The Year of Buckets

January 19, 2023

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

Another 40-point game in the NBA? Go figure. You might have noticed the uptick in absurd point-scoring outbursts this season. There\’s a 40-piece almost every night. It\’s a year for the record books.

Letter Rip!



2023: The Year of Buckets


Inside the NBA\’s Record-Breaking Scoring Surge in 2023 


Welcome to the year of buckets! If 2023 has taught us anything in sports, it’s that the NBA’s outlandish, video game-like performances aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re getting more ridiculous by the day.


After Jalen Green (Rockets) tied his career-high with 41 points last night, a whopping 24 40-point performances have now been tallied through the first 19 days of 2023. Nearly every night has had at least one 40-point scorer, with January 2nd producing five, including Donovan Mitchell’s 71-point explosion. Damian Lillard (Blazers) leads the way with three 40-pieces in the last three weeks, and the Bulls are the only team with three different players to crack the 40-point mark (DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic). The Celtics, Warriors, and Knicks had two players do it. Meanwhile, LeBron James surpassed 38,000 points this week to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as only the second player to hit that milestone. Here’s a look at the breakdown of every 40-point outing in 2023:


40-Point Games in 2023

3 — Damian Lillard (POR): 50 pts, 44 pts, 40 pts

2 — Donovan Mitchell (CLE): 71 pts, 46 pts

2 — LeBron James (LAL): 48 pts, 43 pts

2 — Joel Embiid (PHI): 42 pts, 41 pts

1 — Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 55 pts

1 — Klay Thompson (GSW): 54 pts

1 — Jayson Tatum (BOS): 51 pts

1 — Lauri Markkanen (UTA): 49 pts

1 — Kevin Durant (BKN): 44 pts

1 — Jalen Brunson (NYK): 44 pts

1 — DeMar DeRozan (CHI): 44 pts

1 — Luka Doncic (DAL): 43 pts

1 — Nikola Vucevic (CHI): 43 pts

1 — Julius Randle (NYK): 42 pts

1 — Zach LaVine (CHI): 41 pts

1 — Jaylen Brown (BOS): 41 pts

1 — Steph Curry (GSW): 41 pts

1 — Jalen Green (HOU): 41 pts

1 — Kyle Kuzma (WAS): 40 pts


The league has combined for a total of 104 40-point games this season, which already ranks in the top-10 (8th) for most in a season in NBA history, and we’re not even at the all-star break. At this rate, the league is on pace for roughly 200 40-point games — more than 50 above the all-time record (142). That mark was set in 1962 due in large part to 63 40-point outings from Wilt Chamberlain. Every other season when the league cracked 100 took place in the last 17 years.


Most 40-Point Games (Entire League) in NBA Season

1961-62: 142 Games (Leader: W. Chamberlain, 63)

2018-19: 137 Games (Leader: J. Harden, 28)

2020-21: 119 Games (Leader: S. Curry, 11)

2021-22: 119 Games (Leader: J. Embiid, 13)

2019-20: 116 Games (Leader: J. Harden, 21

2016-17: 110 Games (Leader: R. Westbrook, 18)

2005-06: 108 Games (Leader: K. Bryant, 27)


When it comes to the 2022-23 race for the most 40-point games, it’s a dead heat. Luka Doncic leads the way with big men Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid on his heels, but Damian Lillard has put up 40-plus in three of the last four games. There’s no runaway winner yet.


Players With Most 40-Point Games This Season

L. Doncic (DAL): 9

J. Embiid (PHI): 8

G. Antetokounmpo (MIL): 8

J. Tatum (BOS): 7

D. Lillard (POR): 6

D. Mitchell (CLE: 5

D. Booker (PHX): 5


Others: S. Curry (4), N. Jokic (4), L. James (3), K. Durant (3)


No matter how you slice it, the NBA’s scoring uptick was already absurd in 2022. After the first three weeks of 2023, you’d think they widened the rims. Cheers to more wild stat lines down the stretch.


Additional Storylines

NY Times: As the NBA Gets ‘Loose,’ 50-Point Games Are Surging

CBS Sports: LeBron James Joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Only 2 Players to Score 38,000 Points

The Athletic: Why are NBA Stars Scoring So Many Points? Making Sense of the League’s Scoring Boom



AUS Open: Down Goes Nadal


#1 Rafael Nadal Stunned by American Mackenzie McDonald in 2nd Round of Australian Open


You could tell he wasn’t right. Rafael Nadal lowered his head between sets and didn’t look like himself. A hip injury in the second set caused Nadal to play below 100 percent and fall in the second round at Melbourne to American Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-4, 7-5). He admitted after the match that he didn’t want to resign early as the reigning champion. But after just two rounds, the 36-year-old No. 1 seed is already out.


