For most casual NBA fans the NBA season doesn’t really begin until Christmas. The truth is by Christmas we are almost halfway through the season. For those of you that don’t really get into the NBA until then, here are some great stories you’re missing.
The Sacramento Kings are a legit playoff contender
You read that sentence correctly. The Kings, who last made the playoffs in the 2005-06 season are a legitimate playoff contender. They are sixth in aNET rating and have the fourth-ranked offense in the league.
The Kings are led by De’Aaron Fox, who is looking like an All-Star, acquisitions Domantas Sabonis and Kevin Huerter.
Fox is shooting lights out. His 57 eFG% and 62 TS% are the best of his career and among the best in the league. He’s 38 percent from three on five attempts per game. Huerter is shooting 42 percent from three, and Sabonis has a career-high +4.2 EPM.
The New Orleans Pelicans are a top four contender
Last year the Pelicans were without Zion Williamson and had to advance through the play-in tournament to make the playoffs.
What a difference a year makes.
The Pelicans are third in aNET rating, sixth in aORTG and second in aDRTG. Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum lead the way offensively. They have a deep bench led by Jose Alvarado, Try Murphy III and are armed with enough picks and young talent to trade for a star level player.
ALVARADO BALLED OUT‼️
He scored the most points by an undrafted player in Pelicans history 🙌 pic.twitter.com/mOLDwNnJy2
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 4, 2022
Jarrett Allen is a DPOY candidate
The Cavaliers are the No. 1-ranked team in aDRTG, and that’s in large part due to Allen’s outstanding ability. He leads the league in defensive EPM AT +3.2 and is top 10 in total rebounds and defensive rebounds.
He was an All-Star for the first time in his career last season, and it’s looking like he’ll add All-Defensive and Defensive Player of the Year award finalist to his list of accomplishments this season.
Donovan Mitchell is playing the best basketball of his career
Mitchell was on the Utah Jazz and a part of the league’s best regular season offense last season. He played well as a member of the Jazz but looks like a completely different player in Cleveland.
Mitchell has been electric so far this season with the Cavs. He’s shooting 58 eFG% and 64 TS% and 42 percent from three. His +5.1 EPM is a career high, as is his 28.4 points per game.
He’s already been an All-Star three times. He’s ready to make his first All-NBA team.
Indiana Pacers have two excellent rookies
Bennedict Mathurin is averaging 18 points per game on 41/37/80 shooting splits. He is second in rookie scoring behind 2022 No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero.
Andrew Nembhard was selected in the second round of the 2022 NBA draft. He is an uber efficient 60 eFG% and 61 TS%. He hit a game-winning shot against the Los Angeles Lakers last week and dropped a career-high 31 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds on the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
There are a lot of fantastic stories going on in the Association, and in a league that is so dynamic there will be many more interesting stories unfolding as the season continues.