Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:47 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 2:49 pm
Here's a look at the 1st quarter and what we've taken away from it.
Posted by Matt Moore
We're a quarter in to the season, and it hasn't gone exactly according to plan. Some things we thought would happen, some things we didn't. As we head towards the season being halfway through, here's a look back at the first quarter of the season and what we thought about it.
MVP: As Ben Golliver will be telling you later, Dwight Howard makes a pretty strong case for first quarter MVP. Royce and I wound up on the Big German's side of the aisle, though. With the Mavericks on a ridiculous winning streak (make it 11 after blasting the Comrade's Nyetzkies on Thursday night), Nowitzki has been off the charts so far this year. The Mavericks look better this year because of their depth and their defense, but without Nowitzki, they'd still be nowhere.
As Nowitzki's career begins to wind down (we think?), it's important to let go of the past where people questioned Dirk's intensity, toughness, and clutchness. He's been one of the best players in the world for the past ten years, and the fact that he's still putting together stretches of games like this only confirms that. Don't believe me? Check the elbow.
ROY: Boy, was I wrong . Again. John Wall hasn't been a slouch by any means, but to compare the impact the two has on the court is to examine the ballistic missile barrage that is Blake Griffin on a nightly basis. It's not just the dunks (but trust us, we'll get there). It's things like the way he absolutely blew Lamar Odom off the block, and his intensity and athleticism while rebounding. It's the way that even though this Clippers team has no hope of winning on any given night, Griffin looks like he's dying for a win, to try, to compete. He's the only unanimous pick for a reason.
Biggest Surprise: We're split between the Knicks, who were supposed to be better but not this better, and the Pacers, who were supposed to be bad and are really pretty good. Amar'e Stoudemire has the Knicks rolling, and Danny Granger alongside Roy Hibbert is making up one of the best frontcourts in the NBA this year. Great to see teams surprise us in a good way.
Best Overall Performance: We're all very impressed with the Celtics, basically. Except Ken. But we think that's because he had a bad cab ride. Maybe it was bad chowder. No, couldn't be that, there's no such thing as bad chowder in Boston. Probably the cab ride. Anyway, the rest of us are completely horrified of Boston coming into our homes at night and subjugate us under their imperial rule.
Biggest Letdown: Ken and Ben (hey, that rhymes!) have a soft spot in their hearts for the sad plight of the Blazers' health. I'm more concerned about Houston and why they're not competing among the West's elite (but they're getting there), and Royce has the same question about the Bucks in the East. If you couldn't see this coming in Portland... you probably haven't been paying attention for the past, oh, forty years.
Ticking Time-Bomb: While Ben Golliver frets over Chris Paul continuing to keep his cards close to his vest, the rest of us are alarmed at how DeMarcus Cousins seems hell-bent on alienating his teammates and coaches. Tick, tick, tick.
Best dunk: Yeah, sorry, not going to be able to get over this, regardless of whether he traveled or not :
Here's a look at our votes for the first quarter of the 2010-2011 season.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:15 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 5:18 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Every season, there's a surprise team. Somebody not many people picked as having much of a shot that positions itself for a playoff run. In the Eastern Conference, it's not all that hard. Wiggling into either the seventh or eighth seed doesn't require the best of seasons.
So that's why before the 2010-11 campaign even started, teams like the Knicks and Pacers had a cautiously optimistic view of the season. But here we are at the quarter mark and wouldn't you know it, both teams are positioned in the top eight in the East. It's early yet, but there's reason for hope in both cities right now.
But before you get too pumped up Knicks fans, consider that New York has had a pretty favorable schedule the past few weeks. After dropping six straight and to 3-8 overall, the Knicks ripped off five in a row, then lost and now are on another five-game streak. They've won 10 of 11 and have pushed their record to 13-9.
In that stretch however, only one of the teams the Knicks defeated had a winning record, and that's the slipping Hornets. The one "good" team New York played, it lost to at home (Atlanta). So maybe everyone should just chill for a second. Still though, winning in the NBA isn't easy and these are games the Knicks wouldn't have won last season. Beating average and bad teams is the start to a playoff run and that's what New York is doing.
