Saturday, January 4, 2014

NBA Week in Review: Curry's Performance, Paul's Injury, Trade Rumors, and More

Hottest Team: Golden State Warriors (22-13)

A little more than a week ago, the Warriors would have just barely missed the playoffs, but an 8-game winning streak has turned their season around and given them the confidence that it takes to beat any team in the league. Watch out for them in the playoffs.

Coldest Team: Charlotte Bobcats (14-20)

There are a lot of teams with bad records this week, but the Bobcats have a 5-game losing streak. A few weeks ago they had a playoff spot in the incredibly weak Eastern Conference, even they couldn't find a way to sustain even an slightly-above-average level of play.

Best Individual Performance: Kevin Durant, OKC

This one was a toss-up between Durant and Stephen Curry, but although Curry had that one amazing performance (more on that later), Durant had 4 games of 30+ points up until his most recent on at Brooklyn where he scored 24. However, he has had to carry the team by himself with Westbrook out, and he is doing a heck of a job, as expected. The last two games that the Thunder lost could have easily been wins, as they were by 4-points (to Portland) and 2-points (to Brooklyn). Look for Durant to win the MVP award by season's end.

Other Notes:
  • On Thursday, the Golden State Warriors shocked the NBA and beat the Miami Heat 123-114. Stephen Curry had a game high in points (36), assists (12), steals, (4) and made as many 3's as Heat's entire team (8). This unbelievable performance shows why the Warriors are dangerous: Curry can step up in big games. While Golden State struggled out of the gate, they have won 8 in a row largely due to Curry. They have beaten Miami twice this season, while the defending champions are undefeated against the rest of the Western Conference.
  • Chris Paul will be out of the Clippers lineup for three to five weeks with a right shoulder injury that he sustained in their win against the mavericks on Friday. Paul is leading the league in assists per game and is scoring 19.6 points per game, making him easily the Clipper's best player. The Clippers currently lead the Pacific division and hold the 4th seed in the West, but the Warriors are only one game back in the division and are playing their best basketball of the season. With Paul out for a while, do not be surprised if the Warriors over take the Clippers and gain a sizable lead on them while Paul is sidelined, making life much harder on Doc Rivers keep his team focused. 
  • Recent trade rumors have been swirling about the Cavaliers swapping Andrew Bynum for Pau Gasol. Neither team currently holds a playoff spot, as neither is playing up to its potential. In terms of the players in question, this deal would be incredible for the Cavs, for the sole reason that Bynum has no value to them for now or the future and anything they could get for him would be a steal. He is averaging 8.4 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game compared to Gasol's 15.3 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. Gasol is clearly the better player, but the Laker's thinking is that bringing Bynum back to the place where he became a very good center will change his attitude and therefore his game. Also, as he is 7 years younger then Gasol, the Lakers are clearly trying to plan for the future. This deal would be very good for both sides, so I would not be surprised if it eventually happens.
  • More trade rumors yesterday have come about surrounding a Carmelo Anthony for Blake Griffin trade. Anthony is averaging 26.2 points per game, 2.8 assists per game, and 8.9 rebounds per game compared to Griffin's 22.1 points per game, 3.1 assists per game, and 10.6 rebounds per game. Despite the more points scored for Carmelo, Griffin is the better player right now and at only 24 years old in the midst of his best season ever, only going to keep getting better. Carmelo is 29 and set in his ways of taking all the shots (605 field goal attempts, 2nd most in the league) and not passing much, only to whine as he watches his 44.8 field goal percentage ruin his team's chances of truly being successful in the playoffs, or this year, even the regular season. Why Doc Rivers would want to trade away his best young player (besides Paul) who is thriving in his defensive-minded system for the completely offensive-minded Anthony who is having a worse year and would most likely ruin the Clippers team chemistry and also their record, I do not know. If I were the Clippers, there is no way I accept this deal, and I would be very surprised if they do.
  • Michael Carter-Williams of the 76ers is running away with this year's rookie of the year award. He is scoring 17.2 points per game (most among rookies and almost four more than the next best), playing 35.5 minutes per game (most among rookies and more than five more than the next best), 7.3 assists per game (most among rookies and more than two more than the next best), and 3.0 steals per game, (most among rookies and more than 1 more than the next best). His one flaw, however, is turnovers. He has 75 turnovers which is second among rookies behind only Victor Oladipo. Trey Burke of the Jazz, for comparison has only 44 (Burke would be second-place in rookie of the year as he is second among rookies in points per game, minutes per game, and assists per game). At this point, all of the top rookies are on bad teams, so nobody is going to get the "winning" factor that they led their team to success right out of the game. This leaves Carter-Williams as the odds on favorite as of now, but keep watching, as Burke has been hot of late and if he continues his strong play, might overtake Carter-Williams by year's end.

Overall Points Per Game Leaders:
1. Kevin Durant, OKC - 28.6
2. Kevin Love, MIN - 26.3
3. Carmelo Anthony, NY - 26.2
4. LeBron James, MIA - 25.5
5. James Harden, HOU, 24.4

Overall Assists Per Game Leaders:
1. Chris Paul, LAC - 11.2
2. Stephen Curry, GS - 9.2
3. John Wall, WSH - 8.8
4. Brandon Jennings, DET - 8.3
5. Ricky Rubio, MIN - 8.3

Overall Rebounds Per Game Leaders:
1. DeAndre Jordan, LAC - 13.5
2. Kevin Love, MIN - 13.5
3. Dwight Howard, HOU - 12.9
4. Andre Drummond, DET - 12.4
5. DeMarcus Cousins, SAC - 11.4

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