Around the league after the first month

The first full month of bball has just ended so lets take a look around the league and see what’s going on:

Eastern Conference:

New York Knicks – 13-4 after playing one of the hardest schedules in the league. As expected they are banged up; Amare, Shumpert, Camby and Kidd are all out and Felton looks like he’s going to play with a bone bruise in his hand. This hasn’t stopped them from holding a 20 point lead in 8 out of their first 16 games. Tough D, Melo averaging the most points per 36 minutes and Chandler on pace for the all time highest FG% for a season have been huge reasons why the Knicks are on such a tear. By the end of the month everyone except Shumpert is supposed to be back so it will be interesting to see if that makes them better or provides chemistry issues. And hopefully Rasheed Wallace can stay on the court more than 90 seconds next game without getting ejected.

The Brooklyn Nets are right behind the Knicks in the standings, however they’ve played a much easier schedule. They did survive an attack by Rajon Rondo. Even though they have the worst crowd chant and the worst mascot it looks like they are going to be a good team.

Andrew Bynum hurt his knee (the supposedly good one) bowling. There is no timetable for his return. Is it possible to be a part of a three team trade where all 3 teams got worse?

Rondo was tied for the second longest double-digit assist streak in NBA history before he attacked Mr. Kardashian. His team is still reeling too. Avery Bradley can’t come back soon enough.

The Toronto Raptors are a very bad team. Kyle Lowry has been the one bright spot. Landry Fields has been terrible but something tells me he’s going to be just fine.

Fortunately for Chicago they are in the worst division in the NBA. It’s totally possible for them to steal a #4 seed without Derrick Rose and then have him healthy for a playoff run.

The Milwaukee Bucks started off 6-2 and are 2-6 since. That’s pretty much a microcosm of their last 5 seasons.

We knew the Pacers would struggle to score without Granger but they are currently 28th in PPG. Ouch. Even with Granger it’s starting to look like this squad peaked last year. Especially with their max contract guy, Roy Hibbert, averaging 10-8.

When your three highest plaid players all come off the bench your team is a complete mess. I’m looking at you Detroit.

Varejao, Irving and Thompson are playing really well. The other 12 guys on the Cavs aren’t.

Surprise surprise, the Miami Heat have one of the best records in the east. LeBron is also having the best season of his career…for the 3rd straight season. Ray Allen is also 3-3 in game winning shots this season. It’s going to take a long-term injury to LeBron, Wade, Bosh and/or Allen for the Heat to not finish in 1st.

The Atlanta Hawks….zzzzzzzzz…sorry, fell asleep. Same team as the last billion seasons, good enough for a 4-6 seed and a first round out.

The Bobcats have 7 wins in 16 games. Doesn’t sound too great until you realize they had 7 in 66 games last season. A pleasant surprise. It’s also rumored that New Orleans may change their team name which would open the door for the return of the Charlotte Hornets.

The Orlando Magic are the 2nd team of the 3 team trade that made everyone worse. They did beat the Lakers, the 3rd team in the Dwight Howard trade the other night. So I guess there’s that.

The thought David Stern was going to fine the Wizards for the roster they’ve been playing until I realized that is their actual roster and they weren’t sitting anyone. It took them 13 games to get their first win. Anyone who argues for contraction needs to look no further than D.C.

Western Conference:

It’s looking like trading Harden wasn’t the end of an era for Oklahoma City like many people thought. They are 14-4 and have the biggest point differential in the league at +9.8. Ibaka has taking a huge step forward so far (he had a ridiculous 13 blocks in 2 games last week, what?) and Kevin Martin has been the perfect 6th man.

I have no idea who that madman was who picked the Nuggets to come out of the west in the last column. Computer must have been hacked. I’m assuming whoever wrote that based it on the fact that Wilson Chandler wouldn’t be constantly injured, Gallinari wouldn’t have the lowest 3-point percentage for any player with at least 80 attempts and Ty Lawson wouldn’t revert backwards.

The Jazz need to make a move, they are good enough right now to just miss the playoffs and get a very mediocre draft pick.

Kevin Love is already back and being awesome, Rubio is practicing and might be back by Christmas and the Wolves were able to go 7-8 while having Barea, Budinger, Pekovic, Roy, Love and Rubio all missing time. This could be the season the Wolves finally get back to the postseason.

Portland still has the worst bench in the NBA and it’s already cost them a few W’s.

DeAndre Jordan has taken a big leap forward this season. Lamar Odom has not. He’s averaging 1.5 points in 13 minutes. Not sure what to make of this team. They are very good but don’t quite look like contenders right now.

The Warriors are probably the biggest surprise in the NBA this season. Even with Bogut out indefinitely (suprise surprise), Brandon Rush out for the season and Biedrins still on the roster they’ve started out 10-7. They are really undersized and will have a lot of trouble against the bigger teams. This week starts a 7 game road trip, but against fairly weak competition so they may be able to keep this winning ways going until their brutal January schedule.

The Lakers are a mess. Kobe called out Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard is already getting complainy, Nash and Blake have been injured and their backups Morris and Duhon have been atrocious and their defense has been horrible. Who would have though defense would be a problem with D’Antoni at the helm? Everyone who said the 9-10 Lakers were going to stomp through the west should have noticed that their roster goes about 5 deep.

I miss the Suns of last decade. Dragic is a nice PG, but he was to pass to Markieff Morris and Micheal Beasley. He’s probably be way higher than 13th in the league in assists if he didn’t have to pass to them.

Sacramento. Crapping out terrible basketball teams for 7 years and counting.

We finally get to see what the Grizzlies look like when Gay and Randolph are 100%. Throw in Marc Gasol and this front line is downright scary. How scary? The Spurs rested 4 of their starters against Miami just to prepare for their game against Memphis.

As mentioned above, the Spurs rested 4 of their starters against Miami (which resulted in a $250,000 fine) and also had Jackson and Leonard injured and still almost beat the Heat. They are also averaging the 5th most points a game. Not bad for a slow, over the hill, washed up team.

Shut down Harden and you can beat the Rockets. It didn’t take long for the league to figure that one out. Harden is averaging 11 less points in losses than in wins.

Dallas is 8-9 without Dirk, but there is no timetable for his return and the Twolves and Lakers are not going to be sub-500 for long. Also, raise your hand if you thought Derick Fisher would be their starting point guard?

Anthony Davis can’t stay on the court and Eric Gordon isn’t even close to coming back. Not quite the speedy rebuilding process the Hornets were hoping for. Maybe a name and color change will take some attention away from all the losses.

This is one of the pieces I wrote for  Be sure to check Popblerd out regularly and join their Facebook group for around the league talk.


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