Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Our awards at the quarter pole, plus Monday recaps

Dec 3, 2013, 8:00 AM EST

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat Getty Images

source:

Believe it or not, we’re nearly at the quarter mark of the NBA season already. That means it’s time to start believing a little more in what we’ve seen so far, and maybe even time to dish out a few awards.

Remember, these aren’t predictions for what will happen at the end of the season. These awards are based solely on performances thus far.

MVP of the Quarter: LeBron James, F, Miami Heat

I almost went with Chris Paul or Paul George here, but it all felt a little too Karl Malone for my taste. Maybe we’re just a little bored by LeBron’s dominance at this point, but once again he’s been the best player in the league.

James is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field, he has a true shooting percentage of nearly 70 percent (which only two players in NBA history have ever achieved over a full season), he’s first in the league in PER and the Heat are 14-3. There are trendier choices out there, but this is LeBron’s award.

Coach of the Quarter: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers

This one is a no-brainer. The Portland Trail Blazers have been the surprise of the league thus far, as most pundits didn’t even have them pegged to break .500 or make the playoffs. Stotts has built one of the best offenses in the league, and the incorporation of multiple new players off the bench has been seamless. Frank Vogel and Gregg Popovich deserve praise at every turn, but Stotts trumps everyone right now.

Rookie of the Quarter: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Philadelphia 76ers

This hasn’t been much of a race. Victor Oladipo is the only competition at this point for Carter-Williams, but he’s averaging more turnovers per game than assists.

Carter-Williams has been the better distributor and has the higher PER on the year, and it’s also pretty impressive that he currently leads the league in steals per game. He’s been a great fit in Philadelphia’s uptempo offensive system, and believe it or not, the 76ers are only one game back of a playoff spot.

Sixth man of the Quarter: Isaiah Thomas, G, Sacramento Kings

DeJuan Blair has done a fantastic job off the bench in Dallas, but there’s a reason this is an award traditionally reserved for scoring guards. Thomas has legitimately been Sacramento’s best player next to DeMarcus Cousins, as he’s putting up 17 points a game and a gaudy PER of 21.2.

Thomas’ PER and 5.9 assists per 36 minutes is higher than J.R. Smith, James Harden, Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry in their Sixth Man of the Year winning seasons. Thomas may not have the benefit of playing for a winning team, but so far he’s been one of the best bench players we’ve seen in years.

Defensive Player of the Quarter: Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers

Blocks are generally a bit overrated as a stat, but it’s hard to overstate just how good of a rim protector Hibbert has been. Hibbert’s ability to remain vertical and stay out of foul trouble has made Indiana even stingier defensively than last season, which is no easy feat.

It’s hard not to reward the anchor of the league’s most dominant defense here, particularly because Hibbert’s ability to man the paint allows everyone else on the floor to stay home and defend one-on-one. He’s been a complete game-changer.

Most Improved Player of the Quarter: Arron Afflalo, G, Orlando Magic

There’s a tendency to hand the Most Improved Player award to a young player who has received a spike in minutes or opportunity, but I find that to be a little silly. This should be an award that recognizes a player who improved their game and didn’t just benefit from outside factors, more exposure or a natural maturation process.

Afflalo fits my criteria as a 7th year player who is posting career highs in PER (20.7), points (21.4), rebounds (4.4), assists (4.4) and three-point percentage (48.1%) even though he’s playing close to the same amount of minutes as he did last year. Afflalo has turned himself into a post-oriented guard who is also a dead-eye spot-up shooter from behind the arc, and that’s proven to be a deadly combination.

—D.J. Foster

source:

source:

Wizards 98, Magic 80: With the win the Washington Wizards are 9-9 — they are at .500 for first time since Nov. 3, 2009. The reason they won this game is the reason after a slow start to the season they are even now — coach Randy Wittman is just leaning on his starters. There isn’t much depth for the Wizards’ starting five Monday played 20 minutes and they were +18. Trevor Ariza was red hot for Washington with 24, Arron Afflalo had 21 for the Magic.

Pelicans 131, Bulls 128 (3OT): No Derrick Rose. No Anthony Davis. This game was supposed to be a disappointment and it turned into one of the more epic clashes of the season. Despite the stars being out both teams got plenty of offense on the night (Chicago had 109.4 points per 100 possessions, the Pelicans 115, via NBA.com). Luol Deng had 37 points and Taj Gibson 36 for Chicago. For the Pelicans Ryan Anderson had another big game with Davis out and had 36 points, Eric Gordon had 23. But the Bulls had a big defensive breakdown on the final play of the game, a clever design from Monty Williams that had Jrue Holiday getting to the rim for an and-1. Quality road win for New Orleans.

