Warriors small icon1. Warriors. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga has been getting more run of late, and the No. 7 pick is showing flashes of the crazy athleticism and potential he brings to the court. Steve Kerr used a young Kawhi Leonard as his comp: Insane athlete, raw, but on a team deep with talented veterans so he just has to play a role and make simple plays. So far, Kuminga has done that well and helped the Warriors, but it’s a long road from here to being Kawhi. The Warriors have won four in a row and 11-of-12, with a good showdown next Tuesday against the Suns.
Suns small icon2. Suns. If you called the Suns’ Finals run last season a fluke, make sure to have a second helping of crow pie for Thanksgiving. The Suns are legit and are showing it both with a 14-game win streak and being in the top 10 in the league in both offense and defense. The Suns’ win streak likely ends this weekend with a road back-to-back against the Knicks then Nets. That doesn’t change the fact the Suns have found their groove again.
Nets small icon3. Nets. The midrange shot is not dead in the NBA, at least not whenever Kevin Durant is on the court. KD is taking 59% of his shots this season from the midrange and hitting a ridiculous 57% of them . Durant is obviously a threat from 3 and can finish at the rim, so when his midrangers are falling he becomes truly unstoppable. The Nets have won 11-of-13 and now face a few interesting challenges, including the Suns this weekend.
Heat small icon4. Heat. Miami has a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Tyler Herro, who dropped 31 on Detroit, his second 30+ point game off the bench this season. Herro is averaging 22.1 points a game, shooting 40.2% from 3, and the Heat are outscoring opponents by 8.4 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court this season. Interesting early season test Saturday when the Heat face the Bulls.
Jazz small icon5. Jazz. It’s weird to write this, but the Jazz are the best offense in the NBA, with a 116.6 offensive rating. That’s jumped to 119.2 the past 7 games against weaker defenses, but their defense has been average in that stretch, and they’ve been a bit unlucky just to go 4-3. Rudy Gay returned to the lineup last week and from the first minute was knocking down 3s, finishing with 20 points against the Raptors. He’s come back to earth the past couple of games, but he provides more depth and versatility.
Bulls small icon6. Bulls. The Bulls don’t run a lot 18th in the league in pace, 13th in the league in number of possessions that start in transition but when they do they are very efficient: a 136.6 offensive rating in transition, best in the league. Lonzo Ball deserves some credit, but he’s surrounded by athletic finishers like Zach LaVine, plus shooters. Chicago has gone 6-3 in their last nine since the schedule turned tough, with wins over the Nuggets, Nets, and both LA teams The Bulls Are Back and for real. Fun matchup with Miami on Saturday.
Celtics small icon7. Celtics. The Celtics offense is 16th in the league, but it’s looked a little better in the last week as Jaylen Brown returned to the lineup and Jayson Tatum appears to have broken out of his early-season shooting funk. Tatum had 33+ points and good shooting nights against the Hawks, Lakers, and Thunder recently, but came back to earth Monday against Houston. Brian Scalabrine is right on the NBC Sports Boston broadcasts, this team needs to pass and move the ball more.
Bucks small icon8. Bucks. Khris Middleton returned to the lineup and the Bucks rattled off four straight wins that is not a coincidence. More good news on the injury front, Brook Lopez who has been out since the first week of the season said his back is feeling better and he is ramping up towards a return. Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 47 on the Lakers, is getting downhill and attacking like himself again, and just discovered that Oreos go better with milk.
Clippers small icon9. Clippers. Nicolas Batum has been a glue guy for the Clippers this season, averaging 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a game, playing good defense and just being solid in his role. Which is why they will miss him so much while he is out for at least 10 days due to health and safety protocols. In 2013, Paul George had the most famous dunk of his career over The Birdman in a playoff game against Miami. George recreated that dunk Sunday, with the Mavs’ Dwight Powell in the Birdman’s shoes.