Gibberman: The Jump – A week into the season

Nov 4, 2009, 6:20 PM | Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 4:27 pm

Watch out for the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’m not usually a fan of moral victories, but watching OKC go toe to toe with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers was impressive. The Thunder eventually lost in OT 101-98, but this young team was not intimidated by the veteran Lakers. The young Oklahoma City squad still has a lot to learn; Kevin Durant with the game tied at the end of the 4th quarter had an opportunity to win the game and pulled up for a 3 pointer from 28 feet out. Durant was being guarded by Ron Artest, in that situation Kevin needs to attack the basket and force the refs to make a decision. Referees will not hesitate to blow the whistle on Ron with his reputation.

The Boston Celtics are scary good. They waxed the Philadelphia 76ers 105-74 Tuesday night and Boston did it with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combining for only eight points. That is correct they beat a playoff team that gave the Orlando Magic a fight for their lives in the first round by 31 points with two of their three best players scoring less than 10 points combined. That is not good for the rest of the NBA.

Portland Trailblazers center Greg Oden might not be the most developed offensive player, but he is a beast on the defensive end. He needs to learn to stay on the court. Per 48 minutes he would be averaging 19.4 rebounds and 5.44 blocks. Obviously he can’t play 48 minutes a night, but if he can cut down the fouls and play 28-32 MPG he has a chance to win Defensive Player of the Year.

On Monday night I watched a good amount of the Sacramento Kings-Memphis Grizzlies game. Sacramento Kings center Spencer Hawes is the best big man you haven’t seen. He had 21 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, and a turnover. He has range that extends to the three point line (shoots more comfortably from around 18 ft), is a great passer, plays excellent defense, and is a solid rebounder. For some odd reason Kings head coach Paul Westphal thought it was a good idea for him to start the season on the bench and start former 1st round pick Sean May. Terrible decision by Westphal; I expect him to come to his senses and insert Hawes into the startling lineup in the near future.

The Southeast division is the most underrated division in the NBA. They have an elite team in the Orlando Magic, two very good teams with the Miami Heat (as long as Jermaine O’Neal stays healthy) and Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Wizards are a good team, and the Bobcats are mediocre.

If the Houston Rockets contend for the NBA playoffs Rick Adelman should unanimously be named NBA Coach of the Year. Take a look at the roster without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, based on talent they should be a 25 win team. They have started off the season 3-1 with victories over the Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazers, two playoff teams from last season.

Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo got the money that he deserved with his five-year $55 million deal. I consider Rondo the third best PG in the league behind Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Rondo creates havoc on defense with his long arms and huge hands plus he runs the Celtics offense to perfection. He doesn’t have an easy job keeping all the talent on that team happy.

The New Orleans Hornets are in a lot of trouble. Outside of Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor there is not a lot of talent on that roster. Financially the team is not in good shape and the first person to catch blame will be head coach Byron Scott. I expect Scott to be the first coach fired this season. I mentioned it in my NBA preview I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Paul moved before the deadline. For a team to be able to trade for him they would have to take another one of the Hornets contracts in return (Peja Stojackovic or James Posey).

Suns Spot

The Phoenix Suns are off to a fantastic 4-0 and start they are doing exactly what I expected them to by beating the teams they are supposed to beat. Wins against the Clippers, Warriors, Timberwolves, and Heat are nothing to brag about, but you have to play who is on the schedule. Last season the Suns would have lost at least one of these games. I love the concentration level that coach Alvin Gentry has them playing with.

I always wondered whether Amare Stoudemire would fully take advantage of the god given talent that he was given. In the last two games I am finally seeing what I have been waiting to see out of STAT the last two years; a dedication to defense and rebounding. Amare blocked five shots against the T’Wolves and Heat and affected many others. He also has stopped settling for jump shots, he is being aggressive and taking the ball to the basket (36 foul shots in 4 games, good for 11th in the league free throw attempts per game). It seems like Amare has finally realized that to be considered a franchise player you have to do it on both ends of the floor, hopefully he keeps it up.

I thought Grant Hill played well last year and this season he has played even better. Hill has been forced to play more minutes early in the season due to Jason Richardson’s suspension and now an injury to Leandro Barbosa. The most incredible part of Hill’s performance this year is that he leads the Suns in rebounding with 9.7 RPG. I do not expect that to continue, but Hill is playing like he is 23 years old. In the long run once the Suns get fully healthy it will be in Gentry’s best interest to keep Grant playing between 25-28 MPG to keep him fresh for the stretch run and the playoffs, but it has been a pleasure to watch #33 step his game up early in the season.

Rookie Watch

Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings has been the most impressive rookie so far this season. In his first game he just missed a triple double with 17 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds. With Michael Redd already down with an injury (real shocker there) Jennings is going to have a lot of weight on his shoulders. He is not the most imposing PG because of his small stature, but he has the speed and quickness to cause havoc for opposing defenses. The Bucks got a real steal with the #10 pick.

Top 10

1. Boston Celtics…5-0…They are #1 and it isn’t even close. Boston has held all five opponents to 90 points or less and have already won two games by over 30 points.

2. Denver Nuggets…4-0…Many people thought Denver would take a step back, they have not and they are in the elite class of the Western Conference. Carmelo Anthony looks determined to put his name in the MVP conversation.

3. Los Angeles Lakers…3-1…Looking good and Pau Gasol hasn’t played yet. Andrew Bynum looks phenomenal early in the season; let’s see if he can stay healthy.

4. Orlando Magic…3-1…The deepest team in the NBA. Off to a great start without Rashard Lewis.

5. Dallas Mavericks…3-1…Playing great basketball without Josh Howard. When he returns the Mavs will have one the most versatile front courts in the NBA.

6. San Antonio Spurs…2-1…Tim Duncan looks great, key to the season is the health of Manu Ginobli.

7. Phoenix Suns…4-0…Winning the games their supposed to. We will find out a lot more about the Suns in their next two games, they play @ Orlando and @ Boston.

8. Atlanta Hawks…3-1…Great win Tuesday night against the Portland Trailblazers. Last year Atlanta was 16-25 on the road. If they want to take the next step they need to continue to prove they can win away from Atlanta.

9. Cleveland Cavaliers…3-2…LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. Team still needs to find its rhythm with the offseason changes.

10. Houston Rockets…3-1…Finding a way to win despite an unimpressive roster. Rookie Chase Budinger is off to a solid start and Aaron Brooks is looking good as a full time starting PG.


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Gibberman: The Jump – A week into the season