NBA Heat Check: Williams steps up, Tatum suffers dip and what next for Drummond?

By Rob Lancaster 16 February 2021 27
NBA Heat Check: Williams steps up, Tatum suffers dip and what next for Drummond?

The race is on to make it onto the NBA All-Star rosters ahead of the game on March 7 - even if not everyone is convinced the annual tradition should be going ahead.

For now, the show must go on, with players hopeful of representing their respective conferences looking to impress fans before voting closes on Tuesday.

However, amid the issues surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and injuries, the past week has seen a few not-so-famous names have the chance to demonstrate their talents.

With Monday upon us once again, time to take a look at some of the best and worst performers across the past week, aided by Stats Perform data.
 

RUNNING HOT...

Lou Williams 

The three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner is on a hot streak, to say the least. Williams has reached double figures in points in six straight games for the Los Angeles Clippers, including a season-high 30 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Valentine's Day. The absences of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George allowed the 34-year-old to get a rare start – and he seized the opportunity, including scoring 17 in the second half on 53.8 per cent shooting.

Michael Carter-Williams 

Carter-Williams has seen his points-per-game average see a huge rise to 17.50 across the past week, more than trebling his average up until February 7. The reason? The Orlando Magic are in the midst of an injury crisis, with point guards Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony among those missing for head coach Steve Clifford. Step forward a former first-round pick who had barely featured this campaign until the previous two games, during which he combined to score 35 points and contribute 11 assists. 

Max Strus 

Strus' sudden emergence has been a nice story for the Miami Heat, as a player on a two-way contract has capitalised on unexpected minutes to leave his employers facing a dilemma over what to do about his long-term future, considering there is a limit to how many games he can play on his current deal. The undrafted 24-year-old scored a career-high 21 points in his team's win over the Houston Rockets, then followed up with 15 in a losing cause against the Utah Jazz.   


GOING COLD...

Jayson Tatum 

Tatum registered his first single-digit scoring game of the season as the Boston Celtics slipped to defeat against the Washington Wizards on Sunday. His six points came on three-of-14 shooting, while the three-point shot has been off recently – his past four games have seen him hit just five of his 16 attempts from deep, with three of those successful buckets coming in a surprise loss to the Detroit Pistons. His recent struggles have seen him average 19.75 points across the past week, well below his average of 25.6 for the campaign.

Alec Burks & RJ Barrett 

The New York Knicks have not actually had a bad week – they registered wins over the Washington Wizards and the Houston Rockets to remain just inside the playoff places in the East – but Burks and Barrett, who was selected with the third pick in the 2019 draft, both struggled. The former contributed just three points in those victories, while Barrett’s scoring output has dipped from 17.20 points per game heading into the week down to just 9.33, not aided by a drop in his minutes.

Andre Drummond 

Could the two-time All-Star be on the move? According to media reports, the Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to sit Drummond as they look into potential trade deals. He had already seen his playing time cut by the arrival of Jarrett Allen, playing just over 35 minutes combined against the Detroit Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. Therefore, it is hardly surprising to see his averages for points (9.00) and rebounds (8.33 from 14.18) suffer. We wait to see when – and indeed where – he will feature next. 

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Rob Lancaster

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