WHAT'S COOKIN'? NBA WEEKLY ROUND-UP
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?
John Wall is finally playing like an All-Star and the Wizards, even without sharp-shooter Bradley Beal who’s nursing a a stress injury in his proximal right fibula, have gone 6-2 in their last two weeks. They’ve vaulted up to the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, just half a game behind the Atlanta Hawks in the standings for third.
Over that stretch, Wall has posted three straight games of at least 31 points. He’s averaged 4.5 rebounds per game and 8.9 assists per game to go along with his 22.6 points per game. His 9.0 APG mark is second in the league behind Chris Paul.
With Derrick Rose missing the rest of the season and Rajon Rondo still sidelined, you can make the case that Wall is the best point guard in the East this season. I am.
Though he can still improve his shooting, especially from long-range, he has the numbers to back it up. He’s playing better than Kyrie Irving. Standing 6’4” and weighing 195, he has the perfect body-type for a point guard. Bigger than some of the other dominant floor generals (Rondo, Rose, Paul, Russell Westbrook). He’s one of the five fastest players in the league even with the ball in his hands and while he’s more than capable of setting up his teammates for shots, he can score at will much like a score-first point guard that has begun to populate the league.
The Wizards got off to a rough start, but I said they could be a top-four team after the addition of Marcin Gortat. I’m going to amend that prediction and say they have the ability to be the third-seed in the East.
IS THE TEA HOT OR COLD OR ON THE COURT?
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jason Kidd play basketball. He stuffed the box score like few have ever done so and you knew Kidd would do anything to help his team win.
Coaching the game has been a bit of a struggle as the former All-Star point guard -- with essentially zero coaching experience prior to taking over the Brooklyn Nets -- has lead his team to a 5-12 record to start their season that began with championship aspirations.
However, he’ll still do anything to help his team win. Even if that means asking one of his players to bump into him so that he spills his drink on the court after running out of timeouts. Seriously.
That little trick cost him $50,000.
"It's about trying to win and those guys in that locker room, and I tried to put those guys in a position to get a basket, a good look and we did," he said.
Come on, coach Kidd. It’s 2013. Did you think no one would see you tell your player to hit you and record it?
HOW GOOD ARE THE SPURS?
The team with the best record in the Western Conference are the San Antonio Spurs (along with Portland), 14-3. They had a poor week, losing twice. What stands out to me is their three losses have come against teams with at least 12 wins on the year -- to Portland, Oklahoma City, and Houston.
You can only play the teams on your schedule and I’m not trying to say that the Spurs aren’t an elite team. They are. But that’s something to keep an eye out for. Aside from Tony Parker, I’m not sure there’s a player who can win a game by themselves and the teams they’ve lost to have at least two players who can do so.
Portland has LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. OKC have the best 1-2 punch in the league right now in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Rockets have James Harden and Dwight Howard or Chandler Parsons (yes, I trust Parsons to win a game more so than Manu Ginobli this year).
One quick note on the Trail Blazers (14-3). Can someone please explain to me how they keep dropping games to the Phoenix Suns? Two of their three losses came at the hands of the better-than-expected-but-still-not-a-good-team Suns.
LOSING A HELPING HAND
In just his second year in the NBA, Davis has established himself as even better than advertised when he was the number one overall pick coming out of Kentucky. New Orleans’ best player leads the league in blocks per game (3.63 BPG) and is averaging 18.8 PPG to go along with 10.2 RPG.
The power-forward hit his hand going up for an alley-oop and suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, the team announced.
New Orleans will start Ryan Anderson who’s the epitome of a stretch-four. The 6’10” Anderson is making 53.8 percent of his three-pointers in seven games this season and even scored 31 -- thanks to his 7-11 performance from downtown -- against the Knicks on Sunday.
The bad news extends out West where it was announced Sunday that J.J. Redick, the L.A. Clippers sharp shooter, will miss six to eight weeks with a fracture in the small bone of his right hand and a tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament. He suffered the injury on Friday night in the Clippers’ win over the Sacramento Kings.
"It takes out something that's been huge for us offensively," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "J.J.'s movement is often an often in itself. He's one of those guys when he goes out it changes a lot of what we do. We're going to have to do it on the run we don't have a lot of time to prepare. ... We just have to find another way."
Redick was scoring 15.8 PPG, fourth best on the team, right behind Jamal Crawford who will likely see a few more minutes. Crawford finished second in the Sixth Man of the Year Award voting last season and won it in 2010.
EAST VS WEST UPDATE
One theme this season will be how atrocious the NBA's Eastern Conference is at basketball compared to the Western Conference. I’ve mentioned it a few times, both in writing and on the air for CLNS Radio, but it’s time to keep track.
As of today, there are just three teams in the East with a .500 record or better. The difference between the No. 15 Milwaukee Bucks and No. 3 Atlanta Hawks is just five games.
This makes the tanking question so much more interesting because it appears likely that a multiple teams will qualify for the playoffs in the East while posting a losing record. Teams don’t need to lose games on purpose. Instead, they might make the playoffs and gain some experience (though if you’re the 7 or 8 seed, I’m not sure how great of an experience getting swept at the hands of Indiana or Miami is) or finishing in the lottery and have a chance at drafting a great prospect.
Out West, there are four teams with a .500 record or better that would be left out of the playoffs. Outside of Salt Lake City, there’s not really a team that offers an easy win.
It was a week full of firsts for the Boston Celtics.
That game was special for a few other reasons as well. Jeff Green scored 31 points, the first time he or anyone on the C’s topped that mark all season.
Brandon Bass connected on his first three-pointer...of his entire career.
And maybe most important of all, it that victory marked the return of Gino Time. Brad Stevens didn’t even know what that was as CLNS Radio’s Celtics locker room reporter, Jared Weiss, found out after the game.
Boston went 2-2 this past week to improve to 7-12 on the season. Yet after clawing their way back into a top-eight spot in the horrendous Eastern Conference, the Celtics ended the week on a low note, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks for the second time this season. The 3-13 Bucks who might very well be the worst team in the NBA.
The schedule lightens up in terms of the quality of opponents and also the amount of games the Celtics have to play in December. They could very well put together a month with a winning record if Rondo does end up returning before the new year.