Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NBA: Good/Bad (Week 1)

Continuing in the theme of a Good/Bad Report on all things NBA, here is a quick rundown of some of the good and bad performances from Week One. Some of this might be indicative of things to come, some may be aberrations. Some are obvious, some are more subtle. But these are the guys that stood out to me during the opening set of regular season games.


Danny Granger. I've got a buddy named Dubach (who just got married down in Cabo - a great time had by all), who believes he has perfected a head-to-head system for fantasy basketball, by which he drafts all players who do "guard" things. This allows him to win 5-4 each week (since there are five categories that tend to favor perimeter players - FT%, 3's, points, assists, and steals). The system seems to work pretty well, but the point here is that we all know he's going to draft accordingly each year. So when he drafted Danny Granger in the sixth round, it came as no surprise. The only question - which I posed - was whether Granger was going to be the next Shawn Marion or the next Donyell Marshall (circa 2003). Either way, Dubach wins in his fantasy system. However, the Pacers obviously need more Marion and less Marshall. Through the first week of the season, they are getting what they need. Granger is averaging 22.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, is getting more than a block and a steal each game, and is taking to Jim O'Brien's "bombs away" offense like a fly to honey, knocking down 10 triples through three games. Oh, and in those three games? The Pacers are 3-0.

Kevin Garnett. I know, I know. Duh. But KG isn't just infusing Boston with energy and leadership, he's racking up monster numbers. His point totals (45 bones through two games) aren't off the charts, but he's averaging 16.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists to go with a whopping 3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Plus, Boston has already blown out the Wizards at home and won a tough overtime contest in Toronto. Through one week at least, the KG trade is looking like the acquisition of the decade.

Chris Kaman. When it was announced that Elton Brand was down for several months with a ruptured Achilles, the assumption by most fans and pundits (including this one) was that the Clippers were doomed. After all, who would man the middle for the Clips? Certainly not Chris Caveman, with his egregious hair and horrific post-getting-paid 06-07 performance. Well, for two games at least, Kaman is proving us all wrong. He's averaging 18 points, 16.5 boards, and 2 blocks a game while leading the Clippers to a surprise 2-0 start. I'd write more, but I'm still in shock.

Allen Iverson. Iverson's selection on this list is less about numbers (the 10 dimes and 3.7 steals to with 24 points per are nice, but the low field goal percentage is not) and more about presence. He looks faster than he has in years - blindingly fast. Over the past couple of seasons, people would still include AI in the "fastest guy in the league" conversation with the likes of Tony Parker, Leandro Barbosa, and TJ Ford, but I think that was just out of respect. But now? He looks like the fastest guy again. I know he came under fire during the offseason for his approach to training (which consisted of eating bad foods, hanging out, and just relying on being a freak of nature), so maybe he took that to heart and got himself into Mile High condition. Whatever the cause of his rejuvenation, he looks incredible. When you factor in his renewed commitment to getting in the passing lanes (the only real value he's going to bring on defense), he's giving the Nuggets all they could hope for and more.


Gilbert Arenas. I don't know if he's still dinged up or if his fingers are sore from blogging or what, but Arenas is off to a dreadful start. He's shooting .333 from the field and committing 5 turnovers a game (against just 4 dimes) while his Wizards are off to an 0-3 start and looking woeful in the process. Granted, fellow stalwarts Antawn Jamison (.295 field goal percentage) and Caron Butler (5.7 turnovers a game) aren't helping, but this is Gilbert's team and it is going nowhere fast.

Vince Carter. Wait, why am I even mentioning this? VC is paid and on cruise control, so it shouldn't surprise us that he's averaging just 16.3 a game while shooting .308 from the field. The shame is that he's wasting a fantastic start by teammate Richard Jefferson. Maybe the two just can't both play well at the same time?

Luol Deng. He must really, really, really hate Los Angeles. What else but the Kobe trade rumors could be causing such turmoil and anxiety that Paxson's golden boy is averaging just 13.3 points per game and laying bricks at the line to the tune of a 62.5 percentage? Deng is the prized possession that the Bulls won't trade for Pau Gasol, for Kobe, and, presumably, for the Wolf from Teen Wolf. So the dreadful play that has lead (in conjunction with equally dreadful play from Hinrich and Ben Wallace) to Chicago's 0-3 start needs to cease immediately or people are going to start blaming Deng. Now that will cause some anxiety.

Mo Williams. When the Bucks re-upped Williams for big cash in the offseason, they were no doubt hoping that he wasn't going to pull a Mike James on them (read: shoot-first point guard throws up gaudy stats, gets a big contract, and then absolutely blows). So far, he's doing just that. If the Bucks want to challenge for a playoff spot in the East, they are going to need more than 12 points a game from Williams and they sure as hell need more than three assists a night. Three assists! For a $60 million point guard! That, my friends, is bad.

We'll be back with more Good/Bad this week and maybe even some other posts, so stay tuned and get your friends to put Section F sports back in their "killing time at work" rotation.

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