Each month, Basketball Society’s NBA writers convene to hand out awards for sustained excellence over that 30 or 31-day cycle. Honors include Player, Rookie, and Sleeper of the Month, and these are our winners for November.
Player of the Month: Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, only 20-years-old, seized the entire basketball world with his dazzling play in the month of November, becoming only the third player in NBA history (Oscar Robertson, Russell Westbrook) to average a triple-double in a calendar month.
Doncic has been terrorizing defenses with a level of skill, finesse, wit and moxie we haven’t seen from a youngster since arguably LeBron James. Not only is Doncic third in the league in scoring (30.7 PPG) and second in assists (9.4 APG), but his scintillating start has the surprising Mavericks currently sitting at No. 4 in the Western Conference in addition to wielding one of the deadliest offenses in the NBA.
Team of the Month: Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James and Anthony Davis have the Los Angeles Lakers off to their strongest start since the championship christened days of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol a decade ago, as the Purple and Gold currently sit atop the Western Conference standings thanks to a dominant month of November.
Los Angeles closed November on a 10-game win streak, suffering their lone loss in the month to the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 10. The Lakers were able to use a softer November schedule to put a stranglehold on No. 1 in the West and further establish themselves as one of the league’s premier teams, finishing the month with the seventh-best Defensive Rating (104.4) and fourth-best Net Rating (+7.9).
Rookie of the Month: Ja Morant
With Zion Williamson being (and still) shelved due to a meniscus injury he sustained during the preseason, more eyes than suspected shifted to Ja Morant during the month of November, and Memphis’ prized rookie guard issued the perfect response to the heightened attention. Morant currently leads all rookies in both scoring (18.6 PPG) and assists (6.4 APG).
Acrobatic finishes, snatched ankles, clutch moments… November featured a handful of highs for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Morant showcased a unique blend of talent and fearlessness, quickly emerging as not only the early-season favorite for Rookie of the Year next to Miami Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn, but also as the most promising piece in an impressive Grizzlies young nucleus that features Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, and Dillion Brooks.
Sleeper of the Month: Marcus Morris Sr.
There hasn’t been much of a reason to cheer when it comes to the lowly 4-15 New York Knicks, but Marcus Morris Sr. provided his squad with some brief moments of excitement during November.
Showing a new-found level of lethality from downtown, Morris has acted as one of the Knicks’ leaders both from a vocal and productivity standpoint. There’s been several instances where Morris was forced to assume the role of closer, and while the results have been mostly unfavorable as indicated by New York’s record, he did steer the Knicks into the winner’s circle against the Dallas Mavericks with a gutsy three-pointer.
Don’t be surprised if contenders looking for a boost inquire about Morris when the trade deadline gets near.
Fail of the Month: San Antonio Spurs
November saw the San Antonio Spurs wading in substandard waters, as the NBA’s benchmark for excellence faltered in a way we haven’t seen in nearly 20+ years.
San Antonio finished the month with a -3.7 Net Rating, grouped with the likes of the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, and New Orleans Pelicans, all of whom are presumably lottery-bound. November also featured an eight-game losing streak for the Spurs, with questionable defeats to the likes of the Wizards, Grizzlies, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Questions on whether or not this Spurs team can legitimately vie for a playoff spot have started to sprout, and some have expressed concerns about the fit between DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.