SIX QUICK HOOPS THOUGHTS
1. J.R. SMITH (Knicks): I look at the mess in NY and the loss of Tyson Chandler's Defense and Rebounding is huge, this man is not performing anywhere near the level he did as the NBA 6th Man of the Year. Look at his numbers (11.7ppg / 33 FG + 29 3 PT PCT) this season. Not good at all. This is a team with multiple problems, but after the Knicks gave him the contract extension he doesn't look like he's very locked in. You can't count on guys like this
2. TIM DUNCAN (Spurs): How about one for the old guys! He put up 23 points and 21 rebounds on Monday vs. Atlanta, oldest guy to do the 20/20+. He stays in terrific shape and another example of that fact was this game. He epitomizes the savvy veteran who knows how to play to his strengths each night and conserve energy for the defining plays. As long as he stays upright, San Antonio will be in the hunt. He has gotten off to a bit of a slow start but is rounding into shape as the season goes along.
3. TREY BURKE (Jazz): They've been waiting patiently for their first round pick out of Michigan to come back from injury. He has arrived—21 points and six assists vs. Houston. Utah has had poor production at that spot this season and Burke will get every opportunity to prove that he's going to be the lead guard in Salt Lake City. There are so many terrific point guards in the league right now; you must have a guy you can trust to run your team. He's a talented scorer/shooter, now he has to prove that he can run a pro team.
4. RYAN ANDERSON (Pelicans): Tough break losing Anthony Davis to a hand Injury but coach Monty Williams has to love having Anderson back. One of the best shooting 'step out 4's' in the League, loved him in New Jersey and Orlando. He'll compete on the boards for you as well and do it within the flow of the offense quite efficiently. Huge to have that 'floor spacer' to set up the spacing and driving lanes for your guards. He does that at a high level, good to see him back.
5. LAWRENCE FRANK (Nets): The former Head Coach of the Pistons and Nets is now out as Jason Kidd's top lieutenant. Strange news hearing of his reassignment. I had a nice chat with him last Tuesday night in Toronto and I thought he was a great addition for Kidd. They had a close relationship and now it seems to have come apart under the expectations and pressure of the spotlight. Coaching is a tough business and the most important factor is having everyone on the same page. Obviously, there were differences on philosophy. Rarely do you see a move like this though in season, it's very odd. Frank is a good coach, I'm sure he'll be back on the sidelines down the line. Coaching is a wacky profession. Things in Brooklyn are at the point of dysfunction.
6. WARRIORS FANS: I've just witnessed an amazing comeback here at Golden State by the Warriors-they're a very good team. Conversely, I just saw a collapse by the Raptors that has me speechless. This is the absolute lowest point of this season for Dwane Casey's squad. Forget the Basketball and X + O's for a moment, these fans here are awesome, magnificent, terrific and whatever superlative you want to throw out there. For those of you who watched the game you know what I mean. On an early December Tuesday night when many arenas are a morgue this was magical. They stayed behind their team and this is what folks who claim to be basketball fans will agree with me wholeheartedly about. A supportive and passionate crowd does pump a team up and make a HUGE difference. It happened this evening. Wow!