Week in Review (Jan 8-14)
Players of the Week:
Nowitzki--MVP-o-Week & I feel pretty confident he has to be the consensus pick for MVP of the season (so far). The Bavarian Bomber was huge with 32.5, 8.5, 3.5 apg & 53.8% shooting for the week. And crucial in 3 tough road victories: 43 & 12 in OT vs. Pacers; 38 on 12/18 & 7 rebs vs. the Jazz; 38, 11, 5 assts, 3 blks, & 2stls in I-point victory vs. the Raps.
Wade--Led the Heat on a somewhat surprising undefeated week on the road. DWade was huge this week averaging 28ppg, 10.7 apg, 5.3 rpg & getting to the line 16 times per game. In a big win on the road in Utah, Wade dropped 32 pts, 10 assts, 6 stls, 2 blks & was 21/23 on the line. He almost had a triple-double in a win at Golden St. with 22, 10 rbs, 9 assts, & 3blks thrown in.
Nash--Making another strong push for a possible 3rd MVP. 18 ppg, 13.3 apg, 4 rpg & 56.8% overall (7/15 from 3pt) for the week. Was vintage Nash in a Thursday bashing of the East-leading Cavs with 21 assists.
Mutombo--Definitely did not think he had much left in his tank, so recent play is pleasantly surprising to me, and probably much appreciated by Van Gundy. Is still a physical presence in the painted area--averaged nearly 16 rpg & 2.5 bpg this week. Since being inserted in the starting lineup on Dec. 26 after Yao's injury, has rebounded in double figures in last 10 games out of 11, and has been his usual deterrant defensively.
R. Allen--Even though his team is not playing very well, Ray has been playing all-star caliber ball the entire season. Ray gets props for dropping 54 pts, 10 rebs & 5 assts on the Jazz for a big Sonics win. Ray hit 8/12 from long-range in the game & was 14/32 from 3pt. for the week. Ray averaged 36 ppg, 7 apg, & 6 rpg for the week.
Boozer--Although it was a rough week for the Jazz, this can't deter Booz from his serious run at the MVP. Booz kept up his uber-efficient play with 30 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.3 apg & a blistering 63.8% shooting.
N. Collison--Absolutely exploded this week for 25 ppg after only totaling 27 points last week. Nick also averaged 14.3 rpg & a ridiculous 71.4% from the field. Nick was huge vs. the Suns with 29 pts, 21 rebs (8 off.), 4 assts, 3 stls on 12/18 shooting.
Garnett--Made a strong case for back-2-back MVP-o-Week awards, but I guess that should not be that surprising. 26.3, 14 rpg, 4.7 apg, 3.7 bpg & 50% shooting for the week.
Ben Gordon--This one actually stings me a little because I decided to sit him this week on my fantasy team. His usual erratic shooting always makes me feel uneasy, but he has been really consistent in his play the last few weeks, and this week was his most impressive. Ben averaged 24 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.5 rpg & a great 16/22 from 3pt. And the best part was he shot 56.4% overall & kept his turnovers to a minimum. Now can he keep up the shooting & turnovers down for an extended period of time? Not sure. Let's say I'm still uneasy putting him in my lineup.
Ricky Davis--Has been quietly a pretty solid second banana to KG lately, and has teamed with Mark Blount as key figures behind KG in the Twolves' recent hot streak. Ricky had a nice week with 22.7, 5.7 apg, 5 rpg & 50% shooting. If Ricky & Blount can stay steady, the TWolves have a great shot at a playoff berth.
Honor Mention: McGrady; Rip Hamilton; Randolph; Josh Howard; Battier; Bron; Kapono; R. Butler; Pargo; Bosh; Maggette; Jermaine; Tinsley; J. Terry
Rockets--Very impressive week with 4 wins vs. good comp (Chi, LAL, Den, Sac), with 2 road games on the 2nd nite of a back2back. And the defense was once again stifling--allowed only 87.8 ppg & held their opponents to a combined 37.8% from the field. Sick. This team has won 9 out of their last 10, and also have played 6 more road than home games so far. Had great contributions from multiple sources this week. Luther Head has been quietly having a soild year off-the-bench & is one of the top 6th-men in the league. Battier was superb this week with his all-around savvy play & timely shooting. I mentioned Mutombo above. Also, Juwan Howard has been dipping into the same magical elixir that Dikembe has been, because he's played very well of late. I had this team straddling the line between top tier (Suns, Mavs, Spurs) & 2nd tier (Jazz, Lakers, Nugs), and now I feel comfortable placing them in the top tier. But that pretty much all hinges on the precarious health of McGrady's back.
Heat--Have to give them kudos for their undefeated week, all wins on the road. The Heat shot the ball well overall & were very good from downtown (32/66). Got solid play from J.Williams, Alonzo, Walker, & especially Kapono. Kapono is shooting the shit out of the ball (55.7% from 3pt, leads NBA) & it's scary to think how he can play off Shaq when the big guy returns.
Mavs--Keep chugging along, but were definitely tested this week. The Pacers played them tough for the second time within the span of a week (Mavs won 115-113 in OT), & needed a last second Josh Howard shot to finish off the Raps. They also proved their mettle by holding off the Jazz in Salt Lake. But this is what serious title contenders should do.
Suns--Not much more to add since they appeared on this list last week. Made quite a statement by blasting the Cavs.
Not so Hot Teams:
Jazz--0-3 this week, starting to fall back to the pack a little, but still look strong enough to win the Northwest. A fair amount of people have been skeptical of Utah's early start, but I am not quite as negative, I think they are pretty legit. I still think they have an outside shot at winning the West. Their offense is as smooth as anyone's & they are 2nd in the league in Fg% & assists per game (trailing the Suns in both). They have a legit MVP candidate in Carlos Boozer. The Jazz are #1 in rebounding. And their Def Fg% is pretty good. But what's really holding them back is a propensity for fouling. They are #1 in fouls per game & the #2 team is nearly 2 fouls less (there is no more than 1 foul per game spread between any other team). These fouls really cut into all the good things that come from their 44.6% Def FG% & strong def. rebounding. But I can't see this really changing because this has always been a staple of Jerry Sloan's style. Also, the turnovers are somewhat of a problem, & they were a problem this week--+3.3 TOs per for the Jazz.
Kings--Have to be one of the biggest disappointments of the season to go along with the Clips & Nets. I really thought they would be better than they are, specifically on defense, but that has yet to materialize. Can't really explain why this team is struggling so much--they have plenty of offensive talent inside & out, and they have a coach with a rep for defense, but they just have not clicked.
Games of the Week:
Rockets @ Mavs (Tues)--Two of the hottest teams meet.
Suns @ Rockets (Wed)--Second tough test in two nites for the Rockets.
Lakers @ Mavs (Thurs)--Lakers starting to even out their schedule with more road games. Last time they made a road trip to Texas they got blasted by the Rockets.
Wiz @ Magic (Fri)--Battle for supremacy in the Southeast; at least until Shaq comes back.