Kyrie Irving made his return to the NBA this week but was overshadowed by Lance Stephenson doing the same. Now, all eyes are on Kawhi Leonard’s fitness.

Irving Returns

Everybody has their opinion on Kyrie Irving and whether or not he should be playing. Right now, he’s playing most road games with the state of New York not allowing him to play in Brooklyn while unvaccinated.

It’s far from ideal. Irving returned to play the Indiana Pacers on January 6 but isn’t available again until January 11 having already missed a 121-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Irving did look the goods in his season debut, though.

He finished up with 22 points on 9-17 shooting along with four assists and three steals. The Nets remain as favourites to win the NBA championship but their $3.60 is unchanged despite Irving’s promising return.

Stephenson Returns Better

Lance Stephenson is another beneficiary of the NBA’s Covid struggles and he made the most of it in his return to Indiana. It’s the third time Stephenson has played for the Pacers and he finished up with 30 points in a scintillating season debut. Checking into the game with six minutes to play in the 1st quarter, Stephenson scored 20 straight points. 20!

He hit eight of nine shots including four of five from deep to set a new record for points scored in the 1st quarter by a Pacer. It is also the most points scored by a bench player in the opening quarter.

Stephenson followed his 30-point performance up with a career-high 14 assists (and 16 points) as he all but locked in a contract for the remainder of the NBA season.

Giddey Did It!

We’ve been waiting for this…

It’s felt like a matter of time before Josh Giddey broke LaMelo Ball’s record to become the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.

He’d come close before and was the first player in 50 years to record a double-double without any points. Now, finally, he is the record holder following his 17 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists against the Dallas Mavericks. Still, he barely rates a mention in the Rookie of the Year market.

Rookie of the Year

Evan Mobley$1.83
Cade Cunningham$4.40
Scottie Barnes$4.50
Franz Wagner$12
Josh Giddey$18
Jalen Green$21


Westbrook Ends Horror Run

Russell Westbrook had gone over 400 consecutive games with a turnover before his 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and zero turnovers during the week.

Notably, his two assists is the fewest in a game since November 2019 which goes some way to explaining how he finished this one without a turnover. Nonetheless, it’s an encouraging sign for the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re still hanging in there to be 21-19 for sixth in the Western Conference and their $14 to win the NBA championship is still good enough to be on the sixth line of betting.

Suns Hit 30

After losing the 2020-21 NBA Finals, the Phoenix Suns have become the first team of the 2021-22 season to crack 30 wins. They did so behind Chris Paul’s 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 106-89 win over the LA Clippers.

Phoenix are one of the best closing teams in the league and their latest win pushes them in front of the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA. However, the Warriors remain on the second line of betting in the championship market at $4.80 while the Suns are way out at $9.

Looking At Leonard

The LA Clippers, despite losing their last three games, are 19-21 and a good chance at featuring in the playoffs. They started the season well but have struggled through a recent period without Paul George. Still, they’ve shown enough throughout the year to suggest they can cause a few problems in the playoffs.

Now, Kawhi Leonard is being talked about…

Currently out at $26 to win the NBA championship, there might be some value in the Clippers if Leonard and George return to full fitness before the end of the regular season.