Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Overview of the NBA So Far

"Follow the lines and wonder why...there's no connection."

I have been doing some proofreading recently (and it's still not very good, I know), but I've come across something...I don't think I've mentioned any other team from the NBA or NHL besides the Celtics or the Bruins...am I right? So, I think it's long overdue for me to run down how the rest of the two leagues are doing...you know, besides the two that are dominating right now. So, let's start of with the Association, and hopefully, at some point in the near future, I will get to the NHL as well:

Eastern Conference:
  • Cleveland: Of course everyone knows about LeBron (27.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 6.4apg, 1.94spg)...face it, he's the best player in the game right now. Inside, outside...everything. However, I have to give a lot of credit to the addition to Mo Williams (15.7ppg, 4.6apg for the Cavs' hot start. Williams provides a perimeter scoring threat that they have been lacking, and also is a good distributor of the ball. Ilgauskas (15.6ppg, 7.4rpg) is playing solid in the paint, and Delonte is off to one of his better starts in recent memory (2.65 A/TO). Their bench is stacked as well, and if I didn't have such an overwhelming bias towards the C's bench, I would say this one is the best in the league.
  • Orlando: I have seen this team play before, but they played the C's last night, and I'm still in total awe of how dominating a presence Dwight Howard (21.4ppg, 14.0rpg, 3.89bpg, 58.8FG%) is in the middle. There would literally be four Celtics in perfect position for a rebound, and all of a sudden, this giant in blue would rise up and snatch it away from them. He is one of the best players to watch, and right now, is the best center in the NBA. The injuries to Nelson (31.5mpg, 14.4 ppg, 5.1apg), Bogans (24.4mpg), and Pietrus (28.7mpg, 12.9ppg) are going to hurt them in the short-run. While they have performed well this year, this is a time where Rashard Lewis (18.9ppg, 6.1rpg, 36.22PT%) and Hedo Turkoglu (17.4ppg, 5.5rpg) are going to have to step up their games even more.
  • New Jersey: In what has to be one of the biggest surprises of the year, the Nets have find themselves as the #4 team in the East right now. One of the favorites for MVP (I know it's early) is Devin Harris (25.3ppg, 6.4apg, 3.07 A/TO, 48.7FG%). Harris, who was traded for Jason Kidd last year, is having an absolute monster year. He is shooting, he's passing...the addition of Harris as a dynamic scorer with Vince Carter (23.8ppg, 48.4%FG) has made this team dangerous. Also, could anyone have predicted Yi Jianlian (26.8mpg, 11.1ppg, 6.2rpg) would be getting the kind of run he's gotten so far? Brook Lopez (26.6mpg, 9.7ppg, 7.1rpg), the rookie from Stanford, has been tremendous in the paint as well.
  • Atlanta: There was no way this team could continue its fast start (6-0) without Josh Smith (last year: 35.5mpg, 17.2ppg, 8.2rpg, 2.8bpg). Eventually, you knew that this was going to catch up to them...and it has. However, they get Smith back on Wednesday, and the other elements of the team have performed well. Joe Johnson (39.4mpg, 22.7ppg, 38.5 3PT%) continues to score in bunches on a regular basis. Al Horford (10.8ppg, 8.3rpg, 50.4%FG) is having a strong sophomore campaign after his emergence last year, and Marvin Williams (35.2mpg, 14.2ppg, 6.2rpg, 47.4 3PT%) has been a huge surprise in terms of his touch from the outside. Did anyone see that coming? My concern for this team is Mike Bibby (16.0ppg, 4.4apg). His points are up, but the assists are down. This is never a good sign for a guy whose main responsibility is dishing, and not as a scorer. As evident from the aforementioned players, they have scorers. When they get Smith back, this team could begin to ascend the standings once again. Also, incredible home court advantage as we saw last year.
