The NBA season is in full swing, and with games night after night, some teams are showing their youth and some are showing their age. Who is for real, and who will be struggling. When it’s the NBA, it’s Nothin’ But Net!
Who’s For Real
The Chicago Bulls (14-3)
Derrick Rose has the Bulls right where they left off last season owning the League’s best record. Rose has missed two games with a toe injury but the Bulls keep winning. Carlos Boozer on the Bulls’ depth: ““Deepest team I’ve ever played on, 100 percent. Other than All-Star and Olympic teams, this is the deepest team. Most teams go to their bench and hold their own.” The Bull have 11 guys in the rotation averaging 10+ minutes a game.
Oklahoma City Thunder (12-3)
Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the league. The Thunder’s youth and athleticism is unmatched. Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden are all under 25 years old, and their youthful legs give opponents a long night. They can also set up in the half court and make plays for themselves. Watch out for second year center Cole Aldrich, I expect his role to increase down the stretch and in the post season (5 mins/game).
Earlier this week the Thunder locked up Westbrook to a long term contract. Great, now it’s time he starts playing the role of a point guard. Let Durant carry the scoring load. Westbrook’s selfish play is what ultimately led to the Thunder’s demise in last years conference finals. Pass the damn ball.
The Miami Heat (10-4)
The Heat are clearly still hungry from a finals collapse. Their deficiency at depth is no longer an issue with the additions of Norris Cole, Shane Battier, and Terrell Harris. A healthy Mike Miller has taken some of the work load off the Big Three. Miami is 5-0 without Dwayne Wade, who has missed 5 games this year, including the last three due to an ankle sprain. Cole, Miller (7/8 3-pts), Battier, Udonis Haslem (leads team in rebounds 9.4/game), and James Jones all come off the bench. Expect Eddy Curry to have a huge impact in the post season as the big 7-footer is just getting his game back after sitting out in 2010.That LeBron James guy is pretty good too.
Who’s On The Brink
Philadelphia 76ers (11-4)
The 76ers are 2nd in the East. Andre Iguodala is a real leader, and has a young team surging. They have had a relatively easy schedule, with their most impressive victory over Indiana (10-4). Tonight they have a tough test at Miami.
Denver Nuggets (11-5)
Melo leaves and everyone forgets about the Nuggets. That’s too bad, because they are better than Melo’s Knicks. Their young roster is really clicking under head coach George Karl. The Nuggets are getting huge production from their acquisitions in the Melo trade. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are leading the team in scoring, with both averaging over 16 points per game. They beat the Heat earlier this year and are riding a 3 game win streak, all on the road.
Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8)
2.5 games out of a playoff spot, the T-Wolves are impressive. They have had a lot of tough loses this year, but compete hard for 4 quarters, just ask the Clippers. They have great presence in the paint with Kevin Love and Darko Milicic. Love leads the NBA in double-doubles. Rookie playmakers Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio have shown flashes. They have been playing without Micheal Beasley, who is likely expendable.
They have 8 lottery picks on their roster and will continue to improve. I expect them to make a trade, possibly shipping out Beasley. Is Steph Curry on the block yet?
Los Angeles Clippers (8-5)
Chris Paul has missed four straight games with a hamstring strain. His absence is disallowing the need to build chemistry with Blake Griffin heading into the playoffs. If they ever do, watch out, Paul, Griffin and Deandre Jordan will be dropping jaws.
Not Impressing Me
Boston Celtics (5-9)
This team is just hard to watch. They are too old. At 5-9, they are looking on the outside of the playoff picture. They just lost to Phoenix at home, ouch. Aside from Rajon Rondo, this team doesn’t have much upside, which will not fly in Boston.
New York Knicks (6-9)
Currently 8th in the East, the Knicks are in panic mode. They have lost 5 straight games, including 3 at home. They lack discipline and play no defense. Typical of a Mike D’Antoni team. They don’t have a point guard or a set half court offense. Carmelo Anthony isn’t good enough to beat teams by himself every night.
Orlando Magic (11-4)
Apparently Dwight Howard can beat teams on his own. The Magic have won 4 straight on the road. I am not sold on this team though. I see no depth or production from anyone other than Howard. This team will slow down. Teams will double, hell triple team Howard, sending him to the free throw line where he shoots 45%. Will Dwight even be in a Magic uniform at the end of the season?
Los Angeles Lakers (10-7)
Will the real Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum please stand up? In their defense, they haven’t gotten much of a chance with Kobe shooting the ball 100 times a night, but these two need to become more involved in the offense. Kobe is bearing the load for this team, and it will lead to wins, but for how long? He is 33. The Lakers are 1-6 on the road.
Games to watch
1-21- Denver @ New York – Will ‘Melo beat his old team, or will the Knicks struggles continue?
1-21- Philadelphia @ Miami – The Heat will be wearing the coolest jerseys, as the 76ers try to stay hot.
1-21- Minnesota @ Utah – Utah has been good this year, but the Wolves will give them a tough test in the paint.
1-22- Boston @ Washington – Ok, really you probably don’t want to watch this, but it will be interesting to see if Boston can even beat the worst team in the league.