I’ve been gone for a little bit, just waking up from the New Years Eve party. Crazy! Well there’s been so much happening in the league where should we start, is it the injuries, with superstars going down left and right? Is it the trades, or the trade rumors? Is it the shoes? It’s gotta be the shoes (laces). A few surprise teams are getting hot and the All Star game is on the horizon so who should get the starting nod? It’s a new year and a new slate for everybody, let’s see what’s what so far in January.
King of the Court (West)
David Lee (F Golden State Warriors)
The Warriors may be the hottest team in the league right now coming off a 10 game win streak, and 11 of the last 12. Though most of the publicity goes to the three pointers, the most consistent player has been David Lee hands down. The lefty forward is potent in the paint and a problem for defenses. He’s averaging close to 20 and 10 this season and January is starting out exactly the same, including a 32 point, 14 rebound performance in a Warrior beat down of the defending champion Miami Heat. David Lee should be on the All Star list, and rightfully so. The Splash brothers may be raining from outside, but David Lee is definitely soaking up the paint.
Steph Curry – Splash! Coach Mark Jackson gave him the green light and Curry shoots so fast it can’t be legal.
Blake Griffin – Bam Bam Blake is growing up fast with big bro Chris Paul going down for a few weeks.
Kevin Durant – Westbrook went down, KD picked it up.
LaMarcus Aldridge – MVP Contender. Unstoppable
James Harden – The Euro step is arguably a travel. The Beard has been balling though.
DeMarcus Cousins – Shaquille O’neal is keeping Boogie semi-focused.
King of the Court (East)
Carmelo Anthony – It’s a long way out the depths of the NBA standings, but everything is Melo in New York City so far to start 2014, thanks to the play of Carmelo Anthony. I wrote a story in the off season about how Melo will need to be complete, Olympic level Carmelo Anthony and not ball stopping, shoot, shoot, shoot Carmelo Anthony. The season started butt ugly but the Knicks have out together a five game win streak and are tied for the final playoff spot. Melo is a big part of that. Never mind his offense, he scores in his sleep. His defense, rebounding, and passing have been noticeably sharper and teams wins have been the result. It’s been so noticeable that Melo was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week. The Knicks still have a legitimate chance at winning the Atlantic division, and sneaking into maybe even third place in the East by seasons end. But in order to do that New Yorkers are ordering more Melo please!
LeBron James – The King of Kings is shooting 60%. He would average 45 PPG if he shot 30 times a night.
Joe Johnson – Everything is Melo in Manhattan and everything is Cool in Brooklyn thanks to Johnson.
David West – People forget that he’s big time.
Paul Millsap – Millsap hitting the 3 with some consistency.
Kyle Lowry – No more Rudy, no problem.
Rising Stars (West)
Gordon Hayward – If there’s one bright spot in Salt Lake City, it’s the promising backcourt led by young Commissioner Gordon. There may be no Batman level player on the Jazz but Hayward is doing his best to keep some sort of order until the other young talents get up to speed. He’s been making a name for himself all season but really opened some eyes with a career high 37 points in a surprise win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s no fluke.
Isaiah Thomas – He’s working out well as a starter.
Damian Lillard – Better than Kyrie? Hey, let’s talk about it.
Anthony Davis – He should be an All-Star. Is the West’s forward spot too crowded?
Terrence Jones – Terminator. Omar Asik, who?
Kendall Marshall – DV, He’s legit.
Reggie Jackson – OKC better not let this guy get Hardened away.
Rising Stars (East)
Iman Shumpert – Knicks fans have waited all year for something (anything) offensively from the young guard. He obviously found his offense somewhere around New Year’s Eve and the Knicks are benefitting. He average over 20 points a game in a pivotal Texas road swing that all but saved the Knicks fragile playoff hopes. They’re going to need Shump swaying on both ends of the floor from now on for any post season dreams to come true.
Kemba Walker – The Lion King trying to will the Bobcats to the playoffs.
Terrence Ross – He’s got some operating room now with Rudy out of town.
Jared Sullinger – Throwing his weight around a bit these days, especially on the glass.
Rookie Watch (West)
Trey Burke – Hands down best Rookie in the West right now. He’s a bright spot and bringing more confidence to the young group. He and Gordon Hayward are bright spots in an inconsistent situation. If the front court could be more reliable, this team would be making noise.
Steven Adams – He’s already gotten a few retaliatory elbows thrown at his face. Never flinches.
CJ McCollum – Finally made his debut and looking good.
