by Ray Kuhn
With the NBA taking the night off to celebrate Thanksgiving, we were given a robust slate of games last night. Before we settle in for a long a day of turkey, football, pies, and really just about anything else you enjoy on Thanksgiving (along with of course actually giving thanks), let’s take a look at some performances that stood out.
1) Jose Calderon Shows He Has a Pulse
The initial thought entering this season was that the only place for Calderon to go was up. Once the Knicks decided to hang on to him after his struggles last season, the thought was that now with him being healthy and having a year to adjust, we would see a different player than we did in 2014-2015. However, so far, all we have seen is flashes. But if Calderon can repeat his performance from last night, then we might have a buy-low candidate at the point guard position. Calderon’s 23 points were his season high, and it wasn’t even close, and that came on eight of 14 shooting including four three-pointers. With Jerian Grant now struggling off the bench, the calls for Calderon’s job are also starting to go away, and he is certainly worth the look.
2) Anthony Davis Dominates
We all know that Davis is a beast, there really isn’t more to say about that. At the beginning of the season, it wasn’t looking like that at times, but now that he is past his hip injury, we are seeing the Davis we have been waiting for. Davis had a very efficient night against the Suns converting 11 of 14 field goal attempts into 26 points and 17 rebounds. What for some players is up there with their best games of the season, it is quite routine for Davis who is averaging 26 points and 18 rebounds since his return from the hip injury (three games). For the season, Davis is averaging 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, and as long he stays healthy, that is the floor for him. Davis has simply looked dominant, especially around the basket, and is just getting warmed up.
3) Gordon Hayward Fills the Net
If Hayward is not consistently scoring and knocking down 3-pointers, then the value just isn’t there. While Hayward is a nice player who can add about five rebounds and three assists per game, his true value comes when he is scoring in bunches. So far this season though, that has not been the case for him. Until last night, Hayward was shooting just 30.6% from downtown and had failed to make more than two in a game but he bounced back in a big way by converting five against the Clippers. That success from long range played a large part in his 33 point outbreak which topped his previous season high of 24 points.
4) Zach LaVine Continues to Score off the Bench
LaVine is stuck behind Ricky Rubio on the depth chart, but he generally does share the court with him for a few minutes each night. So far this season, LaVine has been averaging just 24 minutes of action, but his production has shown that if he received a bigger role, he truly could be a fantasy asset. On Wednesday, LaVine scored 18 points and added five rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes. While the second year guard has not shown to have complete success as a shooting guard, the alignment with him and Rubio sharing the back court has appeared to work better in recent days, and is something to keep an eye on moving forward. For the season, LaVine is averaging 14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game in his limited time.
5) Rajon Rondo Fills Up the Box Score
While there are always going to some concerns about the mental state of Rondo, his ability cannot be ignored. Rondo followed up a 23 assist outing by coming just a rebound short of a triple-double on Wednesday. The point guard scored 10 points to go with 13 assists and nine rebounds against the Bucks as he continued his streak of at least nine assists in each of his last 10 games. Additionally, Rondo has proven to be a triple threat as he is doing the same on the boards in that stretch. For the season Rondo is averaging 12.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 10.9 assists per game while showing that he cannot be ignored – even among his flashy counterparts at the position.