Thursday Night only featured three NBA games. However, all three of these games brought something special to the table. The Warriors and Raptors delivered arguably the best game of the season as Kevin Durant scored 51 points and nearly willed the Warriors to victory with two heavily contested threes at the end of regulation. However, the Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Kyle Lowry (we’ll get to him soon) were able to hold on in a 131-128 shootout. Then, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled through the Indiana Pacers. Finally, the Los Angeles Lakers continued their dominance in a 133-121 win over the Sacramento Kings. Also, I would like to quickly note that Tobias Harris continues to be the most underrated player in the league. He is a literal walking bucket.
However, for now, let’s dive into Kyle Lowry’s best season to date. Currently, Lowry is averaging 15.4 points per game and 10.2 assists (league leader) on his lowest usage percentage since he arrived in Toronto. And It’s easy to tell that Lowry has completely switched his play style this season. In years past, he’s been a good distributor but has always looked to score first. But as the talent in Toronto develops and the team sports more scorers, Lowry has smartly shifted his focus to passing and is now an efficiency machine. Right now, Lowry is experiencing career highs in his offensive rating, defensive rating, net rating, assists per game, and +/-. If he continues to play like this with even remotely same efficiency, he will not only see another all-star game but his second All-NBA team.
As for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, he is right now, the least talked about rookie and is a main contributor for the Clippers squad. Shai is currently averaging over 10 points per game to go along with 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 45.6% shooting from the field. Although these stats don’t immediately jump out to you, Shai is the perfect Clipper for the play style they have been displaying this season. He’s a lengthy, gritty player who can give a lot of help on the defensive end while also being able to create for himself offensively. And for the NBA, it’s very rare to not only show potential on both ends of the court but to actually be producing for a winning team (in your rookie season) on both ends. Many lottery pick rookies are able to simply stat pad on a horrific team and then they get all the press. However, it is much more impressive to have efficient numbers and be a top-five player on a team that is not only competing but currently sits atop the Western Conference when you’re just 20 years old. If Shai can continue to work and improve on his game, he has a unique build and skill set that could eventually propel him to an All-NBA team some day.
Warriors- 128, Raptors- 131
Clippers- 133, Kings- 121
Pacers- 96, Lakers- 104
Cavaliers @ Celtics (Prediction: Celtics win)
Jazz @ Hornets (Prediction: Jazz win)
Bulls @ Pistons (Prediction: Pistons win)
Wizards @ 76ers (Prediction: 76ers win)
Grizzlies @ Nets (Prediction: Grizzlies win)
Pelicans @ Heat (Prediction: Pelicans win)
Hawks @ Thunder (Prediction: Thunder win)
Rockets @ Spurs (Prediction: Spurs win)
Magic @ Suns (Prediction: Magic win)
Mavericks @ Lakers (Prediction: Lakers win)
Nuggets @ Trail Blazers (Prediction: Nuggets win)