  • Detroit: Oh Joe Dumars, what happened? The Iverson (36.1mpg, 17.6ppg, 5.3apg)-Billups swap isn't exactly working out as well as the Pistons may have hoped. The thing about that team is they need a guy running the point who is pass-first, not shoot-first. Now, with Rip Hamilton (34.3mpg, 16.1ppg), they have two shooting guards to start the game. Also, in the A/TO department, it's not even close (AI: 1.73, Chauncey: 3.75). It just wasn't a smart move at all, and reeked of desperation (side note: I have Media Player on shuffle, and "Panic in Detroit" by Bowie is on right now...you can't make this stuff up).
  • Chicago: I am fully aware that he was the #1 pick, but did anyone see Derrick Rose (38.0mpg, 18.4ppg, 6.0apg, 48.7FG%) being this good this fast? Rose is the runaway choice for rookie of the year, as he has, quite literally, fast-tracked the Bulls to a playoff spot. Ben Gordon (34.9mpg, 20.4ppg) continues to be one of the more underrated shooting guards in the league. All he does his get his 20 points a game, and that's it. I guess this is what comes when you play on a bad team for all those years. The only problem I see coming is the lack of inside presence and the depth that follows it. Drew Gooden (30.1mpg, 13.4ppg, 8.9rpg) starts off the game, but then, you have Tyrus Thomas (6.4ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.59bpg) and Joakim Noah (5.7rpg), two high draft picks that have been total busts to this point (I think I saw the Noah thing coming considering I said I would disown the Celtics if they drafted him).
  • Toronto: I have always been a huge fan of Chris Bosh (41.9mpg, 26.8ppg, 10.2rpg, 53.9FG%), but this year, he is just playing out of his mind. A lot of credit has to be given to Jose Calderon (36.9mpg, 13.1ppg, 9,6apg) for stepping up and becoming a stellar point guard for the Raptors, and the offseason move of getting Jermaine O'Neal (12.4ppg, 8.8rpg). While O'Neal is certainly not at the 20-10 level he has played at for most of his career, he is nevertheless an inside guy who takes some of the heat off of Bosh, which has allowed Bosh to move to the power forward position, a position where he is getting a lot more open looks facing the basket. Andrea Bargnani (12.0ppg, 5.3rpg) has stepped his game up a little, but in no way am I to sit here and think that Toronto may want a do-over for that pick (Brandon Roy/Rudy Gay anyone?)
  • Miami: After the Olympics, it was made clear that Dwayne Wade (37.1mpg, 28.7ppg, 7.9apg, 49.2FG%) was not about to leave the spotlight just yet, and he sure has done that this season. This is a .500 team...imagine what it would be like if Wade was on the decline like everyone assumed? Shawn Marion (37.0mpg, 12.3ppg, 9.3rpg) has to step up. He is getting a bunch of boards, but his scoring is way down. He needs to become this team's second scoring option. Michael Beasley (14.7ppg, 5.4rpg) has done a fine job in his rookie season, and is doing basically what they thought he would do, which is to get them points and be a threat on the perimeter while having power-forward size. A lot of pressure on Mario Chalmers (30.2mpg, 8.9ppg, 4.5apg), another rookie who has been thrusted into the starting point guard role.
  • New York: This team, despite dumping a ton of payroll, I actually do like a lot. It's one of those teams that reverts back to the days when teams scored 120 points a game. Mike D'Antoni has changed the franchise significantly while operating amidst the ongoing Stephon Marbury saga. Nate Robinson (14.3ppg, 4.2apg) has been steady in the backcourt, but it has been Chris Duhon's (39.7mpg, 10.9ppg, 8.2apg, 3.45 A/TO) sudden rise from the ashes that has helped them play D'Antoni's fast-paced style of play. Wilson Chandler (30.9mpg, 14.9ppg, 5.9rpg) and David Lee (31.6mpg, 14.1ppg, 9.1rpg) have played sensationally at the forward spot, and with the recent addition of Al Harrington (17ppg, 7rpg), this team could be like what Golden State was two years ago. Definitely a team to watch for.
