Sunday, December 6, 2015

Random NBA Observations: November 2015

NBA observations november 2015

Kobe calls it quits

One of the greatest players of all time is hanging up his sneakers. Via a poem pulished on the Player's Tribune, future HOF'er Kobe Bryant announced his retirement. The 37-year-old's announcement, which caused the website to crash, shouldn't have really come as a surprise: with 19 NBA seasons and plenty injuries under his belt, KB24 is performing well below his standard this year. Through 14 games played, the decorated shooting guard was shooting 30.1% from the floor, including 20.8% from deep, dead last in the NBA among the 119 qualified players. That hasn't kept him from shooting, however, making for a very interesting swan song to a fantastic career that includes 5 titles, 2 Finals MVPs and a regular season MVP.

Warriors are record-breaking good

The Golden State Warriors are making H16tory. The team of MVP Stephen Curry went 16-0, improving to 19-0 overall, with their 111-77 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers making them the first team to ever start a season 16-0. The previous mark of 15-0 was shared by 1948-49 Washington Capitols and the 1993-94 Houston Rockets. Guard Stephen Curry was named KIA Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in October/November, absolutely dominating the league by averaging 31.6 PPG, 6.0 APG and 5.0 RPG on 51.2 FG% and 44.5 3P%. He also converted 77 long-range bombs in November, breaking his own record. 

76ers are record-breaking bad

The Philadelphia 76ers find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum. The tank-happy team went 0-16 in November, 0-18 overall on the season, collecting their 28th straight loss with a 114-116 defeat at Houston. You read that right: their last W dates back to March. The 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets were the last team to start the season 0-18. 

Ty Lawson on his way out?

When the Houston Rockets traded spare parts for Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, many believed the move to be risky, but potent. The upside: the 28-year-old is a terrific 3-point shooter and averaged 9.6 APG in 2014-2015, making him a wonderful backcourt mate for superstar James Harden. The downside: for all the talent that he has, Lawson has a knucklehead reputation - he comes with four separate DUIs and an arrest for domestic violence - which is perhaps not what you want if your 1A is a diva and your 1B is a manchild. With coach Kevin Mchale already fired for the team's underwhelming 7-11 start, the Rockets are reportedly already shopping Lawson. 

Super Mario to Memphis

On November 11, the Miami Heat shipped former starting point guard Mario Chalmers to the Memphis Grizzlies. The trade fielded guard Beno Udrih and forward Jarnell Stokes, with the Heat also sending forward James Ennis to Memphis as part of the transaction. The deal is expected to save the Heat roughly $6 million in tax payments but leave them some $5 above the league's 2015-2016 tax threshold. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen are the last four players to remain on the team from Miami's latest title in 2013.

Jahlil Okafor is a bad boy

Center Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, is playing some terrific ball for the Philadelphia 76ers (17.4 PPG and 8.4 RPG in November), but it appears that the 19-year-old big man is also somewhat of a loose cannon. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Okafor was stopped for speeding, with TMZ posting a video of the center getting in a physical altercation outside a Boston nightclub. The reports have prompted the 76ers to suspend their prized rookie for two games and have him be accompanied by a security guard whenever he goes out. Okafor later tweeted that he owns his choices and that he remains focused on the team.

Kristaps Porzingis is the real deal

As was the case with Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin before him, Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis, the No. 4 selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, is quickly becoming a sensation with the New York Knicks. The fluid rookie is quickly enamoring Knicks fans and the NBA with his swagger, putbacks and rebounding. Contrary to the stereotype of tall European players being "soft" and "weak", the 20-year-old won't be pushed around and his eagerness for rebounds and blocks is truly a sight to behold. New York has defended at a top-five rate with Porzingis on the floor compared to a bottom-five rate when he's on the bench.

Clippers not clicking

Hand up if you thought the Los Angeles Clippers would be even better this year? I admit that I was a believer, too, but Doc's troops certainly haven't been as dominant as they were in 2014-2015. The Clippers were 8-8 in November, good for a 10-8 record overall, with minor injuries and in-game collapses at the forefront of the team's slow start. With teams intentionally fouling center DeAndre Jordan (who tied Wilt Chamberlain's record of missing 22 free throws against the Portland Trailblazers), CP3 not at full tilt and an uneven second unit featuring Jamal Crawford, Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, things could get uglier before they get pretty.


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