HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Top 5 Disappointments of the NBA Season (So Far)
By Derek Page
Every NBA season, things that seemingly begin as virtual certainties unravel before our very eyes to the amazement of all NBA connoisseurs. To no one’s surprise, the first seven weeks of the 2012-2013 NBA season have had their fair share of disappointments as we close in on the year 2013.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the biggest disappointments a quarter of the way through the new season:
5. The Washington Wizards’ League-Worst Start
Even though starting point guard John Wall has been on the shelf since the start of the season, the Wizards brought in plenty of veteran backup this offseason to try to emerge as contenders in 2013. Unfortunately for the Wiz, the team has gotten off to a disastrous start as seemingly nothing has gone right early on this season. Last year’s trade deadline acquisition – Nene – has missed a chunk of the season, as well, while offseason acquisitions Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza have been resounding disappointments. Featuring the lowest-scoring offense in basketball to go along with the worst record in the NBA at 3-18, Washington’s fleeting playoff hopes coming into the season are clearly out the window and Wall’s return is still up in the air. Although a playoff berth might have been a pipe-dream for Washington, even the most pessimistic of fans couldn’t have expected this.
Omer Asik: NBA’s Most Surprising Player?
By Stephen Brotherston
As the Houston Rockets blew up a team that was never quite good enough to make the NBA playoffs, they created the youngest and least experienced team in the league. One of their biggest gambles was on the Chicago Bulls’ seldom-used restricted free agent center Omer Asik, whom they stole with a three-year, $25 million offer sheet.
Asik, a second-round pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2008, went to Chicago in a three-team deal after the draft. The seven-foot Turkish center from Fenerbahce was known for his excellent defense, but on a deep Bulls team, he only averaged 13.3 minutes per game over his first two NBA seasons. There should be no question that it was difficult to assess his full potential from his averages of 2.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. However, the Rockets believed in him and have been reaping the rewards this season.
“He is the guy we rely on to get the ball out, rebound it, play the other team’s top offensive threat in the post or top offensive guy, anchor our defense coming down and protect the rim,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “All the stuff we have asked him to do, he has done very well.
The NBA Trade Market Taking Shape
By Steve Kyler
Its Trade Time: The February 21st NBA Trade Deadline is 63 days from today, meaning teams still have a lot of time before they have to pull the trigger on roster changing deals. Five days ago those players that signed new deals over the summer became eligible to be traded and things around the NBA are starting to heat up on the trade rumor front. While teams are more engaged in fact finding at this point in the season, the name to know have started to surface and here is where things stand according to sources close to the process.
Pau Gasol, LA Lakers: The LA Lakers have an inevitability ahead of them. It’s inevitable that Pau Gasol is traded, the problem is there is such a small market for Gasol – maybe three or four teams according to sources dialed into the Lakers thinking.
The Lakers could trade Gasol tomorrow if they wanted to, but they wouldn’t get nearly the value back that they’d expect for a player of his size, skill and marketability. It would truly be trading down and possibly includes taking on unfavorable contract dollars or players they do not want or need.
Martin Wants to Remain in OKC
By Alex Kennedy
Kevin Martin had big shoes to fill on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After trading James Harden to the Houston Rockets before the season, the Thunder saw Martin as the perfect replacement. The 29-year-old was an elite scorer who could provide a spark off of the bench, just as Harden had done last season to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. Harden had not only been the league’s best reserve and one of Oklahoma City’s best players, but he was also a fan favorite. Now, Martin was supposed to step into the same role and ensure that the Thunder didn’t miss a beat.
That’s a lot to ask of a player – even a veteran who has been in the league for eight seasons – especially as he’s getting acclimated to a new city, team and system. There were many doubters who criticized the deal and refused to believe that Martin could replace Harden. Some critics went so far as to say that the Thunder had gift-wrapped the Western Conference for the Los Angeles Lakers with this trade.
Celtics Still Believe They Can Contend
By Bill Ingram
It’s easy to second-guess yourself in the world of professional sports, and for Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge it might even become a habit. At the NBA trade deadline last season Ainge was strongly considering breaking up his aging ball club, looking toward the future by moving out some of the older components. After he decided not to do that, the veteran-laden Celtics made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals and nearly got past the eventual-champion Miami HEAT. That inspired a new level of confidence in Boston’s older crew and, aside from Ray Allen, Ainge brought them back for another tour.
Despite Allen’s departure, the Celtics looked stacked coming into the season with newcomers Jason Terry and Courtney Lee in the backcourt. Now, some 23 games into the 2012-13 season, the Celtics are just a game over .500 and it looks like perhaps keeping the band together might not have been the right move. Paul Pierce is averaging better than 19 points per game, but shooting just 41 percent from the field, Kevin Garnett is putting up just 15.7 points a night and the Celtics are getting run on their current 0-3 road trip.
Still, there is hope that once Avery Bradley gets healthy the Celtics will right the ship, and the ever-optimistic “Jet” Terry is always the first to inspire hope in his team and their fans.
Carl Landry Seeks Long-Term Home
By Lang Greene
Golden State Warriors power forward Carl Landry is arguably one of the most underrated frontcourt talents in the game today. Despite having a starting lineup caliber skillset, Landry has only started 63 contests out of over 330 regular season appearances since entering the league in 2007.
While Landry continues to provide consistent on court production, over the course of his six year career he has played for four different franchises in Houston, Sacramento and New Orleans before signing a two-year $8 million deal with the Golden State Warriors this past offseason.
Landry, who holds a player option for the 2014 season, is hoping his latest stop in Golden State will be the last in his career journey, for a long while.