Week seven of the NBA Season is in the books, so here is your weekly recap brought to you by Talk That Talk.
Sleeper NBA League Pass Teams to Watch
In this unprecedented season, not every game features the same watch-ability.
We know the Brooklyn Nets are must-see TV every time they take the floor. We also are most certainly aware of the nightly showcases put on by the likes of superstars Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic.
While most of the sport’s fandom prioritizes following his or her team, there are a few squads still under-the-radar worth catching live if you haven’t already.
Sacramento Kings – Sactown is as compelling this season as they ever have been in recent memory.
Their record is nothing to write home about at 12-15, good for 11th in the Western Conference. But there are many worthwhile reasons to tune in when they play.
The bulk of which stems from their promising young backcourt.
Four-year player De’Aaron Fox is having a breakout year, averaging a career-best 23 points and almost seven assists. Advanced metrics will suggest he’s been playing at this level for a while, but his game has rounded out in many ways that impress the eye-test.
His backcourt mate, Tyrese Haliburton, has almost cemented himself as the steal of last year’s draft.
Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball may be the favorite for Rookie of the Year as of now, but Haliburton is a very close second.
The 20-year-old is top-five amongst rookies in points, assists, steals, made threes and minutes per game. He isn’t dominating games, but his poised decision making, overall impact and potential jump off the screen.
Add in a host of other promising young talent and a scrappy quality to their team, and you have a good late-night watch with the Kings.
New Orleans Pelicans – Another team on the outside looking in at the playoff race, the Pels provide an interesting watch time and time again.
The thing is, that watch has equal chances of being wildly entertaining or simply head-scratching.
A half-game behind Sacramento, New Orleans has failed to find a consistent recipe for winning games, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love their ingredients.
The belle of the ball in the NBA last year, Zion Williamson, is finding his way. He’s a potential all-star thanks to his relentlessness around the rim.
He’s fifth in the league in field goal percentage at an astounding 60 percent, while scoring nearly double the amount of points as the four players above him.
The mid-air highlight reels aren’t coming as often, but his development as a player is taking shape just fine. His five-assist average over the last two weeks is an intriguing number to follow as well.
New Orleans’ best win came in late January against the Milwaukee Bucks 131-126.
Players like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe and Williamson all eclipsed 20 points while Steven Adams hauled in 20 rebounds. They also withstood 38 points from reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
This squad’s destiny this season doesn’t look the brightest, but night-in and night-out we’re seeing the evolution of some of the game’s most polarizing players.
Phoenix Suns – What a surprise, Chris Paul is working his magic with yet another NBA franchise and defying the odds.
Unlike the previous two teams, a trip to the postseason looks inevitable for the Suns, which would end a decade-long playoff drought.
Building off their undefeated stint in the bubble last year, the Phoenix Suns are currently a top-four team in the west. Few, if any, projections had them that high in the pre-season.
The catalyst for this growth would have to be Chris Paul. He’s keeping pace with his usual stats, but his influence on the pace of play in Phoenix is most noticeable.
Gone are the days of the “7 seconds or less” Suns. This squad currently boasts the third-fewest possessions per game, only ahead of the Knicks and the Clippers.
Even though shot attempts are down, they’re protecting the ball at a high rate, shooting second-best in the league on free throws, and are top-ten in several defensive categories. This gives them a chance to win in the fourth quarter no matter the opponent.
Young guys like Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson continue to develop and play meaningful minutes. Their young stars Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton also routinely put in exceptional performances.
We knew last season that there was a core to build with on this team. Well, Paul has taken those parts and is guiding them to a playoff berth like he always does.
Indiana Pacers – The NBA’s midwest stalwart, the Indiana Pacers consistently remind the league not to take them lightly.
Though they’ve cooled off from a blistering start to the season, in large part due to injuries, the Pacers remain a top-four seed in the East and are solidifying another trip to the playoffs.
How they perform when they get there will largely reflect how healthy they are when the time comes.
Nonetheless, the engine of this team is powered by forward Domantas Sabonis, guard Malcolm Brogdon and center Myles Turner.
The three blossoming stars have kept Indiana afloat despite the team trading all-star Victor Oladipo and their list of players currently sidelined.
Their offense runs through Brogdon’s efficiency, and the triple-double threat that Sabonis provides every game. The duo averages 21 points per game each, and their knack for facilitating creates scoring opportunities for several others.
The Pacers are third in team assist-to-turnover ratio and points in the paint on a per game basis. This team shows up on both sides of the floor as well.
Thanks to Turner’s heroics, this team also leads the NBA in blocks per game and block percentage. Turner is turning away shots at an incredible rate, currently averaging three and a half per game alone.
With forward TJ Warren nursing a stress fracture in his foot and guard Caris LeVert battling a kidney illness, just one of them returning to the court would be huge for Indiana’s layoff viability.
Utah Jazz – Utah officially has the league’s full attention.
The Jazz playing good basketball thus far in the season shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But, having the best record in the league and in the midst of what could be a second double-digit win streak is a shock to most of us.
That begs the question, what is it about Utah that has the team performing so well and how sustainable is it?
A chunk of their success should come from the team’s continuity, carrying over a large share of last year’s rotation. When so many teams are trying to juggle new pieces, the Jazz brought back all seven of their leading minutes per game players.
The only offseason addition playing significant minutes is forward Derrick Favors, who’s spent ten of his 11 seasons with the Jazz.
In a season full of uncertainty, the Jazz know exactly who they are and it shows when they take the floor.
There were reports of ‘irreparable damage’ between center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell in the offseason, but the two seem to be co-existing just fine. Gobert is up to his usual dominance in the paint and Spida puts forth his best Dwyane Wade impersonation every game.
Also worth mentioning, guard Mike Conley is having a resurgent year after a disappointing debut season when the Jazz traded for him last year.
This Jazz team will likely have multiple all-stars, and guard Jordan Clarkson is the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year honors.
They are a true contender this season, so take note of how they progress game to game because the top overall seed is theirs’ to lose.