Opening week impressions of the NBA

By Andy Roth
Contributing Editor

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    New York, NY (Sports Network) - The first week of the NBA season is in the books and here are some early impressions.


    After losing on opening night, the Heat had three straight convincing wins, including a 26-point rout of the Orlando Magic. What stood out to me despite the 3-1 start was a lack of an inside presence on both the offensive and defensive end of the court. Chris Bosh is not a prototypical low-post power forward, so the Heat have no options on the low box for easy baskets. When Joel Anthony is on the floor, the opposing center doesn't have to guard him and can concentrate on helping out on penetration to the hoop by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    On the defensive end, Anthony is overmatched physically, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas flat out can't move. When Bosh moves to the middle he doesn't have the strength to guard to the top-flight centers.

    Rajon Rondo
    Rajon Rondo is in his fifth season with the Boston Celtics

    Rajon Rondo's play highlighted Boston's first three games. The Celtics point guard had 17 assists in the 88-80 win over the Heat on opening night and added a triple-double (10 points, 24 assists, 10 rebounds) in a four-point win over the Knicks. But Rondo also displayed the one weakness in his game that needs to change for him to fully take advantage of his point guard skills. He continually passed up wide-open shots, allowing defenses to play off him and limiting his ability to get into the lane.

    Aside from Rondo, Glen Davis was the Celtics' most impressive player. With Rasheed Wallace's retirement and Kendrick Perkins' injury, Davis will get plenty of minutes and he looks like he's ready to take advantage of it. "Big Baby" is averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while shooting a phenomenal 67 percent from the field.


    The Magic opened the new season -- and a new arena -- with a 29-point win over a very inexperienced Washington Wizards team. The next game provided a reality check as they were demolished by the division-rival Heat in a 26-point loss. It was a typical Magic game in which they relied heavily on the outside shot and hit a miserable 4 of 24 from three-point range. But the statistic that really stood out was an embarrassing five assists. It magnified Orlando's problem of having nobody who can create easy shots for a teammate, the biggest culprit being point guard Jameer Nelson.


    Because the two-time defending champions having the game's greatest player in Kobe Bryant and another great player in Pau Gasol, you can sometimes forget how good and how skilled Lamar Odom is. He gave us a quick reminder as the Lakers opened the season with three straight wins. With Odom in the starting lineup while Andrew Bynum recovers from off-season knee surgery, the Lakers haven't missed a beat. Odom put up a double-double in each game, averaging 16 points and 13.7 rebounds for the week, while shooting 68 percent from the floor.


    Derrick Rose must have a tired right arm after throwing up 58 shots in his first two games. If the Bulls are going to be successful, they'll need their point guard creating shots for his teammates, rather than hoisting up so many attempts for himself. I have a feeling that Rose will be more offensive-minded until Carlos Boozer returns to the lineup.

    Teammate Joakim Noah is doing his best to prove the Bulls made a wise investment in giving him a five-year, $60 million extension by putting up two double-doubles to start the season. Noah had 18 points and 19 rebounds in a season-opening loss to the Thunder, followed by 15 points and 17 rebounds in a win over the Pistons.


    The all-around play of third-year center Roy Hibbert stands out. He is doing it all, averaging 18.3 points, 10 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and 4.7 assists per game.


    Motown isn't a happy basketball town with the Pistons off to an 0-3 start following three winnable games. Detroit blew a seven-point lead in the final two minutes in their opener against the Nets, and then lost with 2.5 seconds left to the Thunder. But the toughest defeat to swallow may have been the latest one, when they led by 21 early in the third quarter and by 13 with just over three minutes left in their loss to the Bulls.

    And what does it say about the Pistons' first-round draft pick (7th overall), Greg Monroe, whose only action was seven minutes of playing time in the third game. The glaring stat in the boxscore was three personal fouls. Monroe struggled defensively in the preseason, and I don't see it changing anytime soon with his lack of athleticism. I have a strong feeling that the former Georgetown star will turn out to be one of the big busts of the 2010 draft


    After failing miserably with his first-round draft picks in 2008 (Danilo Gallinari) and 2009 (Jordan Hill), team president Donnie Walsh seems to have found a solid player in 2010 second-round selection Landry Fields. Head coach Mike D'Antoni was so impressed with his play during the summer league and exhibition season, that he decided to go with the rookie from Stanford as his starting shooting guard. And the decision has paid quick dividends. Landry plays with a lot of cool and smarts, and makes the most out of his skills. He scored 11 points in each of his first three games, and has been extremely impressive on the boards, pulling down 7.3 rebounds per game.

    The head coach also has to be thrilled with the play of Wilson Chandler, who has been tremendous in his new role as the sixth man. Chandler is averaging 21 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds per game.

    Unfortunately for the Knicks, two starters -- Gallinari and rookie center Timofey Mozgov -- have been invisible. Gallinari, who is suffering from a sore wrist, is averaging just six points per game and is a horrible 5-for-24 from the field. The sore wrist aside, Gallinari is a one-dimensional player when he's healthy. He is an excellent spot-up jump shooter who does nothing else well. And his inability to defend in the NBA will always make him a non- productive player.

    As for Mozgov, he's lived up to his nickname in Russia as "the human foul machine." In his NBA debut he had four fouls in seven minutes against Toronto, and four fouls in 16 minutes in the home-opener versus Portland. His slow lateral movement will make him a defensive liability and will certainly help him sustain his nickname for years to come.

    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.

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