  • Indiana: A player that a lot of NBA insiders have been high on for years, and yet does not get any publicity, likely due to where he plays at, Danny Granger (35.9mpg, 24.2ppg, 5.5rpg, 83.3 FT%) has again proven to be a force, and continues to improve on his numbers despite being the focal point of every opposing team. One thing that has helped Granger has been the steady play of T.J. Ford (34.1mpg, 14.6ppg, 5.3apg, 4.8rpg, 90.0 FT%) to draw defenses. Marquis Daniels (34.9mpg, 16.1ppg, 6.3rpg) has been a nice surprise, and Troy Murphy (32.1mpg, 10.7ppg, 10.9rpg) has stepped up his inside presence, but this team continues to frustrate its fans by playing well, and then losing anyway.
  • Philadelphia: I think the whole "Elton Brand (35.8mpg, 17.2ppg, 10.1rpg, 1.53bpg) is still trying to fit in in Philly" statement is getting a little old. Brand is a top-20 guy, and after 20 games, if you haven't figured out how to fit a guy of that caliber in your offense, then the problems may extend beyond the court (Mo Cheeks?). This team is still very talented. The guy who has seen his production fall off the most has been Andre Iguodala (35.8mpg, 13.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 5.2apg), who is shooting just 40% from the field and 69.2% from the line, both career lows (negative fantasy implications dude!). Andre Miller is following Mike Bibby in the "aging point guard" routine...not a good thing. Two bright spots have been the play of Thaddeus Young (33.6mpg, 14.5ppg, 4.8rpg) and Samuel Dalembert (6.5ppg, 9.1rpg), one of the more underrated big men in the league.
  • Milwaukee: I think that this team's record does not implicate how this team plays. The record is bad, but they spent basically the entire month on the road (12 of 19 games) and saw three of their stars (Michael Redd (35.6mpg, 21.0ppg), Andrew Bogut (31.6mpg, 11.4ppg, 10.9rpg), Charlie Villanueva (12.0, 6.9rpg)) go down with injuries. Their big offseason acquisition, Richard Jefferson (37.9mpg, 18.9ppg, 5.5rpg) has done a very nice job so far...he's not a superstar, but he never really was to begin with, so I hope the Bucks knew that when they made that trade. A pleasant surprise has been Ramon Sessions (33.6mpg, 15.6ppg, 5.8apg), who has been a nice second scoring option.
  • Charlotte: This team has simply been disastrous, even with new coach Larry Brown...not to say he was going to turn the entire franchise around just like that, but you figured maybe there would be some improvement. I have always liked Gerald Wallace (38.9mpg, 16.3ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.06spg) and his all-around game, but even his numbers are down. I also like Raymond Felton (35.6mpg, 13.2ppg, 5.8apg), and I feel like a lot of people have been down on Jason Richardson (35.4mpg, 19.1ppg, 44.2 3PT%), but I really don't get it. He's a legitimate second scoring threat, and has come alive since returning from his knee injury. I wouldn't totally cast off the Bobcats. They simply need to add some depth to their team. D.J. Augustin (12.6ppg, 4.3apg, 90.4 FT%) has also added quality minutes. They have started off bad, but there are still a few positives to go off of.
  • Washington: Eddie Jordan was fired because this team was simply putrid coming out of the gates. While Gilbert Arenas (last year: 32.7mpg, 19.4ppg, 5.1apg, 1.77spg) will be out until around the new year, they should be fully aware of how to get along without him, as he only played in thirteen games last year. The Wizards' problem is that they put way too much dependence on their two healthy stars, Caron Butler (37.7mpg, 21.6ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.0spg) and Antawn Jaminson (38.4mpg, 20.8ppg, 9.7rpg, 48.9 FG%), while not accounting from the lack of overall depth the team has, which should have been evident from last season.
Western Conference:
  • L.A. Lakers: The only other team that can be thrown into the argument of the best team in the NBA. You would have to be totally naive to assume this team would not be as good, if not better than last year's version. Not only do you have one of the best players of the last decade in Kobe Bryant (33.5mpg, 24.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 4.2apg, 85.1 FT%), but they acquired another superstar in Pau Gasol (34.1mpg, 16.9ppg, 9.0rpg, 54.6 FG%) in an attempt to sure up their paint presence when they lost Andrew Bynum (12.4ppg, 9.1rpg, 2.2bpg, 53.3 FG%). Now Bynum is back, and has teamed with Gasol to become somewhat of a Sampson/Olajawon type of duo. It's also evident that Derek Fisher (10.0ppg, 94.4 FT%) is a guard that has figured out the triangle offense. If the Lakers could ever get a competent small forward, they would be absolutely unstoppable.
