Armstrong: Five thoughts on Walker, Heat, Carter and more

Jack Armstrong
12/19/2013 11:24:46 AM
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1. KEMBA WALKER (Bobcats): Walker is a little man with a huge heart. There are certain guys you come across in this gamewho just have that little extra something in their make-up and he's one of those guys. His team was down 16 in the second half against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night and he just willed his team to victory. He took over and dominated the game at the point of attack. You think back to his wonderful collegiate career at Connecticut and his ups and downs as a pro, playing for a less-than-stellar team. You can't keep him down for long. He's become a respectable three-point shooter now and it's opened his game up even more. There is still lots of room for improvement, but you won't find many guys in the game today who have his competitive spirit. I respect the guy.

2. MIAMI HEAT: I don't care what they say, but that was a necessary win for them last night against the Indiana Pacers. You don't want to let your top conference opponent have too much belief or confidence when it comes to the match-up. When you're the world champions, act like it and play like it and they did. It sets the tone for how you want to be viewed during the rest of the season around the league. Last year doesn't matter a bit anymore. It's all about the now and this win helps both in the short and long term.

3. ANDRE DRUMMOND (Pistons): I must confess that every day I'm checking out Detroit's box scores and watching their games when I have a free night. Drummond is simply fun to watch. I'm not sure yet how much he truly knows how to play the game in all respects, but he's incredibly talented and gifted. On Wednesday night, he had another double-double with 14 points and 16 boards, eight of them offensive rebounds, against the Boston Celtics. He's got major league, elite rebounding ability and he has the chance to be an impactful defender once he figures out schemes and tendencies of opponents. He can change shots in the lane at a high level and he's got two significant talents that directly change how you have to play as an opponent.

4. VINCE CARTER (Mavericks): I'll see him Friday night in Dallas and just can't believe it's been 16 years since his rookie year with the Toronto Raptors. I feel old since it's my 16th year as well as a Raptors broadcaster. He's had the much better career, that's for sure. Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies he had 14 points, four rebounds and six assists in 30 minutes. For a 16-year vet, he's still got game left and really knows how to play. Carter is a good teammate and fits Rick Carlisle's system well. You see so many guys fall off the cliff when they get to this stage of their career, so it's impressive that he's still able to play at a respectable level.

5. JJ BAREA (Timberwolves): It was a huge win for Minnesota over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. Barea comes in and gives you something every game. On Wednesday, he put up 10 points along with five assists in the victory. He plays with great energy and determination when he plays and he's very difficult to keep out of the lane. Barea possesses good ball skills and shot-making ability. He's undersized, but not undeterred.

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