By Andy Roth
Where Politically Correct Opinions Get Rejected
New York, NY (Sports Network) - With two weeks of the NBA season in the
books, let's take a look at the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly ...
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
The NBA's biggest surprise is also one of only two teams that is still
undefeated along with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. And the
Hornets 6-0 start is even more impressive considering the level of competition
they've played. Five of the six wins have come against playoff teams from last
season. They have beaten the Bucks twice, and the Heat, Spurs, and Nuggets once
Chris Paul and some really good defense has spurred the early success. Paul is
putting up MVP-type numbers, averaging 18.7 points, 10.2 assists, and 6.0
rebounds per game. The Hornets, meanwhile, are third in the league in points
allowed, giving up just 91.5 per game.
The "Big Three" look more like a big two so far with Chris Bosh struggling to
find his niche. Bosh is used to dominating the ball and seems somewhat lost as
he defers to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The five-time All Star is averaging
only 14.4 ppg, down almost ten points from last season.
But another area of Bosh's game that is suffering that should have nothing to
do with being with a new team is his work off the boards. He's pulling down
only 5.4 rpg and has had two games where he had just one rebound.
Rookie point guard John Wall is sitting atop one statistical category, but it's
not an accomplishment he's going to want to brag about. Wall leads the NBA with
5.8 turnovers per game. This is not a total surprise since turnovers were a
problem last year at Kentucky when he averaged 4.0 per game.If Wall wants to be
a great point guard he'll have to drastically improve in this area. Turnovers
are much more detrimental to a team than assists are helpful.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Despite the great start by Blake Griffin (18.1 ppg, 11 rpg), the Clippers still
find themselves tied with the Timberwolves for the worst record in the league
at 1-6. But the Clips have actually played better over the last four games with
rookie point guard Eric Bledsoe in the starting lineup for the injured Baron
Davis. The lone win came against the Thunder with Bledsoe as a starter, and
they played competitive games against the Jazz and Nuggets. Over the four-game
stretch, Bledsoe has averaged 13 ppg, 7.0 apg, and 4.0 rpg playing against the
likes of Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, and Russell Westbrook.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
The play of Richard Jefferson has been the big story in San Antonio. His first
year with the Spurs was the worst of his nine-year career. He averaged just
12.3 ppg after putting up 18-plus ppg in five of his six previous seasons. That
still didn't stop Jefferson from opting out of the final year of his contract
and give up $15 million of guaranteed money to become a free agent. To the
surprise of many, including myself, the Spurs re-signed Jefferson to a 4-year,
$38.8 million deal.
Head coach Gregg Popovich knew he couldn't stomach another season with
Jefferson like last season and gave him a direct edict. He could go back to the
gym and work on his game during the summer or he could sit back and relax and
expect to be playing for another team. Jefferson agreed to the workouts, with
Popovich saying afterwards had he not, "I would have definitely tried to trade
him on the spot. I told him I would definitely work on getting your ass out of
The early returns on all the work Jefferson put in have netted huge results so
far. He's averaging 20.4 ppg and shooting a phenomenal 64 percent from the
field and 60 percent from three-point range. If his game is truly back, the
Spurs could be the best team in the West that is not called the Lakers.
If you're a Hawks fan, don't get too excited about the 6-1 start. Atlanta lost
its first game of the season on Sunday, dropping a game at home to the Suns
118-114. It also marked the first time the Hawks faced a playoff team from last
year. The combined record of the teams they've notched their six wins against
is an ugly 12-27
The Bulls dealt Kirk Hinrich to create enough cap space to sign two big ticket
free agents over the summer. They did reel in one with the signing of Carlos
Boozer, but now find themselves with a gaping hole at the two-guard position.
Starter Keith Bogans is simply not a good NBA player. He's averaging just 3.2
ppg, playing nearly 25 minutes per game, while shooting a pathetic 33 percent
from the field. Backup Kyle Korver is doing a nice job off the bench scoring
8.0 points per game, while hitting on 50 percent of his shots, but is not a
good defender and is mainly a spot-up jump shooter. Hinrich is a more versatile
offensive player who can also create shots for his teammates.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
The team the oddsmakers had as the biggest threat to the Lakers in the West has
stumbled out of the starting gate with a 3-3 record. The big difference from
last season is on the defensive end of the court. The Thunder are currently
giving up 104 ppg, ranking them 22nd in the league, compared to last year when
they gave up only 98 ppg, ranking them 11th overall.
On the offensive end, they are getting very poor production out of their two-
guards. Starter Thabo Sefolosha and his backup, James Harden are basically
sharing the minutes, but both are not getting the job done. Sefolosha is
averaging 3.0 ppg (29 percent from the floor) and Harden 4.8 ppg (30 percent)
Harden, the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, has to be considered a major
disappointment right now. His inability to create his own shot off the dribble
will prevent him from being a big-time offensive threat.
A player that doesn't have to worry about his ability to create shots for
himself and is off to a terrific start is Rudy Gay. He's taken his game to
another level and is certainly doing his best to prove that he was worthy of
his five-year, $82 million extension. He's third in the NBA in scoring
averaging 27.1 ppg, shooting 52 percent from the field, 45 percent from the
three-point range, and 86 percent from the line. Gay is also hitting the
boards, averaging 6.9 rpg.
Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and
was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered
many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA
Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.