Week in and week out it becomes genuinely impressive how quickly the NBA landscape can change itself. Whether in the standings or in constantly shifting player narratives, there appears to be a new wrinkle to discuss every week.
This past week across The Association was no different. Between petty referee battles with superstar point guards, a certain organization firing another head coach, The King and The Brow continuing their dominance, this week provided a lot of entertainment.
Winner: Devonte' Graham
After Kemba Walker left Charlotte for the greener pastures of Boston, the Hornets expected to try and fill his role, at least partially, with Terry Rozier. By inking Rozier to a gaudy three-year, $56.7 million contract Michael Jordan's club tabbed Rozier it's next floor general.
Nearly two months into the season, however, Devonte' Graham apparently didn't get the memo about Rozier.
The second-year guard out of Kansas has been one of the biggest surprises around the league making an incredible leap from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign, and has placed himself atop the list for Most Improved Player.
While the Hornets are still struggling to win games the same way they did when Walker was in town, Graham is displaying an abundance of promising ability.
Over the course of the last week, Graham's most recent four-game stretch resulted in 22.3 points, 9.5 assists and five rebounds per game while connecting on 42.2 percent of his shots from downtown.
That level of production and efficiency is All-Star quality. With the spike of responsibility and playing time In Graham's second season -- up from 14.7 minutes per game to 33.6 this season -- it certainly feels as if he'll have the opportunity to continue producing at the same clip that he's made his norm so far in the 2019-20 campaign.
Entering its first season after losing a franchise player, Charlotte needed someone to help rebuild the identity of the organization. So far this year, Graham has answered that call.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
Between LeBron James, Anthony Davis and now the Lakers as a whole, someone from Los Angeles has been represented in each one of these winner's columns. And for good reason.
As of Monday, the Lakers own the NBA's best record at 21-3. James and Davis are proving to be one nasty duo, and the roster looks unstoppable enough on most nights to picture another championship making its way to the Staples Center.
The Lakers are amid a four-game winning streak and proving to be a menace on both ends of the court night in and night out.
Posting an offensive rating of 113.7 and a defensive rating 104 -- ranked fourth in the NBA in both categories -- the Lakers join the Bucks as the only teams to hold top five ratings both offensively and defensively.
To expand on their efficiency, the Lakers rank first in the league in team field goal percentage, connecting on 49 percent of their shots as a whole. With the consistent size the Lakers can put on the floor, and subsequently quarterbacked by James, Los Angeles continuously finds either the open man without hesitation for an easy bucket by the rim.
While James and Davis are the obvious story, with the most recent example being Sunday's win that was propelled by a combined 82 from them both with Davis adding 50, it's been the support from role players that's helped Los Angeles get off to a roaring start.
Once considered to be at the end of the road in his career, Dwight Howard has displayed an exciting revival during his second stint as a Laker.
Pulling seven rebounds a game, Howard sits just behind Davis' nine as second most on the team. Add in his seven points and 1.4 blocks per night, plus his ability to run the floor and move laterally on defense in ways that seemed absent from his game the last few years, and Howard adds an incredible presence on the court for 20 minutes a night.
With the likes of Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo -- along with other players who can impose their will close to the basket -- the Lakers can really benefit from a rejuvenated Howard in the middle of the paint over the course of the rest of the season and postseason.
Loser: David Fizdale/New York Knicks
Once again, the New York Knicks are in search of a head coach.
After a 4-18 start to the season, the Knicks fired David Fizdale on Friday and named Mike Miller the interim head coach. While the start to the Knicks' season has been abysmal, it's hard to say many expected much different from the team given the caliber of players that run up and down its roster.
Despite posting a 21-83 record as the Knicks' head coach, it doesn't seem exactly fair to place blame on Fizdale for New York's consistent losing. Fizdale was given just 104 games to try and fix more than a decade's worth of losing culture and incompetence that generally go hand-in-hand with Knicks basketball.
It is now again up to team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to identify and hire a head coach who they deem fit to fix the trainwreck that is the New York Knickerbockers. On top of that, however, they need to give that individual the time and resources to right the ship.
Fizdale is a "loser" this week only in the sense of being stripped of the opportunity to do the job clearly has a passion for -- coaching basketball. In some sense, he can probably be considered a winner for getting away from a team and organization that time and time again makes the wrong choice when trying to build a successful club.
The Knicks lose this week for pulling the trigger too early on a talented coach who had little to no chance of succeeding in the immediate future with the roster currently constructed.
Another opportunity will surely present itself to the 45-year-old coach, who displayed the ability in Memphis to get a team to the postseason.
As for the Knicks, they're back to square one, searching for the next person to stand on the sidelines of Madison Square Garden and wonder how they got themselves wrapped up with that dysfunctional organization.
Winner: Kevin Love
Over the last week, it was reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally willing to listen to offers for star forward Kevin Love.
With a young team in place, wins few and far between and a head coach in John Beilein tasked with growing and grooming the franchise's young players, Kevin Love doesn't seem to fit on the roster anymore. Especially not with his $120 million contract.
Even though Love won a title in Cleveland, grew into the second phase of his career and played alongside the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, The Land is far from the winning basketball organization it once was -- even if that time was just a few short years ago.
At 31, Love is no longer the superstar he was when arriving in Cleveland, and while his best basketball days may be just behind him, there's still plenty left in the tank to contribute to a winning club. While suitors have yet to concretely emerge, there is no doubt that championship-ready teams from both conferences will come calling as February's trade deadline nears.
After helping Cleveland end its title drought and getting handsomely rewarded for it with a max contract extension, Love emerges as winner yet again as he will likely be sent to a team in a position to help him secure his second NBA championship.
Loser: Chris Paul
Chris Paul prides himself on knowing the game of basketball inside and out and nearly always in more depth than his opponents.
On Friday, Paul appeared to display that knowledge once again as he pleaded to officials with 1.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors to issue Jordan Bell a delay of game penalty for an untucked jersey as Bell entered the game.
Well, it worked.
Bell was called for the rarely upheld violation, Oklahoma City received a technical foul shot and ultimately walked away victorious with a 139-127 win in overtime. The delay of game call was a heavy topic and discussion of criticism following Friday night's game. But the win still stands, so mission accomplished by Paul.
Enter Sunday, and Paul's Thunder are taking on the Portland Trail Blazers.
Not once, but TWICE in the first half of the game immediately following Paul pointing out Bell's violation, Paul was whistled for delay of game penalties.
While Thunder head coach Billy Donovan admitted postgame to reporters that he wasn't "really sure about" what the first penalty was whistled for, he did say the referees gave a sufficient explanation for the second whistle -- where Paul supposedly stepped on the court while still in sweats.
Despite the calls and Paul's clear frustration on the court -- television microphones captures Paul yelling "You're trying to prove a point. You're going to be on SportsCenter tonight, good job," at the referee during his first called violation -- the Thunder point guard appeared to laugh off the incident after the game.
"They both was on me wasn't it," Paul said. "That was good. He got me back. He got me back."
Although Paul's team picked up wins in both games, perhaps he'll give an extra thought to calling out the minor details next time around.