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Breakfast with Berndon: NBA's First Month

December 3, 2010

My interest in the NBA tends to wane slightly once college ball tips off, but this year I've kept at least one eye on the proceedings. My Bulls are, at least in my eyes, a legitimate title contender. The Miami chemistry experiment appears to be blowing up in Pat Riley's face, and, quite simply, the league is stacked like it hasn't been in a long time. What follows is the return of my power rankings, the return of the “man of the match," and some random commentary thrown in free of charge at the bottom.

Power Rankings
1. Boston (13-4) KG's knees apparently work again.
2. Lakers (13-5) Losing four in a row doesn't change the fact that they're still the favorites.
3. San Antonio (15-2) Shocking they've gotten out as fast as they have.
4. Dallas (13-4) Tyson Chandler is protecting the rim, Dallas actually is playing D now.
5. Orlando (13-4) I still think the Bulls will be better, but Dwight Howard still scares me.
6. Utah (14-5) Without Okur, great start as they plug in Jefferson for Boozer.
7. New Orleans (12-5) Chris Paul shows he's back.
8. Oklahoma City (12-6) Westbrook, not Durant, for MVP?
9. Chicago (9-6) I'm licking my chops with a 9-6 record without Boozer.
10. Miami (10-8) Almost under .500. Wow.
11. Atlanta (11-7) Joe Johnson is out 4-6 weeks, give Jordan Crawford his minutes?
12. Denver (10-6) Take one more shot, or trade Carmelo and start from scratch?
13. Indiana (9-7) Roy Hibbert might be an All-Star.
14. Memphis (8-10) I think they'll take off and get 50 wins.
15. Phoenix (8-9) Hakim Warrick, you are no Amar'e Stoudemire.
16. Portland (8-9) They still have about 3 more season-ending injuries left in them.
17. New York (10-9) Wilson Chandler is a charter member of the All-Underrated team.
18. Golden St. (8-10) A year or two away, but entertaining as hell.
19. Houston (5-12) Still could be somewhere ranging between frisky and dangerous eventually.
20. Cleveland (7-10) I hope they murder Miami tonight. Not literally Cleveland, calm down.
21. Milwaukee (6-11) Wait, your telling me a team has quit on Scott Skiles?
22. Minnesota (4-13) Maybe Minnesota is the location of Darko finding his freedom.
23. Sacramento (4-12) I hope Cousins cries on the bench at some point.
24. New Jersey (6-12) I honestly thought they'd be a little better.
25. Charlotte (6-11) Last year apparently was a fluke.
26. Detroit (6-12) All I want for X-mas is Rip or Tayshaun in a Bulls uniform.
27. Clippers (3-15) Baron Davis is an asshole. Way to eat your way out of the league.
28. Washington (5-11) I really like JaVale McGee.
29. Philly (5-13) I'm kind of surprised Evan Turner has struggled.
30. Toronto (6-11) The Raptors do not have the worst record, but give it time, they will.

Man of the Match Leaderboard
1. Dwight Howard 13 ( 21 pts, 12 rbs, 2 blks)
2. Pau Gasol 9 (20 pts, 12 rbs, 4 assts, 2 blks)
3. Chris Paul 8 ( 16 pts, 5 rbs, 11 assts, 3 stls)
4. Josh Smith 7 ( 15 pts 9 rbs, 4 assts, 2 blks)
4. Derrick Rose 7 (26 pts 4 rbs, 8 assts)
4. Deron Williams 7 (22 pts, 4 rbs, 10 assts, 1 stl)
7. Russell Westbrook 6.5 (25 pts, 6 rbs, 9 assts, 2 stls)
8. Kevin Garnett 6 (16 pts, 9 rbs, 2 stls, 1 blk)
8. Dwyane Wade 6 (21 pts, 6 rbs, 4 assts)
8. Rajon Rondo 6 (11 pts 5 rbs, 14 assts, 2 stls)
8. Carmelo Anthony 6 (23 pts 8 rbs, 3 assts)
8. Tony Parker 6 (17 pts, 7 assts, 2 stls)

Bottom Five
The five players whom one would say the following: “I didn't even know he was still in the NBA,” or “ How in the hell did he lead the team in even one category, ever in his life, let alone be the most valuable player in a victory,” when notified that they made the Man of the Match leaderboard.

