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SB Nation Reacts: Up and Down We Go!

Who is on the rise? And are the Lakers in trouble?

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Minnesota Timberwolves David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

We are now seven weeks into the 2021-2022 NBA season...time sure does fly. We are doing something a little different today here at Brew try and contain your excitement levels! We are going to reflect and dissect some poll results from those who participated in this edition of SB Nation Reacts.

Let the takes fly, ladies, and gentlemen!

The future in the NBA is in good hands and I am not even talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, or Nikola Jokic! Anthony Edwards was voted as the most impressive second-year player by SB Nations’ readers. It has been a remarkable start to the season for Edwards who has injected the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise with much-needed life. He has improved in EVERY statistical category (except free throw shooting) since his rookie year. He currently owns averages of 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on 42.8/34.4/75.7 shooting splits. Not only have the T-Wolves been a fun watch, but they are also climbing up the standings in the Western Conference.

LaMelo Ball can light up the scoreboard and is good for at least two highlight-reel plays every single game. If you watch the Charlotte Hornets, you cannot blink or you might miss another astonishing LaMelo highlight to add on to his already long list of Sports Center Top-10 plays. Currently averaging 19.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2 steals per game, he has his team sitting the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. More impressively is his ability to knock down shots even with a hefty increase in volume. He is averaging four more shots attempted from the field and two from deep compared to his rookie season. Ball is making 38% of his triples on 7.1 attempts per game. Crazy.

Tyrese Maxey rounds out the list, but make no mistake, he is no slouch! Thanks to Ben Simmons no longer in the mix for the Philadelphia 76ers, this has allowed the second-year man to average career highs across the board thus far. Let’s be honest, the absence of Simmons is probably the best-case scenario for Philadelphia. Anyways, Maxey has flourished this season being thrust into a much larger role than his rookie season. He is playing 35.7 minutes while averaging 18 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5 assists per game on 47.8/37.7/88.8 shooting splits. He is a human microwave and can get going offensively in the blink of an eye. He will have four points one minute and quickly be up to 15 in a matter of a few possessions. He is as fearless as they come offensively and as a fan of the NBA, watching him improve as a distributor has been fun to watch.

Trouble in LaLa Land?

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently 12-11 and are going to be without LeBron James for the next few games as he is in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The big problem here is that they gave up Alex Caruso for nothing as he played an integral part of their offense and defense the last few seasons. Replacing him with Russell Westbrook is an upgrade from a talent standpoint, but at age 33, his best years are behind him. He’s shooting just 30.7% from deep on 4.4 attempts per game which is just simply way too many attempts for someone who has NEVER been a good three-point shooter. To make matters worse, he’s converting on just 68.4% of his free throws. Oof.

Don’t get me wrong, Carmelo Anthony has played very well for them, but that’s about it. A big part of their struggles is their defense as per, they are middle of the pack in terms of defensive rating (107.9). Defense has always been a staple for head coach Frank Vogel, but with an aging roster and few faces, it should surprise no one that they have struggled on that end of the floor.

There is still time for them to turn things around, of course.

Let us know in the comments below, and go here to sign up for SB Nation Reacts if you want to make your voice heard!

And of course, check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation. Here is the link, just in case you’d like to have it on hand!