HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Caron Butler: Clippers Resemble 2011 Mavs
By Derek Page
Caron Butler brings a championship-pedigree from Dallas to the Los Angeles Clippers and he believes this team has the talent to compete for a title.
He should know. After all, Caron Butler witnessed first-hand the Dallas Mavericks’ championship season and was a huge piece of the eventual NBA-title winning Mavs.
This season, instead of teaming with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, Butler now has All-Stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul at his side with a Clippers team currently sitting at third (17-9) in the highly competitive Western Conference. The Clippers starting small forward believes there are some similarities between his former championship team and his current squad in Los Angeles.
“We have a lot of talent,” Butler said. “[Dallas] has a lot of experience and talent, Hall-of-Famers in that locker room over there. We have guys that are in the prime of their career, superstar players and great veteran leadership.”
Top 5 Surprise NBA Stars
By Joel Brigham
Jeremy Lin is beyond a story at this point. Everything any news outlet could possibly run with Lin at the center of the narrative has already been done in the last week, and now that everybody and their mothers know he is, we can now sit back and hope that his newfound stardom sticks.
Of course, he’s not the first guy in NBA history to come out of nowhere and find his way to NBA stardom. There have been plenty of guys that walked into the league with zero expectations and ended up hoops legends. Today, we’ll look at the Top 5 biggest NBA surprises of the modern era, but before we do, a couple of notes:
Lin himself is not on the list for now, but only because the body of work is so small. From the standpoint of sheer shock value, he’d be number one as long as he can sustain the insane level of production he’s put up for the last week.
Also, the guys considered for this list were either undrafted or selected later on in the second round. Successful late first round/early second round picks can hardly be considered true surprises because teams took them with high picks knowing there was a strong chance they’d work out. To be considered, the guys below had to come out of nowhere.
All that said, here are the Top 5 Surprise NBA Stars:
James Johnson’s Breakout Season
By Stephen Brotherston
The Toronto Raptors most important objective this season was the continued growth and development of their young players and hopefully a breakout season from somebody. After a little more than a third of the way, it’s time to acknowledge James Johnson’s progress.
Since breaking into the starting line-up 14 games ago, the combo-forward has been putting up 10.6 points on 45.3 percent shooting to go with five rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks in a little over 26 minutes per game. Not bad for the bust out of Chicago who couldn’t get minutes with the Bulls last season and was traded for a late first-round pick the Bulls didn’t even want to keep.
“James is growing,” said head coach Dwane Casey. “He works everyday on his offensive game. He is doing a good job of seeing the floor, passing the basketball, knowing the right opportunities and it hasn’t been easy. In the exhibition season he was a little wild turning it over, but he’s done a great job honing his game in and making it simple, making it a more efficient game. That’s what this season is about. That type of progress that you see within James, I see within James. That type of growth as an offensive player, and defensively, he is doing a good job too.”
Keith Smart’s Message Starting To Sink In
By Mark Nugent
The Sacramento Kings began the year unlike any other team in the NBA. After an opening night win against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings lost five out of their next six games. The atmosphere in the locker room became combustible, with players pointing fingers at each other and head coach Paul Westphal issuing a statement saying DeMarcus Cousins demanded a trade.
With the locker room divided and the Kings continuing to lose, often badly, Westphal was fired and the Kings promoted assistant coach Keith Smart in hopes he could mend the relationship between the Kings, Cousins and his teammates.
“We were just frustrated with the team, with how it was going. We were just trying to find out where each other was at,” Tyreke Evans explained to HOOPSWORLD. “We wanted to start off better than we did, but it didn’t happen. Coach (Smart) came in and now we are just working with him. We haven’t gotten a chance to work with him through training camp so we are just learning as we go.”
Jackson Doesn’t See Future In Milwaukee
By Alex Kennedy
Stephen Jackson’s stint with the Milwaukee Bucks hasn’t gone quite as planned. Less than halfway through his first season in Milwaukee, Jackson is already tired of the organization and wants a trade. He’s not hiding his frustration and admits that he wants to be dealt before the trade deadline.
The Bucks acquired Jackson on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft and hoped that he would provide leadership and take the team to the next level. Instead, he has been moved to the end of the bench and feuded with Bucks head coach Scott Skiles.
When asked if he has a future in Milwaukee, Jackson shook his head.
“Not at all,” Jackson told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s obvious, you can see that. I’m just waiting until my situation is different. I’m coming to work every day and keeping myself prepared so that when my situation does get better, I’m ready to go.”
Bobcats Still Believe They Will Improve
By Stephen Litel
If anything, the Charlotte Bobcats are honest about the situation they are in this season. They are well aware they have the worst record in the NBA and don’t even try to sugarcoat it.
“You are what you are and right now, we are what our record says,” Tyrus Thomas told HOOPSWORLD. “The only way to get respect is to turn that around.”
To a man, the Bobcats players realize they have a long way to go to become competitive on a nightly basis in the NBA. They have a lot of holes in their lineup, even when completely healthy, which is very rare. However, they also believe their opponents most nights over-look them by only looking at their record, rather than the players they have on their roster.
Lakers Look To Rookie Andrew Goudelock
By Stephen Brotherston
The Los Angeles Lakers do not have the record they want and they are missing some of the offensive punch of prior seasons, but are the suggestions of bringing back the retired Allen Iverson or the amnestied Gilbert Arenas really the solution? Head coach Mike Brown can’t wait to find out, and he has been turning to his existing roster for answers.
“I have been playing Andrew Goudelock and he has contributed, but he is a rookie and he has to play for us because he is a ball-skill guy and we need as many of those guys as we can have in the line-up,” said Brown. “So he has been playing heavy minutes for us. We are relying on our rookies for some help on the perimeter.”
Things haven’t been all bad for the fifth-place Lakers who currently hold a 16-12 record and only sit two games behind the Clippers in the Pacific Division. This veteran team just expects more.