Here we are, two weeks into the 2013/14 NBA season. To make up for its months of absence, it has started with a bang — bad teams overperforming, good teams falling flat, identities being forged or reshaped. It’s so exciting! In part one of a two-part series, I will examine the players who have just flat out exploded out of the gate.
No one should be surprised by George’s high level of play at this point, not after last season. But even though I knew he was a great player, he has been even more than I could have expected so far, leading to the Pacers to a record that’s tied with San Antonio for best in the league. He’s sixth in the league in points per game right now at 23.3, and as always, is a terror on defense to the other team’s best players. He’s one of the best players in the league right now, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be all season. He also has learned how to close out games, as demonstrated in the Pacers’ overtime win against New York. The Knicks fan in me hates the fact that the Pacers are so good, but the basketball fan is so excited to watch what this team, and this young superstar, can do.
The 11th pick in the draft didn’t stand out much in preseason, but BOY has he found his stride in this young season. He’s missed much of this second week, but as it stands, he’s averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 assists, and 5.4 boards, along with a PER of 19.18. In his NBA debut, he was a steal and three rebounds from a quadruple-double for Christ sake! He and Evan Turner joined forces to propel the Sixers to a 4-2 start, though they have regressed more towards expectations since. It couldn’t last, of course, they’ll still be one of the prime contenders for that coveted top draft pick, but until I see otherwise, I’m on the MCW bandwagon.
There was no question that Doc Rivers was going to have a big impact on the Clippers, and especially on their superstar point guard, but he launched his game to that next level this season. You know that Chris Paul that liked to show up in the last 10 minutes of the fourth to salvage the game? Yeah, that Chris Paul has been showing up for 48 minutes a night (most nights), and his stats stand as proof: 19.5 points, 12.6 assists, 5.2 boards, and 2.6 steals a game with a scorching 26.84 PER. And that’s after cooling down a bit—he was at a 30.40 PER (for reference, the 4-time MVP last season had a per of 31.67) before two less successful games in a row against the Thunder and Nets. He’ll probably cool off, but the Clips don’t look like they’re going to. They started out a little slow, going 3-3 but have since righted the ship and are looking dangerous. The Clips are coming for the crown, and they’re being led by CP3.
Substory: Deandre Jordan finally looks like the player the Clips have been hoping he was, and Doc was not shy about saying that anything less wouldn’t tolerated. So far, Jordan has been up to the challenge. We’ll see if he can continue to make an impact on the offensive end as the season goes on.
I have no shame in saying that Anthony Davis is one of my favorite players in the game right now. His talents seem to know no bounds, and I can’t even see his ceiling, it’s so high. The second-year star is not letting down early on. 20.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.7 blocks per game and a 29.74 PER. Simply put, he’s straight balling out there. I’m ready to see AD take a major leap right now. I like the Pelicans, but they’re a total wildcard. Regardless of how they fare, Davis is going to have a monster year.
Eric Bledsoe/Miles Plumlee
The Suns are outperforming most expectations and currently have a .500 record, which is pretty good, considering the team’s projected expectations. Their success is due in large part to the play of these two young players. Bledsoe has indicated that all the worrying about his ability to step into a major role was for nothing, averaging 20.4/6.8/4.6 with a 23.67 PER. He’s been making up for Dragic, who has had a shaky start to the season, and may be having trouble adjusting to the ball not being in his hands as much. Meanwhile, the eldest Plumlee has been an absolute gem for a team that desperately needed a starting center. He’s averaging 10.8 points and 9 rebounds, and might actually be the center they wanted when they drafted Alex Len. Like the Sixers, this will likely be the high point of the season for this young tanksquad, but I’m sure enjoying it.
The Minnesota Kevins
The big man in Minnesota is back, and he’s thriving. So far he’s averaged 26.7 points and 13.4 boards a game with a PER of 29.27 to lead the T-Wolves to a 7-6 start, and his teammates are loving it. Kevin Martin is back in the starting lineup and is having a huge bounce-back start to the season, averaging 23.2 points and looking like the Kevin Martin Rockets fans remember. Rubio recorded his second career triple double last week. Out of their first eight games, Love had three games with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds. Kevin Martin also happens to have three 30+ point games so far. This is exactly what fans held their breath for last season. It may have taken longer than Minnesota fans expected, but the Wolves are finally ready to make some noise.
Thank you for reading about our nominated early superstars in the NBA 2013/14 season, and stay tuned as we bring you more next week. Who have you got as your favourite player so far?