The Pacers on the other hand, have stayed relatively consistent throughout the season. Unlike the Knicks, there hasn't been the peaks and valleys. The longest losing streak for Indiana is two and the longest winning streak is two. The Pacers have beat good teams, including the Lakers at Staples, the Heat in Miami and the Nuggets. For the most part though they're losing to the good teams, beating the bad and splitting with the average. But again, a major step forward for them
So what's making the difference for each squad this season? A couple things:
Improved defense - The key word here is "improved." It's not great (109.1 in defensive rating, 20th in the league), but it's better. They lead the league in blocks and it's clear they work really, really hard. The defense isn't going to be winning them games. But it might not be losing them any either.
Raymond Felton - You probably haven't realized how well Felton is playing. I don't blame you. I didn't notice until the other day. He's eighth in the league in assists per game (8.5) and seventh in scoring for point guards per game (18.1). He's hitting 37.6 percent from 3 and has a career-high percentage from the field. Felton is easily putting together his best year as a pro. It helps to have Amar'e Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni's system, but a player has to play well, and Felton is.
Role players - Rookie Landry Fields has been stellar off the bench and now in his starting role. Toney Douglas has provided them an outside spark. Shawne Williams in just five games has made an immediate impact. The Knicks are finally getting contribution from their bench and it's making a difference. They only have one star in Stoudemire, but the cast of extras is what's making it work.
Amar'e - He came to New York to be big time and Stoudemire has played that way. He's had 30 points in five straight games and is averaging a career-high 25.3 points per game. He's meshed well with Felton and is actually playing some of the better defense of his career. Not saying a ton, but he's working. Also, Stoudemire - and the whole team for that matter - is getting to the line more than ever, making the offense look even better than it is.
Defense - Does this team kind of feel like a surprise group from last season? Young, tough, competitive and surprisingly sound on the defensive end? Aren't the Pacers a bit like the 2009-10 Thunder in some ways? Danny Granger isn't Kevin Durant, but this team is winning behind a strong, disciplined defensive structure. They are seventh in defensive rating and that number is climbing.
Roy Hibbert - Hibbert completely transformed himself over the offseason. He dropped weight, added muscle and refined an already quality post game. He's probably the top candidate for Most Improved right now really. He's huge at 7'3 and has become one of the premier big men in the entire league. Hibbert is averaging 15.5 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but he's also dishing out over three assists a night. He's a difference maker and someone the Pacers are riding right now.
Josh McRoberts - At one point, McRoberts was the punchline to a lot of jokes. Now he's a legit starting NBA power forward. His numbers aren't spectacular, but he works hard, hustles and is a good post defender. After the Pacers traded Troy Murphy to acquire point guard Darren Collison most felt Indiana needed another big man to be anywhere close to competitive. They probably still do, but McRoberts has been serviceable and someone that will make a fine bench piece if that interior player does come.
Shooters - I don't know if any team in the league can get it rolling quite like the Pacers. Between Brandon Rush, Mike Dunleavy, James Posey and Danny Granger, these guys can pile up points in a hurry. They all shoot the 3 wonderfully as evidenced by the fact the Pacers are second in the league in made 3s a game (behind the Knicks, mind you). They are built on the defensive end, but because of the 3-point shot, the Pacer offense gets by.
We're still a long, long way off from April and the final Eastern standings. But considering what's behind these clubs, it's not hard to see them making the postseason. The Knicks are bullying bad teams and the Pacers are basically mediocre. But in a soft bottom-half of the East, these could be playoff teams. Which would be a major step in the right direction for both franchises. And something both fanbases have been waiting for a return to.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:25 am
Roy Hibbert went on 1070 The Fan in Indy to talk about the work he put in this summer, and dropped this nice nugget:
“I think it is because Josh McRoberts told me this is what we worked for all summer. Why we pushed each other so hard to be able to come down to these stretches in the game where we cant be tired. I’m seeing it pay off.”via Sports Radio Interviews » Roy Hibbert Is the Best Player in the NBA That Nobody is Talking About .
So there you have it. Josh McRoberts is at least partially responsible (in tandem with Bill Walton) for turning into one of the best young big men in the league and a developing heir apparent to the title of "Next Great Big."
