Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:36 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:27 pm
Miami Heat forward LeBron James missed practice on Thursday due a shin bruise. Posted by Ben Golliver. LeBron James and the Miami Heat have been kicking the living tar out of the NBA -- going 4-0 in the last eight days -- so it's only natural James has come down with what ESPN.com is calling a "deep right shin bruise." The bruise kept James from practicing on Thursday, however Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is not terming James' bruise an "injury," according to the Sun-Sentinel. Rather, the decision to hold James out was precautionary, as the Heat play an away-and-home back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the New Orleans Hornets and the New Jersey Nets. While the Heat already destroyed the Nets 101-78 last Sunday, the Hornets game is shaping up to must-see TV. Under new head coach Monty Williams, the Hornets are off to a scorching, undefeated (4-0) start. James's close friend, all star point guard Chris Paul, has returned to form after dealing with injuries last year, averaging 21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals to start the season. The Hornets have knocked off at least three (and possibly four) playoff teams, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets, but they haven't seen anything like the Heat, who have accumulated an ungodly 22.8 point margin of victory during their current four-game winning streak. James is expected to play Friday, non-injured shin bruise and all.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:23 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 4:25 pm
Posted by Royce Young
In a sport where the regular season is six months long with 82 games packed in between, it's hard to really draw any meaningful conclusions from the opening week of the season. Some fans are panicking, some are filled with unbridled optimism and some are feeling more of the same after spending September convincing themselves, "No, I really think Thaddeus Young can be an All-Star and if so, who knows?"
So despite the fact that roughly only three percent of the season has been played, let's look at five, of what could be 500, things we've learned this far.
The Hornets might be kind of good. Chris Paul, remember that guy? He's pretty good. And his team, the Hornets? They might be too.
They're 3-0, with one of those wins coming on the road against the Spurs. They beat San Antonio, Milwaukee and Denver, three quality opponents that all were in the playoffs last season. They've yet to allow 100 points and are doing an outstanding job of sharing the ball and getting scoring from multiple spots.
With Paul back running the show and new additions Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli doing their parts to fill in some scoring, this team could be potentially dangerous. There's not a ton of depth there so if Paul or someone else goes out for an extended period, times get get tougher, but as of now, the 3-0 Hornets look fairly legit.
What makes the Heat scary isn't what you think it is. Teaming LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together likely makes opposing coaches think, "How in the bleep are we going to stop those guys?"
And while that's still true, the real question might should be, 'How in the bleep are we going to score on those guys?"
Nothing has been more impressive about the Heat thus far than their defense. Toss out any cliche NBA word and it works to describe it. Stifling. Swarming. Stingy. Scoring on the Heat right now is harder than scoring on San Francisco Giants. They can guard every position and their apparent weakness hasn't been exposed at all, even against the league's best big man in Dwight Howard.
The Heat lead the league in defensive efficiency, giving up just 86.6 points per 100 hundred possessions. That's outstanding.
Miami will be tough to beat throughout because of the matchup issues it creates, but what could make them a true title contender is the fact they don't let you score.
The Clippers are probably the Clippers again . In the opener against the Blazers, for three quarters there was legitimate reason for excitement in Clipperland. Blake Griffin looked fantastic, Eric Gordon was scoring and the team has some actual energy and excitement about it.
But as often happens with Clipper seasons, it could be over after that first game. There was some buzz surrounding this team as a potential dark horse in the West, but Sunday's game against the Mavericks really pointed out some serious issues.
The Clippers had no idea what to do offensively. There was no scheme or plan. It was all pointing, talking and bumping into each other. Whoever was running point was basically trying to draw a play from the top of the key as the 24 second clock ticked away. Griffin appeared to be a little frustrated, specifically in the fact that nobody seemed to be playing as hard as him.
It's early and the Clippers have enough talent win some games, but the first impression has been more of the same.
For some reason, Kurt Rambis just doesn't like Kevin Love . After three games, Kevin Love is fifth in the NBA with 13.0 rebounds per game. He's averaging 14 points per game. But here's the problem: He's averaging just 25.3 minutes per game.
