Around the League: Week 3

Jamal Crawford. Shooting Guard. - Stephen Dunn

I told all of you that the Wolves should sign Jamal Crawford! And other NBA goodies.

OK. I didn't tell you the Wolves should sign Jamal Crawford. In fact, I was pretty nervous about the possibility that the Wolves would sign Jamal Crawford. And now, with Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, and J.J. Barea on the shelf, Crawford is merely leading the 7-2 Clippers in scoring despite coming off the bench, and is doing so with an efg% north of .600.

Actually, Crawford is just an example of the vagaries of the small sample size. He isn't doing anything really different then he has in the past, except right now, every shot he's tossing up is going in. The same thing can be said of other shooting guards that we have spent time over the past years discussing for our Wolves: Kevin Martin and OJ Mayo. None of these players' games have significantly changed this season, they are just making a ton of shots in the early going. That will regress, which is cold comfort to a team trotting Malcolm Lee out there.

A lot of us were curious (and dubious) about how the Sixers would fare without CH favorite Andre Iguodala (and lesser fave Lou Williams, another shooting guard off to a pretty good start with a new team this season). Philly's problems are further exacerbated by the absence of Andrew Bynum, who apparently is having trouble with both knees now (the ever tricky bowling injury). Bynum's outlook is problematic at this point; it's very hard to tell if his legs are capable of standing up to the rigors of the NBA. But the Sixers are hanging in there so far at 6-4, behind one of the most successful defenses in the league. On the other hand, they have been outscored on the season, so we'll see how that goes.

The Knicks, who we talked about last week, are worth mentioning again. They lost their first game of the year, in Memphis, no shame in that, especially as it was the second night of a back to back after they had won in San Antonio the night before. They rebounded with a win over a struggling Pacers squad and are getting quality contributions from just about everyone they are running out there.

The Memphis Grizzlies lost opening night to the Clippers, and since then have won 8 in a row, including a three game stretch in which they beat the Heat, Thunder and Knicks all by double figures. That's impressive, and they are doing it at both ends this year. Their offense is working because they limit turnovers and pound the offensive glass, maximizing their possessions and making up for their pedestrian shooting. Their frontcourt is finally healthy and all playing well for the first time in a couple of seasons. I have concerns going forward about their depth, but they are playing ferocious basketball right now. (And a shoutout to Wayne Ellington, who is contributing off the bench and had a huge game in their blowout win over the Heat last week).

For my Disappointing Team of the Week I'll pick the Cleveland Cavaliers. There seemed to be some hope that they would show improvement this season, but so far, no dice. 2-8 with 6 straight losses. Of course, 5 of those were on the road, and they have only played at home 3 times all season, but still. Anderson Varejao is having a monster start, Irving probably looks better then he actually is but is obviously promising, and Boobie Gibson is making some shots. And that's it. Everyone else is struggling, and so is the team. Incredibly, opponents are shooting over 50% from the field against them. I suspect some bad luck involved here, but the Cavs need to win some games.

Bullet Point TIme:

  • The Celtics' off-season expenditures not looking great as Jeff Green (terrible contract) and Courtney Lee have been awful and Jason Terry is showing his age. They looked done early last season too, so I'm not going make any assumptions, but that team needs to get an offensive rebound sometime. Their legs also might just be too old to defend consistently at this point.
  • The Bucks, despite a nightmare start for re-signed Ersan Ilyasova, are 6-2. In part, a soft schedule, in part because they are limiting opponents' possessions by being the best defensive rebounding team in the league and forcing a lot of turnovers.
  • The Brooklyn-Manhattan rivalry looks to be shaping up well with the Nets at 6-2, but I'm not sold. The schedule has been soft (best win so far probably over a Rondo-less Celtics squad) and it isn't clear to me what they are going to hang their hat on.
  • I feel bad for Wizards fans. Not just for the obvious (0-8, headed for another disaster season). But because the absence of John Wall and Nene will probably be enough of an excuse for them to keep Randy Wittman around longer.
What are you seeing around the league?
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