Hibbert's development can't be overstated as the big man is averaging 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks (per-40's are even better : 21.3, 12.7, 4.0, 2.8). Darren Collison helps, Tyler Hansbrough helps, Brandon Rush's development and Danny Granger's return to form helps, but it's Hibbert that has been such a weapon for the Pacers, opening the entire floor up.
For his part, as much as McRoberts is often the butt of jokes, he really has become a good rotation player. He has a 21.3% defensive rebounding rate and a below-average but reasonable 13.3 PER. His role in helping Hibbert will likely not sit well with Duke haters.
Posted on: November 26, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 6:08 pm
Your NBA Black Friday Fantasy deals: come find the bargain fantasy guys you're looking for.
Posted by Kevin Goodwin
Well, folks, it's that time of year again. The day we shake off those paralyzing turkey chemicals and drag ourselves out of bed in the wee hours. The day we maraud from store to store like a pack of ravenous credit-wielding zombies. The day we do the ridiculous in the name of big deals and unparalleled savings. Black Friday hath cometh.
Fortunately, Fantasy owners don't even have to leave their couch to find great bargains … and it's the right time of year for those as well. I've got 10 super-saver steals that could put your team on the track to success in the New Year. Don't let those other fantasy shoppers beat you to the bargains!
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Calderon's Fantasy value is sky high, and Fantasy owners are clearing out long-term roster space to snatch him up. Since Jarrett Jack was traded to New Orleans, Calderon will see the lion's share of minutes up in Toronto. He has been producing at a high level recently, and is averaging 12.3 points and 6.5 assists over his last four games entering Black Friday. He should continue to perform for the Raptors, and for Fantasy owners from here on out.
Real Deal Equivalent: Squinkies Bubble Pack - $11.99 at Babies"R"Us
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Flynn still doesn't have a timetable for his return, but it's getting closer. Minnesota brought in veteran guard Luke Ridnour to push Flynn for the starting job this year, but a hip injury to Flynn deflated any competition. Now, Flynn will have to prove his worth to coach Kurt Rambis. We all know Rambis was limiting Kevin Love's minutes to start the season, so it's unclear how he'll treat Flynn when he does return. But Fantasy owners who are hurting in the guard position should keep an eye on Flynn. He has more of an upside than Ridnour, and can offer you around 13-15 points and 4-5 assists per game. He also shot 35.8 percent from downtown last season, which is a nice gift for Fantasy owners around the holidays.
Real Deal Equivalent: 1/3 Carat Diamond White Gold Bypass Bridal Ring Set - $219 at Wal-Mart
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Murphy has been inactive for five games now, and is sitting behind Kris Humphries and rookie Derrick Favors on the depth chart. Coach Avery Johnson hasn't been able to figure out what to do with Murphy. He missed the preseason and the start of the regular season with a back injury, but is now on the shelf because of his conditioning. The Nets traded for Murphy with the hope that he could be a starter, and now he's not playing or bringing in any Fantasy points. Not what anyone wants from a Round 5 or 6 draft choice (his average in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues). Still, in leagues where he's available, Murphy would be worth grabbing while you can. If he gets traded by the Nets, he could go back to his 15-10 stat line, and smart Fantasy owners could get him on the cheap if they can afford to keep him reserved until he sees more court time. Keep in mind, Murphy also has a history of late-season success -- Since the 2006-07 NBA season he's averaged 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game before the All-Star break and 14.8 PPG and 9.1 boards post All-Star.
Real Deal Equivalent: Samsung SMX-F40 SD camcorder - $119 at K-Mart
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Okur hasn't played yet this season, and is available in almost half of Fantasy leagues. With the Jazz playing so well to start the year, owners with room on their roster may have good reason to add the veteran big man. As a career 37.8 3-point shooter, Okur is hardly a typical center, which makes him a nice player to own in category-based leagues. Utah's addition of Al Jefferson may scare some owners off, but nabbing Okur now before a timetable is set could pay nice dividends.
