Who has shown up and shown out thus far in the Orange Roundball League’s Western Conference? Approximately an eighth of the way through the 2018-19 NBA regular-season slate, I have just two teams that are flexing their muscles. One is an easy pick, and one may surprise you.
Starting with the juggernaut Golden State Warriors (10-1), everyone saw this coming. The Splash Brothers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) & Co. are playing like the defending champs. Well, they are. These guys surely haven’t let off the gas pedal, schooling their opponents and breaking records. Mr. Thompson went absolutely berserk in a 149-124 thrashing of the Chicago Bulls on October 29th at United Center, setting the NBA record for most three-pointers in a game. Klay drilled 14 triples in the contest. Absurd.
Thompson collected 52 points in the contest, going a ridiculous 14 of 24 from the land of plenty, and 18 of 29 overall from the field. Klay played a total of just 27 minutes in the game. I’ll just go ahead and say it. Goodness, gracious. The entire Warriors’ bench, including Mr. Curry (previous record of 13 triples in a game), cheered emphatically for Thompson to break Steph’s record.
“Records are obviously meant to be broken,” Curry said. “I’m just happy it’s my teammate and nobody else. And I got to witness it in person.”
For Curry, he continues to grace the court at an MVP level. How about 31.3 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game to start off 2018-19? Astronomical numbers from perhaps the greatest player in the galaxy other than LeBron “King” James. Although the Warriors have played lights out, they do have one blemish. A 100-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets (9-1) in the Mile High City at Pepsi Center.
Coming off a 115-107 victory back on Monday night over the Boston Celtics (6-4) within the raucously friendly confines of Pepsi Center, the Nuggets are looking golden. Currently, they’re using their pickaxes to climb their way to the top of the Western Conference standings. From a defensive standpoint, they’re allowing only 102.4 points per game. Near the top of the league defensively, this is a rarity for Denver. The Nuggets typically have no trouble scoring the orange, but their defense has been atrocious in the past. Not now. They have a bevy of young studs that can lock down on the other end of the floor. Center Nikola Jokic and power forward Paul Millsap set the tone next to the rim in the painted area, and small forward/guard Gary Harris, Jr. stifles dudes on the perimeter.
Denver’s deep and talented roster makes them a legitimate threat out West. They must stay healthy. A key for every team in the NBA. Although Jokic (17.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG) is the most recognizable Nugget — standing 7’0″ and tipping the scale at 250 pounds — a star is being born in the Denver backcourt. Jamal Murray.
Just 21-years-old, the 6’4″ 207-pound guard is a deadly perimeter shooter. Mr. Murray can also attack the tin with vigor off the bounce. When Jamal releases the orange, it always looks as if it’s going in the cylinder. Averaging 18.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.4 dimes per game, Murray is steadily becoming the Nuggets’ offensive leader and go-to scorer. On Monday night against the Celtics, Murray exploded for a career-high 48 points en route to a Denver win. His bow and arrow was flaming from beyond the arc. Absolutely unconscious.
Boston’s perennial All-Star guard Kyrie Irving may have taken exception to Jamal’s last-second three-point shot attempt to reach 50 points, but the kid put on a clinic. It may not have been the most sportsmanlike thing to do, yet give me a break. You have a young 21-year-old that just set a career-high in a huge win for the Nuggets. There might be an unwritten rule that should keep Murray from jacking up the shot when the game was all but over. However, maybe the Celtics shouldn’t have let this budding star go off for 48 points.
So, the Warriors and Nuggets are the cream of the crop in my book out West. Here’s to more fantastic Orange Roundball League action to come.