Santa Claus is coming to town.
He's made his list and he's checked it twice, it's time to find out who's been naughty or nice thus far into the 2019-20 NBA season.
Nice: Giannis Antetokounmpo's 3-point shooting
The one knock on the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was that he can't shoot.
He gets to the rim at will. His 31.8 points per game are second-most in the league and he's doing so at a 56.5% rate from the field. He was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year last season. He's dominating in all facets of the game and yet, there is still criticism surrounding his jump shot.
And guess what? He does not care.
"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said after knocking down a career-high five 3s versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
"And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."
He's attempting 5.2 3-point attempts per game, nearly double his average from last season. They're falling at a 33.8% clip, which isn't great, but it is certainly respectable.
MORE: Is Giannis the unanimous MVP entering Christmas?
To add to that, over the month of December, Antetokounmpo is shooting 21-for-47 from beyond the arc, good for 44.7%.
That's a scary thought for the rest of the league. You could make the case that this type of 3-point shooting makes the his game unfair for others which should put him on the Naughty List.
Santa Claus is impressed with the growth in the Greek Freak's game, though, which earns him a spot on the Nice List instead.
Naughty: Toronto's injury bug
This holiday season has not been plesant to the defending NBA champions.
The Toronto Raptors were already dealt a tough hand in November when All-Star guard Kyle Lowry was forced to miss 11 games due to a thumb fracture. In the exact same game Lowry suffered his thumb injury, they lost Serge Ibaka to an ankle injury that would cost him 10 games.
Once those two finally returned to the lineup, Toronto played three games at full strength before starting guard Fred VanVleet went out a knee injury that would sideline him for the next five games.
Just as he was inching closer to returning, the Raptors suffered three injuries to three key players in a decisive win over the Detroit Pistons.
MORE: It's Kyle Lowry's time to shine
Pascal Siakam (groin). Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder) are now all "out indefinitely" with three various ailments, leaving Toronto as short-handed as they've been all season - which is tough to top with the number of injuries they have already dealt with through the first 28 games of the season.
The Raptors injury bug should receive more coal than anyone on the Naughty List combined, because this is no way to treat the reigning champs.
Nice: Jaylen Brown
In last year's edition of our Naughty and Nice List, Jaylen Brown found his name on the wrong side of Santa's list.
This season, it's been a completely different story.
Santa Claus generally rewards you for helping others, and Brown helped his team immensely once Gordon Hayward was forced to miss time with a broken hand.
MORE: NBA presents under the Christmas tree
During the 14-game stretch without Hayward, Brown took his play to another level averaging 21.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 49.3% from the field and 41.3% from 3-point range.
His play has been that strong all season, too. Fresh off of a criticized four-year, $115 million contract extension, Brown has silenced any doubters with the campaign he's put together thus far.
The No. 3 pick of the 2016 NBA Draft is having a career-year, averaging career-highs in points (19.6), rebounds (7.0), assists (2.1), steals (1.1), field goal percentage (49.7%) and free throw percentage (75.9%).
He's a key component to the Celtics' over-performing start to the season and he deserves more than just a spot on Santa's Nice List - a spot on the All-Star team would be just as well-deserved.
Naughty: Mike Conley Jr.
To be fair, Mike Conley Jr. has missed six of the Utah Jazz's last seven games due to a hamstring issue and the nagging injury is expected to keep him out longer than that.
But even when Conley was in the lineup for the first 21 games of the season, it was far from the best showing of his career.
The veteran guard is shooting a career-worst 36.5% from the field while also averaging a career-low in steals per game. His 13.6 points per game is his lowest mark since 2012 and his 4.6 assists per game is his lowest average since his second season in the league back in 2008-09. To add to the list, he's also taken a step back in 3-point percentage and free throw attempts per game compared to last season.
When the Jazz traded for Conley this offseason, all the questions surrounding the transaction were positive: "will this be the season Conley finally makes the All-Star team?," or "does Conley make the Jazz title contenders?"
It's been quite the contrary through the first couple months of the season.
MORE: Are the Jazz starting to figure things out?
Conley was supposed to be an upgrade on both ends of the floor from Ricky Rubio last year. According to NBA stats, The Jazz hold an offensive rating of 106.9 and a defensive rating of 105.1 with Conley on the floor. Both those numbers are better than when he is off the floor, but it hasn't been an improvement from Rubio in either category.
With Rubio on the floor last season, the Jazz had an offensive rating of 110.4 and a defensive rating of 104.1.
Conley has yet to prove his worth to his team and for that, he'll end up with coal in his stocking this holiday season.
Nice: Bam Adebayo
Not only is Bam Adebayo in contention to be this season's Most Improved Player, he's played like an All-Star.
The Miami Heat have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2019-20 season and their 22-year-old centre has been instrumental in their success.
When the Heat traded Hassan Whiteside this offseason, it cleared the way for their big man of the future with Adebayo stepping into the full-time starting role. He's produced the way he was expected and more, averaging career-highs in points (15.5), rebounds (10.6), assists (4.6), steals (1.5) and blocks (1.3) per game.
While his defence, rebounding and lob finishing were always seen to be the biggest assets of his game, Adebayo has taken a drastic leap in broadening his offensive aresenal.
His passing has been incredible, represented by recording his first two triple-doubles of his career through the first few months of this season. He's completely evolved his post game and his jump shot is slowly but surely coming along.
After Miami's big win over the Philadelphia 76ers, a reporter asked teammate Jimmy Butler on his thought's about being a one-star team.
"This is a team of one star?," Butler responded. "Who's our one star? Bam? I'll take it. I'll take Bam as our one star any day."
While Butler is certainly a star, he's definitely not wrong in calling Bam a star, too.
Adebayo might have more presents under his tree than any player in the NBA this Christmas.
Naughty: Zion Williamson-less New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans were rolling in the preseason with a perfect 5-0 behind No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.
The hype surrounding New Orleans was uncanny for a team that had just traded away a top-five player in the league, but unexpectedly landing the top pick of the draft to select a generational talent definitely creates a buzz.
Plus, they had just hand-picked the players and picks they wanted off of the Lakers roster to help create the perfect team around their first overall pick.
When it was announced before the start of the season that Williamson would miss a couple months with a torn meniscus, that was a crushing blow.
But a team that has players like Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, Josh Hart and Derrick Favors among other young and talented guys should be able to stay afloat, right? Wrong.
MORE: NBA Power Rankings entering Christmas Day
Yes, the Pelicans have dealt with more injury problems than any other team in the league and yes, losing the player your team is tailored around makes things difficult, but is this really one of the worst teams in the entire NBA without Zion?
I have a hard time believing that answer is yes, but nonetheless, New Orleans has the third-worst record in the league and just recently snapped a 13-game losing streak. In terms of offensive and defensive rating, they're a bottom-10 offence and a bottom-five defence in the NBA.
With veterans like Holiday, Redick and Favors and promising talents like Ingram, Ball and Hart, this team should still be in the mix, even with some of the aforementioned in and out of the lineup with injuries.
The entire story could be different if Zion was never forced to miss time, but in this reality, the entire Pelicans team and coaching staff gets lumps of coal for Christmas.
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