HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Knicks Success Validates Grunwald’s Blueprint
By Tommy Beer
Heading into the 2012-13 season, the Knicks had multiple major questions marks. In particular, pundits questioned whether one of the oldest rosters in league history could compete and keep pace in today’s NBA. Knicks General Manger Glen Grunwald was pilloried for compiling a roster featuring just one player under the age of 27 and four players over 38. Jokes about Madison Square Garden becoming an “old age home” made the rounds on Twitter and elsewhere.
However, based on the early returns this season, New York’s success has been no laughing matter…
Yes, the New York Knickerbockers currently possess the top record in the Eastern Conference. After badly embarrassing the HEAT in Miami, despite playing without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks extended their lead in the East to 1.5 games.
The Knicks are playing their best basketball in over a decade. Thursday marked the first time New York had held sole possession of first place in the East in December since December 16, 1993. And the Knicks are 10 games over .500 for the first time since April of 2001.
Which Free Agents Are Left?
By Alex Kennedy
The 2012-13 NBA season is more than one month old, but there are still plenty of notable free agents who have yet to sign. By now, the free agent pool has usually dried up, but that’s not the case this year. There are still some talented veterans on the market who have proven that they can make an impact on an NBA team.
Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard, Mickael Pietrus and Derek Fisher were unemployed when the season started, but they’ve all been signed in recent weeks and had success with their new teams.
Which free agents will be the next to sign? Many of the remaining free agents have turned down offers from overseas teams because they’re waiting for an NBA team to call. As injuries and transactions occur over the next few months, expect some of these players to sign a prorated contract with an NBA team.
Here is the position-by-position by list of remaining free agents:
POINT GUARDS: Delonte West, Earl Boykins, Mike Bibby, Mike James, Carlos Arroyo, Anthony Carter, Baron Davis, Antonio Daniels, Jannero Pargo
The Pelicans Are In For A Fight
By Steve Kyler
The Pelicans? Really?
The New Orleans Hornets organization is going to change their name. When Tom Benson was awarded the team in April he kept no secret of his desire to drop the Hornets moniker in exchange for a name that was more suited to the Louisiana/New Orleans market.
The Hornets for their part are emphatically denying that a name change is anywhere close, as there is a lengthy and substantial NBA approval process that a name change has to undergo, but it is clear that Pelicans is the name the owner wants and that they have already started that process.
Skipping over the obvious lack of marketability Pelicans has in the sports world, there is some history to why Pelicans is on the table. Benson owned a minor league baseball team called the Pelicans and retains ownership of the trade marks, so that hurdle is cleared.
Is The Toronto Raptors Season Already Over?
By Stephen Brotherston
The Toronto Raptors were going to be playoffs contenders this season. No guarantees, but the additions of Kyle Lowry from Houston and restricted free agent Landry Fields from New York together with a healthy Andrea Bargnani, an improving DeMar DeRozan and the highly touted rookie center Jonas Valanciunas seemed like more than enough to have Toronto fighting for a playoff spot in April.
A minor bump in the road during saw Lowry and Valanciunas both miss some time in training camp and preseason, but the Raptors went 6-1 in seven preseason games and looked like they had developed a measure of team chemistry heading into the season. That unfortunately proved to be something on an illusion.
With a record of 4-14 and in the midst of a five game western road trip that has four games remaining, whispers about the Raptors season being over before it even truly gets going are becoming louder.
Ranking the NBA’s Deepest Teams
By Derek Page
Over the course of a grueling 82-game NBA schedule, the strength of a team’s reserve core becomes a huge factor as injuries and fatigue take their toll during the season. The best NBA teams have players coming off the bench that have the ability to make a huge impact on the game on either end of the floor.
The last two NBA Champions, the Miami HEAT and Dallas Mavericks, each made it to the NBA Finals because of the contributions from each of their respective reserve cores.
In Dallas, winning the NBA Title in 2011, the Mavs received a huge lift from former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry along with numerous other key games from reserves like Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea.
Now that we’ve made a bit of a dent in the 2012-13 NBA season, let’s look at the most talented teams top-to-bottom in the NBA so far this year:
3. Denver Nuggets:
Even though their slow start to the season doesn’t reflect it, an argument could be made that the 9-9 Nuggets have the deepest team in the NBA today. Denver is two-deep at virtually every position which allows the Nuggets to run opposing squads into submission.
With one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the NBA, Denver features six players that currently average double figures in scoring – including two off the bench. JaVale McGee, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller and, when healthy, Wilson Chandler round out a unique and talented reserve core that makes head coach George Karl’s life a whole lot easier.
Brought in to be a starter at center, McGee now leads the team in scoring off the bench and also leads the Nuggets in Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Miller, a longtime NBA starter at point guard, provides a steady, veteran influence off the bench and is second on the team in assists at 5.1 dimes per contest.
Philadelphia 76ers Better Without Bynum?
By Joel Brigham
For the past two years, the Philadelphia 76ers have looked like a team on the rise, with an excellent head coach in Doug Collins, plenty of talented young players on the roster and the kind of steady playoff progression you like to see from a burgeoning perennial playoff team.
But then they traded their only All-Star in Andre Iguodala for another All-Star in Andrew Bynum, who was supposed to serve as the new cornerstone of the organization. Now, there are whispers that he may need yet another knee surgery and potentially could miss the entire season, leaving Philly with all role players and no star. You’d think that would be enough to force them backwards, but so far the Sixers have been the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference through 17 games.
The question is, why haven’t they gotten worse without an All-Star? According to Sixers forward Thaddeus Young, they’re thriving precisely because they don’t have an All-Star.