NBA 2015-16: Who have been the top five players of week one?

There have already been some twists and turns just three games into the new season

Ben Appleby
Monday 02 November 2015 17:15
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5) Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

(21 points-per-game, 13 rebounds-per-game)

It’s easy to forget that Towns is still just a teenager. The first pick from the 2015 draft has looked right at home as the Minnesota Timberwolves have won their opening two games for a side that won only 16 out of 82 regular season games last year, and were comfotably the worst team in the NBA. Towns made history on Friday night by becoming the youngest player in league history to record double-doubles in each of his first two career games; he was outstanding as he picked up 28 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in a 95-78 win against the Denver Nuggets. It will be fascinating to see how he progresses this season in what is an exciting and youthful Timberwolves side.

4) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

(18.7 PPG, 16.3 RPG)

The Detroit Pistons have been the surprise package of the opening week as they’ve won their first three games. This is a side that haven’t been two games over .500 since 2009 and has included wins against two of last year’s top three in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls. At the heart of their early success has been 22-year-old Andre Drummond, now in his fourth season in the league. He has become the cornerstone of this franchise and has averaged 18.7 points and 16.3 rebounds for the Pistons. The centre dominated the paint last time out against the previously unbeaten Bulls, grabbing 20 rebounds that included a remarkable nine offensive boards. Drummond is maturing as an individual and is developing into one of the best at his position, so don’t be surprised if there are calls for a first All-Star appearance come February.

3) Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

(32 PPG, 9 RPG)

Griffin has led the Los Angeles Clippers to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2007-08 and the side could be serious contenders this season if he continues to play at this elite level. The power forward scored 37 points on Saturday evening in a tight win against the Sacramento Kings and his vastly improved jump shot has brought a new dimension to his game - the myth that all Griffin’s game consists of is his ability to dunk has well and truly been put to bed. He’s shot 64.4 per cent in his opening three games and in partnership with DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have almost complete control of the paint with the pair combining for 24 rebounds-per-game so far.

2) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

(39.3 PPG, 7.7 APG)

Last season’s MVP has shown that he is not willing to give up his crown without a fight by posting remarkable numbers in three comfortable victories for the reigning NBA champions. The New Orleans Pelicans will be sick of the sight of him after he scored 40 points against them on the opening night, before topping that display with an outrageous 53 points at their ground on Saturday night. He shot 63 per cent from the field, including 8-14 shooting from three-point range and an explosive third quarter in which he scored 28 points to give his side a 14-point lead after they had trailed at half-time. Curry also notched 25 points in a 112-92 road win in Houston against last season’s beaten Conference Finalists to lead the league in scoring after the first week. He’s the purest shooter in the league and it’s frightening to think that he’s hit such a rich vein of form so early in the season.

1) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

(32 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.6 APG)

Despite Curry’s brilliance, Russell Westbrook has to be this week’s No 1 after he produced a stunning performance in his side’s double-overtime victory against Orlando Magic on Friday night. It looked like the game was lost with the Thunder trailing by three points with 3.9 seconds left in the game and no timeouts remaining. But Westbrook had other ideas, managing to get just pass half-court before hitting a deep, deep three to take the game to overtime. He then followed that up by scoring all nine of his side’s points in the first overtime to finish the night with 48 points, to go with 11 rebounds and 8 assists. There must also be a mention for his teammate Kevin Durant who scored 43 points in the remarkable game, but Westbrook’s performance in the closing stages was ultimately what won them the game. The point-guard also notched 33 points the night before against the San Antonio Spurs and has averaged 8.6 assists per game in a perfect opening week for Oklahoma City.

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