NBA Star Power Index: Donovan Mitchell, Giannis Antetokounmpo put themselves in Wilt’s statistical company

Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players getting the most buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing — it simply means you’re capturing the NBA world’s attention. This is also not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order. This column will run every week throughout the regular season. 

Donovan Mitchell required just 34 shots to get his 71 points on Monday. Of the seven players in history who have reached the 70-point mark, that’s the lowest number of field-goal attempts. It helps getting to the free-throw line 25 times. Mitchell was 7 for 15 from 3 and also becomes the only member of the 70-point club to record at least 10 assists (11). 

It was those assists that produced the most impressive stat: Mitchell created 99 points in total counting his own buckets and those he created via assist, the second-most in history to the 104 Wilt Chamberlain created in his famous 100-point game in 1962. Indeed, Chamberlain had just two assists in that game. 

Incredibly, Mitchell had just 16 points at halftime. He had 13 in overtime. Do the math, and that’s 42 second-half points. The 71 is a Cavaliers franchise record, besting the 57 (also Mitchell’s previous career high) that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving recorded during their Cleveland tenures. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 55 points in a win over the Wizards on Tuesday, marking his third consecutive 40-point game. This was preceded by his becoming the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to record consecutive 40-point, 20-rebound games with 43 and 20 against Minnesota and 45 and 22 against Chicago. 

After a 43-point effort against Charlotte on Monday, LeBron James is now just 485 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record. James, who is doing his best to keep the Lakers within striking distance of a postseason berth until  Anthony Davis is back, is averaging 29 points per game. If he maintains that pace and doesn’t sit out any games, he would be projected to set the all-time scoring mark at New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 4. 

FOLLOW: LeBron James scoring tracker

Among all players who have shot at least 50 percent for a season, Luka Doncic is on pace to post the highest scoring average in history. 

In the three games since his historic 60-21-10 triple-double, Doncic has gone 35-13-12, 51-9-6-4, and 39-12-8. The ease with which this guy puts up these numbers is astonishing, and Dallas is once again riding Doncic into contention. Entering play on Wednesday, the Mavericks have won seven straight and occupy the West’s No. 4 seed. 

Klay Thompson’s 54-point outbreak was overshadowed by Mitchell’s night, but it was vintage stuff. Never shy about pulling the trigger, Thompson jacked up 39 shots and buried 10 3-pointers for the second time this season and the seventh time for his career, which would be the most in history if a certain Thompson teammate didn’t exist. 

Thompson, who now has four career 50-points games (including a career-high 60 against the Pacers in 2016), is one of just six players in history to record at least 50 points and 10 3-pointers in the same game. This is the third time he has done it. 

De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento to wild win on Tuesday, netting 22 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter including what proved to be the game-winning bucket with 0.4 seconds remaining. 

Lauri Markkanen, who nearly upstaged Fox’s heroics with a buzzer-beater of his own, had no chance to stay in front of Fox on that game-winning drive. That defensive job is difficult enough with Fox’s speed, but now that he’s hitting his midrange jumpers at a 46-percent clip (43 percent on pull-ups), the task of staying in front of him becomes nearly impossible. 

Joel Embiid registered his seventh 40-point game this season with 42 and 11 in a win over the Pelicans. The Sixers have now won 10 of their last 12. James Harden is back. So is Tyrese Maxey. Georges Niang remains a sniper and Tobias Harris is coming off a month in which he shot 45 percent from 3. This is the most optimistic, albeit cautiously, I have been about the Sixers in quite a while. 

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