NBA Playoffs
The Pulse of the NBA

By Andy Roth
Contributing Editor

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    New York, NY (Sports Network) - Andrew Bynum has been a beast since his return. Lamar Odom's initials (L.O.) may as well stand for lost offensively, and a couple of late first-round draft picks are making an early mark. I've got those stories and more in my latest take on the NBA.


    The defending champs have struggled out of the starting gate, and no more than Lamar Odom, who is the big new face in "Big D". To say the transition from Hollywood to Dallas has been a major struggle for last season's Sixth Man of the Year winner may be a gross understatement.

    Odom looks totally out of sync and it's clearly reflected in his production, or lack thereof. He's shooting a mind-boggling 19% (8-41) from the floor, while averaging a meager 5.3 ppg. Odom had the ball in his hands a lot more with the Lakers and was more of a focal point of the offense. He just doesn't seem comfortable yet in his new home.


    It seems pretty clear after just two games, that Bynum will be the big beneficiary of Odom's departure, and the 24-year-old center looks primed for a breakout season. If he stays healthy, we all know that's a big if, Bynum should be making his first All-Star appearance and will be second-team All-NBA to Dwight Howard. He was a major force at both ends of the floor, as he made his season debut in back-to-back games against the Nuggets. The numbers he put up were even more impressive, considering the fact he didn't play huge minutes. In his first game he put up 29 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes, and followed that up with an 18-point, 16-rebound game in just 28 minutes. He also hit on a phenomenal 67% of his shots, connecting on 20 of 30 from the floor. Bynum is so long and he's a load, and there aren't too many centers that can match up with him physically.


    There's nothing magical about the Wizards right now, with them being the only winless team in the league with their 0-5 start. John Wall continues to struggle with the same problems that plagued him his rookie season - horrible shooting and an abundance of turnovers. He's shooting just 32% from the field, while averaging 4.4 turnovers-per-game, Wall's assist-to-turnover ratio is a horrendous 1.55, which simply won't get the job done if he wants to be a top- level point guard.


    After winning the season-opener, the Nets have looked awful in dropping their next five games by an average of 17.8 points. The lone bright spot has been the play of rookie shooting guard Marshon Brooks. He plays with a lot of confidence and has the ability to create his own shot. Brooks, who was the 25th-overall pick, is the leading rookie scorer at 13.7 ppg, while shooting a very efficient 46% from the floor. His numbers are even more impressive when you consider the fact there were two game when he got limited minutes (eight and 12) and scored a combined six points. In the other four games in which he played at least 20 minutes, he's averaging 19 ppg. With New Jersey having so much trouble putting the ball through the "Nets" (85.3 ppg, 29th in the NBA), so to speak, it seems like it's time for head coach Avery Johnson to insert Brooks into the starting lineup.


    The "Big Three" usually grab all the headlines in Miami, but the club's rookie point guard, Norris Cole, has managed to steal away a little bit of the thunder here in the early going. As a matter of fact, Cole, who was drafted 28th-overall out of Cleveland State, completely stole the spotlight from his superstar teammates in only his second game as a pro. He scored 20 points, including 14 of the Heat's 24 fourth-quarter points, as the Heat held off a late rally by the Celtics. Coles performance even elicited "MVP" chants from the Miami faithful, but even more importantly, drew some heavy praise from his head coach Erik Spoelstra. "(Cole's) not afraid of the moment or the competition. He's aggressive. He will continue to learn. I don't want to cloud his mind with too many of the details right now," said Spoelstra. "He's very heady, mature, so he's picking up our system on the fly. We have a lot of veterans who are helping as well. I want to make sure he stays aggressive without thinking too much at this point." Coles ability to break down a defense and create shots for teammates, sets him apart from starting point guard Mario Chalmers, so don't be surprised if he eventually gets the majority of the time on the floor.

    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.

    Copyright 2011

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