With a six-game slate on the Tuesday schedule, our pick for League Pass Game of the Night is one featuring a pair of teams looking to move over .500 as the Indiana Pacers visit the Charlotte Hornets.
Malcolm Brogdon, 2020 All-Star?
When the Indiana Pacers lured Brogdon away from the Milwaukee Bucks in restricted free agency, most saw it as a quality acquisition and the perfect complementary piece for All-Star shooting guard Victor Oladipo once he eventually returns to the lineup.
Few saw this coming.
Brogdon has looked like so much more than merely a complementary piece in the early going as he's erupted out of the game with numbers that scream "I should be an All-Star this season."
MORE: Most likely first-time All-Stars
He's scoring more points than Zach Lavine, dishing out more assists than Kyrie Irving and turning it over nearly half as often as Trae Young. His Player Efficiency Rating ranks among the top 10 in the league, just ahead of James Harden, while he's once again a threat to finish 50-40-90.
If you line up what Brogdon's done so far with one of the best seasons of Chris Paul's career, you'd be hard-pressed to pick one definitively over the other. Take for instance, CP3's 2011-12 campaign which was his first in Los Angeles when he finished third in MVP voting.
Yes, we're only six games into the season, but the longer this goes, the harder it will be to deny that Brogdon is playing at a level that's worthy of All-Star consideration. It's not like this can simply be chalked up to an unsustainable stretch of hot shooting either as he's actually posting a lower true-shooting percentage than he did all of last season.
If this is the version of Brogdon that Indiana will get moving forward, the Pacers will be an absolute force to be reckoned with once Oladipo returns. Given his strong play, Indiana can also now afford to ease Oladipo back into the mix rather than crossing its fingers that Oladipo will be back to his old self the minute he steps foot on the floor.
Brogdon is worth your attention.
Domantas Sabonis is a wrecking ball
Sabonis missed Indiana's last game and is questionable for this one although he did travel with the team to Charlotte.
If Sabonis is able to go, he's a good candidate to go off given his strong start to the season. After agreeing to a four-year extension on the eve of the start of the regular season, the 23-year-old is proving to be worth every penny and then some as he's averaging 21.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game on 57% shooting. He's currently one of just seven players averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game and is the second-youngest among that group ahead of only Luka Doncic.
His best game of the season came the last time the Pacers played on the road as he dominated the Brooklyn Nets down the stretch, scoring 10 of his game-high 29 points in a decisive fourth quarter in which he was easily the best player on the floor.
Much in the same way that Brogdon is holding the Pacers' frontcourt together in the absence of Oladipo, Sabonis is holding the fort down while Myles Turner works his way back from an ankle injury. Turner is doubtful for Tuesday's game although he could be back in the lineup on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.
How about some buzz for the Hornets?
Not much was originally expected from the Charlotte Hornets in the short-term as they begin to transition for the future after losing Kemba Walker in free agency. And while the Hornets are certainly still in the middle of a long re-building process, they've proven frisky in getting out to a 3-3 start.
Following back-to-back losses to the Lakers and Clippers on consecutive days, the Hornets bounced back with a pair of wins at Sacramento and Golden State to avoid what easily could have been an 0-4 west-coast swing en route to a 1-5 start. That Warriors win in particular looks more impressive after that same depleted Warriors team on Monday knocked off a healthy Portland Trail Blazers squad that finished third in the Western Conference last season.
Winning on the road is hard in the NBA.
With one more win, this time at home, the Hornets can move over .500 and would actually be head of the early pace set forth by last year's team that started 3-4.
After a slow start to the season, prized free agent signing Terry Rozier is starting to come on strong as he strung together several nice performances during the team's four-game trip out west, averaging 19.5 points, 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Joining in the fun is backcourt mate Dwayne Bacon who erupted for a game-high 25 points in the win over the Warriors.
Throw in the likes of P.J. Washington who continues to impress and it's been a far more positive start to the season than many projected for the Hornets.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.