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NBA Sunday: Miami is Indeed Better

New to the blog will be a twice-monthly look at the NBA.  We’ll delve into injuries, news, the business side, fantasy hoops and other NBA entertainment. This Sunday, we debut with our first-ever rankings.
Yes, Miami is No. 1.

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The Hot Five

1. Heat (8-1): With Mario Chalmers improved play and the addition of Shane Battier, Miami is clearly the best. With LeBron James dominating and Dwyane Wade closing, the Heat is even tougher.

2. Thunder (7-2): This team will go as far as Russell Westbrook will allow Kevin Durant to carry it. If Westbrook matures and plays under control, Oklahoma City is dangerous.

3. Bulls (7-2): Still need a reliable second scorer. If Rip Hamilton proves to be that guy, watch out. If not, Chicago needs to get one by trade deadline.

4. 76ers (5-2): Philadelphia’s toughness was revealed, going 3-2 on a five-game road trip to open season. Evan Turner is finally looking lottery-pick worthy.

5. Spurs (6-2): The loss of Manu Ginobili hurt. He was playing at an All-NBA First team level. Somehow, San Antonio manages to keep winning.

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Serious contenders

6. Pacers (6-3): Not sure how long it will last, but Indiana is contending for Central Division crown. The Danny Granger-Roy Hibbert tandem is bolstered by nice depth. Seven guys averaging double-digits.

7. Hawks (6-2): Wins over Miami and Chicago shows Atlanta is still in the mix. Losses to Houston and Miami sans James and Wade shows they’ve got work to do.

8. Blazers (5-2): Adding Jamal Crawford gives them a closer to replace Brandon Roy. But it looks like Marcus Camby may finally be slowing down.

9. Magic (5-3): Cal-product Ryan Anderson has emerged as much needed help for Dwight Howard. But he isn’t nearly the Robin that Howard was looking for.

10. Celtics (4-4): At 1-3 on the road, Boston is either biding time or showing signs of aging. Probably both. Still will be there in the end.

 

Playoff filler

11. Knicks (4-4): New York has a lot of (individual) talent. But the fact the Knicks are banking on Baron Davis coming back healthy is cause for concern.

12. Cavaliers (4-3): Rookie PG Kyrie Irving is showing he was worthy of the No. 1 pick. Byron Scott has these boys playing some defense, too.

13. Clippers (4-2): Eventually, they will put together some victories. If not, be ready for the Vinny Del Negro replacement rumors.

14. Nuggets (6-3): Check out Ty Lawson’s numbers: 16.6 points, 49.1 FG percentage, 6.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 2.11 turnovers.

15. Jazz (5-3): Undefeated at home, Utah pushed its win streak to four games with its first road win at Golden State.

16. Lakers (5-4): Los Angeles doesn’t seem to have enough offense to win on the road. Mike Brown’s club averaging 92.3 points away from Staples Center.

 

Mediocrity

17. Mavericks (4-5): Is it just a matter of time before they wake up? Or are they done? Dirk Nowitzki: 19 points on 43.8 percent shooting with 5.2 rebounds. He’s 4-for-20 from 3.

18. Grizzlies (3-4): Losing Zach Randolph for two months definitely hurts. Memphis definitely needs PG Mike Conley to get going again.

19. Suns (3-4): Steve Nash still has some wizardry in those legs. Enough to get him to a contender by the trade deadline?

20. Raptors (3-4): Despite Andrea Bargnani (22.9 points on 52.3 percent shooting) and Jose Calderon (12.4 points and 9.4 assists) off to hot starts, Toronto averaging just 87.5 points per game.

21. Kings (3-5): Keith Smart gets another opportunity to prove he deserves a head coach. His task: tame super-talented hothead DeMarcus Cousins.

22. Bucks (2-5): Milwaukee still has problems scoring, despite the acquisition of Stephen Jackson. Shooting just 41.9 percent. Wishing they kept Corey Maggette?

23. Timberwolves (2-5) Kevin Love is still Kevin Love (26.1 points, 14.9 rebounds). Throw in flashy PG Ricky Rubio and this team is exciting suddenly.

24. Rockets (2-6): SG Kevin Martin is averaging 3.4 free throw attempts per game. Last season, he averaged 8.4 attempts. Is that a sign he’s checked out, still smarting over having to play for the team that traded him?

