It’s January in the NBA! The first two months of the NBA season were nothing short of spectacular. But the month of January made things even better than ever. With the new year starting, guys are looking to turn things up a notch. They understand that the season is winding down soon and it’s time for teams to get right so they can be prepared for what’s ahead of them. Let’s see who was at the top of the pack through the first month of 2020!
NBA January: Players of the Month
Giannis Antetokounmpo — Milwaukee Bucks
Once again, the Greek Freak makes the list for the East. He continues to shine because he keeps his foot on the gas and never shows mercy. The Milwaukee Bucks have brought their hot streak into the new decade and have continued to play well together with the Greek Freak leading the way. I think at this point, Milwaukee is on everyone’s predictions to make it out of the Eastern Conference and it is all due to the consistency of Giannis’ play throughout the season.
Kawhi Leonard — LA Clippers
Kawhi has made it onto the list for the first time this 2019 – 2020 season. Many people will shake their heads at this choice because of Leonard prioritizing load management. But his performance for his team this month should quite the naysayers a little. After all the struggles that this Clippers squad has been through, Kawhi should up like a leader and let the team know not to worry about what’s going on. His inspirational play gives them a reason to continue to work hard at working for a championship. It’s great to see that Kawhi has brought his championship experience to this team. And it will be interesting to see how far the Clippers will go in the playoffs this year.
NBA January: Rookies of the Month
Kendrick Nunn — Miami Heat
This is the second time Nunn has made the list for the East. Although the rookie talk has seemed to calm down over the past couple of months, Nunn has stayed consistent in his starting role in Miami. And his play has not been disappointing. Nunn has turned in solid games this month, scoring 33 points against San Antonio, 22 points against Oklahoma City, and 25 points against Sacramento. Although his scoring has been a big factor for the Heat, his passing game has made a huge impact too. It has allowed him to get teammates involved and lead everyone to success. I have a pretty good feeling that we will see Nunn on this list again. He will continue to play at a high level and this Heat team will only get better from here on out.
Ja Morant — Memphis Grizzlies
Well, it’s safe to say that the Rookie of The Year Award will more likely go to Ja Morant this season. This kid has displayed a high level of talent this season and has been a HUGE reason for the Memphis Grizzlies’ success so far. Nobody expected the Grizzlies to be in a playoff spot this season. But Morant elevating his game has inspired the team. Together the Grizzlies have competed quarter after quarter with some of the best teams in the league. They have even come away with a few wins! Morant is such a competitive player and he wants to make a winning play on every possession. In the future, this kid will for sure be box office and on everyone’s TV screen. Let the endorsement deals roll.
NBA January: Team of the Month
Well, since Giannis has been the front runner for MVP this season, there’s no question that his team has been the front runner in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have been on a roll in January winning 9 in a row, ending the month winning 12 of their 13 games played. Outside of Giannis, there are many players who have stepped up big for the team making huge contributions in their role.
Players in Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, Kyle Korver, and even Dante Divicenzo have been putting up huge numbers for the Bucks this season playing alongside the Greek Freak. There’s no other team slowing these guys down anytime soon. So they expect to make a huge push at a championship at the end of the year. Keep an eye on Milwaukee.
The Jazz struggled during the first quarter of the season. Adding veteran guard Mike Conley to the roster was a transition and the team had chemistry issues. But with the new calendar year starting, the Jazz have finally found themselves and are back to being one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Donovan Mitchell has finally taken that step of being a leader and will have to keep his foot on the gas for the rest of the season so Utah won’t fall off. (And contributions from Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert, Royce O’Neale, etc are equally important.) January brought everyone into a rhythm and the chemistry is finally coming together for this talented team. I hope everyone continues to pay attention to Utah as the season progresses into the playoffs this year.
NBA January: Game of the Month
Lakers vs. Trailblazers 119-127
It was a night where Los Angeles all came together after the tragic death of Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant. With the Lakers first game since the news came out, there was no question that the team played full of emotion and grief. Both the Blazers and the Lakers came out pretty sharp and executed on both ends of the floor. But as the second half began, Portland was lead by their superstar Damian Lillard to increase the lead as the third quarter progressed. Lillard went on to score 23 points in the third quarter destroying the Lakers both inside and outside on offense. And he kept that same energy going in the 4th quarter as well.
The Lakers would slowly get themselves back into the game after a good stretch late in the 4th quarter. But with Lillard continuing to shine alongside of production from CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside, the Blazers would end up being too much for this Lakers team as they took the victory on the road after an emotional night.
Dame finished with 48 points for Portland along with Hassan Whiteside contributing 30 points with 13 rebounds.
For the Lakers, Anthony Davis led the team with 37 points and 15 rebounds while LeBron was the 2nd man with 22 points and 10 assists.
It was one emotional night where no one wanted to play basketball whatsoever. But you have to give these players credit for staying professional and distracting the fans by putting on a show that night. For the Lakers, the road won’t get easier for these guys as they will continue to mourn the loss of Kobe, but hopefully they will be fueled to go even harder at this years championship than ever before.
NBA January: Top 3 Plays of the Month
3. Aaron Gordon self pass off the glass to himself vs Lakers
2. Derrick Rose reverse layup vs Nets
1. Jaylen Brown dunk over LeBron James
NBA January is dedicated to Kobe Bryant, David Stern, and their families
January was a very much up and down month. With the losses of both David Stern and Kobe Bryant through this month, the NBA family was left with heavy hearts as two legends were taken away from us too soon. Luckily, because of what they were able to provide to the NBA during their time, the NBA wouldn’t be in the position if it weren’t for these two guys’ effort and commitment to make the game as exciting as it is today.
The NBA is in a good place as of right now and it is only getting better over time. As February is now here, All-Star weekend is coming up and afterward, these teams will push even harder as playoff season is just around the corner. We cannot wait to see what these guys have in store for us fans.
Written By Nick Andre. Edited By W.D. Herstun
It was impossible for me to edit this when Nick turned it in. I have carefully avoided basketball for nearly 3 weeks. I was able to enjoy the All-Star festivities but Mamba was basketball to me. And I have had to embrace that he would have wanted ball to keep being played without him here to tell us about it. It has been a year of loss. But from loss, spring new beginnings.
Please keep your eyes on Nick. He is working hard and building a legacy for himself in a game that he loves. I can appreciate that. Check out his write up on the Biggest Basketball Game in North Carolina.