by Will Overton
Until the NFL season is over we aren’t going to see really full Sunday schedules from the NBA. Still there were five games on the slate yesterday which gives us plenty to break down in today’s Starting Five. So let’s get right into the big five takeaways from yesterday’s NBA action and the box score standouts.
Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder (32 MINS, 12 – 19 FG, 32 PTS, 11 REBS, 4 ASTS, 3 STLS, 2 3PM)
There were some concerns related to Kevin Durant in the offseason with injury and worry about how things would go with the more offensively aggressive Russell Westbrook at the helm of the offense. So far we have seen pretty much nothing to make us worry outside of the first game where he looked a bit off thanks to Kawhi Leonard.
Since that first night Durant is averaging 31.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG. 1.0 SPG and 2.8 3PG. What might be the most impressive thing is that Durant is hitting on 53% of field goal attempts, despite not taking fewer than five threes in any one game. While Westbrook is most certainly getting his, Durant is still the offensive juggernaut on this team and he’s putting up plenty of shots. If Durant stays healthy I have no doubt at all that he’ll be in the discussion for number one player at the end of the season.
Monta Ellis – Indiana Pacers (34 MINS, 10 – 17 FG, 25 PTS, 5 REBS, 3 ASTS, 2 3PM, 1 STL, 0 TO)
After a slow start to the season from Monta Ellis it was nice to see him kick it up a notch last night. The Pacers were working with a depleted backcourt and Elllis came out and gave a strong 34 minutes and meshed well with Paul George to lead the offense. It was also significant that Ellis didn’t turn the ball over at all in this game as he was struggling to keep it under three turnovers in any game. I mentioned Ellis’ struggles last week and that it would take time for him to mesh with this team, but last night was certainly the promising sign that the process is moving in the right direction.
Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks (26 MINS, 3 – 10 FG, 12 PTS, 10 REBS, 2 BLKS, 1 3PM)
I had my concerns about how much Kristaps Porzingis would be able to contribute immediately in the NBA, but he has certainly been holding his own so far this season. Porzingis has especially been holding his own down low better than I had anticipated, recording his third double-double in four games yesterday and averaging 8.6 RPG. It was clear that Porzingis size could be a problem for teams, but it wasn’t clear how well he could use that size, but he’s managed to be a force on the boards, as well as disrupting things defensively averaging 1.3 BPG and 1.3 SPG. Once he becomes more consistent on offense, which I think he will over time he is going to be a serious fantasy contributor.
Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons (36 MINS, 14 – 19 FG, 29 PTS, 27 REBS, 3 BLKS, 2 STLS)
We just discussed Andre Drummond’s dominance in one of these posts last week, but it’s hard to ignore a game like he had last night. What Drummond has been doing so far this season is nothing short of amazing as he is not over 20 PPG and 20 RPG for the season so far and he has three 20/20 games in his last four outings.
The free throw shooting is still a serious point of concern, and with his offensive game developing the way it is it will likely become more of a concern as the season goes, but he’s just doing so much so well right now that it really helps ease the pain of that free throw shooting. What’s even more amazing is the fact that this guy is still just 22 years old.
Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons (34 MINS, 15 – 26 FG, 40 PTS, 5 REBS, 5 ASTS, 3 3PM, 2 STLS, 2 TO)
The other half of the Pistons dynamic duo that led to their improbable comeback in against the Trail Blazers. While Drummond has continued to be an increasingly important piece of the offense, Reggie Jackson is still the main attraction. Last night Jackson put on a show in the fourth quarter as the Pistons rallied, scoring 26 points as he just took over and really looked like he couldn’t miss out there. This was the fourth game in a row for Jackson in which he has scored 20 or more, but it was the pure dominance he showed in the fourth quarter that really stood out in this one and I have to think Jackson is going to push his way into the top tier of point guards sooner rather than later.