We're already a quarter into the NBA regular season and things are looking like how they should be at this point of the basketball year. The defending champions, Golden State Warriors, are still unbeaten, and the Philadelphia 76ers just recently notched their first win in 20 games, against the equally lowly Los Angeles Lakers (3-15).
While there were a handful of shockers (Anthony Davis struggling; Philly's prized rookie Jahlil Okafor grabbing headlines for the wrong reasons; the Houston Rockets imploding; Kobe Bryant announcing his retirement), the 2015-16 season has quenched our thirst for the game with aerial assaults and improbable buzzer-beaters, among other reasons.
Players putting up masterful performances to steer their respective teams to victories is also one of the reasons the season's kicking ass, so far. Here's a recap of the Top 5 outings this past week:
JOHN WALL, WASHINGTON WIZARDS
December 1, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 97-85
35 points (season-high), 10 assists, four rebounds, five steals
In a duel with The King, Wall turned up with what might be his best performance in this young season to snap his team's four-game losing streak. The Wizards have been underwhelming so far, and a win over one of the top teams in their conference is surely a confidence boost.
MARC GASOL, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
December 1, vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 113-104
38 points (career-high), 13 rebounds, six assists, four blocks
The Grizzlies' top big man set his career-highs in points and free throws made (a perfect 16-of-16) against a squad that boasts another excellent pivot man in Anthony Davis. Despite leading a team that has "Grit and Grind" as its battle cry, Marc showcased an array of finesse and power moves on his way to an unforgettable night.
REGGIE JACKSON, DETROIT PISTONS
December 2, vs. Phoenix Suns, 127-122
36 points, 16 assists (the first Pistons player since Isiah Thomas in 1988 to have 30 points and 15 assists in a game)
Much has been said about Pistons center Andre Drummond and his "normal vision" (20 points and 20 rebounds) outings. But it would be blasphemous to ignore Jackson, who has been a steady force at the point in lieu of the injured Brandon Jennings. Now, all Stan Van Gundy (president of basketball operations and head coach) has to figure out is how the two playmakers will coexist upon Jennings' return.
KOBE BRYANT, LOS ANGELES LAKERS
December 2, vs Washington Wizards, 108-104
31 points (team-high)
With each city paying tribute to him every road game in his farewell tour, we expect Kobe to return the favor and try to put on a show. The Black Mamba poured in 12 of his season-high 31 points in the final quarter against the surging Wizards, providing clutch baskets to put his team up for good. In other words, vintage Kobe.
STEPHEN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
December 2, vs. Charlotte Hornets, 116-99
40 points (28 in the third quarter alone, did not play in the 4th), eight made three-pointers, five assists
If the stat line above isn't enough to explain Curry's dominance this season, then just look at his team's unblemished record. It was the sixth time the reigning MVP got to 40 or more (including a 53-point game) in just 20 games. We bet all our portions of ham on Noche Buena that he will double—heck, make it triple—his amazing scoring output before the All-Star break in February. That's how well things are going for them.