Rookie Watch (East)
Giannis Antetokounmpo – I think the Greek Freak as a nickname is a little cruel but the kid is something else. He’s got raw talent but his motor is amazing, he’s got those freakishly long arms, and he plays defense forreal. As his basketball IQ increases then he’ll continue to develop into a real talent. That’s good news for a Bucks team that doesn’t have much else to cheer for.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – He dunked on Jesus
Michael Carter-Williams – ROY if he stays healthy
Victor Oladipo – Really the only competition to MCW for ROY.
Pero Antic – Taking advantage of his opportunities. Nice touch outside too.
TRADE CRAZY –
Toronto trades Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to Sacramento for John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes – Some rebuilding happening maybe, and unloading contracts, but Toronto is thriving after this one. Kyle Lowry is flourishing, DeMar DeRozen is a doing work, and the Raptors are 13-5 since, and leading the enigma that is the Atlantic Division. Rudy Gay is looking great with Demarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, and seems happy. California tends to have that effect on people. Advantage: Toronto, they’re winning. Sacramento is stuck in the West with too many good teams.
Cleveland trades Andrew Bynum and three future draft picks to Chicago for Luol Deng – Chicago has their eyes set on the future, and Cleveland is trying to forget the past. Andrew Bynum has been tuned out for the past two seasons. He’s a real talent but he obviously didn’t want to play in Cleveland. Chicago didn’t want him either, so it’s seems the organization is positioning itself for the upcoming draft lottery (cough cough…tank…cough cough). Luol Deng is a great pick-up and a leader that Kyrie can learn from. Advantage – Cleveland; The Chicago players and coach are too proud to tank, but the season is lost.
Golden State sends Toney Douglas to Miami, who sent Joel Anthony, a 2015 first-round draft pick, a 2016 second-round draft pick and cash considerations to Boston. Boston sent Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to Golden State – Boston is definitely looking at the future, but this one came out of nowhere. The Warriors have two more hired guns to add to the gang, and they are going to be perfect off the bench for Mark Jackson. The Celtics just keep racking up draft picks, and Tony Douglas is a happy man. Advantage – Tony Douglas
Boston acquired Jerryd Bayless from Memphis for Courtney Lee and a 2016 second-round draft pick. Oklahoma City received a conditional 2017 second-round draft pick from Memphis for sending Ryan Gomes to Boston – Courtney Lee adds an outside threat that Memphis needs, and Bayless is a good addition. Advantage – push
Ah Yes, The All-Star game is rapidly approaching, so everyone is jumping on-line, texting, and tweeting their votes for the Starting Five for this years All-Star Teams. I know I am. I’m not going for the popular, vote him in because he’s my favorite, type thing here (sorry Kobe, CP, Rondo). You got to be balling right now to get my vote. Here are my picks so far (Subject to change)
Michael Carter-Williams (yes, not the other guy you might be thinking)
Chris Paul down for another 5 weeks. Darren Collison is going to have to step it up. Russell Westbrook back out after his third surgery to get his knee right. Reggie Jackson is taking advantage of the extra spotlight. Tyson Chandler with bronchitis after returning from a broken leg. The Knicks need him back at full strength. Rajon Rondo is on his way back. Great news for the Celtics. Marc Gasol is back and the timing couldn’t be better for Memphis. And last but not least, Greg Oden is back on the court after a three and a half year hiatus, and he’s looking good too. Let’s hope those knees hold up.
Highlight Reel –
Gerald Green – The Mean Green Jumpin’ Machine. And his after dunk faces are intimidating.
Blake Griffin – He loves dunking on his arch nemesis, Kris Humphries
Tim Hardaway Jr. – Dunking on Jesus, it might be a sin.
LeBron James & Dwyane Wade – These guys are on cruise control until late March. Still, this looks too easy.
Low Light Reel –
JR Smith – It’s either really dirty, or really crafty, but everybody is talking about shoe laces
Did you see…These 2014 NBA All-Star Jerseys (or T-Jerseys)?
Did you see…NBA players nicknames on the back of the jerseys? It’s like “Pistol” Pete all over again. Maybe go with the Nicknames on the All-Star Jerseys. I think we’re on to something.
Did you see…Ex-NBA player Jarvis Crittenton arrested for drug charges? I guess when he’s not gambling, or brandishing weapons, or beefing with Gilbert Arenas, he’s also the weed man.
Did you see…The Sacramento Kings are now going to begin accepting BitCoins. If you didn’t know what BitCoins were, welcome to the future.
Follow Mister King on the bird @MisterKing730
Featured image courtesy Josh Hallett/Flickr.