  • Portland: Does anyone else feel like this was just bound to happen? A boatload of young, talented players who are not just good, but unselfish. You had to have seen this coming...well maybe not this good, but given that they barely missed the playoffs in the wacky West last year, it makes some sense. Brandon Roy (36.2mpg, 20.9ppg, 5.3apg, 4.2rpg) has to be considered an MVP candidate right now, and really, there is no reason that will change the rest of the way. If Greg Oden (8.1ppg, 7.7rpg, 52.5 FG%) can somehow stay healthy, look out. LaMarcus Aldridge (33.6mpg, 15.8ppg, 6.7rpg) has been a pleasant surprise, and Rudy Fernandez (11.1ppg, 94.7 FT%) seems to be in a Manu Ginobili mold, which is an asset that obviously pays dividends in the playoffs.
  • Denver: As mentioned earlier, the Iverson-Chauncey Billups (34.6mpg, 18.6ppg, 6.7apg, 90.0 FT%) swap was bad for one team, and good for another...this team represents the latter. Billups is a proven leader, which is something that has been lacking on this team for years. Of course, you can't talk about Denver without mentioning my namesake. 'Melo (34.1mpg, 19.9ppg, 8.4rpg) has been solid as usual. Again, this comes as no surprise. What has been a surprise has been Nene (33.3mpg, 14.9ppg, 7.2rpg, 62.8 FG%), who went from a promising first-round pick, to relative obscurity due to injuries, to being a big-time presence for this team. Any team with Billups I really like, and this one is no different.
  • Houston: Despite being the fifth ranked team in the West, Houston is another one of those frustrating teams to watch simply because you know they could be even better than where they are right now. Of course when you say Houston, you think of T-Mac (33.0mpg, 15.6ppg, 41.7 3PT%) and Yao Ming (34.1mpg, 17.8ppg, 9.2rpg, 1.65bpg, 50.7 FG%, 87.3 FT%), but what will make this team run are their components. Ron Artest (38.8mpg, 14.8ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.89spg) has played remarkably this year, and was a tremendous pickup for the Rockets. Rafer Alston (32.6mpg, 10.6ppg, 4.9apg, 85.3 FT%, 3.71 A/TO) has done a tremendous job of limiting turnovers, but the team is missing Shane Battier (last season: 9.3ppg, 5.1rpg), and needs him to make a full recovery to where he has been prior to his foot injury. Aaron Brooks (11.4ppg, 46.3 FG%, 89.2 FT%) has also impressed in the limited time he's been on the floor.
  • San Antonio: Sometimes, you just have to marvel that the Spurs can continue to play the high-quality ball despite basically their entire team being over 30 and not having Ginobili (last year: 31.0 mpg,19.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.5apg, 86.0 FT%), who was their leading scorer from a year ago despite only starting 23 games. Ginobili is the firestarter from off the bench, and as shown from the minutes he played last year, Popovich does not wait too long until he goes to him. Tim Duncan (34.8mpg, 20.8ppg, 10.0rpg, 1.69bpg, 51.9 FG%) continues to be the NBA poster boy of the "consummate professional." Roger Mason (33.8mpg, 14.8ppg, 89.7 FT%) has really stepped up to become the second scoring option with Ginobili out. Luckily, Tony Parker (23.9ppg, 6.1apg, 55.0 FG%) is returning from an ankle injury, because he was unstoppable in the early going. It's time for him to be in the mix for the top 3 or 4 best point guards in the league.
  • New Orleans: Another team that is playing below the level they should be at. The Hornets are probably either the second or third best team in the West, but are underperforming big time right now. Chris Paul (37.5mpg, 20.3ppg, 11.6apg, 5.7rpg, 3.78 A/TO, 52.2 FG%, 85.7 FT%) has shown total frustration with his team and his coach. With Paul, David West (37.9mpg, 19.8ppg, 6.6rpg, 89.7 FT%), and Tyson Chandler (32.8mpg, 8.2ppg, 7.9rpg, 57.4 FG%), this team should be just dominating people, especially with the addition of super-sub James Posey (9.4ppg, 82.6 FT%). By the way, I've looked over Chris Paul's numbers about ten times while writing this...unbelievable.
