An 82 game NBA season can have a lot of ups and downs and can often be very unpredictable. While a lot of people don’t put to much emphasis on the early season, I find every game as important as the next and think that you can see a teams true colors right from the get go. I have always had a huge passion for NBA basketball. I mean I am such an NBA nerd that my family was introduced at my Bar Mitzvah to the “We Are the New York Knicks” theme song. So in this article I have decided to take the majority of things that have been happening around the NBA through the first fifth of the season and break it all down. There have been some predictable outcomes so far but there have also been some great new surprises.
I’ll start with the topic I am most proud to talk about; the standings. While everyone could have predicted that the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs would be among the leaders in the their respective conferences, no one would have been able to foresee who would be on the top of the East and West at this point in the season. Right now, my New York Knicks are on top of the Eastern Conference with a 12-4 record while the Memphis Grizzlies sit on top the the Western Conference with an NBA best 13-3 record. Both of these teams have come out of the gates determined to place themselves among the perennially elite teams. Other surprises thus far include the great starts by the Brooklyn Nets (11-6) and the consistently awful Golden State Warriors (10-7). The Nets and Warriors are two franchises that haven’t seen much success in their past but this year seems to be a redeeming light for them both. On the negative end we have our usual bottom dwellers like the Wizards, Raptors, Kings and Hornets but I am positive that no one expected the Lakers to be an abysmal 8-10 or even the Rose-less Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA last year, at 8-8. The Lakers fired Coach Brown and hired the much maligned Coach D’Antoni, who is off to an embarrassing 3-5 start. He might be more hated in LA then he was in NY and I know Phil Jackson is just sitting back laughing.
On to my favorite aspect of the game; the statistics. If I started by asking who are the top 4 scorers in the NBA, I am pretty sure that most people would be able to guess it correctly even if they haven’t been following this season too closely. Kobe, Melo, Durant and Lebron always find themselves among the scoring leaders but the real surprise is the 80 million dollar man who now ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring, James Harden. Harden is proving that he is an elite scorer when he’s not shadowed by Durant and Westbrook. When it comes to dropping dimes, no one in the league does it as well as the man I said would finish this season as the NBA MVP; Rajon Rondo. Rondo is averaging a staggering 12.9 assists per game and had a ridiculous streak of 37 straight games with at least 10 assists until he decided to body check Kris Humphries Kardashian which resulted in him getting ejected. The surprise name in the top 5 in assists has to be Greivis Vasquez. You might be asking yourself who the fuck is that. He is a 2nd year Venezuelan man out of Maryland and plays for the lowly Hornets. Vasquez will soon be a household name and can be connecting with the Unibrow for years to come. There are a lot teams that don’t value rebounding the way I think they should. I mean my Knicks have the best record in the East but they are among the bottom 5 teams in rebounding so there are ways to win without it. Having said that, I am a firm believer that if you want a Championship you need to rebound. Someone with a team that stands a chance this year needs to trade for Anderson Varejao, who is averaging an NBA leading 15.4 RPG, because I haven’t seen a player attack the glass the way he does since Dennis Rodman. Zach Randolph is 2nd in the NBA with 13.3 RPG and he is doing most of his damage on the offensive boards. I feel Randolph has not been getting his proper accolades because in my mind he is the main reason the Grizzlies have the best record in the NBA.
The final topic I want to talk about is my picks for the end of season awards thus far.
MVP: Rajon Rondo – I picked him before the season started and I am sticking with him for the time being. Rondo is averaging 13 PPG, 13 APG, 5 RPG and he is shooting an impressive 50% from the field. The Celtics aren’t nearly as good as they used to be, but Rondo is showing signs that he is only getting better every time on the court. For my Knicks fans, Melo was #2 on my list for MVP so far.
ROY: Damian Lillard – I talked about this rookie out of Weber State before the season started stating that he is the 2nd best rookie behind Anthony “Unibrow” Davis. Since Unibrow has been plagued with injuries, Lillard is my current front runner for rookie of the year. Damien is averaging 19.1 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go along with 3.3 RPG and 6.3 APG. His connection with Lamarcus Aldridge will only get stronger and Portland will be a relevant team once again some time soon.
6th Man: Jamal Crawford – The 12 year veteran out of Michigan is arguably off to his best start of his career and is one of the main reasons why the LA Clippers are an impressive 11-6. Crawford is averaging nearly 18 PPG off the bench and every time he enters the game he brings the type of electricity that makes teams more fearful of the reserves than the actual starting lineup. With more consistency, JR Smith can give Crawford a run for his money.
Coach of the Year: Lionel Hollins – His Grizzlies record of 13-3 speaks for itself, but the former Portland Trailblazers star has his team buying into his philosophy that is perplexing any opponent that faces them. Grizzlies are super efficient on both the offensive and defensive ends and Hollins is the main reason why. My boy Mike Woodson would definitely be second on my list for COY followed by the Nets Avery Johnson.
It’s been a great season so far, especially for my Knicks, and I look forward to what the nest few months will bring. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted.