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Weekend Observations 2.4.12: Where corn don’t grow

Feb 4, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

Blake Griffin

Each weekend we bring you 25 random observations from the NBA week that was. 

 

1. Blake Griffin is not human.

2. Denver’s a really great team this season, they’re just not so impressive you know you can count on them in the WCF. The lack of star power is going to continue to be a question and it’s really going to come down to which matchups they land as to how far they go. The losses to the Lakers are probably indicative of something, regardless of how close they are. But their ability to consistently show up in spots they should fold says something as well.

3. Atlanta is nothing if not consistent.

4. Given Joe Dumars’ continued insistance on building around veterans, isn’t it worth it for a team to at least explore trying to pry Greg Monroe away? Detroit’s likely laughing as they put down the phone, just seems terrible that Monroe’s not only stuck on a terrible team, but one without a youth movement to allow for improvement.

5. Rajon Rondo should sit the All-Star game out if he’s selected as a reserve. With the injuries and the need for rest, it’s just going to have been too soon for him not to take a breather. If he does, I like Kyrie Irving over Brandon Jennings for the replacement. Irvin is one of the league leaders in true shooting percentage for a guard and of Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Rondo, Jennings and Irving, he’s second in PER behind Rose. Jennings and he both suffer for assists but you have to wonder how much of that is a product of who they’re surrounded by. If Griffin made it last year, Irving’s just as deserving.

6. The 8th spot in the West could actually get interesting. It’s unlikely Golden State won’t stabilize to a certain degree with the talent on roster. Utah is starting to wobble, but has the depth. Memphis is a total question mark, and Minnesota is able to make a run. Do you go with star power? Team defense? Youth and vitality? Interior scoring?

7. Isaiah Thomas is a more complete ball player than Jimmer Fredette. We probably should have seen this coming.

8. The Pacers do two things incredibly well. They follow transition layup misses for putbacks and space the floor incredibly well. Their balance means that they’re pretty much always shooting inside the paint or on the perimeter. Smart basketball.

9. The Rockets may have a very low ceiling, but they continue to make the most of it. They’re 7-3 in their last ten. This is better than any expected from Kevin McHale’s first year.

10. Philadelphia not being able to beat Miami should not diminish their accomplishments with the schedule toughening for them. Miami’s a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams, but Philly is modeled in such a similar way to Miami (no quality centers, abundance of perimeter ability, do-it-all wing) it shouldn’t suprise that Miami overwhelms them with talent. The Sixers are still going to be an absolutely brutal out in the playoffs.

11. Brian Cardinal told me last weekend he’s reading “Boomerang” by Michael Lewis. So there’s that.

12. If anyone, at all, can figure out Memphis, please let me know. Because this team is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle disguised as a mystery.

13. Milwaukee has defeated Miami and the Lakers in the past week. So naturally they lost to Detroit on Friday.

14. If you comprised teams of non-stars who were All-Star snubs, those teams would probably have a fighting chance against the All-Stars just due to ball movement and cohesion, right? No? Because star players are better? OK, then.

15. The Clippers have an excellent model for the whole star-power team thing, offensively. For 45 minutes they play a pretty complete game with contributions from everyone, with an emphasis on Griffin, Paul, and Billups. Then in the final three minutes of a close game, Paul takes over and just slams the door shut. Their defense is why they won’t win the title. But offensively, they kind of have the model for how the star teams should operate.

16. Kyrie Irving’s change of pace on his dribble-hesitation at the elbow bodes really well for his long-term viability as a scorer at the rim.

17. The Nets got 42 points from Anthony Morrow and still lost. I’m just going to leave that one be. This has to be the year Morrow is let into the 3-point Contest, right? He’s suffered enough?

18. I’ve kind of moved on from “the Knicks need a point guard” as the source of all their troubles. If they did have a capable point guard, say Baron Davis does come in and be the savior. Is that going to make Carmelo Anthony work off-ball? Because that didn’t really happen in Denver. Anthony’s making a concerted effort to pass and not gun in the last few games, and that’s not helping because his teammates can’t hit either. It’s a no-win for Melo, because his DNA is what it is, and it’s not really built to share.

