NBA Christmas Day

NBA Christmas Day 2018: Who's on Santa's Naughty list? Who made this season's Nice list?

Who's been naughty and who's been nice? [ illustrations]

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 2018-19 NBA season.

kevin-durantNice: Kevin Durant

Durant has been sharpie'd onto Santa's Nice List all season, even after him and Draymond Green had their issues. The Golden State Warriors dealt with a number of injuries in the first chunk of the season and KD was a constant in the lineup playing in all 34 games, ranking top-three in the league in minutes played leading into Christmas Day.

He's atop of the NBA with 987 total points, good for a 29.0 per game average that places him third in the NBA. He's dishing out a career-high in assists (6.1 per game) showing he's been giving enough to land on the nice list and he leads the Warriors in rebounds.

In fact, it's a very short list of players who are scoring, rebounding and assisting at the level Durant is - only he and LeBron James are averaging at least 25.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. To add to his resume, he's second in the NBA in win shares (only trailing Anthony Davis) and if it weren't for KD's consistency and durability this season, it's likely the reigning champions would be closer to the middle of the pack than their current second place in the West standing.

Jaylen-brownNaughty: Jaylen Brown

After playing a key role in the Boston Celtics' run through the Eastern Conference Playoffs a season ago it seemed like Brown would have been a lock for the Nice List. With the way he's performed through this part of the season, he's found himself a spot on Santa's Naughty List.

Brown has taken a step back in nearly every major statistical category this season. Sure, he's playing about four minutes less per game than last season and with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back the team's stats are a little more evenly distributed but he's still trending in the wrong direction. He's averaging less points, rebounds, assists and steals per game than a season ago while shooting worse from the field, 3-point land and the free throw line.

Head coach Brad Stevens has experimented with bringing Brown off the bench and while that worked for three-or-so games, he seems to be struggling to get into any sort of a rhythm. The Celtics as a whole have not lived up to their extremely high expectations they went into this year with, but they still sit at 19-13 just 4.5 games back from the East's top spot.

Time may have ran out for Brown to find a spot on the Nice List, but what's a better time than a big performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day to get things going for the second part of the season to prove Santa wrong?

paul-georgeNice: Paul George

Santa Claus must have gone mad over the last few weeks trying to scramble around and find enough gifts to reward George for how well he's been playing. This guy has been downright ridiculous.

Over the Oklahoma City Thunder's last eight games (the two weeks leading into Christmas Day) George is averaging 32.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game shooting 53.9-51.6-86.7 percent from the field, three and the free throw line. Talk about assuring yourself a spot on the Nice List.

PG has been doing it all season long though - he's averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. He's top-10 in the league in scoring, has the third most 3-pointers made (shooting at a solid 38.8 percent clip) and leads the NBA in total steals, making a solid case as a front runner for this year's Defensive Player of the Year.

He's a key focal point in the league's best defence and no player has more defensive win shares than George. He's top-five in win shares for the entire league and he has surely been the best player on a team that holds the No. 3 seed in the grueling West.

donovan-mitchellNaughty: Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the brightest spots of the 2017-18 season leading the Utah Jazz to the Western Conference Semi-Finals and making a serious campaign for winning Rookie of the Year. This season, it has been quite the contrary.

Mitchell will secure a spot on Santa's Naughty List after a rough first part of the season. His points per game average is nearly the same, but that's because he's increased his number of shot attempts resulting in a much lower field goal percentage. He's shooting 40.6 percent from the field on 18.4 attempts per game after shooting 43.7 percent from the field last season. His 3-point percentage has dipped even further too - shooting 28.9 percent from long range on 6.7 attempts per game after shooting 34.0 percent from three last year.

He is one of five players in NBA history to average at least 6.0 3-point attempts per game and shoot less than 30.0 percent from that distance. His Jazz have had a slow start to the year but are just two games out of the playoffs in the West. Mitchell has a history of performing at a high level on a big stage and he's making his NBA Christmas Day debut tomorrow, the perfect opportunity to turn things around for the better this season.

danny-greenNice: Danny Green

You can't say you're suprised to see Green land on Nice List because his entire career he has been doing things to land on the right side of Santa's list. But this year is different, this year he finds himself on the Nice List because many overlooked Green's name in the blockbuster trade that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and he made sure it wouldn't remain that way.

He's shooting a team-high 40.9 percent from beyond the arc and gives the Raptors a solid 9.7 points per game from their fifth scoring option in their starting five. He's on an elite list shooters in the NBA, being one of 10 players who attempt at least 5.0 3-pointers per game and convert at least 40.0 percent of those attempts. The Raptors have also relied heavily on Green to shut down opposing team's top scoring guards on several occasions, using his high-IQ and veteran savviness to help run the first unit's defence.

Green has been blessing in disguise in the Leonard trade and has already made his presence felt as a clutch role player (see: game-winner versus Orlando Magic) and a lockdown defender. He'll certainly be receiving every gift he asked for this Christmas.​

karl-anthony-townsNaughty: Karl-Anthony Towns

Just before this season started Towns signed a monster contract extension worth $190 million over five years, ultimately becoming the definitive franchise player for the Minnesota Timberwolves. At that time, there was still plenty of turmoil in the locker room between him and star guard Jimmy Butler, but Butler was dealt to the 76ers giving Towns full control over his team.