Spurs 102, Hawks 100: Mike Budenholzer has seen Tim Duncan rip the hearts out of teams for years as a Spurs assistant, I don’t think he liked it as much from the other bench. The Spurs were a bit sloppy in this one and the Hawks almost made them pay with a balanced attack — Jeff Teague led the way with 19 including an amazing pull-up three to tie the game at 100-100. But Duncan was too much and rescued the Spurs, finishing with 23 points, 21 rebounds and one dramatic game winner.

Jazz 109, Rockets 103: Gordon Hayward had 17 first quarter points, Trey Burke added 10 and it was everything that has been wrong with Houston’s perimeter defense this season in one shining quarter. And it cost them, Utah was up 36-23 after 12 minutes. The Rockets battled back, even took the lead for a stretch, but they had given the Jazz confidence by that point. Houston couldn’t get stops. James Harden did finish with 37 points and 8 assists. Hayward had 29 on the night, Burke is finding his groove and had 21, as did Alec Burks. Quality win for the 3-15 Jazz. Houston should feel sick.

Trail Blazers 106, Pacers 102: Great win for the Trail Blazers, who were able to come from behind on Indiana (who was on the second night of a rough back-to-back after facing the Clippers). LaMarcus Aldridge played like an All-Star despite Roy Hibbert being in his path all night, scoring 17 of his 28 points in the second half. Damian Lillard had 14 of his 26 in the fourth quarter and hit a lot of big shots. Paul George almost turned the fortune of this game himself, scoring 43 points on 30 shots and looking like an MVP candidate.

Portland did it again with offense, scoring at a 107.6 points per possession pace on the best defense in the league.

Latest Posts
  1. Andrea Bargnani out indefinitely after suffering calf strain

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:01 PM EST

    Andrea Bargnani Andrea Bargnani

    Bargnani was close to a return from his hamstring injury.

  2. Report: Free agent market for Jeff Green is as strong ‘if not stronger’ than it is for Rajon Rondo

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Jeff Green Jeff Green

    Combination of a lower price tag and a more diverse overall skill set may explain why.

  3. Andrew Wiggins drops career high 29 on Sacramento (VIDEO)

    Nov 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    When he uses his athleticism to get to the rim good things happen.

  4. LeBron James: “We’re a very fragile team right now”

    Nov 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    “This is not even the lowest it’s going to get for us.” —LeBron James

  5. Anthony Davis goes off for 43 points (VIDEO)

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:04 AM EST

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    There was nothing the Utah Jazz could do.

  6. Damian Lillard on flagrant foul from Bulls’ Mike Dunleavy: ‘It was a cheap play’

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers

    Dunleavy says he was just trying to foul to stop the clock. Watch and decide for yourself.

  7. Dwight Howard out vs. Mavericks Saturday, no timetable for his return

    Nov 22, 2014, 7:06 PM EST

    San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets

    With him and starting power forward Terrence Jones out, the Rockets are very thin up front.

  8. Brandon Jennings on reason for Pistons’ offensive woes: ‘We don’t shoot in practice’

    Nov 22, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    Brandon Jennings AP

    Detroit is next to last in field goal percentage on the season.

  9. NBA corrects scoring error from Raptors’ win over Bucks

    Nov 22, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Toronto won by 42 points, so this only matters if you had a certain Milwaukee player on your fantasy team.

  10. If Derrick Rose not ready to return by Monday Bulls may add point guard to roster

    Nov 22, 2014, 3:30 PM EST

    US-BKN-NBA-BULLS-CLIPPERS US-BKN-NBA-BULLS-CLIPPERS

    Mike James or Will Bynum could be added to the roster for a short stint.

  11. Eric Bledsoe on flagrant foul he took from Nerlens Noel: ‘They did it on purpose’

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Philadelphia 76ers Phoenix Suns v Philadelphia 76ers

    Bledsoe says the Sixers warned him before the game that he would be targeted for his previous comments.

Featured video

Can Rockets, Grizzlies keep up hot starts?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (7551)
  2. D. Wade (6757)
  3. K. Durant (6337)
  4. P. Gasol (5751)
  5. R. Westbrook (5240)
  1. D. Howard (5057)
  2. T. Jones (4984)
  3. O. Asik (4837)
  4. R. Gay (4804)
  5. D. Lee (4593)