NBA Team of The Week: Chris Paul, LeBron James join forces
LeBron James features in our NBA Team of the Week yet again, while there was also room for Chris Paul.
Point guard – Chris Paul
Back after a knee injury sustained in the season opener against the Warriors, Chris Paul has fit seamlessly into Mike D’Antoni’s system. The Rockets cruised through each of their three games in Week 7, recording double-digit wins over the Nets, Pacers and Lakers.
Recording a lower usage percentage than during any season he had at the Clippers, and assisting on a higher percentage of possessions, Paul has quickly become the Rockets’ general. He recorded 14 assists against the Nets last Monday night, and is now averaging 9.8 dimes this season.
The Rockets have won eight straight since he returned from injury, and boast the league’s best offense and fourth best defense this season. With arguably the league’s best backcourt, too, they’re beginning to look like legitimate challengers to the Golden State Warriors.
Shooting guard – Victor Oladipo
Another good week for Victor Oladipo, who keeps showing the Thunder what they’re missing out on. Last week, Oladipo shot 59% from the floor while averaging 27 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. The defensive numbers are eye-popping, too, as he averaged 3.3 steals and 3 blocks.
Against Toronto on Friday night, Oladipo scored 36 points on 22 shots as he tried his best to carry the Pacers in a match they narrowly lost. Earlier in the week, his 26 points on 14 shots produced a win against Orlando. It’s this efficiency which has seen Oladipo become one of the league’s most improved players, with the Indiana guard scoring 1.17 points per shot this season. That’s a remarkable feat given his usage rate is the ninth highest in the league.
Small forward – LeBron James
Cleveland’s winning streak is up to 12 games long. Looking at the Cavs’ roster, players two through 15 don’t look like a group capable of producing that kind of streak. Of course, player number one is LeBron James, one of the greatest we’ve ever seen. It was a 4-0 week for the Cavs and LeBron, who averaged a near triple-double with 27.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and nine assists during that span. It continues what has been a mind-blowing season for the perennial Team of the Week participant, with James’ season figures sitting at 28.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.9 rebounds per game. Those numbers are simply ridiculous.
Power forward – LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge continued with his best season in San Antonio in Week 7, which saw the Spurs beat the Mavericks twice while also topping the Grizzlies. Aldridge scored 33, 41, and 22 points in those three games as he continues to be the fulcrum for San Antonio’s offense in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. Against Memphis, he shot 17 of 24 for his 41 points, including three of three from behind the 3-point line.
Coach Gregg Popovich has continued to praise Aldridge for his excellent season, which has put him in the picture for an All-Star berth. On Aldridge’s form, Popovich said: “He’s been an All-Star. The defensive end, the offensive end, being a leader; everything combined. He’s been fantastic.”
Center – Andre Drummond
Sure, Andre Drummond got cooked by Joel Embiid on Tuesday. Drummond perhaps entered the game a little too fired up after some heated Twitter exchanges between the two centers. However, Detroit’s big man continues to produce dominant inside play that has been the primary reason that the All-Star-less Pistons are one of the surprise packets this season.
The current campaign has proven to be a renaissance period for the much-maligned Drummond. He leads the NBA in rebounds with a whopping 15 boards per game, while his free-throw percentage has risen by 26% from last season to sit at a very respectable 64.8%. Through four games last week, Drummond went 19 of 24 at the line, while also collecting 22 rebounds and 26 points in a stunning display that led Detroit past the league-leading Celtics.
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