So far in the NBA, my prediction of the New York Knicks and LA Clippers having a good season has been right. They are 1 and 2 in the NBA power rankings as of November 21st. Both teams are playing great basketball, with key contributions from their bench players, and they are still missing key players that can make them even better.
The Knicks look like they have figured it out so far this year. Putting Carmelo Anthony at the 4 has been successful and a disaster for defenders. He is more efficient in the ways he scores and getting a lot more open shots. Their point guard play from Raymon Felton, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni has been superb. Felton is having an All-Star season, and I admit, I did not see this coming after getting rid of the rising star Jeremy Lin. Also so far, the most valuable player on the team has been J.R. Smith. He has come of the bench providing efficient scoring and timely defense. Once Iman Shumpert comes back, that will be another player that can score and defend his butt off. The Knicks are clicking on all cylinders right now, but the only concern is what will happen when Amar’e gets back. Will it mess up the chemistry if he starts? Should he come off the bench? We will see, but right now, the Knicks are hot! The last time they started off the season this good, the made it to the NBA Finals!
The Clippers are also playing good basketball. They look like they learned from their mistakes from last year and are much improved. They still have the exciting “Lob City” offense, but the most notable improvement comes from the bench. Jamal Crawford is having an All-Star, Sixth man year so far and is the leading scorer on the team coming off the bench. Eric Bledsoe looks even better than last year and Lamar Odom is getting back to the way he used to play. They also have Matt Barnes and Willie Green that provide veteran leadership with a few buckets to the team. They are playing great basketball without one of their best shooters, Chauncey Billups. When he and Grant Hill get back, they we be even better in the starting line up and the bench. Right now, they are the best team in LA!
The surprise good team so far has to be the Memphis Grizzlies. They play blue-collar basketball and it is working so far in the season. Their team chemistry is proving to be valuable as they share the ball so everyone contributes. Rudy Gay is stepping up his game and so is Marc Gasol. Zach Randolph has always been a good player for them, and he represents what they stand for (nothing flashy, just basketball). They got big wins so far against the Heat, Thunder and Knicks. All this and they got rid of a key player in OJ Mayo. But, people like Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless are stepping up for them.
OKC, Miami, and San Antonio are also still doing good, but just not as amazing as these top 3 teams. The Heat is still the team to beat and their offense looks better with Ray Allen knocking down shots. Also Rashard Lewis is knocking down shots too so that is scary. San Antonio looks like the same team as last year and Tim Duncan continues to get younger year by year. OKC got rid of James Harden, and so far it is noticeable. Kevin Martin is a good player, but not the play maker that Harden is proving to be in Houston. Kevin Durant will have to take over more games and stop deferring to Russell Westbrook in order for them to win. I know it’s early in the season, but it is still something to talk about.
Boston is starting off slow, but they have a lot of new pieces that need to gel. That goes the same with the Lakers. Now that they have Mike D’Antoni, will they start playing better? How will the defense look? And why is Dwight Howard wearing a headband with that weird shaped head? The Brooklyn Nets are doing good so far, but not great. I’m looking forward to the Nets vs Knicks game on November 26 to see who is more dominant in the state of NY. I also cannot wait until Derrick Rose comes back because Chicago always seems to be in games without him, imagine how they will look with him.
So far in the season, Damian Lillard is proving to be the Rookie of the Year over Anthony Davis. He is a Westbrook-type player for the Blazers. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out for them as they continue to improve. A few other teams to keep an eye on this season are the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, and the Charlotte Bobcats (yes the Bobcats!). They all have some interesting things going for them so far in the season, so let’s see how they improve.
Here are the rest of the NBA Power Rankings so far:
In Other News
Jack Taylor from a DIII school in Iowa called Grinnell, broke the NCAA all-time single-game scoring record with 138 points!! How the heck does one score that much in this modern age of basketball? Jack is a 5’11″ guard at that. He shot 108 times and made 52 of them, making 27 3-pointers (which accounted for 71 of those points). The most amazing stat is that he had zero assist, ha! However, he wasn’t being selfish because he teammates wanted him to shot every shot for his team. His team did win with a 179-104 victory. What went unnoticed is that the guy on the other team scored 7o points so there clearly wasn’t any defense.
The Dunk of the Year So far
If you haven’t seen this dunk yet, check it out. The Boston Celtic’s Jeff Green has the dunk of the year so far on Mr. Al Jefferson from the Utah Jazz: