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Armstrong: Five thoughts on the Lakers, Varejao and more

Jack Armstrong
10/31/2012 1:43:02 PM
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We're started up and into the NBA season. It's opening night for the Toronto Raptors this evening and I can't wait! Here are a few quick NBA thoughts for you.  

1. LAKERS' SECOND UNIT: For all of the hype about the stars in LA this season, a big concern reared its ugly head last night vs. Dallas. Their bench got outscored by 20 points (37-17) and that's got to be a huge concern for coach Mike Brown.  An older team with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest needs some back up on many nights and this could be a big issue over a long season.  If not, you'll see their starters playing major minutes and that could lead to injuries/issues into the spring when it really counts for them.  It's only one night but it's an issue that I'd keep my eye on. I still like them to end up being the best when it's all said and done in the West but we might have to see some magical personnel move being made to upgrade their bench.

2. ANTHONY DAVIS (Hornets): From what I've seen of him in the preseason, he's got the look of a Rookie of the Year written all over him. I loved him at Kentucky and feel that he can really shine as the talent level improves around him in New Orleans.  He will be an impact guy from Day 1 as a rebounder and shot blocker.  His offense will be hit and miss early on and he'll get out-muscled many nights.  I think you have to match him up as much as you can to the opposing skilled post guy rather than the brute to keep him fresh and effective. Bit of a chess match moving him around.  If he's on the court and in that lane - watch out!  He's punching your shot out and snatching loads of 50/50 balls.

3. NYC METROPOLITAN AREA: As most of you know, I'm from Brooklyn and I gotta tell ya that I'm hurting right now with the devastation of what took place with Hurricane Sandy. I truly feel for those folks there. Lots of family and friends impacted by the storm.  Thank God that people are OK.  Lots of rebuilding to do but they will be back.  As we saw with the devastation of 9/11, the folks in that area are resilient and tough as nails. They're down but far from out. At Mayor Michael Bloomberg's request after damage from the hurricane, Thursday's Knicks-Nets game has been postponed and I fully support the decision.

4. RAY ALLEN AND RASHARD LEWIS (Heat): 29 points combined on 9 of 12 shooting for the newcomers.  Masterful moves by president Pat Riley. Veteran guys who totally get it, have played in winning environments and have produced.  If you thought twice before about doubling LeBron and D-Wade you'll be thinking it through even more now with two more sharpshooters camped out waiting to drill open shots if you dare to leave them open or you're slow rotating and closing out on shooters.  It's a preparation nightmare for opposing coaches when you play Miami.  Choose your poison.  Yes they've got wonderful talent there, no doubt, but they've got excellent management and coaching as well.  Leadership and vision really matter.

5. ANDERSON VAREJAO (Cavs): Wow! What a performance vs. the Wizards. Nine points, 23 rebounds (12 of them on the offensive boards) and nine assists.  Big time night.  He's a live wire out there playing with incredible energy and persistence.  Cavs missed him big-time last year due to the injuries and with him healthy, he gives them a little personality and swagger.  Love his enthusiasm.  Will he put numbers like that up every night?  No.  But when you have as young a team as they have they need someone to show the way about how hard you've got to play this game every night and to be professional in your approach on every single play.  He doesn't take plays off - that's a good example for coach Byron Scott to have.

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