Everyone knows that James Harden is the most efficient player this season, LeBron James is posting his best numbers in years and Golden State leads the league in a range of metrics. But are these the most impressive stats this season? Here are some intriguing contenders for the most impressive stats of the 2017/18 season so far:
First round draft pick Ben Simmons has averaged 16.6 points, 7.2 assists and 8.0 rebounds in his first full season in the league. The last man to post such impressive numbers before hitting his 21st birthday was the legendary Magic Johnson back in 1981. Throw in 1.9 steals per game and 1.0 blocks, and his averages have never before been matched in NBA history.
What an exciting time it is to be a Philadelphia 76ers fan. Last season Joel Embiid won Rookie of the Year and this season Simmons is the odds-on favourite in the NBA betting odds to claim the honour. The field is extremely competitive, as Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum are also on fire, but 6ft 10ins point guard Simmons, who shoots 51% from the field, plays with maturity beyond his years and deserves the award so far. With Embiid and Simmons at the heart of the team, the Sixers can go on to dominate the league in future.
Lou Williams scored a career-high 50 points to inspire an undermanned LA Clippers team to a shock victory over the all-conquering Golden State. An amazing 27 of those points came in the third quarter, and it led to the Clippers’ first win over the Warriors since 2014. Williams won the sixth man award for Toronto in 2015 and looks destined to win it again this season, making it seem like a travesty that he does not start more often.
He has come off the bench 30 times compared to 13 starts, and he is still averaging an amazing 23.2 points per game to keep the injury-ravaged Clippers in playoff contention. If he keeps it up he will become the highest-scoring sixth man of the year in history, and he has a genuine shot at a reserve place on the All-Star team.
Victor Lives up to His Name
What a season this has been for Victor Oladipo, whose points average has increased by a massive eight per game. His net rating is +14.6 and he is averaging career highs in field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, blocks, steals and points. He is heading for an All-Star season and a Most Improved Player Award after emerging from Russell Westbrook’s shadow to become the Pacers’ leading man.
When he plays they are a force to be reckoned with, but when he is absent they look like one of the worst teams in the league. Indiana has lost big games when Oladipo has been injured, and doing a great job of anchoring a playoff team. He is shooting 41% from the three-point range and is really thriving after being given extra minutes on court.
Curry Spices up The Warriors
When Steph Curry is absent, Golden State’s offensive rating is 106, and it shoots up to 120.6 when he is on the court. The Warriors are once again leading the league with a .804 win percentage, they are heavy favourites to win the Championship for a third time in four years and they are never better than when Curry is in the team. No wonder he has been chosen as an All-Star captain.
He also surely has to be in contention for the regular season MVP award, even though it is harder to shine in the Warriors’ super team and he has had a long injury layoff. But since returning he has been outrageously impressive. In a 121-105 win over the Clippers he scored 45 points in just 30 minutes on the court. That has only happened four times in history, and two of them were achieved by Curry. He is averaging 27.7 points per game, better than James, and Curry leads the league in offensive box plus-minus.
The last six MVP winners have led that stat, and Curry can legitimately claim to be the best player on the best team in the league, better than even Kevin Durant, so that has to make him a strong contender.
The Magic of Stevens
The Boston Celtics’ chances of success this season were widely written off when star player Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific injury on his debut. However, at the halfway stage Boston is top of the east and has the league’s second best record. With a .739 win percentage, they are three wins ahead of the Raptors and seven clear of the Cavs, and that is an extremely impressive stat.
They have a better record than the much-hyped Rockets and the supremely consistent Spurs, and Boston looks a genuine contender for post-season glory.
Coach Brad Stevens has worked wonders with a young and inexperienced squad, pushing Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving to their absolute full potential. Stevens has proven himself to be an exceptional leader and his systems have driven the Celtics to a sensational string of results.
Martin Green is an experienced sportswriter and has been covering the NBA for years. He is a Sixers fan and excited by the potential of Simmons, Embiid an co.