Melvin Ely
Josh McRoberts
Leandro Barbosa
Amir Johnson
Jose Calderon/Ronny Turiaf

Just a quick refresher: I came up with the man of the match criteria last season. In order to get credit for a “point,” your team has to win, and you have to lead your team in the most categories out of points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Not earth-shaking stuff here, but I'll leave the advanced statistical analysis to those who are much smarter than I am. In looking at the leaders, half on the list are point guards. There are so many quality floor generals right now, the whole “Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul” argument now involves at least 3 others who could be considered the best in the league. Other parts of the list that stand out include Gasol being the MVP in 9 of the Lakers 13 victories, bringing up the question, is he starting to be more valuable than Kobe? Also, whether or not he wants to be in Denver isn't really affecting Melo's play that much. His points are slightly down but the 8 rebounds a game is a little unexpected. The return of KG is kind of a surprise, with him playing really well and looking more and more like the pre-2008 version.

Random Observations
Chicago: I have to talk about my Bulls, and mainly how happy I am that they're off to a 9-7 start, with Carlos Boozer just now coming back. Rose can now hit outside shots, making him almost unstoppable. My only concern is the fact that he's logging heavy minutes, which hopefully Thibs is smart enough to monitor by year's end. Luol Deng looks a lot better than last year, Noah keeps improving, and now Taj Gibson makes for a helluva 6th man. I like our chances.

San Antonio: If someone would have told me that San Antonio would start out 15-3, and didn't say that Tiago Splitter is averaging 40 pts and 20 rebounds a game, I would have questioned their sanity. But, with essentially the same team as last year, the Spurs are back as a title contender. It's almost as if they're mustering up one more really great run before Duncan becomes a role player or retires, and the team gets broken up. Richard Jefferson looks completely different, and I like the move to start Dejuan Blair. I also think that James Anderson looms as an x-factor in the playoffs as someone who can knock down a big shot for them.

B Easy, K Love, and Darko: What a combo. There's probably not a more unique frontcourt in all the game. Darko could have finally found a home after 7, 257 teams didn't work out for him. He's averaging 2.9 blocks a game for the Wolves, while Love continues to lead the league in boards, and Beasley is averaging 21 a game and not acting like a head case. Don't worry, I'm still kind of happy the Bulls took Rose and not him. But still, he's playing better and behaving himself. Baby steps, Mike.

Miami: You would think I would have led off with these guys, but I still haven't seen enough of them yet, making me hesitant to write them off. Bosh has been a major disaster, though I honestly would be really scared if the Bulls had to face them in a 4 vs.5 match-up come spring.

Golden State: They've become my favorite Western team to watch, simply because I love watching Curry and Ellis play together. Biedrins and David Lee rebound everything in sight. Put it together and you have a team that I'd really love to see end up in the playoffs, potentially upsetting the Lakers or someone of that ilk in April.

Noteworthy, footnotes: John Wall, Blake Griffin, Greg Oden, Carmelo being traded, Milwaukee and Charlotte being terrible, and the Knicks playing decent.


Teach said...

Bosh has gotten a bad rap early, from myself included, but he's actually been playing well of late. They just need him to rebound more and be more active defensively. Still, just feels like hating when we say he's been a "major disaster."

December 3, 2010 at 6:20 PM
Teach said...

Also, Richard Jefferson is proving the myth of the second year in the Spurs system makes you good. It's a thing. Look it up. I'm excited.

December 3, 2010 at 6:22 PM
Russ said...

I will count this Wizards season a success if both:

1) They find a way to trade Gilbert Arenas.

2) They can avoid major injuries to Wall and McGee, which are the only two viable players on this roster, and they gain valuable experience.

Otherwise its a throwaway.

December 3, 2010 at 6:48 PM
Teach said...

Russ: Ditto

December 3, 2010 at 7:13 PM

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