  • Phoenix: Another team that has shown unrest for their poor start. New coach Terry Porter cannot seem to rally the troops. Their tempo has slowed, and so hasn't the winning (sha-zing). Amare Stuodemire (38.0mpg, 21.9ppg, 8.1rpg, 57.0 FG%) has been a beast, but everyone saw that coming. Steve Nash (33.8mpg, 15.1ppg, 8.1apg, 51.2 FG%, 92.2 FT%) has been good, but his numbers are nowhere near the 20-10 production he was putting up when the Suns were winning 55-60 games a year. Shaq (14.9ppg, 8.5rpg, 59.9 FG%) has been just adequate down low. They simply have not been able to adjust to the new coach, and collectively, are almost forcing management to replace Porter with someone who will be willing to revert back to the Suns' "run and gun" days.
  • Dallas: And yet another team that has to be somewhat puzzled at their slow start. Despite having three guys average over 20 a game, the Mavs are just 8-8 after 16. I would attribute most of it to their lack of depth. I know I sound like a broken record saying it, but it's the honest truth. In this day and age, with the kind of speed the game is played at, you need to be at least nine deep in order to be successful...at least unless you have either LeBron or Kobe. Dallas has to hope that Josh Howard's (37.0mpg, 20.3ppg, 8.2rpg) ankle injury will not keep him out for too long. Dirk Nowitzki (36.8mpg, 23.9ppg, 8.8rpg, 41.5 3PT%) continues to be a headache for defenders with his inside/outside game, and Jason Kidd (36.1mpg, 10.2ppg, 8.6apg, 7.3rpg, 2.44. 2.80 A/TO, 44.1 3PT%), despite basically everyone hating on him, is such a solid point guard. What else do you want from the guy? He scores, he crashes the boards, he dishes without too many turnovers...why is there so much animosity against Jason Kidd? Ultimately, the depth. and inherent lack of defense will sink this team.
  • Utah: All things considered, it could be a lot worse for the Jazz than 11-7. They have been without Deron Williams (last year: 37.3mpg, 18.8ppg, 10.5apg, 3.09 A/TO, 50.7 FG%) for basically the entire season. Couple that with two other ailing stars in Carlos Boozer (33.8mpg, 20.5ppg, 11.7rpg, 55.9 FG%) and Mehmet Okur (34.2mpg, 15.8ppg, 7.0rpg, 53.8 FG%), and the Jazz simply have not had enough of a healthy starting five to be fully evaluated. Williams is playing himself back into the starting role, and with Boozer coming back in about a week with a sore quad, and Okur now at full strength, this will be a team to watch, especially considering most of the West has it stuck in neutral.
  • Minnesota: What can you say about the T-Wolves? They have shown that they are reluctant to go out and make some moves to get any help for Al Jefferson (35.9mpg, 21.4ppg, 10.2rpg, 1.81bpg, 49.7 FG%), who anyone in the Boston area could tell you, will be a star in this league for a long, long time. It's a shame really for Jefferson, as basically, he has turned into Kevin Garnett from the early part of the decade. A superstar who is playing on a team with management that simply will not go out and get him any help (Mike Miller (34.8mpg, 12.0ppg) is not the answer). Building through the draft is a nice thought, but it takes so much time, especially considering Minnesota doesn't draft all that well. The only other guy on there with any potential is one of my favorite Celtics from the past decade, PC's own Ryan Gomes (11.0ppg, 44.4 3PT%), but he is better off as a guy coming off the bench for now and being more of a sixth man.
