- Gus Saltonstall
Atlantic Division: Top 5 Players of the Week
The Atlantic Division is no joke. The Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets would all make the playoffs if the season ended today. Even the 37 games under .500 New York Knicks provide constant entertainment for their fans with blockbuster trades, Zion Williamson hype and Dennis Smith Jr. slams. The five teams are home to some of the premier players in the National Basketball Association.
So we might as well rank them.
Here are the definitive rankings of the top five players of the week from the Atlantic Division for games played between Monday, February 25th and Sunday, March 3rd.
Weekly Record: February 25th-March 3rd
Philadelphia 76ers: 2-1
Toronto Raptors: 2-1
New York Knicks: 1-2
Boston Celtics: 1-3
Brooklyn Nets: 1-3
5. Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks)
Mitchell Robinson has superstar potential. The 233 pound, 7’1 foot center with a 7’4 wingspan and a 9’2 standing reach is a player with all the tools to be a franchise type changing big man.
The 20-year-old rookie had the best week of his young NBA career. Robinson averaged 15 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 3.6 blocks in only 28 minutes a game in the team’s three contests. Robinson’s minutes were way up though on his season average of 18.7 minutes a game, in large part due to Knicks center DeAndre Jordan being sidelined with an ankle injury.
Knicks’ fans need to stop channeling all their energy into landing a big free agent this summer and start appreciating the rare combo of size and athleticism that they have in Mitchell Robinson. Look for his minutes to keep going up as the season winds down, and for him to keep balling out.
4. Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)
Pascal Siakam was a big part of the Toronto Raptors going 2-1 on the week, and winning two hugely impressive games against playoff teams in the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers.
On the week Siakam averaged 20.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 54% shooting in 36.3 minutes a game. The 6’9 wing is the runaway favorite for Most Improved Player of the Year and he has taken huge leaps in his third season out of Cameroon.
Siakam has one of the best signature moves in the NBA with his ability to spin off defenders and he was unstoppable for the Raptors in their Tuesday night matchup against the Boston Celtics. He finished with an incredibly efficient 25 points on 10-16 shooting and 4-5 shooting from behind the three-point line.
3. Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ben Simmons stuffs the stat sheet like few others. With Joel Embiid missing all three of the 76ers’ games this week due to a knee injury, Simmons was always going to have to step up, and the second year player out of LSU met the challenge.
Simmons finished the teams’ three games averaging 16.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.0 assists a block and two steals. He had triple doubles in two of the three games and helped Philadelphia pull out tough wins against the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Simmons’ most impressive performance came in one of the most entertaining games of the season; a 120-117 losing effort against the defending champions Golden State Warriors. The lefty point-forward ended the game with an incredible 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists stat line.
2. Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)
Kawhi Leonard missed the Raptors final game of the week, Sunday night against the Detroit Pistons with a “load management” rest day. Toronto ended up losing the game 112-107 and his absence in one of his teams three games on the week is the only reason we can’t give him the top spot in the ranking.
In the two games Leonard did play for the Raptors he was the best player on the court for either team. The Claw scored 21 points, collected six rebounds and dished out four assists in a cakewalk win against a division rival Boston Celtics team. Leonard followed the performance up by going completely off against the piping hot Portland Trail Blazers, finishing the game with 38 points, three rebounds, five assists and one dagger game winning baseline jump shot as time expired.
Leonard did all of this on an unbelievable .618% field goal percentage and his usual two steals a game. He’s one of the best players in the league and he showed it again this week.
1. Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)
Tobias Harris is a stud. The small forward out of Tennessee seems to get better by the game for the 76ers and he had the best all around week out of any Atlantic Division player.
Harris finished the week averaging 27.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists on .51% shooting in the 76ers’ three games. He had his strongest performance against an elite Oklahoma City Thunder team, hitting big shot after big shot down the stretch for a game high 32 points.
Harris is a crucial part of Philadelphia’s playoff aspirations this season and it will be interesting to see if he’s the player to step up in late game moments out of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler as the postseason gets closer.