FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS:
1. D.J. AUGUSTIN (Raptors): He needs to get it going at the back-up point guard spot. He has struggled with his shot and yet to hit a three in four games and seems hesitant, as well. He's having a difficult time going north-south and attacking the defence in the lane with the play-making dribble. On the other hand, he makes the safe plays and keeps the team functioning in terms of its game plan like a back-up QB in football - manage the game and be solid. He's capable and has shown he can do that. I guess the question remains, what else does he have in his game at this point to enhance and improve the 48-minute profile of that spot along with Kyle Lowry? Raptors fans patiently await a clearer picture of how he develops into this role. If he continues to play this way, change wouldn't surprise me in the least.
2. MONTA ELLIS (Mavs): Playing with a guy that attracts consistent double teams in Dirk Nowitzki and a pure point guard in Jose Calderon next to him is helping. I was really impressed with his 30-point, nine-assist evening last night against the Lakers. He's got a good system and excellent coach for him to play for right now in Rick Carlisle. He's always been a gifted scorer, but when I see him play with efficiency and smarts, I see a maturing player in the right spot for him.
3. PAUL GEORGE (Pacers): Talk about a guy making that next step in his growth. He had 31 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against the Pistons last night. He's the main guy now in Indy and when you evaluate his improvement, so much of it stems from last year's injury to Danny Granger and the need for him to respond to the bigger role. He did just that and the Pacers organization now has a keeper. I love his size, skill, poise and work ethic. He has good pieces around him and doesn't have to carry his team, yet he's showing more and more that you can count on him to be consistent and, more importantly, good-to-very good on most nights.
4. KEMBA WALKER (Bobcats): I loved this guy in college at Connecticut and he's coming into his own under coach Steve Clifford. He's an undersized scoring point guard who has a huge heart and a wonderful competitive drive. He's got that gamer mentality that I respect. He's quick, gets in the lane and makes plays. He seems to be settling down and picking his spots a little bit better and his awareness level and reads have been upgraded. He leaves it all out there for you.
5. JERRYD BAYLESS (Grizzlies): Having seen him in person and watched some other games of the former Raptor, I feel he's finally settling into the role I've always felt was his niche as a pro guard as the combo third guard. He can play both guard spots and has skills in each category you want. We know he can score and when he puts his mind to it, he's an effective playmaker. At times, when he was less experienced, he would try to do way too much and didn't trust his teammates and forced the action. I see him as a guy who has now come to grips with his role - he knows it and accepts it and is no longer fighting it. It's progress for sure for a valuable piece on your second Unit. He's highly competitive with a great work ethic and a very proud guy who holds himself to a high standard. The Grizzlies will need him to give a positive jolt of scoring and leadership each night with their second unit.