You stare at the screen and wonder where your guy checks in on this list. Don’t worry if he’s nowhere to be found just yet. We’re letting that fledgling 2022-23 season ooze just a little longer before pouring the fresh brew of a Kia race onto the MVP ladder that ranks players.
We published a list of the top 25 contenders to watch to start this series last week, and for this edition we’re rounding up some of the league’s best single-game performances in Week 1 of the regular season. Interestingly, four of those took place against the Brooklyn Nets.
While you won’t see Kia Race to the MVP Ladder mainstays like Nikola Jokic, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Trae Young on this list, keep your eyes peeled for next week’s edition. At that point we will move on to placing the top contenders competing for the 2022-23 Kia Most Valuable Player Award in one of the widest open fields in recent memory.
Until then, here’s a look at some of the best opening week shows around the NBA:
1. Yes Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Statistics line: 49 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists in Houston on Oct. 21
Remarks: In this case, Morant broke his own record and set it Memphis franchise brand for most points scored in the first two games of a season (83). The Grizzlies’ high-flying guard scored 28 points in the second half. Still, we can get too caught up in Morant’s goals and miss his defensive skills needed as Jaren Jackson Jr lacks the time. Morant nearly hit his head on the board in a fourth-quarter chase of Jalen Green in this contest.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Statistics line: 43 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists against Brooklyn on Oct. 26
Remarks: Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo is in his 10th seasonth Season. Yet the veteran keeps peeling off new layers of his game, as described by colleague Steve Aschburner. That performance marked Antetokounmpo’s second consecutive 40-point heater since he cast in 17 points in both the third and fourth quarters to produce his third double-double. One could even argue that Antetokounmpo is 44 point display three nights earlier against the Rockets was better than this.
3. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Statistics line: 41 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists in Brooklyn on Oct. 27
Remarks: Doncic delivered four of his 14 dimes in OT, including back-to-back assists on 3-pointers, on his way to becoming only the 10th player in NBA history to have three or more 40-point triple doubles achieved in his career. Overall, the 23-year-old prepared three triples in his 41-point game against Brooklyn.
4.Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Statistics line: 37 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists in Brooklyn on Oct. 21
Remarks: It sure is early. But Siakam probably deserved more love in this area last season, having averaged 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game en route to All-NBA Third Team honors. That triple-double came with a loss to the Nets, but you can clearly see an uptick for Siakam. He also had a career-high 13 assists five nights later in a 119-109 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
5. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
Statistics line: 37 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists in Miami on Oct. 19
Remarks: Even without Lonzo Ball (knee), Chicago received word on the shootaround that Zach LaVine would miss the opener against the Eastern Conference heavyweight Heat. That didn’t faze DeRozan, who lined up to ignite a Miami roster that dropped the Bulls in all three matchups last season. The 33-year-old guard had 28 points in the second half, becoming the second player in franchise history to have at least 35 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season opener. joins Michael Jordan (who has accomplished this feat twice).
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazer
• 41 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists against Phoenix on Oct. 21
Joel Embid, Philadelphia 76ers
• 40 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists against San Antonio on Oct. 22
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
• 40 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist at Orlando on Oct. 22
Paul George, LA Clippers
• 40 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists in Sacramento on Oct. 22
Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies
• 38 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists against Brooklyn on Oct. 24
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Michael C. Wright is senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him herefind his archive here and keep following him Twitter.
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