What has he done with that freedom? Well, he's posting a lower number of points and rebounds while being less efficient from the field and 3-point range. I will say that Santa might be a little critical in this decision to put Towns on the Naughty List as his numbers are still solid, but I just think he had higher expectations for one of the league's most promising young talents. His 48.3 percent shooting from the field is a career-low and his 20.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game are the lowest he's produced since his rookie season.

The Timberwolves are 11-9 since Butler's departure and find themselves 2.5 games out of the playoffs in the West. They'll need more from their star centre in the second part of the season if they're going to make a push to get back into the playoffs.

jrue-holidayNice: Jrue Holiday

Holiday is the only player on the Nice List who's team does not have a winning record but I promise you, Santa does not make mistakes on these type of things.

If not for the level that Holiday has been playing at, the Pelicans could be a lot further than three games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. He's been this part of the season's iron man, playing a league-most 1,250 minutes while trailing only his teammate Anthony Davis in minutes played per game.

Last year's First Team All-Defence selection has proved he's much more than an elite defender, showcasing tremendous playmaking skills as he leads the NBA with 298 assists and is third in assists per game (8.8 apg) behind Kyle Lowry and Russell Westbrook. That assists per game number is a career-high for Holiday, as well as his 20.8 points per game which has been a much needed secondary scoring boost to Davis for the Pelicans.

As for defence, his game speaks for itself as one of the top perimeter defenders in the entire league. That has not changed in the slightest this season, as he's up to a career-high 1.7 steals per game and ranks in the top-10 in the NBA in total steals. Usually Santa parallels stealing with coal for Christmas but this holiday, he'll be rewarding Holiday for it.

chris-paul-eric-gordonNaughty: The Houston Rockets minus James Harden

One of the NBA's most disappointing stories has been the early performance from the Houston Rockets, who were one game away from potentially winning the NBA Finals a season ago after boasting a league-best 65-17 record.

Santa is always watching so he knows that the Rockets have won six of their last seven games, but he also knows that without the insane tear that James Harden has been on, this team would surely still be outside of the playoff picture in the West.

They rank in the bottom-five in the league in defensive rating, rebounding and assists. Their 27.3 points per game off the bench is the very worst in the NBA and Harden hasn't had much help from the starting unit either. Chris Paul is averaging a career-low 15.6 points per game while shooting a career-low 41.5 percent from the field and Eric Gordon is having the worst shooting season of his 11 years in the league.

They just signed Austin Rivers, which should help the Rockets in their time of need while Chris Paul is out with a hamstring injury. He should also help with that dreadful bench scoring statistic once Paul returns. The rest of the Rockets might be receiving coal for Christmas but since their star player is solidified on the Nice List, he should probably ask Santa for more help this season.

lou-williams-montrezl-harrellNice: The Clippers' bench

The entire Clippers bench earns a spot on the Nice List this year because they have been the catalyst for LA's pleasantly surprising start to the season. No second unit in the NBA has made a bigger impact than the Clippers bench, who score a league-best 51.6 points per game in the 20.6 minutes the starters are not on the floor.

Their second group is headlined by two legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidates in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Williams, who has always been known for his ability to make an immediate impact off the bench, is averaging 17.4 points and 4.9 assists per game. Harrell, who also has a case for the NBA's Most Improved Player, is posting 15.3 points and 6.6 rebounds - neither player has started in a game this season.

The bench receives help from stud rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and known pesky defender Patrick Beverley who trade off the team's starting point guard role. The unit is rounded out by veteran forward Mike Scott and fan-favorite Boban Marjanovic to make a perfect group of five off the bench that can compete with any lineup that opposing teams roll out. Williams and Harrell certainly brought this unit to the Nice List, but once you bring Boban into consideration there was really no question at all.

john-wall-otto-porterNaughty: The Washington Wizards minus Bradley Beal

The Wizards have qualified for the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, reaching the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in three of those four playoff appearances. So far this season, it's looking like the playoffs are out of the question.

They stand in at a disappointing 13-21, 3.5 games out of the playoffs in the East despite having one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Bradley Beal is having one of the best years of his career, while his teammate John Wall has left the Wizards needing more. He hasn't looked like the explosive, high-energy player we've grown to love and he's averaging the lowest assists number he's posted in five seasons.

They have the third-worst defence in the NBA in terms of defensive rating and are the second-worst rebounding team in the league. They're begging for more production from Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Jeff Green and have only gotten nine games out of centre Dwight Howard who they signed this past offseason.

The Wizards just brought in Trevor Ariza via trade to try and add a veteran presence to their disoriented locker room and potentially make a push to reach the playoffs. They have the talent on the roster capable to make that happen in the East but will need every player mentioned that placed this team to Santa's Naughty List to step up for the rest of the season.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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