HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Top Five First-Time All-Star Candidates
By Joel Brigham
Every year there are young players who take the league by storm, either out of nowhere as or a natural next step in their progression towards transforming into superstars, but one way or another new All-Star players pop up every winter. It’s safe to say that 2011-2012 will be no different, especially as so many All-Star standards get older and no longer guarantee themselves a starting spot via fan vote-in.
So who has the best shot at making his first All-Star game this year? Let’s have a look at some of the strongest candidates:
#5 – Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies – Currently, Gasol is sixth in the league in rebounds per game with 10.4, and his 12.5 ppg have given him, this far at least, the first double-double season average of his career. Zach Randolph’s prolonged absence won’t help Memphis win more games, but it might help Gasol’s stat line, and the Gasol last name won’t hurt in fan voting. It’s looking like a career year for this young man, but it should be noted that his points and rebounds per game are nearly identical to Philadelphia’s Spencer Hawes. However, the West is more wide open for centers, and Gasol is certainly more recognized a player at this point in both guys’ careers. Still, Hawes deserves a little bit of love here, too, even if he has close to zero chance at making the All-Star team himself.
Greg Monroe The Pistons’ Next Star?
By Mark Nugent
The Detroit Pistons are off to a difficult start to the 2011-2012 season; they’re 2-7 and in last place in the Central Division. As a team, they are last in the NBA in scoring and second to last in point differential. The long layoff caused by the lockout has had a negative affect on the Pistons and the results are a team likely looking at another lottery pick.
One player however, was able to use the extra time off to his advantage. The Pistons’ 6’11’ center, Greg Monroe, is having a breakout season and he credits his offseason workouts for his continued improvement.
“I spent the whole offseason working out,” Monroe explained to HOOPSWORLD. “I worked on making my shot better, learning new post moves and just getting stronger.”
Coach: Rudy, Melo Should Watch Each Other
By Anthony Macri
Rudy & Melo: Each Learning From the Other
Baltimore-bred scoring forwards Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay bring a high level of skill and athleticism to their respective teams, the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies. Their different approaches to the game are easily distinguished out on the floor: Melo is a shoot-first player, comfortable using screens (off the ball or in ball screen situations) and in isolation situations; Gay is a rangy athlete who operates well as a flasher, in transition, and when catching the ball on the move in attack mode.
Though they look pretty similar in body-build (both 6’8 and 230 lbs) and play the same position, their approach on the offensive end is very different. In situations where he is running off screens, Melo tends to make quicker reads, looking for a shooting window as he turns his shoulders to fire. In isolations, however, Melo rarely makes speed reads, choosing instead to use his dribble to set himself and confuse his defender. However, the ball often stops in his hands on these types of plays, challenging his team’s offensive flow.
Rudy’s approach is nearly the reverse. In situations where he comes off screens, Rudy’s reads are slower, and he stretches the action out, instead of keeping it tight to the screener as Melo does. This makes scoring opportunities much more difficult than they need to be and usually requires him to make a tough shot instead of an easy one. However, in isolation type situations, he often catches the ball on the move and continues on the move, making quick attacks a big part of his repertoire.
Jack Not Trying To Fill Paul’s Shoes
By Derek Page
Following the trade of Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets’ point guard Jarrett Jack has stepped in admirably in his place.
While no one in New Orleans is going to forget Paul’s name anytime soon, Jack has done a commendable job holding down the point guard position for the Hornets so far in life post-Paul. The struggling Hornets are just 2-6 to start the season, having lost six straight since opening the season with a 2-0 record, but Jack has been one of the few positives in what has been an injury-riddled start to 2012.
“He’s scoring the ball; he’s had games where he’s been in double-digit assists,” Hornets’ coach Monty Williams said recently. “I know what I’m going to get from Jarrett, and that’s something that I can’t say about everybody on our team, but I know exactly what I’m going to get from him.”
Reggie Jackson Answers The Call
By Susan Bible
There’s a reason why NBA coaches expect each member of their team – whether they average 35 minutes per game or two minutes per game – to practice hard and maintain conditioning with equal effort. In the blink of an eye, a season-ending injury may befall a rotation player, so every player must be prepared to step in and contribute.
That’s precisely what just unfolded for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Backup point guard Eric Maynor recently suffered an ACL tear; he’s facing surgery and looking at a 2012-13 return. The reins fell to rookie Reggie Jackson to assume Maynor’s duties as the second unit’s floor general. It’s a mixed blessing to get an opportunity for real minutes at the expense of a teammate’s fate.
“Unfortunately with his injury, I’ve had to step into that spot, “Jackson told HOOPSWORLD. “(It’s) a chance to carve out my role.”
D-League Showcase: The Next Impact Players
By Dan Barto
In a lockout-shortened NBA season, the NBDL has been able to continue its rapid ascent in the realms of organization and talent collection. The injury rate in the NBA is high and the rigorous condensed 66-game schedule is going to have NBA scouts and personnel on speed dial with their affiliate franchises.
Dozens of NBA decision-makers have been in Reno for the past two days looking for not only the players who can fill a current void or provide rest for the veterans, but also potential low cost, high return options for the 2012-2012 season.
Here is a look at a few players who have spent a majority of December and January with their teams that fans could soon see on NBA rosters for the long haul: