Didn’t See That Coming! Three Shockers in the NBA

One month into the 2019-20 NBA season, our sports editor gives her opinions on the league’s biggest surprises so far.

Bela Kirpalani, Sports Editor

1. Ja Morant Is the Real Deal

The Memphis Grizzlies No. 2 pick is currently leading all rookies in points per game and assists per game with 19 and six, respectively. 

On Saturday night against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, Morant held his own with 26 points, six assists and five steals. He also became the first rookie since John Wall in 2010 to tally at least 25 points, five assists and five steals in a game.

While he can still improve on defense, Morant is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year by a long shot. This season, he has proven his critics wrong, at times looking like a veteran with his ability to attack the rim with speed and his shooting from deep. Also, can we talk about how fire the Grizzlies’ throwback jerseys are?

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2. Brandon Ingram Is Thriving on His Own Team

Who knew Brandon Ingram would be this good for the New Orleans Pelicans? Maybe a handful of diehard Lakers fans who were sad to see him go along with the rest of the LA team’s youth.

But for everyone else, his success this season has been a pleasant surprise. After he had to sit out the second half of last season due to injury and a serious health concern over multiple blood clots, it seemed Ingram’s health might continue to plague him this year.

Instead, he is leading the Pelicans with 26 points per game, he’s second in rebounds with seven and is dishing out a career-best four assists. And he’s only 22 years old. 

With star rookie Zion Williamson out injured, Ingram has given Pelicans fans something to look forward to each night.

3. The Hornets Are Better Than Expected

The Charlotte Hornets are actually not a joke. Who woulda thunk it? Not I, for one.

Sure, they are currently on a four-game losing streak, but they currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-11 record on the season. After Kemba Walker went one way and Terry Rozier went the other, the expectation around the league was for the Hornets to solely focus on the future.

After all, the team did lose their top two scorers in Walker and Jeremy Lamb and replaced them with Rozier who only averaged seven points in four seasons in Boston. In losing Walker, the Hornets also lost a fan favorite and the longtime face of the franchise. Needless to say, some growing pains were expected.

This season, however, the team has started strong — even looking electric at times. Rozier seems to be enjoying the opportunity to finally run his team, averaging 17 points per game. Not to mention that Devonte’ Graham, only in his second year in the league, is leading the team in points and assists per game with 18 and seven, respectively. He also ranks second in the league in three-pointers made — trailing only James Harden. And he recently became the fourth player in NBA history to record 50+ three-pointers and 100+ assists in his team’s first 15 games. Remember his name.

While the Hornets aren’t blowing anybody away, they are putting up a fight and giving us some fun highlights along the way.

The Sports Girl is a weekly sports column that features a girl’s take on sports. Yes, a girl. Yes, sports.

A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]

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