21/02/2024

Tyrese Haliburton has been on a tear of late for the Pacers (Photo: @pacers / X)

Five weeks into the 2023/24 NBA season and some teams are surprising the rest of the competition in the race for ultimate supremacy. 

For the second week in a row, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended the week leading the Western Conference with a record of 11-4. The last time they did that was in April 2004 when they finished as the one seed and were knocked out in the Western Conference Finals.  

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren have been on a tear, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder to second in the West. Meanwhile in the East, the Orlando Magic have defied the odds to sit in second, one game behind the Boston Celtics. 

The Inner Sanctum has selected players based on their form throughout the slate of games from 20-26 November (AEDT) and whether they could play in that position in a game.

PG: Tyrese Haliburton

This man hasn’t done much wrong this season. Guiding the Indiana Pacers to a 9-6 start, Haliburton’s unselfishness has provided reward for effort. The former Kings guard leads the league in assists with 12.1 per game. This week was no different as the 23-year-old notched up two 16-assist games. His best came in the 157-152 shoot-out win over the Atlanta Hawks. Haliburton caught fire that game with 37 points, including 9/15 from long range. 

Weekly Stats: 27 points, 11.3 assists, 48.8% 3PT, Record: 2-2

SG: Devin Booker

Returning halfway into last week, Booker has been a man on a mission since he stepped back on the court. A calf injury sidelined the Suns sharpshooter for five matches, but Booker picked up from where he left on upon return. Phoenix is 7-0 since his return and it’s not hard to see why. 40 points against the Memphis Grizzlies in their In-Season Tournament game on Saturday outlined what the Suns were missing without him. However, Durant had already done enough to make our NBA Team of the Week.   

Weekly Stats: 29.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7 assists, Record: 4-0

SF: Paolo Banchero

Statistically, Paolo Banchero might not have the most fascinating stat line for the week, but he has been the driving force in Orlando’s surprising rise. The sophomore has helped the Magic rally on the back of a six-game winning streak, four of which have come over the past seven days. Pivotal performances in wins against powerhouses Denver and Boston solidified his position in this week’s best.  

Weekly Stats: 23.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 57.8% FG, Record 4-0

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PF: Kevin Durant

KD was one of the beneficiaries of Devin Booker’s return. With less of the load resting on his shoulders, Durant has been able to get some good looks. He was crucial in Phoenix’s 140-137 double-overtime win over the Utah Jazz on Monday. The former MVP scored 39 points, which was paired with eight rebounds and 10 assists. With five successive games of 30 points or more, Durant ended the week on the sidelines with foot soreness. 

Weekly Stats: 34 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7 assists, 54.8% FG, Record: 3-0

C: Anthony Davis

Davis was a menace for the Lakers this week as they recorded some big wins. While he was quiet in their loss to Dallas, the 2020 Finals MVP shot the ball efficiently. He scored 85 points in their victories, only missing 14 field goals in those matches. Davis also had a huge presence crashing the boards, something he has been able to maintain all season. Accumulating 10 or more rebounds in all four games this week, Davis has now completed this feat in 13 of his last 15 games.  

Weekly Stats: 23.8 points, 13 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 66.1% FG, Record: 3-1

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