas. Now one day into 2022, the Bulls are 24-10 for 1st in the Eastern Conference and at $21 to win the championship.
Guess Who’s Back?
No, really. Guess…
Greg Monroe is back.
As Covid rips through the NBA and rules multiple players out every day, teams are scrapping the bottom of the barrel and finding anybody they can to put out on the floor. As it turns out, even after 960 days out of the league, Monroe should have been towards the top of said barrel.
Monroe finished up with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists on 6-9 shooting when he turned out for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Of all the names to see pop up over the last few weeks (including Joe Johnson), Monroe’s is one of the most interesting.
So, it’s become pretty clear to me that Greg Monroe still deserves to be in the NBA. You just can’t give him minutes if the other team can keep an elite PnR ball handler on the floor at all times…which is what happens after the 1st round of the playoffs
— Patrick Fenelon 🌹 (@Patrick_Fenelon) January 1, 2022
Perhaps he has a future in the NBA after all.
John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating statistic is a popular way for people to measure the influence a player has on their team across an NBA season.
Wilt Chamberlain’s 1961-62 season in which he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game produced a 32.1 PER – the best in NBA history.
Right now, averaging 25.8 points, 14 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game, Nikola Jokic’s PER stands at 32.36. Despite what his $12 odds to win the Most Valuable Player award suggests, Jokic is playing out one of the best individual seasons in NBA history. His Denver Nuggets are 18-16 for 5th in the Western Conference, but if they can climb into the top four, Jokic will begin to feature heavily in the MVP discussion.
NBA MVP Odds
We’re still waiting (hoping) for Josh Giddey to secure the triple-double that feels like it’s just around the corner. He has just over 50 days to record one to become the youngest player in NBA history to achieve the feat. He did, however, provide us with a stat line worth talking about.
Josh Giddey with a stat line not seen in 50 years.
He’s the first player with a double-double on zero points since Norm Van Lier in 1971.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 27, 2021
LeBron Turns 37…
…and he’s still dominating.
Just so you understand. LeBron James had 43 points and 14 rebounds. ZERO TOs. In 29 minutes. At age 37. This has never been done before.
— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) January 1, 2022
It wasn’t meant to be like this for the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell Westbrook was meant to come in and make things easier, but as the Russ experiment continues to look bad and with Anthony Davis sitting in the stands, James has been forced to continue with his elite level of play beyond his 37th birthday.
The Lakers aren’t good. They’re below .500, and while they’re currently 7th in the Western Conference, look nothing like an NBA championship contender. Even their current $13 to win it is reliant on a monumental turnaround.
We can never rule them out. Especially with LeBron James playing like this. However, they still have a lot of work to do.