Welcome to the first edition of our weekly review for the 2021-22 season, where we deliver 10 things you need to know from the past week in the NBA. It will be a mix of top performances, top plays, milestones, quotes, photos and more to recap the week and get you ready for what’s to come.
1. 75th Anniversary Team revealed
The top 75 players (actually 76 as there was a tie in the voting) of all time were announced over the first three nights of the 2021-22 season. All 50 players from the 50th anniversary team in 1996 made it on the 75th anniversary team, as did two players that were initially left off that team (Dominique Wilkins and Bob McAdoo).
Of the 24 players from the past 25 seasons to make the NBA 75 squad, 11 are active — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Additionally, four of those 11 are on the Lakers in 2021-22 and Brooklyn also has a set of teammates, too. There has been plenty of debate on the biggest snubs and surprises from this list, including …
2. Klay Thompson’s reaction to being left off the NBA 75 team
First, I love that fact that Klay was vocal about his disappointment and frustration over being left off this list.
Second, I love that his teammates had a No. 77 jersey hanging in his locker to rib him on not being named to the team.
Third, I love that Klay put the jersey on and embraced the gag. “New jersey alert!”
“77th best player of all time, baby!”
Klay rocked the No. 77 jersey Draymond and Steph had made to troll him 🤣
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 23, 2021
Finally, as if Klay wasn’t already motivated enough after missing two seasons with a torn Achilles and torn ACL, I hope this snub adds just a little more fuel to the fire when he is able to return to the court this season.
3. Steph impersonating Klay on the court
Part of Thompson’s resume for being on the NBA 75 squad is his NBA-record 37-point third quarter from Jan. 23, 2015. In Golden State’s win against the LA Clippers on Thursday, Curry opened the game with a 25-point quarter as he did not miss a shot: 9-for-9 from the field, 5-for-5 from 3-point range, 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He finished the game with 45 points — one of five 40-point games across the league in the season’s opening week, but the only one to come in a victory.
4. A good week for Chicago hoops
Last Sunday, the Chicago Sky won their first WNBA championship and celebrated the title with the parade through the city on Tuesday. The next day, the new-look Chicago Bulls opened their 2021-22 campaign with a win over the Pistons in Detroit before coming home for two more games — and two more wins — to close out the opening week 3-0. It is the Bulls’ first 3-0 start since the 2016-17 season, which is also the last time they made the playoffs.
Three wins in a row 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/8X8YkAxMqo
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 24, 2021
5. Milestone watch: Early returns
It didn’t take long for some impressive moves up the all-time leaderboards for a few of the league’s veterans.
We have to start with Chris Paul, who became the first player in league history to amass at least 20,000 points and 10,000 assists. There are 47 players in league history to reach 20,000 career points, there are only six that have reached 10,000 assists. Now Paul is the only one to do both. He’ll hold that distinction for a while, but will likely get some company later this season as LeBron James needs only 288 assists to reach 10,000 and he’s already over 35,000 points (3rd all-time).
On Sunday, Carmelo Anthony (27,423) scored 28 points to pass Moses Malone (27,409) for ninth place on the league’s all-time scoring list. Shaquille O’Neal is next up on the list in eighth place with 28,596 career points. Anthony needs 1,174 points to pass Shaq, which would equate to averaging nearly 15 points per game the remainder of the season.
On Friday, James Harden (2,454) passed Kyle Korver (2,450) for fourth place in career 3-pointers made, trailing only Reggie Miller (2,560), Stephen Curry (2,846) and Ray Allen (2,973).
6. Quote of the Week: Embiid shows support for Simmons
It’s a common practice around the league for teams to have a popular player address the crowd right before tip off of the home-opener. This year, not only did players thank the fans for their support, but welcomed them back to arenas at full capacity after a chaotic past two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joel Embiid did that when addressing the Philadelphia crowd prior to the Sixers game against Brooklyn on Friday. But he also made a point to show his support — and encourage the fans to do likewise — for teammate Ben Simmons, who is currently not playing with the team.
“I urge you guys to continue to support us — and our teammate, Ben — because he’s still our brother.”
7. Rookie watch: 3 players start off strong
While we still await the debut of No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham — reports are that the Pistons are targeting Oct. 30 for his debut — we’ve seen a handful of rookies get off to strong starts to their NBA careers.
Through three games, Indiana Pacers swingman Chris Duarte (No. 13 pick) leads all rookies in scoring at 20.3 points per game while shooting 45.8% (11-24) from 3-point range
Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (No. 4 pick) is averaging a double-double at 18 points and 10 boards through his first three games. And Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (No. 2 pick) capped off the week with a breakout performance on Sunday against Boston as he finished with 30 points on 8-for-10 shooting from distance, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 36 minutes.
💥 @JalenGreen 💥
– Franchise rookie-record with 8 3PM.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 25, 2021
Jalen Green finished with 30 Pts & 8 3-pt FG.
– 1st teenager with a 30-point game in Rockets history
– Tied Yao Ming for the most points by a Rockets rookie in the last 20 seasons
– Tied Anthony Edwards for the most 3-pt FG by a teenager in NBA history pic.twitter.com/Guj5s5UOby
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 25, 2021
8. Standing surprises: 7 undefeated teams remain
I would have loved to see the odds on these seven teams being the remaining unbeaten teams after the first week of action:
In the East, Chicago (3-0), Charlotte (3-0) and Washington (2-0) are perfect so far. That’s two teams that were in the Play-In Tournament (Hornets and Wizards) and one team that missed the playoffs in 2020-21.
In the West, it is Golden State (3-0), Utah (2-0), Minnesota (2-0) and Denver (2-0). Utah is definitely predictable as they finished with the top record in the league last season (52-20). Denver was also top three in the West last season and while they have the reigning Kia MVP in Nikola Jokic, they opened the season without Jamal Murray.
The Warriors ended last season with back-to-back losses in the Play-In, but have three wins to open 2021-22. Last, but not least, Wolves are 2-0 for the second straight season, but have to avoid repeating last season as they followed that 2-0 start with seven straight losses.
9. All About the ring, er, pendant …
Have to give a shout out to the Bucks and their jewelry designer (Jewelers Mutual Group) for their championship rings as they are the first ever to have a removable top that can be worn as a pendant on a necklace. Plus, there’s a QR code that launches a highlight reel in case they ever want to relive their championship run.