Harrison Butker enters and kicks a 31-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Chiefs go for it on a fourth-and-3 from the Chargers 47. On the play, Alex Smith finds Kareem Hunt, who picks up 21 yards to keep Kansas City’s drive alive. The Chiefs have it at the LA 14.
By averaging 19.7 points and 11.9 rebounds with a 66.7 true shooting percentage, Ayton is putting up big man numbers that essentially haven’t been seen before. As impressive as those statistical benchmarks are, it’s still the sheer physicality that stands out.
To watch Ayton is to see a lot of that: a combination of athletic grace and power which simply does not come along often. He looks like David Robinson or Patrick Ewing, star NBA centers from a time gone by who once felt like the ultimate matchup nightmare. That’s what Ayton is developing into.
There’s subtlety to his explosiveness. Watch how he’s able to jump two or three times before opposing defenders can get off the ground once. That’s either going to lead to a dunk or, at worst, free throws.
Ayton is a 260-pound jumping jack who could have a long pro career based on that alone. But that’s just part of his game.
Why doesn’t the Wrigley game rank higher? Frankly, because it wasn’t Wrigley enough. The temperature wasn’t much colder than it is for a Cubs game in April. Despite Pierre McGuire’s comments about wind-assisted goals, it wasn’t all that much of a factor in the Windy City.
But most of all: This was the defending Stanley Cup champions against the new puppy nipping at their heels in the Western Conference. You almost felt cheated not seeing these two battle it out in a vacuum instead of a baseball stadium.
For example, playing point guard with James can probably be frustrating considering he is the team’s primary facilitator and decision maker at the forward spot. Case-in-point: during a mid-season practice in the 2016-17 season, Irving and head coach Tyronn Lue were at odds over pushing the pace on offense.
Irving was reluctant to do so because he can get his shot at any time within the confines of a half-court set. Lue said it wasn’t about his shot, it was about his teammates’.
Irving’s response, according to MacMullan: Well, that’s No. 23’s job.