• Gus Saltonstall

Atlantic Division: Top 5 Players of the Week

Atlantic Division: Top 5 Players of the Week (3/4/19-3/10/19)

Sports Illustrated

The Atlantic Division was red hot this week. Outside of the lowly New York Knicks, the four other teams combined for a 10-3 record over the games played between Monday, March 4th and Sunday, March 10th.

With so many players competing at a high level picking the five best is no easy feat, but fortune favors the bold, and here is the second installment of the definitive rankings of the top five players of the week in the Atlantic Division.

Weekly Record: March 4th- March 10th

Philadelphia 76ers: 2-2

Toronto Raptors: 2-1

New York Knicks: 0-4

Boston Celtics: 3-0

Brooklyn Nets: 3-0

Honorable Mentions-

Kyle Lowry: 15 points, 9.3 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, FG % .384, 3PT FG % .292

Ben Simmons: 16 points, 7.75 assists, 8 rebounds, 2.33 steals, FG % .500

5. Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics)

The Boston Celtics came staggering into Golden State last Tuesday nigh with a 1-5 post all-star break record. The team needed wins going into a tough west coast road trip and that is just what they did. Blowing out the Warriors at home by 33 points, beating a strong Sacramento Kings team at the buzzer, and then handling LeBron James and the Lakers.

While many of the Celtics players had a strong week, Gordon Hayward stands out a player who not only played exceedingly well, but also stepped up in big time moments.

The 6’8 small forward was going through his roughest stretch of the year in the six games following the all-star break. Only averaging 4.3 points and looking like a shell of his former self.

Hayward came alive this week though, averaging 19 points, 3.6 assists and 4 rebounds on a scorching 70 percent clip from the field. Hayward also stepped up when it mattered most. Scoring 30 points with four assists and seven rebounds against the Warriors and also making the game-winning shot against the Sacramento Kings as time ran down.

A few players might have had better numbers than Hayward over the course of the week, but Hayward did more than almost anyone in terms of stepping up when the team needed him most.

4. D’Angelo Russell (Brooklyn Nets)

The Brooklyn Nets had a fantastic 3-0 week and their all-star D’Angelo Russell played a big part in those victories. Russell finished the week averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 assists and 3 rebounds on 39 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent shooting from downtown. He also chipped in with an impressive two steals a game.

The playoff aspiring Nets had three favorable matchups against the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks. With that being said, a sign of a good team is their ability to win the games against the lower part of the league, and the Nets were in huge need of a winning stretch after going 1-3 last week.

Russell had his best game of the three against the Cavaliers—finishing with 25 points, 5 assists and four rebounds in a game that went down to the wire. The 6’5 point guard also had an impressive 7.3-2.6 assist to turnover ratio on the week.

Brooklyn is in the seven seed of the Eastern Conference with 14 games to go, and the continued strong play of Russell will be a big part in deciding their playoff fate.

3. Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)

Kawhi Leonard is the only returning player from last week’s rankings, as the 6’7 small forward had another immensely impressive week for the division leading Toronto Raptors.

Leonard averaged 28.5 points, 1.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in the two games he played for the Raptors on the week. Leonard still misses games regularly for “load management” time, but it’s impossible to ignore the output Leonard gives when he does play.

Part of what makes him so good is how efficient Leonard is for the amount of shots he takes. Shooting 57 percent from the field on the week and only turning the ball over three times in the two games.

The Raptors have been the best team in the Atlantic Division all year and Leonard is the biggest reason for that success. Look for him to be a mainstay in these weekly rankings.

2. Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets)

Spencer Dinwiddie is officially back and Brooklyn Net fans everywhere should rejoice. The 6’6, 210 pound guard missed 14 games with a thumb injury before returning last Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.

Dinwiddie took two games to find his rhythm, before having a fantastic week for the 3-0 Brooklyn Nets. In his three games played he averaged 22.3 points, 5.6 assists and 4 rebounds in 26.6 minutes of play.

Dinwiddie is as close to a mistake free basketball player as you get. He only turned the ball over four total times in his three games played on the week and shot 57 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the three-point line.

The second round pick out of Colorado hasn’t had the most star-studded path to the NBA, and his backcourt partner D’Angelo Russell almost always overshadows him. Despite all that though Dinwiddie has been one of the most impressive players in the league this year, and look for him to garner only more respect in the coming years.

1. Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)

Kyrie Irving is a bad man. He is a walking bucket, and despite the fact that he only played in two games for the Boston Celtics this week he still takes home my player of the week honors in the Atlantic Division.

Irving averaged 24.5 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds in the two contests against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. He shot 56 percent from the field, 51 percent from the three-point arc and 87 percent from the free throw line, as well as chipping in defensively with two steals and a block a game.

Irving has gotten a lot of off the court press this season for combative press conferences and free agent hypotheticals. In the mire of all of this it can be easy to forget just how good Irving is on the hardwood. Irving absolutely did his thing this week helping the Celtics beat both the best team in the league in the Warriors and the best player in the league in LeBron James and the Lakers.

Uncle Drew is crème of the crop in the Atlantic Division this week.

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