Friday, December 3, 2010
TWTWTNBA: Post-Thanksgiving Assessment (East)
This is a monthly check-up of the League. Yes, people will say this is too early, but with slightly more than a month in, it would be a good time to take an early temperature reading on where we are.
Leading the Pack:
1. Orlando Magic - In spite of Rashard Lewis' slow start, they're using their quality depth to make headway. That and Dwight doing 22-11. Oh, and they finally thought of using Brandon Bass like Paul Millsap. That depth will come in handy in any case they intend to be involved in the trade market. Guys like Jameer Nelson, Air France, Marcin Gortat would be dealt for another stud, if they so choose. And by the way, love this little snippet of Dwight's take on Derek Anderson. He really is Young Shaq without the mean streak.
2. Boston Celtics - Jermaine O'Neal and Delonte West are both sidelined right now. Shaq and Rajon were sidelined at one point. And yet they have quality pieces (Semi Erden? Von Wafer?) that are at par with (not necessarily better than) the Lakers and the Magic. They already have the psychological advantage over the Heat. And any chemistry issues with this locker room have been squelched, as of the moment.
3. Atlanta Hawks - Josh Smith is already making a play for DPOY as well as his 1st All-Star selection. Al Horford could make a case as the best one of the Florida 04's in the pros. Unfortunately, the guy who got paid will be unavailable until 2011.
4. Chicago Bulls - They are here because they still are waiting for the debut of Carlos Boozer (Note: he just made his debut). Coach Thibs likes having Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson manning the defense, while Derrick Rose (26-4-8) is taking over the offense, which is why it boggles the mind as to why they need to go after another alpha dog in Carmelo Anthony. What they really need is another guard. Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer? Please. Kyle Korver is adequate as an reserve guard tasked to just shoot.
5. Indiana Pacers - Yup. They finally won against the Lakers at Staples. Who knew? They scored 54 pts in 12 minutes like it was NBA 2k11. Who knew? They manhandled the Heat. Who knew? Can they keep this great start? That remains to be seen.
The Heat Index:
6. Miami Heat - Saw a funny tweet that instead of Miami Vice, it feels more like CSI: Miami, where the hundreds of Horatio Caine wannabes take off / put on the glasses (and cue the Who's Won't Get Fooled Again) and make prognostications. Seriously, they need Eric Snow-esque and Tyrone Hill-like guys. Those two pretty much sacrificed their lives for Allen Iverson back then (Speaking of Iverson...)
7. New York Knicks - Amar'e really gives them an oomph. However, they are prone to career nights from anybody. Simmons has posited 11.5 as the over/under for such kinds of stats against the Knicks / Warriors. Already career nights from Kevin Love and Blake Griffin down pat. They're getting there with the SSOL philosophy. And wow on Landry Fields. And he was a mid-second rounder.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers - All eyes on TNT this Thursday night (Friday morning in the Motherland). That is all.
Stumbling across the starting line:
9. Charlotte Bobcats - Cap'n Jack already getting suspended. Availability of the C&C (aforementioned Jackson and Crash) is paramount. DJ Augustine has been adequate, but can he continue to do this or will the rumored B-Diddy for Boris Diaw deal eventually rise.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - They are not exactly fraying at the bit from the Skiles experience, but it's more of the added expectations after their close call with Atlanta in the playoffs. They really need size insurance, especially if both Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden are unavailable. In addition, John Salmons is in the "I-just-got-paid-so-I-can-slack-zone."
11. Toronto Raptors - Some have said this is the worst roster assembled. They lose Reggie Evans who inhales rebounds for a living, providing a reason for Andrea Bargnani to just stay out and play like Danilo Gallinari. Demar Derozan has been ok so far. Trading away Jarrett Jack looks to benefit Jose Calderon more.
12. New Jersey Nets - Devin Harris' injury was not that major, but he will miss time. Travis Outlaw has been as much a disappointment as Anthony Morrow been a surprise. Kris Humphries has also eased out Troy Murphy in the rotation due to his effort. Expect nothing until the Melo issue is resolved.
13. Washington Wizards -The development of John Wall has been ok. He's currently on the mend, but things are looking up. Gilbert has been serviceable, but he's still Gilbert. They still have a long long way to go, but at least, the way is pretty much set.
14. Detroit Pistons - Talk about a fall from grace for Joe Dumars. People touting him as the best GM in the NBA, whose only blip was Darko. The woebegone Pistons now has Rodney Stuckey clashing with their coach, Tayshaun Prince mouthing off to fans and no Jonas Jerebko in sight. Don't forget the Charlie Villanueva cancer context. Richard Hamilton needs a change of scenery, but his current numbers will not allow a deal that would be for the Pistons' benefit.
15. Philadelphia 76rs - The worst thing to be in is when you are really bad and that you do not have salary cap room, a.k.a stuck in Salary Cap Hell. Elton's okay, but considering how much he is getting, should be better. Jrue has been good so far, as well as Louis Williams off the bench, but they will have to think about dealing to continue to process.