We got 11 NBA games Wednesday night, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Hassan Whiteside and Damian Lillard all outplayed their peers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo - 37 points, 13 rebounds, three assists
I picked Giannis as my 2017-18 MVP. He didn’t disappoint in his season-opener. It was the 10th 30-10 game of his young career, and that tied him with Glenn Robinson for third-most in franchise history since 1983-84. Giannis still hasn’t yet developed a jumper, but the Boston Celtics couldn’t control him on drives to the basket and he — dare I say it — looked very LeBron James-like regarding his constant creation of mismatches which led to easy buckets. Giannis is going to be very fun to watch this season, and he doesn’t turn 23 until December.
Hassan Whiteside - 26 points, 22 rebounds
Since 2014-15, only Andre Drummond has more 20-20 games than Whiteside. If the Miami Heat are going to make any noise, they’re going to have to ride the broad shoulders of their budding star. Whiteside’s made strides on the offensive end and is no longer reliant on lobs to get buckets; Miami can toss the ball into the post and let him get to work. He also, apparently, has been working on a three-ball, and Whiteside made his first ever triple in Wednesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic. I don’t see that continuing, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Damian Lillard - 27 points, five assists, five rebounds
The Portland Trail Blazers handed the Phoenix Suns a record-setting defeat without C.J. McCollum. Lillard was more than capable of picking up the slack. Now in his sixth season, Dame’s looking to return to the All-Star Game and gain the national respect that he’s lacking. Wednesday’s game was a solid start. Nothing changed offensively for him over the summer; he’s still one of the most electrifying scorers and can get a bucket from almost anywhere. The most noticeable thing was his commitment to defense, something we haven’t seen much of in recent seasons. Should Lillard continue that, it’ll be an incredible season for both him and the Blazers.
- Clint Capela - 22 points, 17 rebounds, three steals
- Mike Conley - 27 points, five rebounds, three assists
- Anthony Davis - 33 points, 18 rebounds
- Myles Turner - 21 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks
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