NBA Team of the Week: LeBron, Harden feature again (27 November 2017)
Mainstays LeBron James and James Harden make the list again, but there is also room for a couple of new faces in our NBA team of the week.
Point guard – Goran Dragic
The Miami heat recorded an unbeaten week as they rekindle the fire that drove them to a 30-11 record in the second half of last season. The Heat beat the Bulls, Celtics and Timberwolves in Week 6, and a purple patch from Goran Dragic made it happen. Dragic averaged 23.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 58% from 3-point territory as Erik Spoelstra’s side bounced back to their best.
Despite a slow start against the Bulls (seven points in the first quarter from the entire Miami team), the Heat rallied and Dragic hit the 3-point dagger in the final minute to make the win safe for his side. Though that was an excellent performance, wins against two of the league’s best teams in the Celtics and Wolves have been even more vital in reinvigorating this Miami team.
Shooting guard – James Harden
Chris Paul is back for the Houston Rockets, but James Harden is still stealing the show. The Rockets are on a four-game winning streak and boast ten wins from their last eleven games, with Harden playing superbly throughout their hot streak.
In the Rockets’ 30-point win over the Nuggets in Week 6, Harden posted 21 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists as he narrowly missed a triple-double. Against the Knicks, Harden scored 37 points and 10 assists as the Rockets came back from 22 down to win by 17.
Gone are the days where Harden’s defensive effort was put under the spotlight, as the Rockets are eighth in the league for defensive efficiency and their lead man’s newfound tenacity has been one of the major reasons. Harden was a key part in Houston’s ability to muzzle New York last week, recording three steals on the night and helping keep the Knicks to just 13 points in the third quarter.
Small forward – LeBron James
LeBron James and the Cavs are finally stringing form together. The reigning Eastern Conference champions have won seven games in a row and LeBron is finally receiving the support that the league’s best player should receive.
The help coming from around him doesn’t mean his contribution is dropping off, though. James averaged 26 points, 8 rebounds and 8.7 assists in Week 6, while continuing the most efficient shooting season of his career (135.3 points per 100 shot attempts). He also shot 50% from 3-point range and 54.9% from the field last week.
Perhaps his most impressive all-round game came against Charlotte on Friday, when the Cavs used every ounce of his talent to earn a one-point win. James scored 27 points to go with 16 rebounds and 13 assists in the contest, which marked the 57th triple-double of his career.
Power forward – Blake Griffin
The Clippers are struggling big time, but they stopped a nine-game slide by winning against the Hawks and Kings last week. Those were two important wins even if they came against relative minnows. A 26-point triple-double against the Hawks from Blake Griffin was essential, as was the game-winner – a midrange step-back with three seconds left – Griffin hit against the Kings.
While Griffin started the season in such good form that some wondered if he could be an MVP threat, the Clippers suffered some injuries over the past few weeks and Griffin’s form regressed. Yet, if he can keep replicating his efforts from Week 6, the Clippers might figure in the playoffs.
Center – Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans to a 3-1 record in an impressive week in which he averaged 26 points, 10 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. The week started with a match against the Thunder in which Davis’ teammate DeMarcus Cousins was ejected. Davis and the Pelicans rallied, however, coming back from a seven-point deficit at the time (they had been down 19 points earlier that night) to post the win. Davis was instrumental down the stretch and finished with 36 points and 15 rebounds as the Pelicans won by seven points.
Two nights later, New Orleans thumped the Spurs on the back of 29 points and 11 rebounds from Davis, who scored 12 points in the third quarter during a crucial 26-6 run. It was a similar story against the Suns as Davis scored 23 points and added 9 rebounds by three-quarter time when the Pelicans led by 32, before sitting out the last quarter.
Though they couldn’t get near the Warriors in Oakland on Saturday night, it was a supremely successful stretch for New Orleans as Davis and Cousins continue to build chemistry and cause opponents problems. Cousins’ arrival hasn’t dulled Davis’ powers, rather it has enhanced them.
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