NBA Star Power Index: Anthony Davis Becomes a Beast; De’Aaron Fox on fire; Ben Simmons answers Philly Bell

Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly display of the players who are causing the most stir in the league. Being on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing – it simply means you’re catching the attention of the NBA world. Again, this is not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order. This column will run every week during the regular season.

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Davis has been an absolute monster for the Lakers lately, and he set up a statistic line against the suns on Tuesday you have to see it to believe it: 37 points, 21 rebounds, five steals and five blocks. Since blocks and steals became an official statistic in 1973, Davis has been the only player to come up with those numbers.

Davis’ shot diet is a lot tastier this season. He essentially halved his long midrange attempts and did most of his damage in the paint (before Phoenix, who clipped many of his downhill rolls and post-ups, he caught lower and started his moves closer to the edge; a dribble or a hard move and he’s in the suit and attacking the rim) and at the free-throw line, where he’s averaged 12 attempts in his last four games.

Holding his own in the color and forcing his way to the free-throw line will maintain that kind of production for Davis without having to rely on jumpers dropping. He made 15 of 16 free throws on Tuesday after hitting 18 of 21 against Detroit last Friday. This doesn’t happen by accident. He doesn’t get lucky. He goes into beast mode. Playing to his size and strength, leaving teams, especially those who dare to play small, no choice but to box him up.

The Lakers (5-11) lost in Phoenix, but they’ve won three of their last four and are expecting LeBron James again on Friday against the Spurs. If Davis, who has joined Shaquille O’Neal and Elgin Baylor as the only player in Lakers history to go four straight 30-15 games, continues to play like this while James is back on the lineup, maybe the Lakers can start putting something real together.

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Light the beam, baby. The Kings have won seven straight seasons, and if Fox keeps playing like this, it will be almost impossible to keep him out of his first All-Star game. Fox picked up 32 points in Sacramento’s win over Memphis on Tuesday, 33 in a win over Detroit on Sunday, and he’s shooting career bests from all over the floor — including 81 percent at the edge and 58 percent between 4 and 14 feet, both registering as top marks in of the league among the guards, per cleaning the glass.

His shooting splits during this winning streak are brilliant.

Fox is also shooting a career-best 40.8 percent of 3 (he hit 5 of 8 on Tuesday); Among the league’s top 20 scorers (Fox is 14th), this is Deep’s fourth-best clip, behind only Stephen Curry, Donovan Mitchell and Tyrese Maxey.

Fox is still Sacramento’s engine on a heavy pick-and-roll diet, but he’s thriving with a little more variety in his touches than in years past as the kings have more avenues through which to initiate semi-judicial action, namely Domantas Sabonis at the high post or as a dribbling handoff activator.

Fox’s mid-range jumper drops with an efficient clip, and it gives it a dump valve when coming downhill so it doesn’t have to crowd into traffic; He’s making three shots per game between 5 and 14 feet, according to NBA.com tracking, which puts him close to the top of the guards and right in line with Luka Doncic.

All of this is to say that Fox is clenching. And the kings are no joke.

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On his return to Philadelphia, Simmons faced a challenge from a semi-hostile crowd (he later clashed with Philly faithful said he thought it was louder) with 11 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. All in all, I thought Simmons was even-tempered, aggressive, and honestly didn’t give Philly fans negative energy to hold on to. Even as he walked to the free-throw line (he only made 3 out of 6), he didn’t shy away from the limelight. He performed, took his recordings and was fine.

Although Simmons played fairly well, the Nets lost the game to a Sixers team that was without their top three players in Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, which is disheartening. Simmons in the middle (he’s difficult to play alongside Nic Claxton due to spacing issues) is a problem on the boards where Philly killed the Nets, whose defense was generally better under Jacque Vaughn but is still a problem. Simmons, who was scoreless in the fourth quarter, was a familiar sight for Sixers fans.

All in all, Simmons’ overall performance bodes well for things to come on the whole. That’s three very solid games in a row for him. Suffice it to say, as an example, that he turns a significant curve. Simmons double-double in Philly followed a 15-13-7 against the Blazers and a 22-8-5 against the Grizzlies, both wins for the Nets.

It’s just a different energy that Simmons is playing with at the moment, and more broadly, there’s been a different energy over the Nets lately, despite the Sixers’ loss. This is the kind of Simmons game that sets the mood for an entire team.

Vaughn said Simmons was playing with “force”. That’s the best way to say it. Simmons will attack every space in front of him, accelerating the pace to either find 3-point shooters in transition or go to paint himself if no one steps forward to stop him. Give it a runway and it flows into a post-up or eurostepping to the rim.

At half court, he makes quick decisions as a DHO initiator, flowing into ball sieves and rolling hard, forcing drop bigs to honor him as the top scorer. If this is the case, the handler has a clear path to the edge. If they don’t, Simmons is ready to end it. That’s the key for Simmons. pose a threat. If they give you space, eat it up and don’t stand there long. Even when he’s at the Dunker spot, he doesn’t settle down as a statue. He’s ready to flash. Cheer up for drop off passes.

These are the Simmons the Nets were hoping they would eventually get and if it continues like this they will be a much better team for it.

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Thompson, who struggled to find his sea legs all season, finally broke out with an historic 41-point performance as he led Golden State to their first road win of the season (1-9) over the Rockets. Thompson lost 10 of 13 3-pointers and was aggressive from the start (which is never a problem for him).

That performance marked the sixth time Thompson had hit at least 10 3s in a single game – the second most breakouts in NBA history after Steph Curry’s outrageous record of 22. Thompson, along with Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, continued the following night in a blowout loss to New Orleans and will try to keep his hand hot at home against the Clippers on Wednesday.

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Curry has 101 points in his last three games, culminating in the 50 plays he hung to the Suns last Wednesday. It wasn’t enough. The Warriors still lost in Phoenix. But Curry gave us another in his long list of viral shots against the Rockets by punctuating Thompson’s aforementioned performance with a “night-night” moon ball.

Curry continues to play at an insane level every night. He was the league’s top player, and if the Warriors can pull together and climb the league table, he’ll be in the running for his third MVP.

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Young has yet to find his consistent shot punch. He’s under 40 percent overall and 30 percent from 3. But he lives in the paint and continues to hit the free-throw line more than eight times a game, and for my money he’s the best passer in the world. That pass below wasn’t particularly difficult for a facilitator of Young’s caliber, but what a heads-up decision knowing exactly how much time he had to throw that game-winning alley-oop to AJ Griffin when the time came against the Raptors had expired.

The Hawks don’t do much in terms of an offensive system to generate shots for their scorers. They essentially rely on Young, and to a lesser extent Dejounte Murray, to generate everything from their own individual abilities. That’s only possible with a player as great as Young, but I still wonder if such an individually intense half-court system is feasible in a playoff setting. We saw what the Heat did to Young last season, basically removing him from the equation. This year, the Hawks have at least one second creator in Murray. We’ll see if that’s enough or if they continue to develop offensively as the season progresses.



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