Tuesday, February 27 2024
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Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players getting the most buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing — it simply means you’re capturing the NBA world’s attention. This is also not a ranking. The players listed here are in no particular order. This column will run every week throughout the regular season. 

James finished 6-for-10 from the field in the Lakers‘ win over Utah on Tuesday, and his shooting percentage for the month of November went down. That’s how hot LeBron has been over the last three weeks. 

Our Sam Quinn covered what has been, arguably, the best shooting month of LeBron’s career here

After a 3-for-5 night from 3 on Tuesday, LeBron is now shooting over 45% from deep in November and 41% overall. It was fitting that James, already the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, crossed the 39,000 career-point mark with an early 3-pointer against the Jazz

At this point, there are no more words for what he’s doing at his age. The man is in his 21st season and he’s one of two players averaging at least 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists on 50/40 shooting splits. 

Ball scored 36 points in Charlotte’s OT win over Boston on Monday. He’s now scored at least 25 points in eight straight games and at least 30 in six of those eight. Over that span, he’s making 45% from of his 3s on over nine attempts per game. 

The problem is, the Hornets are 2-6 over this same stretch, and one of those wins was against the Wizards, which almost doesn’t count. So far, the Hornets had lost Ball’s minutes by a combined 95 points, which is the 461st worst mark among 476 players this season. 

This is largely a team stat, of course, and the Hornets are not a good team. But how much does Ball have to do with that? It’s obvious he’s a supremely talented player, but without better team context, it’s hard to know what, exactly, his gaudy numbers at up to in terms of winning impact, especially as he remains such an inefficient scorer inside the 3-point arc. 

Fox, already an All-Star and third-team All-NBA guy last season, is elevating his game to new heights by taking and making more 3-pointers than he has at any point in his career. 

With the obligatory qualifier that it’s still very early, Fox has upped his attempts from five per game last year to nine this year, and his conversion rate from 32% to 38% … and that’s with a 2-for-12 stinker vs. the Pels on Monday on the books. 

Fox’s 1.32 points per possession as a pick-and-roll scorer is the best mark in the league among point guards, per Synergy. The formula is simple: As one of the fastest players in the league, defenders, bigs especially, are forced to give ground and/or go under screens to have any chance of staying in front of Fox, which allows for pull-up 3s. 

In the past, that was a mathematical tradeoff the defense was willing to accept. But Fox is reworking the equation by making 44% of his off-the-dribble 3-pointers, including 48% in either isolation or out of pick-and-roll. 

Nowadays, this is just too much space:

Fox is tied with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the league’s sixth-leading scoring at 29.6 PPG, by far a career-high. The Kings are 6-2 when he plays, and just outside a top-five offense when he’s on the court. 

Brunson, who was named Eastern Conference player of the week, has made 19 of his last 34 3-pointers. He’s at 48% from deep for the year on career high volume. Will he keep it up? Not likely at this level, but there’s more in the tank to draw from. 

Brunson has feasted in the short midrange in years past, but this season he’s converting at just a 35% clip in the 4-14 foot range, per CTG, down from 49%, 51% and 51% the last three seasons. he’s also finishing at the rim at a bottom-of-the-barrel 47%. 

Those numbers are going to improve. When they do, if Brunson stays anywhere near his current 3-point efficiency, the Knicks, who are already a top-10 offense, are going to go to another level. 

Haliburton’s MVP-level season continued with a 37-point/16-assist gem in Indiana’s absolutely wild win over the Hawks on Tuesday. The 252.2 point total was the highest over/under line on record since 1995, and these two teams blew past it with more than eight minutes still left in the game. Indiana edged the Hawks 157-152 for a total of 309 points, the ninth highest non-overtime output in NBA history. 

Haliburton, who set a franchise record with 26 third-quarter points vs. Atlanta, is the league leader in assists per game, point created via assist (per PBP Stats) and assist percentage (per CTG). He also leads all point guards with a 60% midrange conversion rate, per CTG, and he’s making 43% of his 3-pointers en route to 134.2 points per 100 possessions, per CTG, which falls only below Stephen Curry among point guards. 

Source: CBSSports.com

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