25. Warriors (2-6): Playoffs were wishful thinking to begin with. Injuries are killing those wishes, if they aren’t extinct already.

 

Lottery hopefuls

26. Bobcats (2-6): The bright side: D.J. Augustin looks good: 17.3 points, 7.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds.

27. Pistons (2-6): At 84.3 points per game, Detroit owns the worst offense in the league. And the Pistons defense, giving up 94.5 points, isn’t nearly as vaunted these days.

28. Nets (2-7): If C Brook Lopez doesn’t heal up and come back performing, it could not only cost the Nets Dwight Howard, but also star guard Deron Williams.

29. Hornets (2-6): PG Jarrett Jack off to a solid start. Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry and Chris Kaman give the Hornets a presence on the board. Potential owners should be lining up to buy this franchise!

30. Wizards (0-7): Longest losing streak to start a season in franchise history. Poor John Wall.

 

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YES, HE SAID THAT OUT LOUD

F/C Andray Blatch, Washington Wizards

“You can’t keep having me pick-and-pop and shooting jump shots. Give me the ball in the paint. That’s where I’m most effective at. I’ve been saying that since training camp: I need the ball in the paint. I don’t want to be the pick-and-pop guy that I used to be. It’s not working for me.”

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M*A*S*H Report

*Memphis Grizzlies PF Zach Randolph out up to two months after suffering a torn MCL in his right knee. He sustained the injury last Sunday at Chicago.

*Sacramento Kings C Chuck Hayes is out at least three weeks with a dislocated left shoulder. Hayes, who had four games with at least 10 rebounds, suffered the injury Thursday against Milwaukee.

*New Orleans Hornets SG Eric Gordon will miss the next 2 to 3 weeks with swelling in his right knee.

*Charlotte Bobcats SF Corey Maggette is out 2 to 4 weeks after straining his left hamstring Wednesday against New York.

*Milwaukee Bucks C Andrew Bogut has missed the last two games to tend to a family matter. He could be back as early as tonight’s game at Phoenix, but most likely he’ll return Tuesday inMilwaukee.

 

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 ROOKIE SPOTLIGHT

MarShon Brooks

Rookie SG MarShon Brooks (left) has become instant offense off the Nets off the bench.

Team: New Jersey Nets

Age: 22

Ht/Wt: 6-foot-5, 200 pounds

College: Providence

Drafted No. 25 overall by Boston, Brooks was traded to New Jersey. He’s averaging 14.8 points in 23.3 minutes off the bench. He’s shooting 45.8 percent and he came up big against good teams. He scored 21 at Atlanta, and 21 against the visiting Pacers (with seven rebounds).

 

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 FANTASY HOOK UP

Sleepers

Spencer Hawes: One of six players averaging a double-double (13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. But what puts him a cut above is 3.7 assists and 2.2 blocks.

James Harden: He’s on pace for career-highs in points (17.2), rebounds (5.3), assists (4.0) and field goal percentage (48.7).

Jose Calderon: He has 68 assists and just 10 turnovers. It helps that he’s shooting 53.1 percent with 3.9 rebounds.

Mario Chalmers: 12.0 points and 4.4 assists per game aren’t jaw-dropping. But 56.5 percent shooting (50 percent from 3-point range) and 1.9 steals are really good.

Al Harrington: He’s averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds, which right around his career averages. But 55.1 percent shooting and 1.6 steals are well above the norm for him.

 

 

Disappointments

Blake Griffin: Scoring is up (25.2), but rebounding is down (9.6) and he has just one block so far. He’s productive, but maybe not worth the price.

David Lee: He’s down to 45 percent shooting, which would easily be a career low. And his assist-to-turnover ratio (six assists to 20 turnovers) hurts his value.

Emeka Okafor: The loss of Chris Paul has really impacted his offensive production (8.4 points on 46.8 percent shooting). He has just two double-doubles in eight games.

Jameer Nelson: His rough start is low-lighted by 7.0 points on 37.3 percent shooting. For his career, he averages 12.4 points on 45.8 percent shooting. Nelson is 3-for-13 from 3-point range so far.

Derrick Williams: For someone who was nearly the top pick, after looking dominant heading into draft, Williams certainly has had a mild start (7.9 points, 4.1 rebounds in 19 minutes).

