With the NBA shifting the focus of its fans to the U.S. Midterm Elections on November 8, basketball fans were blessed with a jam-packed slate of 15 games on Monday night. That means every single team played on the same night — an event so rare that it forces hoop lovers to cancel their plans and plant themselves on the couch for a night of fun.
The 15-game NBA event didn’t disappoint with game-winning buzzer-beaters, poster dunks, star players giving it their all and nail-biters across the league. There was a lot to learn from the action, so we’re going with the order in which these games began. They were carefully staggered by 15-minute intervals so you could catch some of every game if you’re a psycho like me.
Without further ado, let’s get into the biggest lessons from every matchup.
NBA Lesson 1. Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte Hornets:
This isn’t the same old P.J. Washington we’re used to.
Charlotte desperately needed someone to step up and fill the scoring void left from a year ago and through the early portion of the season, forward P.J. Washington appears to be up for the challenge. In his fourth year — notably without a rookie-scale extension to remain in Charlotte — Washington is playing the best basketball of his life, headlined by his 25 points on 61.1% shooting against the Wizards. He’s making the most of his post touches, finishing well in the paint, attacking the rim confidently and shooting lights out from deep.
NBA Lesson 2. Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic:
Houston made the right choice by trading up for Alperen Sengun.
What a night for second-year stud Alperen Sengun and the Houston Rockets. No matter how hard the Orlando Magic fought back, and they certainly did, Houston refused to give up its lead. Obviously, a huge scoring night from Jalen Green had something to do with it, but Sengun is assuring the league that he’s the right fit to man the middle with this team of dynamic shooters, athletes and slashers. He connected on 8-of-10 free throws including the game-sealing shots to secure a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double and the win. The Rockets had impressive foresight when they cashed in on some picks to trade up for him at No. 16 in the 2021 NBA Draft.
NBA Lesson 3. OKC Thunder vs. Detroit Pistons:
Neither of these teams will go anywhere until their stars can rely on shooters.
Watching Cade Cunningham and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander clash was a treat for the basketball junkies patient enough to watch two teams with slim-to-no Playoff hopes on a night with 14 other games. Each of the young stars put on a tremendous performance in their own right; SGA with his blend of scoring and defense while Cunningham orchestrated the offense with the precision of a 10-year veteran.
Unfortunately, neither of them is going to be empowered to the fullest extent until the shooters around them start knocking down jumpers consistently. The issue is more prominent for SGA than Cade, but ultimately, they’re both living testaments to the need for reliable spacing in a heliocentric offense. Until then, it’s going to be an uphill battle toward the postseason.