FIVE NBA THOUGHTS:
1. DEMAR DEROZAN (Raptors): His numbers of late are quite impressive, but more importantly to me, I see a guy who has matured and is very professional. He's prepared to play and he hates to lose. He has good competitive spirit. His confidence is growing and he knows now what works for him and what doesn't. There have been some stretches this year where I look out on the court and see a guy who is the best player on the court on either team. Can he build that into being a guy who is at that level consistently game to game? Only time will tell, but I'm definitely seeing a guy this season from the start of training camp until now who is totally engrossed in his craft and has paid the price in the off-season working on his skills, strength and conditioning to move himself to another peg in the progression of his game.
2. DERRICK WILLIAMS (Kings): The former second-overall pick of the Timberwolves (2011) is shipped to Sacramento. Maybe a fresh start will help him. He's a combo 3-4 or 4-3, whichever way you want to put it. He's a guy more comfortable with his game working 15 feet and in, though he's capable of making threes. The bottom line is, when a team that invested heavily in you gives up on you so early, you've got to look in the mirror and ask why and make the adjustments in your game and approach to improve. The Kings need scoring and he'll be able to provide that. It goes to show that in today's NBA, you need to bring at least one or two discernable high-end skills to the table and excel at those to carve out your niche. If you're pretty good-to-average at everything and are stuck between positions, you kind of get caught in no man's land. Williams is young player who still has plenty of time to figure it out. This is a wake-up call though.
3. ERSAN ILYASOVA (Bucks): He's had a disappointing season so far, only averaging nine points per game and four boards per game, but injuries have been a factor. I've always been a fan of his game because he's a tough competitor who battles on the glass, plays hard and shoots it well from distance. It just seems something always gets out of kilter for him with Milwaukee. He's a guy, if they sour on him, who's worth a look from a bunch of teams if he gets dangled out there on the market. I firmly believe that he's a good player and with the right point guard situation, could thrive.
4. BRADLEY BEAL (Wizards): He's now out for a few weeks with a leg injury. I saw him on Friday night in Toronto and I gotta tell you: I love his game. He's got a beautiful stroke. When I watch him and John Wall together, I'm fascinated by their potential as a back court. He's greatly developed the ability to create his own shot and he and Wall could be an intriguing duo for a long time. Hopefully, this injury doesn't set him back too far, as he's really starting to come into his own.
5. JOSH McROBERTS (Bobcats): With big free agent signee, Al Jefferson being out for most of the start of the season (He's played in only six games, so far,) coach Steve Clifford has needed steady play in his front court on a back court-dominated team. McRoberts stats (9 PPG, 5 RPG and 4 APG) won't jump off the page at you, but he's been reliable. He's a good system guy with nice versatility in his game. You don't need to run plays for him and he can shoot threes and is a very clever passer. McRoberts is a good teammate who knows and accepts his role and has allowed his team the ability to keep the floor spaced with his face-up game. Sometimes less is more and McRoberts does what he's supposed to do and keeps his ego in check. He's a good role player.