Week in Review (Nov 13-Nov 19)
Analysis of the week that was in the NBA.
Players of the Week:
Carlos Boozer--MVP of the season, so far. He slightly edges out Duncan & Bron in my mind. 17.3 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 5 apg & 56.4% shooting this week. 22 (10/16), 16 & 4 vs. the Suns & 16,15 & 7 vs. the Clips. Like I said last week, his passing might be the most impressive thing.
LaMarcus Aldridge--So much for an adjustment period. 11 ppg & 5 rpg on 18/24 shooting in 4 games this week. Has already displaced Magloire in the starting lineup after only being active for 5 games. With Brandon Roy's status uncertain, Aldridge could be the Blazer of choice for the Rookie of the Year award.
Emeka Okafor--Has been a dominant force in the paint on both ends. 23.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, & 4 bpg this week. The defense & rebounding does not phase me, but his scoring has caught me off guard. I really could not foresee this guy ever being more than 18ppg guy at best, but he has looked strong early. The key to his success has been his shooting percentage--he is shooting 57.6% this year, & a sick 70% this week. This has been always been his sorespot--43.9% career FG%--and the key difference between himself & Dwight Howard. If Okafor can keep this shooting up, we may need to put him back in the same class as Dwight.
Deron Williams--2nd week in a row on this list. Playing like a Top 5 PG, only C-Paul & J-Kidd are playing as well. 22.7 ppg & 9.7 apg on 50% for the week. Dropped 25 & 14apg on the Suns. Is averaging 18.7 ppg, 9 apg & 51% shooting for the season. 3rd in the league in assists.
Carmelo Anthony--Leading the league in scoring and will need to keep up this production with the injuries & lack of shooting surrounding him. 33.7 ppg, 4 apg, & 6 rpg this week. Melo has scored over 30 points for the last six games.
Paul Millsap--The Jazz might have found themselves a gem in the 2nd round. I thought Millsap would be able to translate his college rebounding numbers over, but that would be it. The rookie has averaged 11 ppg & 7.3 rpg on 60% shooting this week in only about 22 mins per game. Dropped 18 & 10 on the Suns on 5/6 shooting (8/10 fts). Right now, this two-headed PF monster of Booz & Millsap is an embarrassment of riches in Utah.
Ryan Gomes--Seems to have established himself as the 3rd option for the Celts. Had two double-doubles this week, to go along with his triple-double from last week. Huge in win vs. the Knicks with 22 pts & 14 boards. Versatile forward who can go inside & out and play off of Pierce nicely.
The Knicks' bench--You have to love the energy this group brings. Jamal Crawford brings the instant offense, while David Lee brings hustle in the interior & Nate Robinson is basically a human pinball. Also, Renaldo Balkman has been resourceful providing the dirty work. These guys have repeatedly kept the Knicks in games after the starting unit usually gets off to an uninspired start. This week, Crawford averaged 19.5 ppg, Lee had 11 & 8.5 rpg, & Nate added 13 ppg.
Honorable Mention: R. Allen; C. Bosh; Duncan; D. Howard; LeBron; Kev Martin; R. Lewis; C. Paul; Z. Randolph; M. Redd; Amare; Wade
Celtics--Seem to be reinvigorated after Sports Guy slams Doc Rivers--rattled off 3 wins in a row after article (3-1 this week). Pounded the Pacers & the Blazers, then held on for a 122-118 win in MSG in a very entertaining contest vs. the Knicks. Pierce & Wally have started to get more steady support from the youngsters. Gomes had two double-doubles this week, Kendrick Perkins has shown signs of life with some boards & blocks, Rondo has been showing some of his pre-season promise, and Delonte West has picked up his pace. What's surprising is that maybe the Celts should have been this good from the start because they have alot of positive team numbers: The Celts are 7th best in Def FG%, Def 3pt % & rebounding. Also, the Celts are #1 in 3pt%. Maybe it was the turnovers keeping them down, which are still too high.
Magic--All of sudden the Magic are 7-3; they sort of snuck up on me. Went 3-0 this week, but have had a somewhat favorable schedule so far this season. I was surprised at some of their team numbers--Tied for 1st in FG% (50%), 4th best Def. FG%, 2nd best 3pt FG%, and not surprisingly 3rd in rebounding.