Watch: McDonald Upsets Injured Nadal in Round 2


The Australian Open continued with more Round 2 action on Wednesday without any other major upsets in the men’s draw. Meanwhile, Coco Gauff took down Emma Raducanu in the match of the day on the women’s side. Here’s the latest from Melbourne:


Men’s Highlights

#3 S. Tsitsipas def. R. Hijikata (6-3, 6-0, 6-2)

#5 A. Rublev def. E. Ruusuvuori (6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3)

#7 D. Medvedev def. J. Milliman (7-5, 6-2, 6-2)

#10 H. Hurkacz def. L. Sonego (3-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3)


In Action Overnight: #2 C. Ruud, #4 N. Djokovic, #9 H. Rune


Women’s Highlights

#5 A. Sabalenka def. S. Rogers (6-3, 6-1)

#7 C. Gauff def. E. Raducanu (6-3, 7-6)

V. Gracheva def. #8 D. Kasatkina (6-1, 6-1)

K. Volynets def. #9 V. Kudermetova (6-4, 2-6, 6-2)


In Action Overnight: #2 O. Jabeur, #4 C. Garcia, #12 B. Bencic


Additional Storylines

Yahoo!: Defending Champion Rafael Nadal Hobbles Out of Australian Open Coco Gauff Battles Past Emma Raducanu for 100th WTA Career Win



Fun With the Quarterback Carousel


With Young Guns Still Playing, the Veterans Are Looking at Their Offseason Moves


Yesterday, we did a deep-dive on the young quarterbacks taking over the playoffs. Today, we’re looking at the veterans ready to jump on the quarterback carousel. \’Round and \’round we go with speculation. Five quarterbacks are rumored to be on the move (potentially) this offseason. Let’s have some fun with projecting where they might land. Indulge us in a little scenario-scheming fantasy of the NFL landscape in 2023.


QB Aaron Rodgers  Raiders

With Aaron Rodgers verbally expressing his desire to finish his playing days in another situation, the Raiders — with Josh McDaniels, WR Davante Adams and RB Josh Jacobs — could be the perfect place to close out his illustrious career. Vegas would have to give up a haul of draft picks to get Rodgers and win now.


QB Tom Brady  49ers

TB12 has a big decision to make, too. He’s long been linked to his hometown 49ers, and with San Francisco turning to Trey Lance for the long haul, he’s still 21 and recovering from a knee injury. Brady could play one final season with the team that boasts the most weapons and best defense before riding off into the sunset.


QB Lamar Jackson  Falcons

I still don’t know how the Ravens could let Lamar Jackson leave town, but he appears to be over his time in Baltimore. Atlanta is the perfect spot for his skillset — an upgrade from Marcus Mariota — and they could try Jackson for a few years while developing QB Desmond Ridder. The Falcons could also capitalize on a weak NFC South if Brady leaves Tampa Bay.


QB Derek Carr  Buccaneers

There will be plenty of teams with interest in Derek Carr this offseason. I could see Atlanta, Tennessee, Houston, Tampa Bay and Carolina as viable options, but I think the Bucs — if they wave goodbye to Brady — make the most sense for a veteran, win-now opportunity. Carr could revive his career in the NFC South.


QB Jimmy Garoppolo  Jets

The connection to Robert Saleh makes Jimmy G-to-the-Jets a possibility. With New York’s headache regarding QB Zach Wilson, the Jets have discussed bringing in a veteran. The Patriots (Bill Belichick) and Raiders (Josh McDaniels) also have strong history with Garoppolo. I think he makes sense in New York.


Other Teams With QB Needs

The Texans (No. 2), Colts (No. 4), and Panthers (No. 9) all have top-10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. I expect those three teams to target a quarterback in the draft and build for the future with three first-time head coaches yet to be hired. We’ve also seen Brock Purdy earn himself a shot to be a starter in 2023.


Additional Storylines

FOX Sports: NFL Odds on Lamar Jackson’s Next Team

B/R: Predicting the Biggest NFL Trades That Could Shape 2023 Season

SI: Top 5 Fantasy Landing Spots for Tom Brady This Offseason



\"🏒\" NHL: Stamkos Joins 500 Club With Hat Trick

Steven Stamkos netted his 500th goal in Wednesday’s Lightning win over the Canucks (4-2). He scored No. 501 just ten minutes later and No. 502 late in the third. The 32-year-old forward becomes the third active player to reach the 500-goal milestone, joining Alex Ovechkin (Capitals) and Sidney Crosby (Penguins).


\"🏀\" NBA: Adams’ Tip-In Gives Grizz 11th Straight

The Grizzlies and Warriors went down to the wire before Steven Adams tipped in a Ja Morant miss for the go-ahead bucket (115-114). Dillon Brooks blocked Darius Garland’s shot attempt in the final moments, and Memphis (31-13) extended their win streak to 11.


\"⚽️\" ITA: Inter Blanks AC Milan (3-0) for Italian Supercoppa

Some midweek futbol in Italy saw two rivals from Milan take the pitch for the Italian Supercoppa. Inter shut out AC Milan (3-0) in a no-doubter thanks to goals from Federico Dimarco, Edin Dzeko, and Lautaro Martinez.


\"🏀\" NCAA Basketball Scoreboard

M: Depaul def. #8 Xavier (73-72)

M: #10 Virginia def. Virginia Tech (78-68)

M: West Virginia def. #14 TCU (74-65)

M: Seton Hall def. #15 UConn (67-66)

W: #6 Indiana def. #21 Illinois (83-72)

W: #10 Iowa def. Michigan State (84-81, OT)



\"🏈\" Super Bowl LVII Re-Rank

The NFL divisional playoffs — with four games over two days — is the top the league has to offer. As we head into this upcoming weekend of action, how confident am I in each of the eight remaining squad\’s chances at winning the Super Bowl?  (FOX Sports)


\"⚾️\" Baseball HOF 2023 Ballot

The 2023 Hall of Fame class will be revealed in one week, and Matt Snyder casts his hypothetical ballot. Here’s why Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and more are among the nine players worthy of a vote. (CBS Sports)


\"🏀\" NBA Power Rankings

The Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies are putting their feet on the gas with six and 10-game winning streaks, respectively. The Boston Celtics might also be outpacing anyone in the Eastern Conference. Here’s where they stand. (ESPN)