Extend Love's current stats out to a per 40 minute average and he's putting up 22.1 ppg and 20.5 rpg. And yet, he continues to get bench minutes in what's now, a starter's role.
It's not like the Wolves are winning and Love is just fitting in. Right now, Minnesota is 1-2 and has struggled scoring (something Love does well). They are however the best rebounding team in the league with a plus-12.7 differential. Imagine how good they'd be if their best rebounder saw over 30 minutes a game?
The Kevin Love situation is honestly one of the most fascinating storylines in the league this season to me. He's Minnesota's best player, best scorer and best rebounder, yet he doesn't get as many minutes as Wayne Ellington, Michael Beasley or Luke Ridnour.
Now in Rambis' defense, nobody on the team averages more than 30 minutes per game and most everyone hovers under 25 minutes per. So maybe it's an institutional thing. But then again, maybe that's a good explanation as to why they haven't been successful thus far. Common sense says play your best players the most minutes. But the Wolves are just preaching transparency and honesty, not common sense.
Nobody knows if Houston is good or just average yet. In the Rockets' opening game against the Lakers, they held a lead for the majority of the night before the defending champs turned it on and won behind late heroics from Shannon Brown. But most agreed - the Rockets will be good.
Then they lost their next two games to the Warriors and the Nuggets which left some scratching their heads. So are the Rockets good, average or possibly bad?
I think you can certainly take out bad because this Houston club has players and will win. But is it a top four team in the West? Maybe not. Really, are they a playoff team? That's potentially up in the air as the last two games really showcased some major defensive problems Houston has right now.
This upcoming set of games could put the Rockets in a big hole early if they don't get their act together though. After playing the Hornets at home, Houston goes on the road for six of their next eight.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 3:41 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 3:42 pm
24. Are you kidding me? 24 assists. Video thereof.
Posted by Matt Moore
Only 7 point guards in the NBA have 24 or more assists this entire season. Rajon Rondo got that amount in one game versus the Knicks Friday. An absolutely stunning performance, which was of course captured by Celtics fans on video .
Even if some of those were questionable, and some of them were, it happens all the time and I'm willing to give the man more than one for a few of those dishes. Rondo has such confidence, such touch, and combines it all with both bravado and patience. Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the league. Rajon Rondo deserves some talk. He just does. If you don't believe so, take another look at the video.
Are you kidding me?
Posted on: October 14, 2010 12:03 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2010 12:09 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Remember that one time Chris Paul was almost traded? And remember that one time where Carmelo Anthony was/is going to be traded? Well it all almost came together in one huge, super-duper mega-deal.
Al Iannazzone of The Bergen Record reveals a trade that was in the discussion phase that would've shaken the NBA tree around a good bit. How's this sound: The Blazers tried to include the Hornets in a deal that would've sent Chris Paul to Portland, Devin Harris, Kris Humphries and a couple Blazers to the Hornets, Derrick Favors to Denver and Andre Miller to the Nets.
And a wipe of the forehead. Now that, would've been a trade.
Iannazzone mentions that the trade really wasn't ever that close, but boy, that's one to talk about. And it's easy to see why it didn't really go anywhere. The two teams giving up their stars weren't really being compensated, well, at all. Harris is a nice guard, but Humphries and some Blazer scrubs? Unless the unnamed Blazers were Nicolas Batum, Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, I don't see how New Orleans feels good about that trade. And all Denver would've received was Favors? I'm sure picks were involved in there too, but still.
The Nets though, my goodness. Not only do they land Carmelo, but Andre Miller. Quite a haul. And if Portland isn't giving up anything that substantial, putting Chris Paul in Andre Miller's spot means the Blazers are like actual contenders or something.
Again, easy to see why this never picked up a ton of steam though.
Underneath all that in Iannazzone's story though is the fact that New Jersey is still pushing hard for Anthony, but isn't going to be able to get much done as long as Favors isn't producing. The rookie power forward went 0-for-5 and had zero points and five rebounds in 23 minutes in Wednesday’s 91-81 preseason loss to Houston. That made three bad outings for Favors in four preseason games, two of which were watched in person by a Nuggets scout.
