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Kyle Mangelson

Kyle Mangelson

Luka Doncic, point guard for the Dallas Maverick, has taken the NBA by storm this season.

The second-year player has already placed himself in the MVP conversation at only 20-years old. Through a quarter of the season, Doncic is averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists per game. For any player, those are historic numbers, let alone a 20-year-old.

Doncic was selected third overall in the 2018 draft by the Hawks but was traded to Dallas for Trae Young. Looking back, you could say both sides won the trade. Both player have been absolute studs for their teams, and both fit the direction their teams are going in. Of course, there is still a lot of time left before we can clearly determine who won the trade in the end. Doncic has led the Mavericks to the third-best record in the Western Conference without a legitimate co-star. And if Doncic stays healthy, there’s no reason they won’t continue their success.

But come playoff time, I don’t see Dallas making it out of the first round. As I said, Doncic doesn’t have a co-star. Kristaps Porzingis is not a star, yet. We’re still waiting for him to take that next step in his career, though he could still be recovering from his ACL injury he suffered nearly two years ago. Doncic and Porzingis also both don’t have any playoff experience. With all the great coaches in the West, Doncic may have trouble dominating a seven-game series without at least a little more help.

The Houston Rockets have been an interesting show this season with some success in their own right, currently fifth in the Western Conference. Led by James Harden and recently-acquired Russell Westbrook, you can imagine they have made some highlight plays this season. Harden is currently averaging a whopping 38 points per game on 43-percent shooting.

Last Tuesday against the Spurs, Harden poured in 50 points. Impressive, right? Well, think again. He did this while making just 11 out of 38 shots, a field goal percentage of 29-percent. He did most of his scoring from the foul stripe, going 24 for 24 on free throws. And the Rockets lost to the Spurs.

Decide for yourself if that is the type of player or the type of system you want running your team. We see this every year with the Rockets: put Harden’s usage rating through the roof and ride him until he is too exhausted to play, which always comes during playoff time.

In other news, Carmelo Anthony signed with the Portland Trailblazers after an extended offseason. Though he was without a team for almost a year, Melo was quick to make his impact felt, winning Western Conference Player of the Week in his first week of action with the Blazers. Melo has shown flashes of his prime with his scoring ability since being signed. He has been a solid third scorer that the team can rely on, as well as a great veteran leader when playing in a lineup of young or backup players.

The Blazers so far have struggled, which was a little unexpected. Truthfully, I thought they would to bounce back better than they were last season. The West is currently wide open, so there is still lots of time for a change, but I sure hope we get to see Lillard and Melo in the playoffs.

A quarter into the NBA season, I see four main players in the MVP Race: Doncic, Harden, Milwaukee center Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James. All four have led their teams to strong starts but only one of these players has stood out to me. That is none other than Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP. He and the Bucks currently hold the top spot in the East and are on a 15-game winning streak.

Antetokounmpo, also known as the Greek Freak, is averaging 30 points, 5 assists and 13 rebounds per game. Just when you thought he couldn’t get better, he’s done it. Already he is showing signs of improvement from last year, especially from the three-point line. He is shooting the three at 32-percent on five attempts, his highest percentage since his rookie year when he hit 35-percent but on only 1.5 attempts.

Antetokounmpo has also managed to put up these numbers while playing roughly 30 minutes per game. Compare that to Harden who scored 38 a game in 38 minutes. Antetokounmpo’s lower minutes are not because of injury or conditioning, but because the Bucks are blowing teams out. They currently lead the league in point differential by a mile, beating teams by an average of 13-points per game.

The Bucks are currently the favorite to win the championship in most people’s eyes, with the Lakers in a close second place. A Lakers-Bucks finals would be quite the matchup in June.

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