After 12 games on Wednesday, the NBA will cancel Thanksgiving. However, as he puts aside turkey and food to get back to work this weekend, most of the league’s 30 teams will either play or close to their 20th game, giving us about 25 percent of the way to the end of the 2022-23 season. season.
This can only mean one thing: the time has come to give away equipment that is purely fictional, intangible and inaccessible for display in a trophy case. It’s time, dear friends, for the awards for the first quarter.
One quick (but important!) note before we get started: These picks are not meant to predict which players or teams will take home official NBA trophies at the end of the season. Instead, they’re based purely on performance since opening – an opportunity to pause the season’s breakneck pace, take stock of what’s happened, and celebrate it. (Well, except for that one category. We’ll get to that.)
So let’s unite shaping like Voltronto celebrate the good things we’ve seen, starting with a team that seems to have found the cure for the finals’ terrible hangover.
(All statistics as of Tuesday morning.)
Team of the Quarter: Boston Celtics
Ahead of the season, I wondered if Boston — favorites to win the 2022-2023 championship, according to BetMGM — could “sustain the internal turmoil now rocking the franchise” following the suspension of coach Ime Udoki, the rise of young assistant Joe Mazzulla and worrisome knee injury to the Robert Williams III Center. Well, so far so good: Even with and without the key players on the roster, the Celtics boast the best record in the NBA at 13-4 (two of those three losses came in overtime to a tough Cavs team). as well as his second-best net rating, outperforming rivals by 6.6 points per 100 possessions without trash, according to Glass cleaning.
It’s clear that much of the attention Boston received during its dominant play in the second half of last season was directed towards its relentless defense. However, it is worth noting that the Celtics also led the NBA in offensive efficiency from mid-January to – The level of scoring efficiency that Mazzulla & Co. has continued to improve since the opening of the clue. C sit at the top of the NBA in half court performance as well as 3 point frequency, taking almost 45% of his shots from behind the arc. They are also in the top five aid to turnover ratio as well as minor or “hockey” passesextra passes that create open shots that they keep knocking down.
Whatever static surrounded the Celtics at the start of the season has long since given way to the buzz that Jason Tatum (a legitimate MVP candidate) and Jaylen Brown (who could be on his way to a second All-Star) are making at game tonight. the foundation. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart continues to manage the show skillfully by posting highest assist rate of his career with an average of less than two revolutions per 36 minutes. Derrick White shone as a starter, Malcolm Brogdon was just the man the doctor ordered from the bench, and Al Horford and Grant Williams more than kept the fort ahead in the Time Lord’s absence. Which by the way looks like this may end soon – sobering thought for opponents watching Boston play like a top 10 defense after a difficult first five games, even without this is Second Defense Team Shotgun.
Even the pricing is in some regression – Horford, Grant Williams and newly minted folk hero Sam Houser probably won’t hit half of his 3-pointers – Boston seems poised to stay at or near the top of the East. Talent, shot-making, continuity, defensive versatility, and the support of an entire roster is a hell of a recipe for success, and it makes the Celtics look like a strong contender for another championship run.
Also getting theoretical voices in my brain: the Suns, who also got rid of their terrible summer and Jay Crowder’s trade request to get off to a good start even with injuries to Chris Paul and Cam Johnson; the Bucks chasing after Boston even with Chris Middleton and Pat Connaughton in street clothes; the Cavaliers, who integrated Donovan Mitchell with damned ease on their way to the East’s No. 3 seed; Jazz, which we’ll talk about a little later.
Man of the Quarter: Luka Doncic, Mavericks
I wouldn’t fight you in the square if you chose Stephen Curry. (I mean, to be honest, I’m a 40-year-old father of two; I’m probably not going to get into a big fight with you in the public square.)
Basically, for now, it was a coin toss between the All-NBA dynamos. Curry and Doncic are essentially head to head. per minute as well as for possession performance. They rank first and second in a range of additional indicators, including value compared to player replacement, win shares, win share in 48 minutes, plus or minus box, player performance rating, expected plus or minus and FiveThirtyEight’s wins above substitution. Curry Gets Approved overall efficiencyleading in shot attempt points. Doncic leads the league in volume, leading the league in scoring while ranking second in usage rate as well as aid percentage.
In the end, I went wrong with Luca as a snub for Curry. a repeat of his unanimous MVP numbers at the age of 34, but in recognition of how special it is for Doncic to step into such thin air at the age of 23.
Lacking additional ball handling and shooting skills since the departure of Jalen Brunson, the Dallas team needed Doncic to take on an even bigger game load, and he more than got the job done—even when it comes to doing the dirty work. inside. While your first image of Doncic may conjure up a picturesque step back 3 fading to the left, it actually takes more than 60% of his shots from the penalty line this seasonshooting a career-high 60% on two-point attempts (including a quick 65.6% on goes to the cart) and get the charity reward as much as 11.4 times per game.
Doncic will use his 6-foot-7 frame and 230-pound weight to bulldoze smaller stand-up defenders and his pen, first step, and strength to get past the slower ones in isolation. He will patiently pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll to find his preferred perimeter match; when it finds it, it will shatter the defense with dribbling before firing an inside-out laser to feed an exposed teammate with a Pop-A-Shot-style look. And he combines that prowess with Jason Kidd’s increased level of alertness and defensive activity, throwing more interceptions and deflections than ever while playing a high team workload for the Mavericks in the lead. fourth in points for possession (though with some caveats).
It is reasonable see it as a problem that Dallas is asking Doncic to do so much — with Brunson now in New York, Tim Hardaway Jr. struggling to get back into shape from a season-ending leg injury, and Kidd seeking abusive responses in the brutal West — what a Mavericks team is capable of some really ugly losses so often resort to just getting Doncic the rock and asking him to save them. Still, it’s undeniably remarkable that he can so often. In the five years of his NBA career, Doncic has the tools to destroy every cover the defense can throw at himand he does it at a level that no other player in the history of the sport has had.
Also getting theoretical voices in my brain: Steph; Tatum; Shai Giljeus-Alexander (we will return to him later); Nikola Jokic (two-time MVP is averaging 21-10-9 on 61% shooting almost comfortably); Kevin Durand; Joel Embiid (ur.get well soon, well done); And Morant; Devin Booker; Giannis Antetokounmpo; Paul George; Donovan Mitchell.
Rookie of the Block: Paolo Banquero, Magic