It is now four days into November, which means we are eleven days into the NBA season, and boy has it been interesting. There have been hot starts galore, and certain teams have struggled out of the gate that were not expected to. Basically, it has been a great start to the season, and it is only going to ramp up from here. Here is a look at some players that have had fire coming out of their hands in recent games.
DeMar DeRozan came into the season as a Kobe-lite player. DeRozan has showed that he can score in the midrange and get to the rim, but his three point shot is lacking and he has never been a particularly effective scorer. Questions surrounded the five year, $139 million dollar contract he signed this summer, as some thought he had already reached his ceiling. For his career DeRozan has an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 45.7%, this year it is 55.9%. That is an incredible jump, and one that will probably not be that large by the end of the season, but it is indicative of DeRozan maturing. While his three point shot is still not there (1-8 on the season) he is still managing to score effectively, as his lowest field goal percentage for a game this season has been 43%. Oh and by the way, he is the first person to score thirty or more in the first five games of the season since Michael Jordan. MICHAEL JORDAN. DeRozan looks like a man possessed and is making Sports Illustrated look silly for placing him 46th on their top 100 players list. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up his efficient, hot start over the course of the season.
And now to look at what happened last night between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a game as hyped as any regular season could ever be, Kevin Durant put his foot down. Durant finished with 39 points and hit 7 threes, and his back to back threes within 15 seconds of each other in the second quarter buried the Thunder. Durant was the definition of effective throughout the game, hitting 15 of his 24 shots and finishing with an eFG% of 77.1%. It was one of the greatest shooting displays I have witnessed, and he certainly sent a message that he is not going to back down from the Thunder. On the other side, Russell Westbrook’s worst tendencies displayed themselves down the stretch. Westbrook was wild and out of control for most of the game, finishing a paltry 4-15 from the field with six turnovers. Westbrook always plays with reckless abandon, which is part of the reason so many fans love him. But nights like Thursday are why people say you have to take the good Westbrook with the bad, as he can psyche himself out of games. Last night’s game only makes me look forward to the next Warriors-Thunder matchup more, especially when they return to Oklahoma City. I doubt Westbrook turns in another stinker, and we may just see him shatter a backboard a la Shaq if he gets going.