Real Deal Equivalent: Yankee Candle Pine & Cinnamon Jar Candles - $17.99 at Kohl's
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Przybilla is set to make his season debut on Black Friday, which gives Fantasy owners a perfect opportunity to check him out. He'll likely be rusty coming off knee surgery, but is a center worth keeping tabs on or adding in deeper formats. He doesn't score many points, but is a good source of rebounds and shoots with high efficiency from the field -- 55.5 percent for his career. Also, take in to account that Portland needs bodies on the frontcourt, which means Przybilla will get plenty of playing time. Remember he should be targeted in deeper Fantasy formats, not standard leagues.
Real Deal Equivalent: Craftsman 179cc 24'' Two-stage Snowblower - $583 at Sears
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Butler isn't having a very good start to the season, which means now is the time to buy. Some Fantasy owners may want to drop him, but realize he's worth too much to just throw away. That being the case, they may be willing to part with Butler for next to nothing. He hasn't fully adjusted to being in Dallas since coming over from Washington, and the one thing that would help Butler's Fantasy appeal most is being traded. So, owners that like to gamble could make the move for Butler now. Last year, Butler averaged 15.2 points and 5.4 boards with the Mavericks, so the potential is there for Fantasy owners to see a nice return on their investment.
Real Deal Equivalent: 55" Westinghouse 120Hz, 1080p LCD TV - $799.99 at Best Buy
7. Brandon Roy, guard, Portland Trail Blazers (Owned 99 percent/Started 22 percent)
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Roy should be owned in every Fantasy league out there, but while he battles knee injuries, owners are definitely grinding their teeth for drafting him so high. Some owners may be looking to jump ship, since this is the lowest Roy's Fantasy value has ever been, and that means it's the perfect time to get an upper echelon guard for dirt cheap. If you can pry Roy away from another owner, there's a good chance he would make your team better immediately. Portland may limit his court time to preserve him for the year, but Roy has the ability to produce solid numbers in 20-25 minutes of action.
Real Deal Equivalent: High-Performance Samsung Laptops - $150 off at Best Buy
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Collison was undoubtedly overvalued entering this year. He was taken with an average draft pick of 40, based solely on his 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds as a starter last year in New Orleans. This means that current owners are probably very disappointed with his 14.3 points and 4.3 boards per game through the first five weeks of the season. I smell a sale. Collison still has the potential to be a 17 and 7 guy, and owners should check their league and see if they can strike up a deal.
Real Deal Equivalent: All adult jeans - $15 at Old Navy
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Carter is currently dealing with some bumps and bruises which are keeping him out of the Magic lineup. He's also averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and assists: 13.9, 3.2 and 2.5, respectively. Clearly, Carter is no longer the high-flyer he once was, but he does have the capability to go off on any given night. Again, we've got a player who could be reeled in for cheap based on the disappointment tied to inflated preseason expectations. If you don't mind being patient with the veteran, trading for Carter could be a steal.
Real Deal Equivalent: Radio Flyer Big Wheel - $35 at Wal-Mart
Fantasy Shopping Cart: Andersen just made his season debut for the Nuggets, which is why he's available in 90 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. He's coming off an offseason knee surgery, so he's a bit of a risky option, but there are definitely Fantasy owners out there who are in desperate need of a big man. Injury bug, anyone? Those owners might be happy to see Andersen fill a void in their lineups. He's not worth owning in standard leagues, but is definitely worth a flier in deeper Rotisserie formats. He's a bargain and a half right now.
Real Deal Equivalent: 46" APEX LCD TV, 1080p 60 Hz - $449 at Target
Tags: Blazers, Brandon Roy, Caron Butler, Chris Andersen, Dallas Mavericks, Darren Collison, Denver Nuggets, fantasy, fantasy basketball, Indiana Pacers, Jazz, Joel Przybilla, Jonny Flynn, Jose Calderon, Magic, Mavericks, Mehmet Okur, Minnesota Timberwolves, Nets, New Jersey Nets, Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, Raptors, Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, Troy Murphy, Utah Jazz, Vince Carter
Posted on: November 23, 2010 9:26 am
Spurs and Magic have a classic, the Pacers show they're decent in dismantling a mediocre Miami team, and the Celtics take the Hawks to the shed in today's Game Changer.
Posted by Matt Moore
Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.