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HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Posted By Richard Hardy On March 10, 2013 @ 5:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The NBA’s Ultimate Underdog Team
By Derek Page
Coming into the 2012-2013 NBA season, expectations weren’t very high for a Houston Rockets team that had failed to reach the postseason in each of the past three seasons. Even after pulling off a blockbuster trade for Oklahoma City Thunder star sixth man James Harden, there wasn’t a whole lot of buzz surrounding this team in Houston.
Even though hindsight says that wasn’t a prudent judgment, it’s not difficult to see why this team as a whole was undervalued heading into the season.
While no doubt a blue-chip talent, Harden was coming off of a nightmare NBA Finals appearance in which he made less than 38 percent of his shots from the floor and averaged just 12.4 points per contest. Just a few months later, Oklahoma City decided they couldn’t afford Harden at max-level money and traded Harden (currently the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer) to the Rockets.
“That’s in the past, I don’t really worry about that,” Harden said. “I just try to focus on getting these guys up and ready every single game. Every practice, just being a leader out there and motivating them to want to go out there and make the playoffs and do something special here. That’s my motivation every single day.
Time For Kobe Bryant to Deliver On Promise
By Bill Ingram
Guarantees don’t mean a whole lot in professional sports. Nothing is really guaranteed, and too often guarantees offered up by coaches, players or other team personnel are easily brushed aside and forgotten.
When Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant makes a guarantee, however, there is reason to stop and take notice. Bryant is not one to make bold proclamations, and he has made a career out of delivering when it matters most. That’s why, when Bryant guaranteed that his struggling Lakers team would make the playoffs it was a moment of note in the 2012-13 NBA season.
“We will make the playoffs,” Bryant reiterated. “And we will compete. And part of the reason I have that confidence is the Miami game. We had control of the game. That was no fluke. We were playing very, very well. We were reading the defense, making the extra pass.
Hibbert Peaking At Right Time?
By Yannis Koutroupis
Right now, the Eastern Conference is basically looked at as a one-team conference. There’s the Miami HEAT, who are the defending NBA champions and winners of 16 in a row, and then there’s everyone else. Seven other teams from the East will join Miami in the playoffs and try to prevent them from representing the conference in the NBA Finals again, but nobody is expecting the HEAT to have much resistance as they look to win the East for the third straight season. Except in Indiana.
The Pacers are 38-23 overall and in a prime position to finish in the top three. They’ve been without Danny Granger, their star player, for most of the season, but the emergence of Paul George as an All-Star has kept the Pacers amongst the East’s elite. Granger came back for a short period of time, but is out once again with knee troubles. The hope is that he can be back within a week.
Because of how long he’s been out, the Pacers have really grown accustomed to playing without him. If they get anything from him in the playoffs, that’s a really additional boost, but they haven’t relied heavily on him all season long and aren’t going to all a sudden ask him to shoulder the burden come playoff time.
Notable Players Back from China
By Alex Kennedy
The Chinese Basketball Association has become a fallback option for many professional basketball players who want to continue their career. The CBA has developed into a very competitive league and many former NBA players have taken their talents to East Asia to star on one of its 17 teams.
This season, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas and Eddy Curry were among the players that signed with a CBA team. Now, with the CBA regular season concluded, these players are looking to return to the NBA and sign contracts for the remainder of the season. These players are unrestricted free agents and have until April 17, the final day of the NBA regular season, to sign with a team and be playoff eligible.
Several players have already returned from China and signed with an NBA team. The Boston Celtics signed Terrence Williams (Guangdong Southern Tigers), Shavlik Randolph (Foshan Long Lions) and D.J. White (Shanghai Sharks) to 10-day contracts. Williams was eventually signed to a multi-year deal.
Peaking Nuggets Emerge As Sleeper
By Lang Greene
The hottest team in the NBA, at the moment, without a doubt is the Miami HEAT. The defending champions are on a sizzling 15-game winning streak dating back to early February and appear to be unstoppable in their quest to repeat. In the Western Conference, mainstream headlines revolve around the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers as potential challengers for the throne.
But are we missing a team who could make things interesting in the Western Conference once the postseason begins?
The Denver Nuggets routinely fly under the radar because unlike the aforementioned teams there isn’t a LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul caliber talent on their payroll. Nonetheless, the wins continue to mount under head coach George Karl.
Can Brewer Earn Minutes in Oklahoma City?
By Susan Bible
When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded guard Eric Maynor last week, it came as no particular surprise. The real surprise came hours later when it was announced that the Thunder acquired New York Knicks’ wing Ronnie Brewer in exchange for its 2014 second-round draft pick. It wasn’t quite the big name expected, but then again, the 2013 trade deadline produced rather ho-hum results in general.
Just before Brewer took the court for the first time in a Thunder uniform, HOOPSWORLD got an opportunity to speak with OKC’s newest player. He was candid in expressing what he was feeling and what he was most looking forward to in his new environment.
“I guess just being able to fit in,” Brewer said. “I just want to be able to step in when my name is called and get in there and play as hard as I possibly can in every possession and possibly help this team out.”
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