Right now, Denver has the leverage and Favors was supposed to be the prize for them in dealing Anthony to New Jersey. But if he doesn't look like a capable starting NBA power forward, it'll be back to the drawing table for the Nets. The Nuggets are still in a position where they can track down the best deal. Until Denver starts feeling some pressure from the Carmelo camp, the Nuggets can take their time.
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:49 pm
Posted by Royce Young
I'm not entirely sure this is what Chris Paul had in mind when he asked the Hornets to do some damage in free agency.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, former two-time champion D.J. Mbenga is in New Orleans today working out for the Hornets. Things are expected to go well and Stein says the two sides are close to a one-year agreement.
Mbenga hasn't been much more than an end-of-the-bench practice player in his six NBA seasons. The most minutes he's played a game in a season was 7.9 in 2008-09 with the Lakers.
Reports have had Mbenga close to signing in a number of other places including Portland, Indiana and back with the Lakers among a few others. So I'm not believing this one until I see it.
But here's the thing: The Hornets could definitely use him. Inside, New Orleans has Emeka Okafor and David West starting. No issues there. But behind them, it's Aaron Gray and newly acquired Jason Smith. So yeah, maybe Mbenga doesn't seem like such a minor signing now. The Hornets are thin on the inside and while Mbenga isn't going to blow anyone away, he may be close to inking with a team he might actually see minutes for.
Last season, Mbenga appeared in just 49 games and averaged 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. At 29, he probably doesn't really have a ceiling to reach towards, other than maybe getting legitimate minutes to prove what he can really do. If he does latch on with the Hornets and cracks the rotation - which he should do - then maybe Mbenga can actually make a small impact. I mean, he does have two championship rings you know.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 11:01 am
Edited on: September 30, 2010 12:38 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Chris Paul already spent his time under the burning spotlight of speculation and rumor. He knows what that's like. But he made a commitment to stay in New Orleans (for now) and he intends to try and build a winner.
That doesn't mean he wants to build a winner by himself though. As one source told Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Paul sent word to Carmelo Anthony about teaming up together in New Orleans.
Stein spoke with Paul for a nice big feature and that was a topic that CP3 passed over. He waved off the report that he "playfully" suggested during a wedding toast at Carmelo's reception that Melo join him and Amar'e Stoudemire to form their own superteam.
Paul denied the Hornets were in the mix for Anthony, said he wasn't jealous of the trio in Miami and about switching to Leon Rose of CAA he said, "It was just time."
Just because Paul called up Carmelo and said, "Hey, you should come down here and play with me!" doesn't mean anything close to that is happening. The Hornets don't really have near the assets the Nuggets are looking for. A trade of David West, Marcus Thornton and Peja Stojakovic's expiring contract would be decent, but it's not in the ballpark that Denver's looking for at this point.
Besides, a lot of this Melo speculation stems from him wanting the big, bright market for him and his new wife LaLa Vasquez to be able to bask in the lights and make tons of money. I'm not sure if New Orleans exactly qualifies for that.
Now could Anthony wait until next summer and sign in New Orleans? Definitely. That's a possibility. How realistic? I'm not sure. Again, is New Orleans somewhere Anthony is willing to settle into long term?
But as rumored earlier in the week, Carmelo doesn't want to go to his next destination alone and was potentially determining if Paul could join him in two years. If Anthony went to New Jersey, the Nets would certainly have the space to grab CP3 when he's a free agent in 2012. As for New York? That's a bit dicier.
And here's a third scenario just for fun that probably even Carmelo hasn't thought of: Re-up in Denver and in 2012, the Nuggets would have all the necessary cap space to sign Chris Paul. But nah, let's not think about that one. That's no fun.
Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:07 pm
As the Carmelo Anthony situation continues to unfold (or not, depending on your view), we'll keep you up to date on the developments with our MeloDrama Updates. Buckle up, kids. The Hello-Melo Train is leaving the station.
Posted by Matt Moore
Here's the latest around the web as what is considered D-Day for the Nuggets approaches.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 2:11 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 4:51 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com passed along these few items: