Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players getting the most buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list isn't necessarily a good thing -- it simply means you're capturing the NBA world's attention. This is also not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order. This column will run every week throughout the regular season.
James recently took to Twitter to apologize to Lakers fans for the team's disappointing showing this season.
#LakerNation I apologize and I promise we’ll be better! 👑💜💛— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 17, 2022
For his part, LeBron is doing all he can possibly be expected to do this season. His across-the-board numbers are astounding. He's second in scoring and leads the league with 19 30-point games. He and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the only players scoring at least 20 points per game while adding at least six rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block. Unfortunately, James is also the guy who lobbied for Russell Westbrook, who is the Lakers' biggest -- though certainly not their only -- problem.
From Marc Stein's latest newsletter:
Westbrook's fit as a Laker alongside James and Davis has proven as ponderous as countless skeptics said it would be when Vogel's bosses — at James' and Davis' urging — scuttled a planned trade for Sacramento's Buddy Hield to acquire Westbrook instead.
The Lakers would be better with Hield than they are with Westbrook, and they would be better with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma than they are with Westbrook. Either way, they got worse with Russ, and LeBron asked for it. Now Frank Vogel is likely going to be the one to pay with his job.
Think about this: It took LeBron James 230 games to reach the 6,000-point mark for his career. Young did it in 243 -- just 13 more than LeBron, who has a legit shot to be the NBA's all-time leading scorer. Not even through his fourth season, he also already has more 30-point/10-assist games (41) than Chris Paul has amassed over his 16-plus-year career.
Some really remarkable stuff from Young, who this season is the only player who ranks in the top five in both points and assists (total and per game). The Hawks aren't playing so hot, but Young is up to second in the All-Star fan vote, and, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo, he says he'll be participating in the 3-point contest should he make the All-Star team, which should be a lock.
Sources: @NBAonTNT report on Trae Young’s intentions to participate in the 3-Point Contest if selected as an All-Star and the Atlanta Hawks’ plan to place a bid to host All-Star Weekend. pic.twitter.com/5RJ1ITFbQe— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 18, 2022
In his latest installment to the "you can't be freaking serious" file, Morant causally avoided a change by breaking out a 360 layup in traffic against the Bulls.
Ja Morant SPIN CYCLE!!!🌪— Grizzlies Nation (@GrizNationCP) January 17, 2022
The Grizzlies have won 11 of their last 12 and are one of just three teams to reach the 30-win mark. Entering play on Wednesday, they are No. 3 in the West and Morant is an All-Star lock and emerging MVP candidate.
Booker's last three games: 35 points in a win over Indiana, 30 points in a win over Detroit, and 48 points in a win over San Antonio on Monday.
Devin Booker: Walking bucket 🔥@DevinBook explodes for a season-high 48 PTS to propel the @Suns to the road dub! pic.twitter.com/yfivz8njuy— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2022
The Suns, who've won seven of their last eight, have the best record in the league and Booker continues to shoot a career-high 40 percent from 3.
Thompson had his best game since returning to the Warriors' lineup, leading the team in scoring for the first time since 2019 with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 3 of 8 from 3. Watch the last pull-up jumper in this clip below. Thompson is doing more off the dribble in his return than he's done in the past.
Klay Thompson season high 21 PTS in 22 MINS.— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 19, 2022
"I don't care if I miss 100 shots in a row. I'm never going to stop shooting the ball. I love it too much & I work too hard not to.”