03 January 2014

Another sport related detour

A couple quick comments on the early NBA.

1) Toronto seems legit now. In as far as any middling Eastern conference team is "legit".

This should not be a good sign that two teams have improved after trading away Rudy Gay for his value as an NBA player. They are 8-3 since the trade with wins over the Pacers and Thunder (two losses of the three are to the Spurs, but two wins are over the Knicks and another over the Sixers. Who are basically minor league teams this year).

2) Phoenix seems more legit. I'm not entirely sure how that happened. Dragic and Bledsoe are both playing at very high levels basically and they somehow turned Gerald Green (he of modest slam dunk contest fame and little else) into a quality NBA player who can make threes. Their defense is also passable but not as great as it started off the season. They also haven't played much out East yet to pad their record (6 games).

3) Injuries are really important:
a) Chicago is basically toast between Rose (out for the year) and Deng (out off and on).
b) Brooklyn has had Williams, Lopez, Kirilenko, Terry, and Pierce out for various stretches, and Lopez is now out for the year. So they're hurting even with the win tonight over OKC.

Between these two teams being decimated, there's no competition for Miami and Indiana out East.

c) Horford being out should more or less cancel out Atlanta as a wild card in the East too.
d) Memphis' famous grinding style has imploded for a while with Gasol out to anchor the D. They're ugly on offence as expected, but without the D, they're just ugly.
e) The Lakers would have sucked either way, but Kobe's out.
f) Westbrook being out is really important to the Thunder. They'll still win a lot of games while he's out, but they're not as dynamic offensively.
g) Reddick being out is a huge downgrade for the Clippers. Willie Green?
h) Anthony Davis of unibrow fame being out really hurt the Pelicans.

Also, it's not relevant to the league since they're terrible. But. Milwaukee needs to announce their injuries a little more clearly. Apparently even to the PA guy in the stadium. This was a minor annoyance for fantasy league purposes (Knight was out for a while with an uncertain return, Butler's been in and out, Henson missed a couple games, etc). In another unrelated fantasy note, my league is apparently populated by people who think waiver wire level players are worth trading and are annoyed when I point this out to them.

4) Cleveland and the Knicks somewhat predictably had chemistry issues and aren't very good. Both also appears to have serious coaching issues, but Bynum and Waiters and Bennett are all basically problems to mix in and JR Smith is a complete sentence of disaster inflicted on a basketball team. Added to the artist formerly known as Amare Stoudemire and his contract albatross, and Carmelo's possible departure in the off season and it's a pitiful sight.

5) Golden State shouldn't be that surprising to rip off a few wins in a row. They played a brutal schedule to start the year. Of their last 7 games, 3 have been against the East, and the East is mostly terrible and three others were against the Suns, Lakers, and Nuggets, middling western teams. The Heat win tonight and the Clippers win were the impressive ones. All that said, I'd figure they were due for an easy patch. They still only have 7 games against the East for the year (6-1). All the teams ahead of them in the conference standings (except for the Clippers, who have managed to lose games to the Cavs and Bobcats) have more wins against the East than the Warriors have played games against the East.

Dallas, Minnesota, and even New Orleans have padded their records with mostly inferior competition from a weak conference.

6) Scoring seems like it's a little higher. Mostly this is a pace issue (it's up about 2 possessions per game from last year). I approve of teams playing faster and shooting (and making) threes. They're not scoring at a comparable rate to last year though as it's a little sloppier.

Edit: Spoke early, but CP3 is now out for a month or so on the Clippers too.

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