Week in Review (Nov 6-Nov 12)
Analysis of the week that was in the NBA.
Utah--The Jazz continue to look sharp for another week & have been one of the most impressive teams of the early season. Their only set-back was a close loss on the road to a solid Nets' team. The Jazz are 2nd in the league in FG% with 49.7% & 4th best in Def FG%. They are also the 2nd best rebounding team right now. Watching the Jazz play, I've been impressed with their ball movement & overall fluidity on offense. Boozer has been superb for 2 weeks & his frontcourt partner, Memo Okur, has been strong, as well. Another player who has really stepped up is Deron Williams. I am really impressed with the way he uses screens & vs. the Nets he was displaying a sweet step-back jumper. Wily vets Derek Fisher & Matt Harpring have provided great contributions off the bench. The scary thing is Kirilenko has not really played all that well yet.
Spurs--Same old, same old. Duncan's been Duncan--although, his free throw shooting is still problematic. Parker has been outstanding. He has been hitting his outside jumpers with more consistency. They have gotten solid play out of their center position with the two-headed combo of Elson & Oberto. Oberto has been doing his dirty work detail, but was also huge in the Suns' game with 22 pts on 11/11 shooting. Oberto is as good as anyone at "getting lost" & finding the open space--he's been doing it for years on the Argentine national team. A mild surprise has been the play of Brent Barry. Barry seemed to be the odd man out last year with Finley aboard, but he has been given more minutes this year & has responded well.
Clips--Have slipped under the radar going 5-1 on the West Coast. Doing the same thing as last year by doing a good job on the defensive end & a solid job on the boards. Done pretty well with their frontline underachieving, although Brand has picked up the pace the last few games.
Rockets--Was not a pretty game vs. Miami today, but they rode Yao's dominance to a victory. Yao has been their go-to-guy and he has delivered, especially today by taking it to Shaq & the Heat. McGrady has not quite been up to par in the scoring department, but has been doing a nice job facilitating the offense.
Not so Hot Teams:
Sixers--After being one of the "teams of the week" last week, the Sixers came back to reality real quick by losing all 3 games this week. Iverson continued to play great this week, but he's not getting much help outside of Kyle Korver's surprising play. Chris Webber's 20ppg days look to be over because he can't move at all. I expect the Sixers to continue on this downward path, unless CWebb's legs can magically repair themselves.
TWolves--I felt if this team did not get off to a hot start things would turn sour. I think were getting pretty close to the time where we hear major issues arising in the T-Wolves locker room. Worse than we hear right now. It has been obvious since the summer that Minny needs frontcourt help--no surprise they are getting beat-up on the glass--and a trade has to be made using one of their surplus of combo guards.
Celtics--When your only victory of the season is a 2-point OT decision to the Bobcats, at home no less, I would say things are not looking so hot. Basically, has been the Pierce & Wally show, and very little else. Ryan Gomes has looked solid, but this team has gotten nothing from their center position (something I felt would be an issue) and the PG play has been uneven. The Celts are leading the league in turnovers, and on top of that, are dead last in the league at causing TOs. One encouraging note was they played the Jazz tough & got a solid performance from center Kendrick Perkins.
Players of the Week:
Kevin Martin--Wow. When I scooped him up in the later rounds of my fantasy draft, I thought I had a minor steal who would give me about 16 ppg, but no idea he would take off like this. I did not think the loss of Bonzi was a big deal because I liked what I saw of Martin in the playoffs where he played with such poise. But to say I expected this type of production, no way.
Carlos Boozer--Has to be the MVP of the season so far leading the Jazz to a 6-1 start. 22.7 ppg, 10 rpg, 4 apg & 59% shooting for the week. Most impressed with the way he is moving the ball.
Vince Carter--I slipped Vince's name into my list of MVP candidates because I felt too many people glossed over him, and he has not disappointed. He scored at least 30 pts in all 3 games this week. Also pitched in with over 4 apg & 4 rpg. Always been an underrated passer. Dropped 30 pts on the Wiz sunday, including a buzzer-beating 3pt. (5/8 on 3pt for the day) to send the game into overtime. Although, Vince should thank David Stern for the win, since he got a very friendly bounce from the new ball.
Mike Redd--A 57-point night vs. Utah automatically gets you on this list. Redd has been off to a smoldering-hot start this year averaging 32.4 ppg on 52% shooting & a blistering 47% from 3pt.
Tony Parker--Quiksilver point has been nearly unguardable in the first two weeks. Tony's outside jumpers have been dropping which has thrown off the idea of sagging off Parker. Will see if Tony has really turned the corner as a perimeter shooter or if this is an early aberration. Tony averaged 28.7 ppg on a sick 62% from the floor with 7.3 apg for the week.
Joe Johnson--Looking like a MVP candidate in the early going. Been the key to Atlanta's surprising success. Averaged 29 ppg, 8.67 rpg, & 4.3 apg this week. He's going to need to keep up this type of production if the Hawks want any chance of keeping up this early success.
Deron Williams--Looks like a 10-year vet out there. Really understands how to use screens & looks to have developed a nice mid-range jumper--saw a few sweet step-back moves this week. Deron dropped 20 ppg & 10 apg this week.
Carmelo--The Nugs were looking like they could be in a little danger with an 0-3 start & injuries already for Kenyon & Nene. But Melo's play has been the one constant with the Nugs--34.6 ppg on 52%, 4.3 apg, & 4 rpg this week, which helped the Nugs pick up 2 wins in a row.
Yao--Put a hurting on the Heat, and badly outplayed Shaq. Sunday could have been the passing of the torch; but I'm not quite ready to make that official, because we know how Shaq coasts thru the reg. season. Yao dropped 29ppg on 55.7% & 11 rpg this week. He looks comfortable as Houston's go-to-guy while McGrady still seems to be feeling his way back.
Fab Oberto--Have to throw my boy a bone. This nod is only for one game, but it was a huge performance vs. the Suns--22 pts, 11 rebs & a perfect 11/11 from the floor. Not to mention a few great passes. This is the type of performance I've seen him do for the Argentine nat'l team for years. This guy has always been a great passer & he usually shoots a great % in int'l play. In 2003, he went 8/9 vs. the US and always played Duncan tough. And no one gets "lost" like Fab: he's great at sneaking to an open space, he's been doing it for years on the Arg. nat'l team.
Honorable Mention: Duncan; Ray Allen; Rashard Lewis; C. Paul; A. Jamison; Z. Randolph; C. Bosh; Al Harrington; Iverson
Games of the Week:
Spurs @ Rockets (Tues)--In-state battle. Possible conference finals preview. Both teams playing well. Will see how the Spurs defend Yao: will they use some Duncan or strictly a Elson/Oberto tag team. Also, who will guard Duncan? A 6-6 Chuck Hayes can't last long on Timmy.
Clips @ Jazz (Tues)--Two of the best teams in the league thru the first two weeks square off in Salt Lake. Game could be determined by who wins the battle of bruising PFs from Duke, Brand or Boozer.
Cavs @ Wiz (Sat)--Cavs-Wizards games seem not to disappoint lately. A rivalry is brewing between these two Eastern upstarts & their two stars, LeBron & Arenas.
Suns @ Jazz (Sat)--The Suns try returning the favor by taking a game at Utah's place after the Jazz's 4-point win in Phoenix last week.