Mavs--Starting to round into shape. 3-0 this week, have won 5 in a row after starting 0-4. Granted, they got to play Memphis twice this week. The Mavs are starting to look like the title contender they were predicted to be. Although, their defense has not totally turned the corner, but I have faith in Avery getting the ship in order quickly.
Warriors--Off to a fast start like last year. 3-0 this week, 7-3 for the season. Don't get to carried away just yet--they've been helped by a very favorable early schedule. So far, 7 home games (6-1), 3 road games (1-2), and the next 5 out of 6 games at home (For November, 12 out of 16 games at home). Two of the better wins came at home vs. teams on the second night of a back2back game. Although, the one encouraging thing has been the shooting percentage, which is 4th best in the league. This is something I thought would be a problem this year, but so far the Warriors have done a better job, especially Baron Davis. Will see if they can keep this up; I am a little skeptical. Their defense is a little better than I expected, but I can't see that continuing with Nellie at the helm. If Baron & Co. can keep their shot selection under control, this team can maybe sneak into the playoffs, but as I stated in my season preview, they will not last long because their defense & rebounding will be not up to snuff--the Warriors are currently the worst def. rebounding team in the NBA.
Jazz--Best team in the league. 3-0 this week, with victories vs. the Clips & Suns. Held on for an overtime win vs. the Suns (although no Nash). Who would think the Jazz would be leading the league in ppg? (Even ahead of the Suns) Also, tied for 1st in Off. Fg% (50%) and still #1 in rebounding. Although, their defense fell off a little this week--maybe something to do with an absent Kirilenko. Something scary to think about is the Jazz are doing this with their best all-around player not at full-strength/injured.
Not so Hot Teams:
Bulls--In the midst of a brutal road trip and had to do the dreaded Texas Triangle this week, then the Lakers on Sunday. 0-4 this week with 3 more road games to go. We knew the offense would struggle to find its way, but the vaunted defense has been few & far between. Right now, the Bulls are 7th worst in Def FG%. Although, I thought they looked great today vs. the Lakers, and you can see the natural defensive talent which should not be worried about. But on the other hand, the offense was rough to watch today. They were downright brutal vs. the Lakers. And the problem is there is not much in the way off natural offensive talent to build around. Something to worry about.
Hawks--Slowly coming back down to reality. 0-2 for the week, to make season record 4-4. But not totally ready to ride them off yet. They lost by only 2 vs. Bucks & 5 vs. Miami. What is really stunning is they have the 2nd best Def. FG% in the NBA, only behind Charlotte. Yeah that's right, Atlanta & Charlotte are the best in Def. FG%. I just can't see this holding up for either team, and thusly, the Hawks should return back to normal. Also, I can't see Tyronn Lue giving Atlanta this type of production very long. Still get a hearty chuckle now that Deron Williams looks nearly as good as C-Paul, and Billy Knight had both guys sitting in his lap.
Sonics--Guess who is dead last in the league in Def Fg%? Yep, the same old Sonics' defense. It does not help that Seattle is near the bottom in protecting their def. backboard, which just adds to more pressure on the defensive end. 1-3 this week, and can't see the future looking bright on the court, which is compounded by the troubles off the court. Sorry Vanilla Thunder, there is always the Huskies & the T-Birds.
Grizzlies--See my Mid-Week Jamboree post.
Games of the Week:
Suns @ Warriors (Mon)--The Suns vs. the Phoenix wannabes. We'll see if the Warriors are for real, but might not be quite the test since Nash appears to be gimpy. Can't wait to see who does a worse job protecting their def. glass.
Clips @ Lakers (Tues)--1st meeting of the season. Nowadays a must-see affair.
Nets @ Suns (Fri)--Kidd vs. Nash (hopefully healthy) always a great show. Can the Nets' lumbering frontline keep up with the Suns' interior athletes?
Mavs @ Spurs (Fri)--Best rivalry in the NBA right now.
Jazz @ Warriors (Sat)--Second tough challenge at home in a week for G.S. Although, second of a back2back for both teams, so take outcome with a grain of salt.