19. Do you think Luol Deng has recurring nightmares about having to play 55 minutes a night during back-to-back double-overtime games through Tom Thibodeau’s rotations?

20. Everyone brings up Derrick Rose missing free throws against Kansas when he was at Memphis in the national title game, but Rose also missed a big pair last season against the Clippers late, and had issues against Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. This doesn’t mean this is a trend or an issue, it’s just something that has happened in the past. It’s not inexplicable. He’s not automatic. Very, very good. But not automatic.

21. The Boston Celtics: Can’t count them out, can’t believe they’re going to drag these carcasses through a compact season like this intact and make it to a meaningful game.

22. If the Lakers can win their third game in four nights against Philadelphia Monday, there’s no reason they can’t sweep their six-game Grammy trip. They’ll get up for the game against Boston, and they’re still a better team right now. The Knicks are a disaster and the rest of the schedule is soft. That could land the Lakers in the top spot in the West with the Thunder showing a few cracks.

23. The Spurs are 19th in defensive efficiency, but have had three solid defensive games. That figure will tell so much about how their season goes. It’s honestly more important than getting Manu back, because of how good their overall offense is.

24. Remember when Portland was a dominant, brilliant team, like two weeks ago?

25. And, in conclusion, Iman Shumpert.

  1. tomshoe - Feb 4, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    What’s with the Iman Shumpert thing at the end? I’d really like an explanation.

    • adnan604 - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      if you follow basketball a little bit you would know he’s hit one of them rookie walls apparently…
      he was playing great for the first bit, people were going as far as confidently putting him in the starting lineup over Fields, but the last I think week probably a bit longer he’s been out of control is the best way to put it

  2. stadix093 - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    I love me some Lakers, but reading that they didn’t even arrive to their hotels until about 4 AM I don’t even have them beating Utah tonight. They always bring it at home.

    • cinnalocks - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Utah will not be an issue as long as they continue to feed Bynum and Gasol in the post. Utah has not response. Last week people were talking the downfall of LAKERLAND, they were tenth in the West, now they are fifth in the West. Baring major injuries they will be okay.

  3. bleed4philly - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    The Sixers can’t run in the playoffs, it’s gonna make it very hard for them to advance with their style of play, but I love this team, we’re just a player away from being a contender.

  4. cadavalier - Feb 4, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Thanks for the Kyrie love, Matt. An All-Star selection would be shocking but – and it sounds crazy to say this – based on performance (and given everyone’s injury situation) he is the third best point guard in the East. What’s more: Varejao’s the second best center in the East. And what’s more: Alonzo Gee is the second best … see, this is where I back off and prove that I’m not completely out of my mind.

    • pudgalvin - Feb 4, 2012 at 9:15 PM

      Dude, Varejao is maybe the 5th best center in the East. That’s crazy talk.

      • ljl2 - Feb 5, 2012 at 1:15 AM

        who is clearly above him?

      • pudgalvin - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        1. Dwight Howard
        2. Greg Monroe
        3. Roy Hibbert
        4. Tyson Chandler

        I’d also put him behind Spencer Hawes and Joakim Noah, though one could argue about that. He’s a nice player, but if he’s the starting center on your team, you’re not going anywhere.

  5. scoregasmic - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    I feel really bad for Greg Monroe too, he’s an amazing player but no one knows about him, hopefully Dumars makes use of Detroits top 5 picks for the next few years, he’s shown that he can actually make some good picks unlike he used too, im still haunted by all the players Detroit missed out on when they picked fricken darko milicic

  6. chrisppers - Feb 5, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    Where’s the consistency and accuracy with this article? First Griffin is not human and the Clippers are filled with stars that are actually playing like a team but then you go on to writing off their chances to win it all this early in the season?

    I don’t think it’s debatable anymore that they’re legit contenders now, and you don’t write off a contender, that’s the definition of the word.

    P.S. They’re defense is not as bad as you make it out to be, how could it be with a DJ’s top 2 in blocks and CP3 up there in steals. Not to mention that Griffin has tremendously stepped up his defense as well, blocks in particular as well. Oh yeah, and then there’s those other guys that have no defense in Caron, Reggie, and now K-Mart right?

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