The Whiteboard: The best individual performance of the NBA bubble?

NBA (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
NBA (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

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The NBA bubble hasn’t even seen a week’s worth of “regular-season” games and we’ve already been treated to a slew of incredible individual performances — a 50-point game and three other 40-pointers, a 40-20 double, a triple-double and several other close-calls and a 30-point game with 16 assists.

So who has had the best individual performance so far?

To measure the overall impact of each game, we’ll use Daily RAPM Estimate (DRE), a box-score based estimate of the impact of a player’s bulk production in a single game. Based on DRE, here are the top-TK individual performances from the NBA’s restart so far.

James Harden vs. DAL (35.1 DRE): 49 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 14-of-20 FG, 3-of-9 3PT, 18-of-21 FT

This was an absolute fireball from Harden, 40 points on just 20 shots with 17 rebounds and assists combined. However, the thing that really lifted this game was a combined 6 steals and blocks to just one turnover. Over the rest of the season, Harden has averaged just 2.7 steals and blocks combined, to 4.4 turnovers per game.

T.J. Warren vs. PHI (25.4 DRE): 53 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 1 blocks, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 20-of-29 FG, 9-of-12 3PT, 4-of-4 FT

This was a monster game for Warren, sopping up the offensive opportunities left open by Domantas Sabonis’ absence and Victor Oladipo still working back into shape. Warren has always been an efficient scorer but for anyone surprised at him going off for so many 3-pointers, I’ll point out that he’s quietly shot 41.2 percent from beyond the arc the past two seasons, on more than 300 attempts.

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. BOS (21.1 DRE): 36 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steals, 1 blocks, 2 turnover, 5 fouls, 14-of-20 FG, 1-of-3 3PT, 7-of-12 FT

This is a fairly typical Giannis performance — huge scoring and rebounding numbers, provided efficiently and with contributions in every statistical category. He also did it in just 32 minutes, which is absurd.

Joel Embiid vs. IND (20.7 DRE): 41 points, 21 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steals, 3 blocks, 4 turnover, 3 fouls, 15-of-23 FG, 1-of-5 3PT, 10-of-12 FT

This was the second 40-20 game of Embiid’s career and he did with some assists, steals and blocks as well. Of course, the only things people will really remember from this game is him and Shake Milton needing to be separated during an early timeout and the fact that the 76ers lost.

James Harden vs. MIL (19.5 DRE): 24 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals, 0 blocks, 3 turnover, 5 fouls, 5-of-14 FG, 3-of-12 3PT, 11-of-13 FT

The second appearance by Harden and this one is all the more impressive because it notched a win against the Milwaukee Bucks. If you’re wondering how this performance ranks so highly with just 24 points and middling shooting numbers, check out the 6 steals.

Kristaps Porzingis vs. HOU (19.3 DRE): 39 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocks, 2 turnover, 5 fouls, 13-of-26 FG, 3-of-8 3PT, 10-of-11 FT

Porzingis had his way with the Rockets’ small ball lineups, notching 16 rebounds to go with a sterling scoring performance, both inside and outside. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to pick up the wing.

Trey Burke vs. HOU (19.1 DRE): 31 points, 1 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steals, 0 blocks, 0 turnover, 2 fouls, 11-of-16 FG, 8-of-10 3PT, 1-of-2 FT

This is not a mistake. Trey Burke is in the NBA and making 3-pointers.

Jayson Tatum vs. POR (17.7 DRE): 34 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocks, 2 turnover, 1 foul, 11-of-22 FG, 5-of-8 3PT, 7-of-9 FT

Tatum has blossomed this season and this game was a reflection of just how devastating his all-around game can be. He picked up some defensive impact plays, created for his teammates and poured in the points with impeccable efficiency.

Thomas Bryant vs. BKN (17.6 DRE): 30 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 12-of-20 FG, 4-of-6 3PT, 2-of-3 FT

Thomas Bryant has quietly had another strong season for the Washington Wizards. His outside shooting is becoming increasingly reliable and his energy and strength make him a weapon in transition and in the paint.

Paul George vs. NOP (17.4 DRE): 28 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 0 turnover, 0 fouls, 8-of-17 FG, 8-of-11 3PT, 4-of-5 FT

All he did was hit 3s, pick up some steals and not turn the ball over.

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