At what price points? Dissecting the flaws in the NBA’s top five scorers

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) argues a call in front of Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77
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Ricky Dimon

NBA · 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Points are all well and good. James Harden is averaging 37.7 of them per game to lead the NBA by a country mile in that department. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Bradley Beal are also delivering at impressive rates. But none of them are perfect, and that is plainly obvious so far this season. Let’s take a look at the areas in which the league’s top scorers can improve.

James Harden

Harden and new sidekick Russell Westbrook have the Rockets at 26-12. That’s decent, but a tie for third place in the Western Conference is not going to cut it for a team with such high expectations. Harden is turning the ball over 4.8 times per contest, tied for the most in the association with Young. During a recent two-game stretch the lefty was 6-for-29 from deep and then he committed 11 turnovers against Minnesota on Saturday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

For the 16th time this season, Antetokounmpo led his team in points, rebounds, and assists when the Bucks beat Portland 122-101 on Saturday. He went for 32, 17, and six, bringing his averages in those departments to 29.8 ppg, 12.8 rpg, and 5.5 apg. Although the Greek Freak is starting to make some threes, his 32.5 percentage from that range is mediocre. And from out of nowhere he is shooting a dreadful 61.5 percent at the line.

Luka Doncic

Can Doncic keep up with Antetokounmpo in the MVP race? The Mavericks (24-15) have cooled off since a 16-6 start, which does help Doncic’s chances. He is contributing 29.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 9.0 apg, but his 4.3 turnovers per contest are way up from last season’s 3.4 number. The 20-year-old Slovenian has improved by four percentage points in terms of shooting from the floor, but his 32.5 percent marksmanship from three is right around his 2018-19 pace.

Trae Young

Heading into Sunday’s date with Brooklyn (check out our free NBA expert picks), the Hawks are the worst team in the NBA at 8-31. With John Collins having missed 25 games in November and December, Young was the only all-star caliber player on the team for a long stretch. It’s certainly not his fault that Atlanta stinks, but the former Oklahoma standout is turning the ball over at alarming rates and he is hopeless on defense.

Bradley Beal

No John Wall means Washington once again stinks (13-25). It also means that this is Beal’s team and Beal’s alone. As such, he is pouring in 27.8 ppg to go along with 6.6 apg, and 4.8 rpg. However, the 26-year-old is shooting a career-worst 31.5 percent from the land of plenty and his 43.5 percent clip from the field is his worst since 2014-15. Beal is also turning the ball over a career-high 3.3 times per outing.

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