1. The Nuggets are better than everyone thinks. They go legitimately two deep at every single spot – Nene and Birdman, K-Mart and Harrington, Gallinari and Chandler, Afflalo and JR Smith, Ty Lawson and Felton. That’s scary for matchups. If they keep Nene, Gallinari, Afflalo and Lawson develop, they can be a top 5 team in the West. Lawson is scary fast and very good on D. Afflalo is developing into a Ray Allen type player out of nowhere, and Gallinari, well, Gallinari’s shot is overrated, but he does the best thing an offensive player can do – get to the line and convert at a high rate. With those three and inside presences, who wants to face them? Especially with no weaknesses on the bench, this is a scary group. Denver might actually be better sans Melo.
2. The Knicks certainly aren’t better with Melo, as they showed in Cleveland. Their new big three played about as well as they could, but remember when I said they’d have huge defensive issues? They just let the worst offensive team in basketball drop 115 on them in regulation. All of the big three were huge. It didn’t matter. Defense matters.
3. Chris Paul basically has to be coming to the Knicks and while a top 10 player in the league (I don’t think Amare or Carmelo are top 10, sorry, I’ll do the list next week) will improve them, Paul’s calling card is basically done by Chauncey Billups. That calling card is extreme efficiency. Paul is better at it than anyone, but if Chauncey doesn’t get this team to at least very good, Paul won’t automatically make it great, especially as recent studies have shown PG defense is the least import defensive contribution on the floor (which is logical, a great PG defender can, at most, usually affect one man, while wings can affect passing lanes and the top wing scorer, and big men affect absolutely everyone). The Knicks are, sadly, a team that might end up really missing Timofay Mozgov, or need Amare to just work his ass off to try and do his best Dwight Howard impression on defense.
4. Deron Williams, in his first game as a Net, showed why Chris Paul is better. Both players can really improve their teammates, but Deron needs more set up from his teammates to score and, in addition, does so less efficiently. Paul controls a game more effectively and needs less to do so. Williams with Dwight would be absolutely deadly, but if not, he’s probably best off walking away from NJ.
5. Dwight Howard might be the best player in the NBA. His team is absolutely not built to play to his talents though. Why is this in a trade deadline column? The main reason is I think Boston trading Perkins and everyone treating him like an afterthought pissed him off. If he plays with a chip on his shoulder, he’s unstoppable and the Magic are contenders again, especially if they play Boston and Miami. I do not get every team in the league not desperately trying for Dwight the way they did Lebron. They are 1 and 1a in terms of affecting games. The Magic made themselves worse with their big trades and just made it easier for Dwight to leave. Someday, someone will explain why they didn’t at least try the twin towers approach with Gortat. Sure it wouldn’t have been as offensively effective, but no one could have scored on it and they aren’t exactly offensive dynamos now anyway.
6. Okay, Portland might just win their first round series. Brandon Roy seems to be back, so it’s like they got a superstar in a trade to compliment getting Gerald Wallace, an all star in a trade. Oh and Marcus Camby, a legit center, joins the newly minted franchise center LaMarcus Aldridge, who has somehow developed into a go-to performer, awesome rebounder, and finisher inside. Rudy Fernandez is playing the best ball of his career in the states, Andre Miller is a savvy vet, and Wesley Matthews a good spot shooter. This team is missing nothing. If Roy gets back to elite form, and he was a top 10 player, better than Carmelo 2 years back, and LaMarcus keeps playing with this intensity, the West is suddenly up to no less than 6 teams who could make the finals (Portland, Denver being the gatecrashers on the Thunder, Mavs, Lakers and Spurs).
7. I’m now convinced both Boston and the Thunder made the right moves. Dwight absolutely ate the Thunder alive. That doesn’t happen with Perkins and Nazr. Sure, he might still have a great game, but not a 40-15 with 6 blocks and 2 steals and surely not 16-20 from the field. If Dwight did that, this team would have been hapless against the Lakers and Spurs. Great move.
8. The Celtics? The Nuggets held them to 75 points the other night. They’re awesome, but when they won the title were elite scoring. For the past three years, they’ve been a bit above average. They needed shooters to spread the floor and Perk didn’t play late in games anyway. Green and Kristic make opponents pay for focusing on the big team and on Rondo drives. Nate was shooting terribly and couldn’t do that and no one else on the bench was effective in that role.
9. I can’t help but feel the Chicago Bulls are going to regret not making a move for a 2. Everyone else in the East 1-6 got better, even the Heat who really just get to gel. With the way they’re defending, they could have competed this year, but with such good opponents, I don’t think they can compete with a huge hole at the 2.
10. The Kobe’s defeating the Clippers underscored how far the Clips have to go, although without Eric Gordon, Randy Foye has been a revelation. He’s a high pick who’s finally playing efficiently. When he and Bledsoe are second unit to Mo and Gordon (who will be all open looks thanks to Blake) look out. Again, it’s not just who you have, but how the players you have allow others to be utilized. Bledsoe and Foye can own opposing backup backcourts while the starters merely have to hold serve and hit their own Griffin granted shots.
Tags: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets, Dwight Howard, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers