Gasol, Davis, Lowry, Harden maintain Top 5 perches
POSTED: Dec 5, 2014 11:22 AM ET
A skilled playmaker and shooter, Stephen Curry has the tools of an elite-level NBA point guard.
The question had to be asked.
Steph Curry was already in the mix, so taking it to that next level was a logical step with his Golden State Warriors atop the league.
So I typed the question and hit send ...
Is Steph the best point guard in the game right now?
Kia Awards: Steph Curry
Golden State's Steph Curry is the winner for the Kia Western Conference Player of the Month.
I was expecting some time to elapse before a trusted Eastern Conference executive responded, but he fired right back.
"It's not a crazy question," the executive said. "In fact, I can see it, right now. No point guard is playing better for his team right now. His game has come full circle. He can do it all, score and run the show. I don't know that he's the best all around. But he's the best shooter and is improved in every other area of his game."
The list of candidates for the top spot is as long as any position in the league. Depending on your preference and the revolving criteria for measuring them, you could go in any direction.
Tony Parker has all the rings. Chris Paul is always involved. Russell Westbrook is hard to ignore. Kyle Lowry covers all the bases. John Wall can do it all. Kyrie Irving is emerging. And we can't forget about mainstays like Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose (when healthy) and others.
But no one is running the show the way Curry is for the Warriors. They've won 11 straight games, tying a franchise record that goes back to the 1971-72 season.
A shooter extraordinaire and easily the most dangerous scoring threat at the position in the league, Curry has become an elite playmaker and facilitator, too. His matchup against Rose Saturday in Chicago could provide spectacular fireworks from the last point guard to win MVP honors and perhaps the next to do so.
Curry, of course, has different goals in mind right now.
He likes the feeling of his team being on top. And that's his focus, not the discussion about who might be the NBA's best point guard.
"Night in and night out," he told reporters after the Warriors thumped the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night on TNT, "we're going to prove that we are a championship-caliber team and go out there and handle our business."
This week's KIA Race to the MVP Ladder:
Kia Awards: Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol is nominee for the Kia Western Conference Player of the Month.
(Last week: No. 1)
Gasol (sore knees) and the Grizzlies took their lumps in a lost to the Houston Rockets Wednesday night, but get a chance for redemption tonight when they host the champion San Antonio Spurs at FedEx Forum (8 ET, League Pass). Gasol (who is listed as questionable) and Zach Randolph will get all they can handle from Tim Duncan and the Spurs' frontline. Gasol's ability to battle through his injury issues and control the action on both ends of the floor remains crucial to the Grizzlies' cause. If that bone bruise in his right knee causes him to miss this game against the Spurs (and any extended time), there could be cause for serious concern.
Inside The NBA: Warriors Discussion
Shaq, Ernie, Kenny and Charles discuss the Warriors 16-2 start and if they should be considered an elite team in the Western conference.
(Last week: No. 3)
Curry and the Warriors put on a show on TNT Thursday night, running the New Orleans Pelicans off the floor behind his 19 points, 11 assists and four steals. The catalyst for the current best team in the league, Curry has found a groove as both a scorer and playmaker. That is, in turn, paying huge dividends for coach Steve Kerr's crew. Curry's more than just flash, too. He's taking the challenge to defend opposing point guards while leading on and off the floor the way you'd expect an All-Star and legitimate MVP candidate to do. The best point guard in the league? It doesn't sound so far-fetched these days.
Anthony Davis Making Impact
Check out highlights from New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis as he shines in the 2014-15 season!
(Last week: No. 2)
Davis was his usual unbelievable self in Thursday's loss to the Warriors (30 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals). Davis is going to continue to pile up outlandish numbers (he's recorded seven 30-point games already this season) as his game is that good right now. The only issue is the Pelicans' supporting cast. He doesn't have another elite-level scorer/player on the roster to help take pressure off of him when teams decide to allow him to go work and dare someone else to beat them. If the Pelicans are going to take full advantage of Davis' monster season, he'll need more assistance.
Kyle Lowry - Floor General
Kyle Lowry is leading the Eastern Conference's best record in Toronto this season.
