Stephen Curry will go down in history as more than merely a two-time (and counting) MVP or a three-time (and counting) NBA champion. James Harden will go down in history as more than merely two-time (and counting) scoring champ and one-time (and counting) MVP. It’s becoming more clear every day that these two exemplary players have created a new branch in basketball history, a branch bearing fruit among younger stars, and especially in one particular young star.
Trae Young had 42 points on 13-21 shooting with 11 assists as the Hawks went into Denver and beat the Nuggets Tuesday. Young recorded his first ever 8-8-8 game: eight made threes, eight made free throws, eight assists. The only players in NBA history with more than one game like that are Harden (8) and Curry (4). This is a relatively new genre of all-around offensive dominance that Harden and Curry made attainable and Young is now chasing.
I go back and forth on whether Young is more a Curry acolyte (based on the efficiency from deep and seemingly limitless range) or a son of Harden (extra high usage rate, high assist rate, relentless attacking of the rim). The right answer at this point is that in the grand scheme of NBA evolution, Curry and Harden are more similar than they are different: they have together (and with some other modern stars like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson) brought the three-pointer to the level of equal or even superior to shots at the rim. They have reoriented the basketball court — stretched it out, created more breathing room on it for offenses and far less for defenses. Young is a son of that, not of either superstar exclusively.
This is all quasi-academic. You can and should set all that aside when you’re watching Young play. It’s breathtaking. He’s reached must-watch status in his second season. Here’s to a long, fruitful career growing out of the massive shadow of his basketball forefathers.
Thunder 85, Pacers 111
Cavaliers 97, Sixers 98
Pistons 108, Heat 117
Knicks 102, Bulls 120
Hawks 125, Nuggets 121
Lakers 123, Suns 115
Nets 114, Jazz 119
Blazers 99, Kings 107
All times ET. Games are on League Pass unless otherwise noted.
Grizzlies at Hornets, 7 p.m.
Sixers at Magic, 7 p.m.
Wizards at Celtics, 7:30 p.m.
Clippers at Rockets, 7:30, p.m. ESPN
Spurs at Wolves, 8 p.m.
Warriors at Lakers, 10 p.m., ESPN
Raptors at Blazers, 10 p.m.
Ricky O’Donnell on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s difficult path to stardom.
John Beilein, one of the oldest rookie NBA head coaches ever, has the Cavaliers playing quite fun and competitive basketball. They almost knocked off the Sixers on Tuesday!
Jared Dubin on the rise of the ball screen set by guards.
Marc Stein on the urge to root for Markelle Fultz.
Tracy Morgan doesn’t usually get into sports rumors on Twitter.com but he has a juicy rumor that the Knicks might hire Mark Jackson to take over as head coach.
Dan Devine on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s encore season.
Darius Soriano on the problems that Rajon Rondo can help solve for the Lakers.
Be excellent to each other.