Greetings from Denver! The Toronto Raptors begin their five-game road swing here tonight. You can catch the action tonight on TSN 2 at 9pm et/6pm pt.
A few quick NBA Thoughts from the Mile High City.
1. Greivis Vasquez (Hornets): In a season filled with injuries for this young Hornets' squad he has been one of the true bright spots. The added playing time has really allowed him to play through some mistakes, figure out how to be consistent and run a team. He is doing a nice job, averaging close to nine assists per game and more than 13 points. I love the flair and enthusiasm he plays with. Vasquez shoots it pretty well from 3-point range (over 36%) and is getting better at running the half court offence which is always an adjustment for a young guard. He's fun to watch and competes.
2. Larry Sanders (Bucks): This man is on a tear. Did you check out his triple-double (10 Pts, 12 Reb, 10 Blk) the other night? Wow. He's never going to be a big scorer (8.1 ppg rignt now), but he impacts the game on a consistent basis on the glass (7.7 rpg) and with his ability to be an intimidating force in the lane changing shots (2.7 blocks per game and countless others altered) for a team that desperately needs interior defence since they are so small in their back court with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. He is coming into his own right now and plays with an edge that you like to see.
3. Chauncey Billups (Clippers): I look forward to seeing his progress on Sunday when in Los Angeles for the Raptors game there against the Clippers. He is steady as a rock. Biillups is an excellent leader and makes big plays when you need them. It felt like they really missed him last year when he got hurt. He's got lots of elite game experience and you can never have enough veteran direction and savvy in your back court. If he can slowly progress as the season goes on and find his rhythm and a solid role, he will help them a great deal come playoff time.
4. Popovich vs Stern: David Stern threw a hefty fine at the Spurs for sending four players home before last Thursday night's Heat game. I didn't agree with Popovich's move. All teams have travel/schedule issues during the course of the 82-game schedule. If you want to rest your guys then throw them out there for some 'Cameo Minutes' at the very least and play the bulk of the minutes with your reserves. That would be more fair for the fans and for the good of the league. On the other hand, Stern opened a Pandora's Box on this one in my opinion. He better be consistent with this stuff as we see teams getting ready for the playoffs by sitting down their stars late in the season for 'Rest/Maintenance' and teams out of the hunt mysteriously coming up with creative injury issues to justify sitting down their guys in order to add to their sacred Draft Lottery ping pong balls. I don't think you'll see the last of this with these two guys -- strong egos to say the least.
5. Phoenix Suns Satisfaction Guaranteed Night: On Dec. 6 if you go the Suns game and don't have a fun time, win or lose, you can ask for your money back. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. I know it's a marketing gimmick, yet I respect the fact that the Suns really want their fans to know that the entire game day experience for a fan shelling out their hard earned dollars is important to them. The Suns want to treat folks in the proper fashion and not take their business for granted. Too often, teams get lazy and don't really say what they mean. Good for the Suns for making a statement and holding themselves accountable to provide a higher standard for the folks who matter most: the fans.