FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS
I hope each of you had an enjoyable New Year. 2013 is here! Let's talk a little Hoops.
1. ATLANTA HAWKS (20-10): How many of us had the Hawks in the third spot in the East at this point with the departures of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams? Doubt very many folks did. I give general manager Danny Ferry high grades for dumping those awful contracts and the acquisitions of Lou Williams and Kyle Korver have paid nice dividends. They'll have some Salary Cap flexibility in the off-season and have positioned themselves nicely.
2. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (21-10): Have had Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush for a grand total of six games combined and have had a wonderful season. Gotta love the contributions of veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry - steady every night. Klay Thompson is an emerging talent. David Lee and Stephen Curry have been excellent. Not going to kid you, I wasn't sold on the hiring of Mark Jackson as their head coach with no coaching experience but got to give him credit - after a rocky rookie season - he's found his footing and gotten through to this group. Leadership and communication is more important in this game than X and O's will ever be - he does these areas well. His X and O's are improving too. Credit to him and his staff.
3. KOBE ON THE LAKERS: Stayed up late on Tuesday night and watched the Lakers get beat by the Sixers. Every night they take everyone's best punch - teams are always jacked up to play them. Loved Kobe's comment about the Lakers being an "Old Damn Team". Something tells me that he's starting to think back to the Gary Payton/Karl Malone experiment and starting to wonder. They did look old against Philadelphia. They had better start guarding a whole lot better as a team and respect the fact that there are no easy nights in this league - considering that teams are just dying to get a piece of them and get themselves some Prime Time publicity by beating the Lakers.
4. ROAD WINNING RECORDS: Always start to look at this stat as the calendar gets us into the New Year. Only eight teams in the NBA (Miami, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Oklahoma City, L.A. Clippers, San Antonio and Golden State) have an above-.500 mark on the road. Always a good indicator of the teams to truly keep an eye on. Bottom line, you've got to 'steal' road games in the Playoffs to win series at some point. The teams with the talent, leadership, poise, clutch play, defense and coaching away from home are the ones to follow closely. Home court advantage is very helpful - no doubt but you had better be able to travel and succeed.
5. ALEXEY SHVED (T'WOLVES): This guy's game has caught my eye. He's been productive (10.9 ppg & 4.6 assists per game) and has a really nice feel for the game. Has fit in nicely in the NBA game and hasn't looked overwhelmed by any means. Handles it well and has good vision and court savvy. Changes speeds effectively and plays at a good pace/tempo. Good complimentary piece. Coach Rick Adelman's system fits his skill set well. Solid pick-up.