Sunday, February 1, 2015

Random NBA Observations: January 2015

Random NBA Observations for January 2015

Cavs in trouble?

Hand up if you thought the Cavaliers would stumble out of the gate and be .500 after 40 games? Yeah, me neither. Apparently nothing comes easy, even when you have a superstar trio in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Sure, Anderson Varejao's season-ending injury doesn't help, but there's a lot of weird stuff going on that stunts what the team can do. How did you like the one where David Blatt said Love is 'not a max player yet'? Or James shoving Blatt and ignoring play calls? Or the team's uneven roster? At least it appears that James is back to his old self after sitting out two weeks with knee and back injuries. He's averaging 29.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 6.4 APG in January as the team won 8-out-of-9. Or is that the Mozgov effect?

Dollar, dollar, bills y'all

According to an article by Forbes, the average NBA franchise is now worth a record $1,1 billion. That's a lot of cheese.

The Curious Case of Josh Smith

Forward Josh Smith, who was waived by the Detroit Pistons in December, was removed from the Rockets' starting lineup after six games. Coach Kevin McHale is having none of his knucklehead ways, and it appears that *surprise, surprise* even childhood pal and fellow goofball Dwight Howard can't set Smith straight.

Shooting star

The Golden State Warriors are having a terrific season, with sharpshooting point guard Stephen Curry leading the way. It of course helps that his Splash Brothers counterpart can churn out an NBA-record 37 points in a quarter, but it is Curry - the youngest player in NBA history to knock down 1,000 3-pointers - who leads the team with his scoring prowess, improved defense, and nifty passing (8.2 APG). 

Fade to Black Mamba

Have we seen the last of Kobe Bryant or will he be back for a 20th go-round? A torn rotator cuff effectively ended his season this month, and with a six-month rehab awaiting him after surgery, he might very well call it quits, even with $25 million on the table next season. Then again, Bryant is a true competitor and he did come back from an Achilles injury at age 36, so writing him off would be ridiculous. He was still averaging 22.3 PPG and playing nearly 35.0 MPG out there. He can still do some damage. Nick Young is certainly willing to take over for Kobe, having a firm game plan for what the Lakers should do now: "Pretty much just give me the ball and get out of the way." His FG% is .373. Best of luck, Lakers fans!

Ainge the Collector

Mad genius Danny Ainge continues to be busy in January. After sending off Rondo in December, he also shipped out Jeff Green for Tayshaun Prince, Austin Rivers (since traded to the his father's Clippers), and a first-rounder in 2018. All in all, Ainge netted Jae Crowder, $11.95 million in expiring contracts (Prince, Nate Robinson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Shavlik Randolph), three first-rounders (two in 2015, one in 2018), two second-rounders (2016, 2017), and three separate trade exceptions ($12.9 million, $5 million and $2.4 million) for Rondo and Green. Not a bad haul at all. With veterans Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton still on the roster, he could swing even more deals before the deadline.

Knicks deal Shumpert, Smith

The Knicks are a mess. A dysfunctional, unmotivated, overpaid mess. As the team shifted gears from pretender mode to flat-out tanking, team president Phil Jackson traded Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cavaliers in a three-team construction with Cleveland and Oklahoma City. The Knicks received Lance Thomas, Alex Kirk, Lou Amundson and a 2019 second-rounder, with Dion Waiters joining Thunder buddies Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Journeyman center Samuel Dalembert was waived in a separate move. Hang in there, embarrassed Knicks fans, these moves might very well bring you Marc Gasol or Jahlil Okafor.

Hawks soaring

The Atlanta Hawks have won 16 games in a row and are sitting comfortably atop the Eastern Conference, where they are 7 games ahead of the No. 2 Wizards with ther 37-8 record. Despite the franchise being for sale and the team lacking an obvious superstar, Jeff Teague (16.9 PPG, 7.6 APG), Paul Millsap (17.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG), Al Horford (15.3 PPG, .551 FG%), Kyle Korver (3.1 3PMPG, .534 3P%) & Co. are playing some great team ball. Coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff are slated to represent the East's All-Star coaches, but with three or four players deserving of All-Star status, it will be interesting to see if even one of them will get the nod. Update: Horford, Millsap and Teague were made reserves.

Insult to injury

You never want to see players get injured. It waters down the competition and it takes away from the overall NBA experience. Paul George, Steve Nash, Julius Randle, Anderson Varejao, Jabari Parker and Alec Burks are joined by Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings (Achilles) and Bucks guard Kendall Marshall (ACL). Trailblazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge could have been lost for 6-8 weeks following surgery on his left thumb, but he instead opted to delay it, meaning he will probably miss the start of training camp next season. Aldridge is averging 24.0 PPG and 10.2 RPG for the 32-15 Blazers, who are No. 4 in the West.

Your 2015 All-Stars

Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol were chosen to represent the Western Conference, with Kyle Lowry, John Wall, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol selected as their Eastern Conference counterparts. That's right: no James Harden, no Kevin Durant, no Kyrie Irving, no DeMarcus Cousins, and no Jimmy Butler. Which caused Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to declare the ASG voting system 'broken'. Do you think coaches and general managers should vote for All-Star starters and reserves?


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