NBA Quick Thoughts and Midseason Outlook
-How the West was won: 10 teams in the Western Conference have a winning percentage of .525 or better, only four teams in the Eastern conference can boast such a record. What’s more impressive is the fact that they are beating themselves up, most of these teams would be able to win a division in the East. Only Portland has a losing record against the Eastern Conference.
-Biggest Surprise Team – Memphis Grizzlies: They have been bad for so long its hard to believe they are right in the midst of the playoff hunt. While other young teams are producing, they have more star power, whereas the Grizzlies win with their overall talent and depth. Allen Iverson made a bad call abandoning the Grizzlies, one that he will regret come playoff time when he is sitting at home and Memphis is extending their season.
-Biggest Surprise Player- Carl Landry, Rockets: Who would think the Rockets without Yao or McGrady, and losing Artest could compete this year. Its been primarily two reasons PG Aaron Brooks and Landry. Landry has been quite impressive this year and looks like a star in the making. He doesn’t do anything tremendous, but is very good across the board. His work ethic and tenacity under the basket make him a great example of how big men should play.
-Biggest Disappointing Team – New Orleans Hornets: There are a number of teams that could get this distinction, but no one had as high of hopes at the start of the season as the Hornets. With Chris Paul and David West, this team should be among the top 4 in the West, add in Emeka Okafor and the Hornets should be in the midst of making a run for the title this year. Instead they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs and more worried about getting under the luxury tax. Their biggest mistake was taking Darren Collison in the 1st round over guys like Cassipi, Gibson, Blair (or plenty of other players who are outperforming Collison). Not only is Collison not producing, but the Hornets seem pretty set at PG, adding another forward or swing man probably would have helped.
-Most Surprising Rookie -Wesley Matthews, Jazz: Matthews wasn’t even drafted this past season and has started 19 games for the Jazz. Overall he’s averaging over 8 points a game and looks like a big find for Utah.
-Most Disappointing Rookie – Jordan Hill, Knicks: There are plenty of options for this, but I gave Rubio and Griffin the benefit of the doubt despite not playing this season. While Thabeet has been mostly unimpressive, he has helped the Grizzlies some. Hill gets the call because (though Terrance Williams is neck and neck with him) because he really hasn’t been able to give any quality minutes to a Knicks team that could find themselves in the playoffs. The upside exists with Hill, but right now he can’t seem to find it in NY’s rotation.
-Rookie of the Year – DeJuan Blair, Spurs: His numbers might not be up to par with Evans and Jennings, but no rookie has meant more to his team (with possible exception of Harden) than Blair. He is getting roughly half the minutes of most rookies, but producing just the same. If he played 40 minutes a game he’d average over 16 points and 14 rebounds. And he’s producing despite being on a team with so many stars, so offensive looks aren’t easy to come by.
-MVP – Kevin Durant, Thunder: With respect to LeBron, Duncan and Anthony I don’t think anyone has meant more to their team then Durant. The Thunder weren’t supposed to be able to compete out West this season, and yet they are right in the thick of it. While they have their share of talent, one star shines quite brighter than the rest, Kevin Durant. He is becoming the dominant player we all thought he could be in college, and the Thunder are benefiting quite nicely.