|The Nets are so confusing. (Getty Images)|
The Baseline Awards are handed out for exceptional and not-so-exceptional events and players of the past week. Award rankings are at the end and, please, watch your step as you exit the ride.
The D.B. Cooper Award for Mystery of the Week: Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are utterly confusing. Going into the season, we thought we had a lock on who this team would be. They would struggle defensively (they have), but they would be excellent offensively (they have been, at times). They would be good overall, led by Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, who were considered the best backcourt in the NBA (at least in Brooklyn).
It's not that the Nets have been bad. They are 8-4, for crying out loud. They're sixth in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) and 19th in defensive efficiency (points allowed per the same). But it's how they've gotten there. They've mostly been led by Brook Lopez, who has been fantastic offensively, and by ... Andray Blatche (?!) who is averaging 19.1 points per 36 minutes.
Meanwhile, Williams and Johnson have both struggled from the field and with each other, while not making the difference defensively they need to.
In the past week, the Nets lost to the Lakers in Mike D'Antoni's first game with L.A. It was an impressive game, and they looked like they'd turned a corner, even in the loss.
Then they fell to the Warriors. OK. Strange. So with this inconsistency, they'll clearly fall to the Clippers. Nope. Won 86-76 in a defensive struggle. What?! Then in what should have been a breeze game vs. Portland at home, the Nets struggled for 3 1/2 quarters before turning on the jets and cruising past a team whose bench could be replaced with a dump truck and there would be no difference.
The Nets are a work in progress, as a brand, as a team, as a roster. But the results haven't just been strange in their inconsistency; they've been strange in that they've amassed this record and yet have shown significant weaknesses. Maybe Monday night vs. New York will afford some clarification on who the Nets really are.
Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Carmelo Anthony
Yes, again, after he averaged 29.5 points per game on 54 percent shooting from the field (and 56 from beyond the arc and 94 from the line). That's absurd. That's just crazy efficiency. His 5.3 turnovers per game this week were not excellent. But still, with the Knicks regressing a bit after a hot start, Anthony has been the biggest constant for them. Another brilliant week.
Western Conference Player of the Week: Russell Westbrook
Anyone else notice that Westbrook, the alleged non-point guard, is averaging 8.4 assists this season? Last week, he averaged 8.7 to go along with 26.3 points, the fifth most of the week. Oh, and he shot 45-41-88. I'm so confused, because I was told by people who watch basketball approximately five percent of the time that he was a non-point guard who never passes. I'm really stunned here.
Oklahoma City is 10-4, a game back of San Antonio for the best record in the West.
Eastern Conference Team of the Week: Atlanta Hawks
OK, it was a weak schedule to start the week. Wins over Orlando and Washington at home shouldn't give the Hawks much credit. But they also toppled the stunningly good Bobcats in a squeaker, then took out the Clippers by double digits. Larry Drew has coached this team into one of the great defensive clubs in the league. The Hawks finished the week with the best defensive efficiency in the league and the third-highest efficiency differential. They're doing this as Josh Smith is still struggling. Something impressive is going on in Atlanta.
Western Conference Team of the Week: Denver Nuggets
Remember all that stuff I said about them sucking? Yeah, forget that. After the embarrassment they suffered at the hands of the Spurs, the Nuggets turned around and toppled the mighty Grizzlies on a back-to-back, then rattled off three more straight including a total annihilation of the Hornets on Sunday night. Andre Iguodala has figured out his place, Danilo Gallinari can shoot again, Kosta Koufos is somehow a plus/minus machine, and JaVale McGee is (inconsistently) giving them solid minutes. The Nuggets finished the week with the second-highest efficiency differential.
Narrative of the Week: The Wizards will be OK when they get healthy.
John Wall's still out. Nene returned but made no difference. He was more effective, but the losses still piled up (and Nene got beat for a key offensive rebound late over the weekend). The Wizards might be able to pull things together and go on a run in January. But the hole's getting too deep for them to climb out of. At some point, you have to wonder if the whole tree is diseased, not just the limbs. This might be a systemic thing that Ted Leonsis needs to recognize. He's an active owner who tries to improve the team. But the basketball situation is looking dire.
The Mayan Apocalypse Award for "WHAT?!"
The Bobcats have matched their win total from last season (in a 66-game season). It is Nov. 26. What is life.
The Ricky Davis Honorary Award for more field-goal attempts than points this week
Brandon Jennings, 52 points on 63 shots
Monta Ellis, 57 points on 61 shots
Dion Waiters, 57 points on 58 shots
Jeremy Lin, 30 points on 36 shots
1. LeBron James, Heat: His ability to control the game at both ends remains unequaled, but ...
2. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks: Every writer on the East Coast is praying this is how the MVP race shakes out, a tooth-and-nail contest between a better Melo and a superior LeBron.
3. Kobe Bryant, Lakers: Still getting used to (yet another) new offensive system, but his patience and tactical consideration is the highest we've seen in years.
4. Kevin Durant, Thunder: He drew 10 fouls a game this week. If that seems high, consider that Melo is second, at fewer than half that.
5. Tony Parker, Spurs: Coming on stronger after a slow start. Totally dominated against the Celtics and Raptors.
1. Damian Lillard, Blazers: Continues to thrive with a ton of offensive freedom.
2. Harrison Barnes, Warriors: Anyone who dunks on Pekovic and lives to talk about it deserves high marks. But he's also showing a lot of versatility on both ends of the court.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bobcats: The defensive upside is unlimited.
4. Anthony Davis, Hornets: The ankle injury is starting to raise some blood pressure.
5. Andre Drummond, Pistons: Lawrence Frank realizes he's his only hope, right?
1. Lionel Hollins, Grizzlies: Memphis is winning tough games in tough ways but is also able to use different tactics for the first time in a long time.
2. Mike Woodson, Knicks: The team has started to regress, but he keeps finding ways to win. Not relying on any one tactic (i.e. Melo) helps a lot.
3. Gregg Popovich, Spurs: You are not surprised by this.
4. Vinny Del Negro, Clippers: Del Negro's development work between Chicago and LA has been incredible.
5. Mike Dunlap, Bobcats: The Bobcats, man. The Bobcats.
Honorable mention: Larry Drew, Hawks
1. Jamal Crawford, Clippers: This is getting to be the same kind of deal as Harden last year, locked up early.
2. Ramon Sessions, Bobcats: Efficient, productive and helping them close out wins. Where was this last year?
3. Carl Landry, Warriors: Best PER of a bench player averaging more than 20 minutes.
4. J.R. Smith, Knicks: Starting to revert back to JRdom...
5. Kevin Martin, Thunder: His defense has been quietly very good.
1. Tony Allen, Grizzlies: Watching him attack an offensive player is like watching a bobcat jump on top of you in Assassin's Creed III.
2. Omer Asik, Rockets: Makes such an impact possession to possession.
3. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks: It's the little plays I'm more impressed with.
4. Andre Iguodala, Nuggets: The work he did on Stephen Curry and the entire Hornets system this week should be in a museum somewhere.
5. Lavoy Allen, 76ers: The Sixers have a terrific defense, and Allen has been a big part of it.