(Last week: No. 4)
Lowry has been on an absolute tear recently (26.8 points, 8.6 assists 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.8 turnovers in his last five games) and his surge is fueling the Raptors' cause. Lowry scored a career-high 39 points in a win over Utah, making 13 of his 22 field goal attempts and knocking down four of his five 3-pointers. This is the Lowry the Raptors had in mind when they made him their top free-agent priority last summer. This is also a player that who should challenge for All-NBA honors at arguably the deepest position in the league -- provided he keeps up this wicked level of production all season long.
Grizzlies vs. Rockets
James Harden scores 21 points to lead the Rockets over the Grizzlies 105-96.
(Last week: No. 5)
Harden and the Rockets served notice with a quality win over the Grizzlies Wednesday that they are still a team to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. Harden was at his relentless best against the Grizzlies, piling up 21 points (6-for-11 shooting, 2-for-5 on 3-pointers and 7-for-8 from the line). Strange as it sounds, Harden's best work this season has come from the free throw line. When you shoot 90 percent from the line and average 10 free throw attempts a night, you're a threat without the extra work Harden can give you elsewhere.
(Last week: No. 6)
The way Thompson and Steph Curry work in concert each night is a joy for basketball purists and casual fans alike. There is no struggle or tug-of-war between the Warriors' two stars. Thursday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans was a perfect example as both guys balanced their games for the greater good. Thompson could easily press more offensively and probably would have to on a lesser team. Just 16 shots, with eight makes and a 5-for-8 night from 3-point land, was all it took for Thompson to help the Warriors overpower the Pelicans. That's spectacularly efficient work for a player whose shooting ability would allow for as many attempts as needed in almost any other situation.
Top 10: Plays of the Week
Gerald Green and LeBron James headline the top 10 plays of the week.
(Last week: No. 7)
This slimmed down and laid back LeBron James we've seen in Cleveland is taking a bit more time to get used to than anyone outside of Northeast Ohio imagined. The way he deferred to Kyrue Irving, who was magnificent Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in the Cavaliers' fifth straight win, was unsettling. LeBron was locked in on Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks' final attempt to tie the game and send it to overtime, so not everything has changed. And maybe it's yet another sign of maturity in LeBron's game that he is not only willing but able to step aside, at times, to help facilitate (19 points, 12 assists and five rebounds) an unbelievable performance for a superstar teammate like Kyrie.
(Last week: Not Ranked)
The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, Griffin has gotten back to scoring and rebounding the way he did last season, when he muscled his way into the top tier of truly elite power forwards in the league. The biggest beneficiary of Griffin's surge in play has been the Clippers, who are trying to grind their way up the food chain in the Western Conference playoff race. That soft label that Griffin and his teammates were tagged with is slowly melting as they continue to plow through foes.
Nightly Notable - LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge drops 39 points and grabs 11 rebounds to lead the Blazers over the Nuggets.
(Last week: No. 9)
Aldridge continues to show his true all-around value by piling up double-doubles seemingly every night out. He notched his seventh straight (and 11th double-double overall this season) in the Trail Blazers' Thursday night home win over the Indiana Pacers. And the 19 points and 13 rebounds overshadows a rough shooting night (7-for-21) that would deflate the spirits of an average player. Aldridge has been as productive as ever recently, averaging 22.2 points and 12.6 rebounds over the Blazers' past five games. The shooting numbers will ebb and flow, but Aldridge's rebounding work has become a staple of his game.
Isiah On Point: Jimmy Butler
Isiah Thomas compares the playing styles of Bulls guard Jimmy Butler and Bucks legend Sidney Moncrief.
(Last week: No. 10)
You can make a case for Butler being the most versatile two-way perimeter threat in the league right now not named LeBron James. The Bulls' budding star has been that good this season. A top-10 scorer with 12, count 'em 12, games of 20 or more points this season, Butler is thriving. Already one the most physical and best defenders in the game, Butler has worked his way into a legitimate star talent on a team that already boasts Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol. Butler's rise has been remarkable to watch because of his relentless approach and refusal to settle for an anonymous, role-player position on an elite team.
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