  • Golden State: Since they let Baron Davis walk, the Warriors found themselves with no one to take the starting PG job. They traded to get Jamal Crawford (36.6mpg, 19.9ppg, 4.9apg, 41.4 3PT%) to attempt to do this. So far, so good. It seems like Crawford has fit in well, and will no doubt see his points go up given Golden State's style of play. Will he be good playing 35 minutes and being the man running the point? That remains to be seen. Stephen Jackson (42.2mpg, 20.6ppg, 6.6apg) is having a fine season, but the minutes have to be killing him. It will be interesting to see how Andris Biedrins (34.2mpg, 15.7ppg, 12.4rpg, 54.6 FG%) will do now that Al Harrington will not be shouldering some of the load down low. This team has eight players averaging double digits a game. However, they are giving up 110 points a game. That has to change.
  • L.A. Clippers: This is one of those teams that if you ran the starting five out three or four years ago, they would win 45-50 easily. However, age has caught up to them, especially Marcus Camby (10.4ppg, 10.2rpg, 2.54bpg, 51.5 FG%), who despite averaging a double-double, has seen his numbers, and his health, go down significantly from his time in Denver. I have always liked Al Thornton (36.9mpg, 16.6ppg, 5.1rpg), and he seems to be doing well in his first season as a full-time starter. Baron Davis (36.2mpg, 17.0ppg, 8.2apg, 1.80spg, 3.32 A/TO) has to be frustrated in Mike Dunleavy's offense, which impairs his ability to run the kind of offense he was accustomed to in Golden State. Adding Zach Randolph (35.0mpg, 20.0 ppg, 11.8rpg, 80.0 FT%) will definitely help in the short-run while Chris Kaman (35.5mpg, 13.9ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.87bpg, 57.1 FG%) is nursing a foot injury. But when he comes back in a week or so, it will be interesting to see how they work the three big men into the lineup.
  • Sacramento: This has been a completely different team without Kevin Martin (37.1mpg, 22.4ppg, 83.0 FT%) in the lineup, but now that he is back, the Kings could be a team that may peak some interest. There are a couple guys that are definitely worth a look at. John Salmons (37.9mpg, 19.2ppg, 50.5 FG%, 41.7 3PT%) has really stepped up this year across the board. Beno Udrih (31.2mpg, 12.5ppg, 5.3apg, 85.1 FT%) has been solid at the point since the Kings traded Mike Bibby last year. A guy I have really liked from what I've seen in Spencer Hawes (12.4ppg, 7.1rpg, 49.7 FG%), the rookie from U-Dub. He has shown that he is pro-ready after Brad Miller (34.9mpg, 12.4ppg, 7.9rpg) was sidelined earlier this year. As Miller continues to battle the injury bug, look for Hawes' role in the offense to expand.
  • Memphis: Despite not being all that good right now, individually, there is plenty to like about the Grizz. Rudy Gay (37.8mpg, 20.2ppg, 5.5rpg), who many expected to have a solid season, is doing exactly that. The surprises have to be the two rookies in the starting five. O.J. Mayo (39.4mpg, 21.9ppg, 4.6rpg, 89.6 FT%) has lived up to his top-5 billing and then some, storming onto the scene and playing with absolute reckless abandon. Love his game. The other surprise is Marc Gasol (12.2ppg, 7.1rpg, 57.6 FG%). He has been good in the post, and has a nice jump shot to go with it. His game is very comparable to his brother, Pau, in that they both can post up, and can knock down those 10-12 footers when facing the basket.
  • Oklahoma City: Hmmm...where to start? They already fired the coach, and are in a commanding lead to get the most ping pong balls in next year's lottery. Kevin Durant (36.4mpg, 22.2ppg, 43.8 3PT%, 86.6FT%) is going to get you the points, but he's in just his second year, and clearly is not ready, or maybe even able, to carry an entire team on his back. Jeff Green (34.7mpg, 14.6ppg, 5.4rpg) has made some nice contributions early on, but it's evident that they need a veteran of consequence to go along with Durant. Otherwise, this trend may not be bucked unless something real special comes along in the draft next year. Just one more point: Russell Westbrook (12,3ppg) is doing an admirable job coming off the bench in his rookie season. I don't know, I figured I needed to throw something positive in there.
Well, there's a look at every team outside of Boston...a "capsule" of each if you will. I'm going to give you a couple more statistics, so bare with me.

