By Andy Roth
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.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
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.
NEW JERSEY NETS
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.