LeBron James accidently hit Isaiah Stewart in the head during the second half of Sunday’s game between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers, and things became extremely heated. Stewart, who was bloodied as a result of the altercation, went straight for James, and both players were expelled as a result of their actions. The league said on Monday that Stewart was given a two-game penalty and James was given a one-game suspension for their behaviour.
“I’m told LeBron James did try to track down Isaiah Stewart’s number postgame to apologize to Stewart again and let him know that it was an inadvertent hit to his face, and so the league is going to have to review it,” Charania said. “This is not something that’s common with him. This would be a first-time offense for him, so I think you would have to factor that in for any type of league discipline.” James will miss Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks as a result of the suspension. Meanwhile, Stewart will miss contests against the Miami Heat on Tuesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
By this time next week all rookies will have played at least 20 games, officially marking the quarter point of the 2021-22 NBA season. That’ll give us a legitimate sample size to work with to start forming some more concrete opinions on these first-year players we’ve observed for several weeks. So far we’ve learned the 2021 NBA class is pretty deep, as we’ve got second-round picks in Ayo Dosunmu and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl making an impact on their teams early in the season. The first round is also littered with quality talent from top to bottom, which has made this season an exciting one to watch all the rookies. With that in mind, let’s dive into this week’s NBA Rookie Rankings.
After starting the season slow in part because of an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for five of the first six games of his rookie campaign, Cunningham has started to consistently show flashes of why he was taken with the No. 1 overall pick. This past week he was doing a little bit of everything: scoring, grabbing rebounds, dishing out assists and being engaged on defense, which resulted in some timely steals. His 13-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple-double — the first of his young NBA career — against the Lakers was overshadowed by the altercation that broke out between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart, but Cunningham had a solid all-around game: He’s shown a great deal of improvement as the season chugs along, but his efficiency remains the area that needs the most work, as he’s shooting just 35 percent on the season and 25.3 percent from deep.
Giddey’s been one of the most entertaining rookies to watch this season, and he’s quickly shown himself to be a reliable backcourt mate next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The way he processes the game has been a delight to watch because he never seems rushed or sped up by the defense, and he’s always poised when he has the ball in his hands — something that can’t be said about a lot of rookies. He’s had games where he’s come close to putting up triple-doubles on several occasions, showing that as time goes on he has the potential to rack up those stats with regularity. But his passing specifically has been the standout gem of his game this season so far:
He would probably be averaging a double-double with ease in points and assists if more of his well-placed passes were converted by his Thunder teammates as he averages 11.5 potential assists a game, which ranks 21st in the league.
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