A statistic I find fantastically interesting is the plus/minus stat that the NBA now keeps. I always said basketball should take some pages from hockey...and they have...well, just one. Anyway, here are the top 10 combinations in the league (minimum 75 minutes played with each other):
  1. Ilgauskas/Wallace/James/Williams/West, CLE, +98
  2. Garnett/Allen/Pierce/Perkins/Rondo, BOS, +87
  3. McGrady/Alston/Artest/Yao/Scola, HOU, +50
  4. Brand/Miller/Dalembert/Iguodala/Young, +45
  5. Szczerbiak/James/West/Varejao/Gibson, CLE, +45
  6. Marion/Wade/Haslem/Cook/Chalmers, MIA, +42
  7. Odom/Vujacic/Ariza/Bynum/Farmar, LAL, +38
  8. Lewis/Turkoglu/Pietrus/Howard/Nelson, ORL, +37
  9. Nesterovic/Murphy/Ford/Daniels/Granger, IND, +33
  10. O'Neal/Nash/Bell/Stoudemire/Barnes, PHO, +29
Okay, this one is wicked killer. If you want to find these stats, head to 82games.com. This is simply an amazing site, and this is just a cross-section of what they have to offer. Want to know who beats the good teams and who's getting by playing below-average teams? Well, they have it, and I'm going to run down how it's looking right now. Each team is given a grade of "good," "average," and "poor" and uses a calculation to get the net points for each game. Don't ask me how, 'cause I have no clue. Anyway, here you go:

Top 10 Against "Good" Teams:
  1. L.A. Lakers, +13.0
  2. Cleveland, +5.0
  3. Atlanta, +1.8
  4. Boston, 0.0
  5. Utah, -0.3
  6. Indiana, -1.0
  7. Portland, -1.3
  8. New Orleans, -1.7
  9. Denver, -2.3
  10. Golden State, -2.6
Bottom 10 Against "Good" Teams:
  1. Oklahoma City, -16.5
  2. Miami, -16.5
  3. Sacramento, -12.9
  4. L.A. Clippers, -12.8
  5. Philadelphia, -12.3
  6. Toronto, -12.0
  7. New Jersey, -11.3
  8. Washington, -11.0
  9. Chicago, -10.7
  10. Memphis, -10.0
Top 10 Against "Average" Teams:
  1. Dallas, +10.0
  2. Denver, +9.5
  3. Boston, +8.7
  4. Cleveland, +7.8
  5. Houston, +7.4
  6. Chicago, +6.5
  7. Portland, +6.2
  8. Miami, +5.9
  9. New Orleans, +5.3
  10. Phoenix, +5.2
Bottom 10 Against "Average" Teams:
  1. Sacramento, -14.4
  2. Memphis, -12.6
  3. New York, -12.5
  4. Oklahoma City, -9.8
  5. Washington, -7.8
  6. Golden State, -7.5
  7. San Antonio, -3.3
  8. New Jersey, -2.9
  9. Charlotte, -2.1
  10. Indiana, -2.0
Top 10 Against "Poor" Teams:
  1. L.A. Lakers, +20.0
  2. Cleveland, +19.0
  3. Boston, +11.8
  4. Orlando, +11.6
  5. Portland, +11.3
  6. Houston, +11.0
  7. New York, +11.0
  8. Dallas, +7.8
  9. Chicago, +7.5
  10. Miami, +7.3
Bottom 10 Against "Poor" Teams:
  1. L.A. Clippers, -5.0
  2. Golden State, -4.1
  3. Oklahoma City, -2.8
  4. Minnesota, -2.8
  5. Charlotte, 0.0
  6. Atlanta, +0.4
  7. Detroit, +1.0
  8. Memphis, +1.3
  9. Phoenix, +2.7
  10. Sacramento, +2.9
Alright, I'll let you digest this all. Even with all this information, there is still like a thousand times more of it available. God bless the internet. Anyway, I feel like this is a critical point in the season...we're right around a quarter of the way through, and face it, not a lot of teams go on immaculate runs to change everything around (Houston last year being an obvious exception). Hopefully, I'll get a hockey one up like this eventually, but if I don't...sorry? Hope you are doing good. Peace.


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