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NBA BIZNESS

Quietly, Under Armor has put together a starting five for its basketball line. Fittingly, the company has pegged some up-and-comers to endorse its brand, which is trying to become a force in the industry.

In mid-December, Under Armor announced a partnership with the NBA that will allow their endorsers to wear NBA licensed products in their promotions (i.e., Brandon Jennings can wear a Bucks jersey in his Under Armor commercial). About a week later, the company announced it had signed Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to a multi-year deal. Jordan joins Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, New Orleans’ Greivis Vasquez, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Minnesota’s Derrick Williams.

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MUST-SEE GAMES

*Jan. 8 – San Antonio at Oklahoma City, NBA TV

*Jan. 10 – Los Angeles Clippers at Portland, NBA League Pass

*Jan. 15 – Denver at Utah, NBA League Pass

*Jan. 16 – Dallas at Los Angeles Lakers, TNT

*Jan. 19 – Los Angeles Lakers at Miami, TNT

Marcus Thompson

  • Niners in 2012

    Nice post!! Warriors should be lowered to lottery hopefuls. Nuggets deserve more love, that team is DEEEEP.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    Without a healthy back-up PG in Eric Maynor, there’s no way the Thunder trade Westbrook for Curry now.
    Jameer Nelson’s looking bad? How about trading Curry, Thompson, Kwame (contract expires at end of year), Udoh and Dorell (I forgot to how ot play basketball this summer) Wright to Orlando for Dwight Howard and Chris Duhon. Yes, that strips us of young talent, but that’s what it’s gonna take to get Superman, plus it gives us a relaible, veteran PG and takes Duhon’s contract off Orlando’s books as well.
    From there, it would be up to management to do whatever it took to keep him here.
    My first call would be to Atlanta to see if we could get Dwight’s best friend, Josh Smith to join us. David Lee for Josh Smith? Horford and Lee would be a nice tandem – very different, but complementary games. It would allow Horford to play the 4 while Lee plays the 5 against smaller teams, much like he did when he was an all-star in NY. They’d be interchangeable at the 4/5 position. Plus, without Howard and Perkins, what great centers would even be left in the East?

    I think Howard would like playing with Smith and Monta and might be inclined to stay if he could convince Deron Williams to come to the Bay this summer…

  • AP

    harps dubs. quit playing fantasy basketball. josh smith for david lee?? if i was the hawks id even be weary of ellis for smith and we know how much better ellis is than lee.

  • Mick

    I visit the blog regularly and this post is a nice change of pace. Considering how bad the Warriors look now and for the future, maybe its a good idea to involve more NBA news. I really believe we need to tank the season, we just can’t get another mediocre pick. This upcoming draft is top-5 special. Also, how do you feel now about us drafting Udoh over Monroe??? Monroe is no star, but he’s a starter who plays heavy minutes. Udoh is a rotation player at best. Finally is their any truth to us going after Dwight Howard??? I just don’t think we have pieces….on the flip side Otis Smith is no genius. Your take please.

  • Yoda

    Don’t worry Mick, there’s not much chance of getting a mediocre pick. It’s either top seven or Utah gets it. Of course the great Marcus Williams was worth all the heartache that one caused.

  • John Starks

    Mediocre teams are those that are one game on either side of .500. With less than 10 games played in the season so far, any team with more than 1 loss cannot be better than .400, which would have to be considered lottery-bound. Frankly, if a team is that far below .500 after less than (only) 10 games, they are definitely NOT even mediocre.

    Warriors should be lottery hopefuls as of today. What makes the Warriors (as of today’s record at 2-6) any more or less likely to be lottery bound than Bobcats, Pistons or Hornets who have the exact same W-L records? The Bucks, TWolves and Rockets should also be lottery hopefuls.

  • John Starks

    CORRECTION; any team that is .500 cannot take another loss, which would mean they couldn’t be better than .400.

  • robert rowell

    mediocre, really MT2? c’mon, man. we both know 2-6 after the schedule the W’s just played was possibly the WORSE outcome they could’ve had. with no real answers at PG this team is most certainly lottery bound.

  • brandonbeard

    We should have kept Keith Smart! he id a great job, now we have to again start all over with Coach Jackson, who by the way isnt doing a bad job, but its the same old thing, give up leads in the fourth quarter. Our teams looks tired in the fourth, and other teams look energized! Like they know we going to blow it!